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The View from the Cheap Seats by Eddie Mayrose

April 24, 2008 under Cheap Seats

Jerry Seinfeld made his fortune with a show that was, admittedly, about nothing. Apparently taking their cue from Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine, the NFL and ESPN combine forces this weekend to bring us the annual cattle call known as the NFL Draft. Eight hours of coverage, five analysts, hundreds of video profiles, the biggest hairdo on television and an auditorium full of self proclaimed diehard fans booing and cheering players that most of them have never seen perform.  In the spirit of The Emperor’s New Clothes, they respond to selections as if they were puppets of the network.  If draft expert Mel Kiper says that their team should have taken another player they boo, even if they’ve never heard of either.  Then, they wrap it all up with my favorite part; The Scorecard.  Despite the fact that none of these players have ever pulled on an NFL jersey, the teams are graded on how successful they were during the whole process.  Sort of like figuring out which cake is the best in the bakery by looking at the boxes.

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Even though the draft coverage is tediously long, it is informative enough to give those fans that don’t follow the college game an idea of the types of players coming to their teams.  A far cry from the way the draft used to be run with fans lined up on the street outside a midtown hotel hoping to get one of the available seats.  Many, like my buddies and me who cut class to be there, were turned away.  And give Mel Kiper some of the credit he deserves.  He took a hobby and turned it into a million dollar job.  The only thing missing from the marathon coverage is a Kiper scorecard.  He gets to stand on a soapbox all day and criticize GM’s and entire scouting departments without fear of his own miscues being revealed to the viewers.  Every once in awhile give us a glimpse at how Mel’s past picks worked out.

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With the sixth selection, the Jets are said to be considering RB Darren McFadden from Arkansas.  An electric playmaker to be sure but didn’t they just throw a boatload of money at RB Thomas Jones last year?  Then, in the off-season, they managed to address weaknesses on both the offensive and defensive lines. How about giving Jones a chance to run behind these high priced linemen and using the pick to establish the best young secondary in the league?  Last time I Iooked, the Jets were still in the same division as Tom Brady and Randy Moss.  They unearthed a hidden gem three years ago when they drafted ball hawking safety Kerry Rhodes and made a great pick last year, moving up to grab cornerback Darrelle Revis who enjoyed a sensational rookie year.  Wouldn’t another shutdown cornerback on the other side make the defensive line more effective and allow Holmes the freedom to play centerfield in the deep secondary?  Mike Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini; you know where to reach me.

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Like father, like son?  Now we find out that, according to Yankees’ co- owner, Hank Streinbrenner, he never signed off on Joba Chamberlain’s move to the bullpen.  “I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now,” Steinbrenner told the New York Times. “There is no question about it, you don’t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don’t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that.”  Funny how quickly Brian Cashman, who has been the General Manager through four World Series titles and thirteen straight post-season appearances, became an idiot.  You’d think that after watching Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy get knocked around early in the season Steinbrenner would understand the practicality of protecting young arms.  I guess not.  Do you think that Hank has already reminded Cashman that the GM was the one who staunchly opposed a trade for Johan Santana?
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Last Saturday, Mets vs. Phillies.  Bottom of the 8th inning, Mets up 4-2 and facing a bases loaded jam with one out.  FOX broadcaster, Tim McCarver, made what has become the unquestioned MLB logic, observing that the Mets’ Aaron Heilman would have to wriggle out of the sticky situation himself, as it was too early to go to closer Billy Wagner.  Huh?  How did it ever become logical to have anyone other than the best pitcher available handling a game’s most critical situation?  A quick glance at the record books shows that from 1978 through 1984, Hall of Fame reliever, Goose Gossage, averaged over 100 IP per season and had at least 10 wins four times.  Gossage was no stranger to multiple inning appearances and was often brought into tie games, something managers never do with their closers today.  Mariano Rivera, regarded in many circles as the best reliever ever, has never had more than 80 IP or 7 wins since becoming the Yankee stopper.  It seems that since Tony LaRussa had success with this system in Oakland twenty years ago, managers are more concerned with having their instincts challenged than the consequences of simply following the herd.
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Is there any single position in all of sports that is more important than a hot goalie in the NHL playoffs?  Every year, no matter how the teams are seeded, upsets are the norm, generally because the weaker team’s goaltender goes on an insane streak where he stops everything sent his way.  The Rangers, Avalanche and Stars have already knocked off higher seeds while three other series were going to a Game 7 as we went to press.  Which begs the question; if one player can make such a difference in the way teams match up with each other, why does the regular season have to be so long?  At any rate, while it hasn’t been quite as long between cups as the last two, Ranger fans are well aware that 1994 was a long time ago.  Here’s hoping the Broadway Blues keep the Garden hopping well into May.

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