Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bits and Pieces - Holiday Issue

Off My Wall
December 2005


Stop it with the Bring Back Nomar crap. Ain’t happening and shouldn’t happen. Any of you remember breaking up with the same girl friend twice? Of course you do and the second time didn't last as long, wasn't as fun and only served to see if what you had the first time was worth it. And for the most part, the answer was NO!

The Red Sox finally recognized at the end of last season that the Era of the Stud Shortstop was over. Who needs to clone Jeter, ARod, Tejeda or Nomar (pre-wrist surgery). No reason to spend the equivalent of the GNP of third world countries on shortstops.

Instead the Sox realized that the Juan Uribes (White Sox), Adam Everetts (Astros), David Ecksteins (Cardinals) – representing shortstops of three of the final four teams in last year's playoffs – are perfectly capable of manning that position at considerably discounted prices, thus leaving millions to be spent on other positions.

At least that’s what I thought until Miggy Tejeda suggested he wanted out of Baltimore and into the shadow of The Monster (your choice as to whether that means Green Monster or David Ortiz).

Condolences to my baseball loving friends on the West Coast now that they have the Walking Brain Fart (Grady Little) managing the Dodgers.

Here’s my take on what’s happening in Red Sox Nation: As Theo was leaving, he told Lucky Larry that he was opening a printing company with this twin brother. Lo and behold, Larry tossed a fig leave Theo’s way telling him he (Theo) could have the printing contract for game programs next season. To make this profitable, Theo hatched this plan with his ex-henchmen to make all these trades which makes next season’s game programs an absolute necessity because you really “can’t tell the players without a program” next year.

This item will be considered prophetic to my basketball teammates – both high school and long-time men’s league: The first sign you see on my road says: NO OUTLET. Pretty fitting, huh?

Old friend Doug Ricard turns 60 this coming April and still gets up and down the floor quite nicely for two teams in the Men’s Basketball League – one in the B League and one in the Over 35 League. So if you’re wondering just how long Card plans on playing, don’t expect to unlace those Chucks anytime soon - his mother, a former player at Plymouth State (or more likely it was Plymouth Teachers School back then) is in wonderful shape having turned 100 in 2005.

You know, this grandfather thing sure can be fun, but recently it gave me reason to ponder:

What the hell is a dell? When was the last time you saw one? And have you ever used it in a sentence without having the word farmer also in the sentence?

Just wondering.

From scoring 50 points in a game at Nashua North last high school season to firing in 3-pointers for Boston University in the season opening game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University to going 6 for 9 from beyond the arc recently against UNH, life is pretty good for Merrimack High grad and BU freshman starter Corey Hassan.


Overheard at an A League game a couple of weeks ago at Green Street:

"You know....when so-and-so (name omitted to protect the unsuspecting) tells you something, you only have a fifty-fifty chance of it being true or false........and the other 50% you really can't be sure if it's true either."

Figure that one out and let me know what you think....

Remember when it was downright giddy around these basketball parts when the biggest of the big college basketball schools, hard on the recruitment trail, were showing up at Concord High to get a front row seat to watch Matt Bonner.

Along the way, Coach K took some foul shots at Green Street one night after flying into Concord Airport on the Duke private jet. Matt Doherty, then an assistant at Kansas, stood patiently and alone at the foul line after a game at Merrimack High just so the Bonners would make sure they saw him, not that his 6’7” stature would be hard not to notice at a New Hampshire high school game. Tommy Herrion, then an assistant at Providence, showed up at Concord High when Matt was about to break some scoring barrier even though he knew the Friars had little shot of landing Bon-Bon. And then there were all the telephone calls to Billy Haubrich’s house from people we normally watch on ESPN.

All of that for one kid.

