LONGSHOTS: Mail bag focuses on Pats, Sox and MLS All-Star Game
by Dave Long
Time to go to the mail bag to see what inquiring minds want to know.
Dear Dave: Are you optimistic about the Patriotsí chances to win another Super Bowl this year? Mrs. Bella Chick 3 Rings Avenue, Lagosi, New Mexico.
Dear Bella: In a word: not really. Though I guess thatís two words. I really donít know what Coach B is up to. I see holes at linebacker, the pass rush, third wide-out and in the running game which will have age-related breakdowns. And then thereís too much passing that makes the offense predictable. Maybe failure to address their biggest need ó getting a pass rush ó is about watching his spending prior to the new collective bargaining agreement, because the rules could change and he doesnít want to get stuck. But beyond that, it looks to me like heís in a Theo Epstein-like bridge year. Because instead of doing it through free agency Ė heís going to rebuild the defense through the draft Ė which will take time. And maybe thatís best, but itís an odd way to go considering the biological clock is ticking on his 33-year-old quarterback.
Dear Dave: Iím a Pats fans living down here in exile, and Iím curious about what you like best about the Patriots heading into the new year? Napoleon Smith 1814 Bonepart Blvd., Elba, Alabama.
Dear Nap: I like the quarterback, that Wes Welker appears to be way ahead of schedule, that I think the secondary will be better and some of the new guys from last year. Sebastian Vollmer is going to be a big improvement at one tackle. Julian Edleman was a find as a Wes Welker clone and is an even better runner after the catch than Welker. I also liked Darius Bell last year and think heíll take another step up at DB. And even though Iíve never seen him play Ė what you hear about top pick Devin McCourty being a great special teams player in college says to me heís one of those guys who just loves to play. So, Iíve got a good feeling about him and also for Brandon Tate as a returner and a sleeper in the third wide-out battle now that heís a year removed from the ACL he blew out at North Carolina. I also LOVE the name of the new punter ó Zoltan Mesko ó which sounds more like it should belong to a soccer player or magician. Donít see a lot of Zoltanís these days or punters who go 6í 5Ē, 230.
Dear Dave: It seems crackers to me, but media types like Gary Tanguay on Comcast and Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe said last week thereís no way the Sox can catch the Yanks. Iím from by London, so maybe Iím not acquainted with baseball enough to get it ó but do you agree with them? Allistar Yahoo, 14 Back Lane, Buckeedent, England
Dear Al: I can call you that right? Itís funny your last name is Yahoo ó because thatís what I think those guys are for making pronouncements like that with two FULL months left. And while he was right about the Cs beatings the Cavs, given that Schaugnessey is almost always wrong on his predictions like in December ó Pats have no worry in round one no matter who they play in the playoffs Ė week two vs the Colts is what to focus one, or in April ó David Ortiz is done and should be released ó I figure the Sox are now probably a lock to win the division. And while history serves as a guide and not a guarantee Ė there have been many instances where teamís have made up much more than eight games with this much time left to go, like, oh I donít know, the 2010 Red Sox right before they all got hurt when they went from seven back on Tampa Bay to two up on them between May 15 and June 15. Then thereís the Ď87 Tigers, Ď08 Phillies on the Mets, the Ď64 Cardinals, Ď51 Giants, the Ď07 Rockies ó not to mention the Ď78 Yankees who between July 23 and July 30 made up SEVEN games to cut the Sox ďinsurmountableĒ 14 game lead in half. It doesnít mean itíll happen and the odds favor the Yanks ó but it ainít over yet.
Dear Dave: Any different feelings about the LeBron decision after a few weeks to think about it? D. Lonte West, 1 Hizmomm Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dear D: In retrospect the TV show was ego run amok and a bad idea. The coronation ceremony in Miami was nauseating and Iíll stand by the hit to his legacy thing. But I did fail to mention the show raised $2 million bucks for charity and thatís a good thing. And I think those three looked at it like every player (including me) Iíve ever known always did when putting together a summer league team. You get guys you like and the best players you can find to try and win. Bottom line ó unless they get run out of the playoffs badly, itís a blip on the screen.
Dear Dave: I saw your article on managing pitcherís work loads ó what did you think of the Yankees shutting down Phil Hughes awhile back because he was on pace to pitch more than 175 innings? Albert Cy, 511 Young Way, Rollingoverinmygrave, Ohio.
Dear Albert: I forgot to mention that in the Robin Roberts column. In a word: GIVE ME A BREAK. Iím not a doctor, but since at 24, Roger Clemens went 286 innings, Tom Seaver went 273, Greg Maddux 237 and Tom Glavine 214 and all made it well into their 40s I think theyíre being over protective with the 24-year-old hurler.
Dear Dave: Did you think Marco Scutaro and Adrian Beltre would be this good? Pedro Weidacher, 17 Little Seattle Way, Manchester, NH
Dear Pedro: I was pretty close to dead-on with Scutaro in saying heíd make people forget the Julio Lugo error, er, I mean era by April 5. I think he did it by April 2, but thatís close enough. As for Beltre, I had him at .276 with 26 homers and 88 RBI in my pre-season column. On the bright side, if he doesnít hurt anyone else, Iíll have called the number of teammatesí ribs heís broken right on the nose at 10.
Dear Dave Ė What did you think of the MLS All-Stars vs, Manchester United? Zoltan Mesko, 47 Houdini Lane, Foxboro, Mass.
Dear Zo: The first thing that stands out about it was the crowd, which was amazing. Because, unless those 70,000 people were forced to go at gun point ó and since it was in Texas, thatís a possibility ó youíve got to be impressed. And I liked the format even better. I give the MLS a thumbs up for risking looking bad to give soccer fans an All-Star game that actually means something. And even though they got hammered by Man U 5-2 they get points for offering a game that truly is about competition and engages the playersí pride. Bravo!!!.
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.