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Dave Long




Sports Glossary

Aaron Hernandez: Former New England Patriots star and freak tight end now sitting in jail awaiting trial for three alleged murders, two of which astonishingly came before the Pats gave him a $40 million deal and he spent the entire 2012 season in a Patriots uniform being treated as a hero by the faithful.
Rick Pitino: Now Louisville coach and one-time Celtics coach. The Boston media is still waiting for him to return to give the exit press conference he promised to give after he quit while on the road and slinked off to a Miami vacation so he didn’t have to face the music of a failed regime that started with such high hopes. 
Secretariat: Greatest horse of my lifetime and subject of a major Hollywood motion picture. He blew away the field each time in winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to take horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973, a feat cemented with the 33-length victory at the Belmont in arguably the most dominating performance in a major event in any sport at any time, including the Bears beating the Redskins 72-0 in the 1940 NFL title game. ESPN got it right in its sensational “Sports Century” series naming him the 33rd Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century. In fact the only area the big fella didn’t keep pace is in his movie starring Diane Lane as owner Penny Chenery, which doesn’t hold a candle to Seabiscuit the movie. 




Mailbag delivers interesting questions
Dave Long's Longshots

06/19/14
By Dave Long dlong@hippopress.com



Today, we’ll go to the mailbag to see what inquiring minds want to know. 

 
Dear Dave: What do you think of the latest twist in the Donald Sterling-NBA saga, where he’s now not selling the team and has hired four investigation firms to dig up dirt on the other owners and look into the league’s financial dealings? Albert Davidstern, 32 Retirement Way, Palm Springs, California
Dear Al: Despite its being a typically vindictive move by a pretty horrible guy, this could be one of the funniest things ever to hit sports. I’ll bet you any money there is more than one NBA owner and probably a past commissioner or two sweating it out now that he’s hired those private dicks to dig up dirt on them. And when the dirt starts flying from an 81-year-old creep with money to burn and nothing to lose, it could get ugly. And then will the NBA fire back with the dirt they have on him and probably have been suppressing for years? I think, unless the NBA owners are totally clean, the league has quite a PR issue on its hands and there’s no question in my mind the NBA is going to take several body blows before it’s done. In short, TMZ must just be uncontrollably drooling for what is to come.   
 
Dear Dave: How do you divide up the blame pie on the disappointing Red Sox season? Press Marravich, 62 Meedia St., Bacstabb, Mass.
Dear Press: I don’t like the word “blame.” I prefer to ask what are the reasons behind their troubles. First, as I said last week, I thought they played above their talent level all last year, when almost every break went their way, which is to their credit. Now, some of that is evening out. Plus, offensively, Ben Cherington misjudged Jackie Bradley’s ability to replace Jacoby Ellsbury and the impact of Jarrod Saltalamacchia leaving them with no lead-off hitter and a toothless bottom third of the order. That’s before we get to almost everyone who stayed not playing as well as they did a year ago. 
 
Dear Dave: What do you make of the column on ESPN.com from Football Focus that used a series of stats to say Tom Brady no longer belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of active NFL quarterbacks? T. Rex, 300 Ryan Ave., Florham Park, New Jersey. 
Dear T. Rex: First, what’s with the one-letter first name? You’re not related to V. Stiviano, are you? Second, it’s not a stretch to say in general a soon-to-be-37-year-old guy is not as good as he was when he was 31. However, like most stat geek numbers, the below-the-league-average 57 percent completion rate when defenders are in his face stat this supposition is based on doesn’t take into account any variables. Like if the Patriots offense is as demanding as some say it is in its need for precision, perhaps the routes being run by inexperienced receivers could play a role in ticking that rate down. Especially when Brady spent the first half of the year getting to know those guys after losing Gronk, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead all at once and Shane Vereen for two months after Game 1. Second, many point to his reduced numbers like TD passes, but where’s the stat that shows if a QB actually “elevated” the performance of the guys he was throwing to above what was expected from them? The numbers may not show it, but in completely pulling wins out of thin air against New Orleans, Denver and especially Cleveland, he did more with less than any QB in the league and there’s no stat for that either. That is, other than the third-best-in-the-league 12 wins he led an inexperienced offense to, which, as I’ve pointed out long before Brady said it last week, is the only stat that matters. And finally, what was that “under duress completion rate” when Gronk played? Probably higher, just like the points per game total, which jumped by more than 10 to 32 in the eight games Gronk played. Projected over a 16-game season, that’s a very healthy 512 points and that’s when just one of the four guys he lost was playing. My bottom line is that stat geeks’ numbers rarely provide context and that’s why I don’t give them much credence. 
 
Dear Dave: What are your thoughts on what Steve Coburn had to say immediately after his horse California Chrome lost his chance at winning the Triple Crown at the Belmont? Eddie R. Caro, 12 Horse and Hound Road, Shoemaker, New Mexico. 
Dear Eddie: I would say it was one of the all-time great sports meltdowns in a perfect mix of poor sportsmanship, raw emotion and ridiculous logic. Probably the best since Rick Pitino launched into his “Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale aren’t walking through that door” harangue after an unbelievable Vince Carter buried the Celtics at the buzzer for the third time in 20 days. And Coburn’s apology meltdown, though sincere, was almost as funny. But having said that, I completely disagree with his notion that horses should have to enter all three Triple Crown races. That’s where the term “there are different horses for different courses” comes from, isn’t it? Winning on all three says you beat the horses that specialize in sprinter speeds of the shorter Kentucky Derby and the ones who have the greater endurance required to win on the longer Belmont track. That’s what makes winning the Triple Crown so special and difficult, just as it was for the great Secretariat when I was right there at the Belmont to see him finish off the first Triple Crown win since Citation in 1947 as he blew away the field by an astonishing 33 lengths in June 1973. It left no doubt he was the greatest horse in the world at that moment.  
 
Email Dave Long at dlong@hippopress.com. 
 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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