So one can only imagine how hectic Jason Smith, the Merrimack Valley point guard in the Drapeau era, has it almost every year at his post as the head basketball coach at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro). Not only a force in the New England prep school world, Brewster Academy – Jason – is a huge player in the major college basketball development process nationwide.Take a look at his roster and the early signees at Division I schools so far this season: Virginia (Will Harris 6'6 230lbs); Colorado (Xavier Silas 6'5 205lbs- son of former San Antonio Spur guard James Silas); LaSalle (Brian Grimes 6'7 220lbs); Winthrop (Rainer Blickle 6'7 190lbs); and Stony Brook (Kyle Wright 6'5 200lbs). And that doesn’t include three of his starters who will sign in the spring signing period, one of whom is down to Stanford and Columbia.

Not far behind is Jamie Arseneault, the former Portsmouth High and Colby College three-sport star who is the head coach at the New Hampton School. He already has three kids committed to Kansas, Southern Methodist and the University of New Hampshire and word along courtside is that another of his starters is heading to Dartmouth.

And just in case you didn’t notice, Jerome Dyson from Proctor Academy is listed in the Top 100 high school seniors and the shooter extraordinaire is heading to UConn next season.

Six former Division I college basketball players, a few pounds heavier, and for some a couple of steps slower, but none the less still playing, were on the floor together in Andy Pappas's Concord Men's A League season opener at the Green Street Community Center a couple of weeks ago.

Wasn't that long ago that the league was made up of former local high school players. Now the A League is loaded with former college players. Also was a time when there were only four teams in the entire league (United Life, IGA, Rumford Press and Universal Packaging). This year's count: 57!

The best laid plans of mice and men (no pun intended) : David Angus, from the South End Angus's, writes that Little League baseball has finally changed one of its rules. The birthday cutoff has been changed from July 31 to April 30 which means my Copulate for Williamsport event will have to be postponed to next August which isn't a bad thing.....the weather will be more conducive to outdoor procreation.

With this birthday change, I have three guys in my house screaming for a Do Over.

Don't know about you, but I'm writing to the AD at Notre Dame to let him know their football team needs another assistant coach or at least another student manager on scholarship. Someone needs to wipe Charlie Weis's nose. There's not another college football coach in America who has a runnier nose.....and on national television all the time, too.

I always love to see college basketball games in person when I visit our oldest son and his family in North Carolina over the Thanksgiving holiday. But this year, UNC-Charlotte was the real turkey as they shot 4 for 30 from three point land and 9 for 30 from inside the arc in a loss to Mississippi State. That's less than 22% for the entire game. They had nine points at the half....this from an experienced, senior-driven team. MSU, on the other hand, was filled with kids including a quartet of freshmen who played very well.

Gotta love the warmer climates. Charlotte Independence High was playing its 15th game of the season for the state football championship the Saturday after Thanksgiving. What do New Hampshire schools play, 10?

Anyone want to wager which box scores UNH hoops coach Billy Herrion checks first? Some place in my top three will be Purdue and Louisville. How come? Because each school has a New Hampshire freshman on its team and one would suspect playing time would be important to know for someone who is trying to build a better team in Durham. Chris Lutz (Trinity/Brewster) is starting at guard for Purdue and is the Boilermakers second leading scorer (11.5 ppg) and is second in minutes played per game (29.5 mpg). Chad Millard (Trinity/Brewster) has played in all four of Louisville's games averaging 2.5 ppg and 8 minutes per game.

And don't forget you won't find Luke Bonner's name in the West Virginia box scores this year as he's sitting out the season after transferring to UMass.

If you have real deep Concord roots and find yourself checking boxscores this winter, check out the College of Saint Rose and look for the name Will Monica, a 6'5" shooter and son of Paul Monica (CHS '66) who was the tallest defenseman in CHS hockey history.

Enjoy the holidays and get out there and wactch some of the local teams play. You'll be glad you did.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Off My Wall
November 7, 2005

Plan Now for Williamsport

Ever have this urge to want to make a difference? Ever want to leave some type of legacy behind when your days are done? Do you have trouble finding something unique that you can call your own?

Me, too.

But I think I’ve found the answer.

I’ve settled on a plan to conceive, nurture, and develop a national championship Little League team. I’m taking Concord, New Hampshire to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, or is it South Williamsport, Pennsylvania now? When did it change, anyhow?

