The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Dave Long

Sports Glossary

Tiger Woods: Stuck-on-14-majors golfer who’s still center stage on ESPN whether he’s in contention or farther back than Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race. If he’s over the hill or not remains an open question, but it’s indisputable that he hasn’t won a major since 2008 or been the same since the incident leading to public revelations Wilt Chamberlain ain’t got anything on him. The only real question is, was it the blowback from the incident, the injuries piling up or self-inflicted by dumping his swing coach? 
Bill Simmons: Not quite sure how this former Boston Internet writer has climbed to the pro basketball heights he has, but that he’s high up there on the media food chain is indisputable. On the down side are the columns on Grantland that are longer than War and Peace and his lack of objectivity when his beloved Celtics come into question. On the plus side is his The Book of Basketball, which while longer than War and Peace is simply great. James Orthwein: Heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune as the great-grandson of its founder and third owner of the New England Patriots. He followed the reign of Victor Kiam, which is like being president after Jimmy Carter, so he seemed better than he was. He did hire the Tuna as coach, which changed everything, but he tried to move the NEPs to hometown St. Louis. When that plan went awry, he sold to Bob Kraft.

LeBron goes home to Cleveland

By Dave Long

 I loved seeing all the armchair psychiatrists psychoanalyzing his real motives for going back to Cleveland. The Globe’s Chris Gaspar said it was for his “legacy” and Grantland’s Bill Simmons said it was because somewhere during the Heat’s Finals loss to the Spurs he realized that this collection of teammates wasn’t good enough to win a title. So he heads to Cleveland, where the previous best player rarely passes the ball and they were 30 games under .500 last year. Oh, I get it. What a bunch of hooey.

I don’t know about you, but I take him at his word that he just wanted to go home and that he wants to bring the first championship of any kind to Cleveland in 50 years. 
The Legacy of Sports Writing is Taking a Beating from Use of the L-word 
How did the term “legacy” so entrench its way into the sports lexicon? Now you can’t turn around without seeing someone writing about a guy’s legacy. What will LeBron’s legacy be? How about for Tiger Woods and what does Jon Lester want his to be, blah, blah, blah. I think the only word more annoying to me is “iconic,” which I must have heard 10 billion times while in New York at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago while the Yanks and Derek Jeter were really going at it over his contract. Of course everything is now a “walk-off” in baseball. 
British Open the Best Tournament
I don’t know if this is just an urban legend or the story is true, but my friend Haywood told me this after the last time the U.S. Open was at Shinnecock Hills on the east end of Long Island. It has a player whining to the course superintendent about how the course was being set up to “embarrass” the best players in the world. The super was perplexed by the comment and replied, “Embarrass them? No, I’m trying to i-DENT-ti-fy them.” For my money that’s what the British Open, or as it’s more rightfully known over there, the Open Championship, does better than any other tournament. Pot bunkers, wild growing hay off fairways, having to manage bump-and-runs all over the course because the greens are too hard to hold short iron sky shots, courses, not to mention shots, club selection and attire, all influenced by the generally wild climate conditions, force players to use every club in a way that tests their all-around game like no other tourney. And that’s why it’s my favorite. 
Media Agendas Revealed Over Time 
Take Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy. Columnists are supposed to give opinion and don’t have to play it down the middle and let you decide. But to understand where he’s coming from, you can’t let one single column be a guide. The history of his writing shows he has a thing against ownership of both the Red Sox and the Patriots. I’m not saying either is perfect, but he’s been pounding the Krafts since the Parcells divorce, and with the Sox it’s by reflex, like calling the owners “fat and happy” after making all the right moves as their team stunned baseball by winning the World Series in October. The current standard is always making a point to say the Sox have the highest ticket prices in baseball and that they’ve won a playoff game just once in five years. The implication of the latter is that you’re supposed to be in the playoffs EVERY YEAR. But it’s also using that specially edited stat to make them look bad. First the obvious: They won the league title in the LAST season. And while this year has been bad, there was the collapse in 2011 and the Bobby Valentine debacle — the context is 2012 was the only truly horrendous season for the franchise in 50 years and no franchise in pro sports can make that claim.
Second, the recent record has as much to do with mistakes by Theo Epstein, who spent the gigantic budget he was given like a drunken sailor on shore leave. And finally, no one makes the playoffs every year, and who has been in the playoffs more, besides the Yankees, than the Red Sox? Answer: no one.
As for ticket prices, they have the highest ticket prices in baseball for three reasons: (1) Fenway Park is the smallest park in baseball, (2) Red Sox Nation demands a highly competitive team and that takes money, (3) What business wouldn’t charge a higher price if the fans are willing to pay it? 
Here’s the stat that matters most about the Henry-Werner ownership of the team. They ended the 86-year curse and have won three world championships in 10 years. The sainted Tom Yawkey was 0-33 in that category and Heyward Sullivan, Jean Yawkey and John Harrington were a combined 0-32. So my question is, even with a few bumps along the way like this year, who’s been the best owner over the last 100 years?
Parcells the Most Important Figure in Patriots History? 
That headline was suggested recently by the Globe columnist in giving his support for the Tuna being inducted into the Patriot Hall of Fame. I agree he should be in, and that there should be some flexibility over just selecting one person to be honored each year especially when a clearly deserving guy is over 70. The suggestion is it’s an anti-Tuna thing by the Kraft family. The Parcells years turned me into a Pats fan, and while there is no doubt he changed the football culture in these parts, he is not the single most important figure in team history. That is, unless you give him credit for bringing Bill Belichick in as an assistant coach. Plus he’s got some negatives for how he handled his departure and was a bully. Personally I have him fifth behind Coach B at No. 1, followed by Tom Brady, Billy Sullivan and Bob Kraft. Despite all the daffy things that happened during his reign, if there’s no Billy Sullivan there’s no New England Patriots. And Kraft is there as much for owning the lease that previous owner James Orthwein couldn’t get out of when he wanted to move the team to St. Louis, as he is for being a good owner through the years. Quibble with the order of the first four but all had a bigger impact than Parcells.
As seen in the July 24, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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