I have a plan to win the Little League World Series.

And it all starts with what I call Little League Planned Parenthood.

In case you haven’t noticed - and the national television puhbas are making it much easier for use to see Little League baseball on the regional, national and international level – most of the players in the Williamsport final rounds are 12-year olds. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find most of them are August and September births.

Which means we’re in the midst of an important time if we want to make it to Williamsport.

We are in a 60-day Copulate for Williamsport time period.

That’s right. You gotta do it NOW! And not just once. After all, none of us are so perfect that it only takes one shot to win.

For this to work, you have to conceive during the months of November and December. That way the births next summer will be in August and September.

Perfect for 12-year old Little Leaguers in 2019.

If you have a tendency towards premature births, you should take heed and postpone this citywide copulation drill until January.

But if you’re right on target with deliveries, drop your draws now.

Here’s my plan:

We need to find as many able bodied young adults, preferably married, who have decent size and oodles of athletic ability. If at all possible we need to have both partners former baseball or softball players.

Right-handed men should match us with right-handed women.

Left-handed men find your lovely left-handed lady.

Ambidextrous folk take special note: you’re our switch hitters of the future. Please take great care in finding partners equally adept at using both hands. Hey, the equivalent to spring training could be fun.

As an alternative for switch hitters, we may need to look for multiple orgasm folks out there, and only you know who you are. A friend suggested using right-handed fore play the first time and left-handed fore play the second…..never can tell but that might be the right stroke for switch hitters.

We’re scheduling a field day this weekend just after dark each night at Grappone Park in the North End (American League) and the new field off Iron Works Road in the South End (National League). Memorial Field is off limits, being a publicly owned field and all. Don’t want to make this any more difficult than it already is.

Shy folks should probably head towards the mattresses and blankets off Iron Works Road…..see, Grappone Park might draw a huge crowd up on the banking.

Our plan is to have a mattress at each and every position on the field and the conception tries will be broken into innings with one try per inning. That allows nine different couples to try out each inning so as many people as possible can partake in this Williamsport gambit.

There’s no time limit on innings, but try not to be the last one out there with all the other positions having gone back to the dugout. We hate to have the umpires move the game along just because of you.

My suggestion is if you want a future shortstop, you should copulate in the shortstop area. If you want an outfielder, the going might be a bit better because the grass is softer than the infield dirt. If you’re one of those who just have to a have a pitcher, then you’re copulating at your own risk: there may be a slight balancing act to stay on top of that mound.

In any event, we should have no problem finding willing participants. It’s a whole lot more fun than selling candy bars as a fundraiser.

Let the copulating begin!

Bits and Pieces

In case you missed it, Ray Duckler gave all us local fanatics a line for the ages in his fine story about the recent passing of big Joe Shields.

“His life is one of those hidden joys of this city, a big-screen theme known only to various classmates at Concord High….and area senior citizens connected to team sports back then.”

Doesn’t that aptly describe many of the athletes we knew Growing Up Concord? There’s a whole memory bank of people who fits that description very neatly.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Red Sox GM situation. Post 21 alums may have one of our own pulling the strings on Yawkey Way as Jed Hoyer, who played Legion ball for Warren Doane in the early 90s, has been mentioned often as a possible replacement.

Of course, another Post 21 grad, Brian Sabean, has popped up again and maybe all the moons are aligned this time for it to happen. I’ve always wanted to do this… informed source told me that a number of things are in Sabean’s favor this time around. Whew! My chest almost exploded.

There….I did it. Won’t tell you who or what…..just like the big guys.

If you know Sabes at all, are you wondering how in hell he’d get along with Larry the Lizard?

Think of it as Harvard-Yale on a small school scale. Think of it as an in-state football rivalry between two colleges a few exits apart on I-95 in Maine (of course, a couple of exits in Maine could be the equivalent to a time zone change in some spots).

Think of it any way you want, so long as you know there's a big -BIG - football game this weekend in Maine as Bowdoin (6-1) and Colby (6-1) have at it.

Why mention this? Because Bowdoin is led by pass catching whiz Jeffrey Nolin from Somersworth via St. Thomas....and more importantly the son of Jim and Joanne (Nadeau) Nolin who have some serious roots in our neighborhood.
Someone call and tell them to ditch that commercial with the guy sitting in his recliner dumping cars by pulling the chair gear shift.

Sexist Comment Alert! Sexist Comment Alert! Sexist Comment Alert!

Based upon her current body shape, does anyone else wonder if Summer Sanders really was an Olympic swimmer? Doesn’t seem possible, does it?

Word around town is that the Concord Country Club is parting with some serious ching to renovate and redesign part of the back nine to make it less forgiving.

Not that I’d be the proper gauge, but I never found the back nine to be the least bit forgiving in the first place especially those damn trees to the far left of the fairway on the 17th where by 3-wood took up permanent residency high, high up in the timber a few years back.

Of course, the back nine at the local mini-golf course in Hooksett is a challenge for me.

Anyone else wondering if the folks at NHTI got a strip mining permit before they dug up all that ground as you enter campus?

Actually it’s being turned into a multifield soccer complex in concert with a couple of private companies.

Pretty neat story line with the two CHS soccer captains doing rock-paper-scissors to determine who took the penalty shot in an early tournament game.

But I guess I’m either an old fart or too much of a traditionalist. I thought decisions like that was what the coach was there to do.

For some reason, I can’t see Bill Haubrich leaning against the scorer’s table at Lundholm smiling while Ethan Cole and Matt Bonner shoot fingers to see who would take key foul shots in a tournament game. Or Warren Doane perched on the top step of the dugout at Gill Stadium while Rick Flanders refereed the rock-paper-scissors shootout between Joe Lefebvre and Mike Curry to see who pitches the last inning for the championship.

Just can’t seem to grasp that scenario.

And speaking of Lefebvre. Here’s a local version of why Theo My Hero may have left.

A few winters back, when Matt Bonner was still in high school, Lefebvre visited the Concord High cage to catch some action. At halftime, Joey went to the scorer’s table and said hello to Warren Doane, his former high school coach, and Chuck Landry, the official scorer.

After his visit, Joe started around the court looking for a seat and spotted me, sitting alone in my usual spot. Being the only chump he recognized, Joe came up and settled in for the second half.

Or so he thought.

Bonner could have broken his leg, Red Murray could have come out of retirement, and Haubrich could have thrown his jacket across the floor and laid down in front of the bench (wait, maybe he did that that game!) and we wouldn’t have noticed. I couldn’t help myself. I had my own version of the Hot Stove League and we did nothing but talk baseball the entire second half.

It even got so bad, I asked Joe if he could take off his World Series ring (Phillies) and let me hold it. How bad is that?

Now just imagine Theo in Boston, his home town, and a million folks like me being there wanting to just say hi and start up a conversation. Could be the answer to why?

Ever seen a softball field with centerfield closer than left or right? Check out the women’s softball field at NHTI.

Ask your favorite baseball geek if he/she knows if there has ever been a World Series with two players with the same last name who played on opposite teams who were traded for each other? Naturally the Red Sox are involved. In 1999 the Red Sox traded Adam Everett, a promising young shortstop (who they didn’t need because of Nomar) to Houston for Carl Everett.

And is anyone else grimacing over the thought of Carl Everett wearing a World Series championship ring?

I don’t know about you, but now that Theo My Hero is gone, I’d trade Larry Luccino for Larry Andersen (again) straight up wherever he is.

Watching Houston’s pitching staff sure makes me wonder if all those 900+ runs the Sox scored behind its B-level pitching staff was worth it or not.

And watching the Cardinals, Astros and White Sox makes me ponder why so many major league teams went the route of the big stud shortstops a few years back.

Hard to pick against Eckstein, Everett, and Uribe for the money.

Anyone know if there is a Fantasy Baseball League for the Winter League?

Just wondering…..or is it wandering?

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