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The View from the Cheap Seats

December 20, 2009 under Cheap Seats


By Eddie Mayrose

New York Mets GM Omar Minaya Feeling The Heat
In the middle of a week that saw John Lackey sign with the Red Sox and Roy Halladay traded to cheap_seats_3_the Phillies, Omar Minaya has taken his share of pounding in the media for failing to do anything to improve the Metropolitan Baseball club.  Made me think I missed an announcement that had Major League Baseball awarding a championship in December without playing a regular season schedule.  Minaya offered little more than a request for patience; explaining that the Mets do have a plan and they’re content to let it run its course.

One thing in the GM’s favor is that three superstars; Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana will be returning to the roster.  The presence of Reyes and Beltran in the lineup should serve to boost David Wright’s stats back to their normal range.  While the Amazins’ desperately need starting pitching and failed to bring either Halladay or Lackey into the fold, Minaya does hve a little credit in the bank when it comes to preaching patience.  He outlasted all contenders in free agent negotiations with Beltran and Pedro Martinez and gave up next to nothing to acquire Santana after waiting out the Red Sox and Yankees.

Fans and media alike are calling for any kind of deal as if the Mets are obligated to provide some show of good faith.  They’ve already offered Jason Bay a four year deal but won’t go for five.  Good for them.  Putting fanatacism aside, does anyone really think Jason Bay will be worth $16 million in five years?  If Minaya can ship Luis Castillo out of CitiField for Orlando Hudson, sign Bay and bring in one or two mid level starters (Ben Sheets, Justin Duchscherrer), he’ll be heading into 2010 with a very similar roster to the one that was picked by many to win the NL East in 2009.

Listen To Your Father, Kid. New York Jets December Preview
Have to admit I received the following preview of the Jets’ stretch run from Cheap Seater Keith Whelan with more than a little satisfaction.  My attempt to educate fans of Gang Green to the presence of outside forces dedicated to their demise has started to hit home.  Whelan, a long time season ticket holder, offered this opinion on how his favorite team would finish the season.

“It’s just too easy to expect the Jets to break our hearts again. We all know they will.   But, now, I’ve taken your advice to go beyond the pessimistic view and look for the twisted one that will not only hurt but pour salt in the wound.”  “The way I see it, we’ll easily beat Atlanta this week while Miami, Baltimore and Jacksonville lose.  That puts us a game up and in control of our own fate; a very bad sign.”  “We’ll head to Indy next week and shock everyone by knocking off the unbeaten Colts as they rest players.”  “Then, facing a ‘win and we’re in’ game at home, we’ll be crushed by Cincinnati.  They’ve hurt me too many times for me to see this thing turning out any other way.”

Nice job, Keith.  The only thing I might add is a few Patriots’ losses that will have that Cincinnati defeat cost them the division as well.  So, if you’re torn between holiday commitments and watching the Jets, it’s been our pleasure to free you up for some parties and shopping.

Russian Billionaire Takes Control of New Jersey Nets
Nets’ owner Bruce Ratner announced that an agreement has been reached with Mikhail Prokhorov regarding his stake in the Nets franchise and the proposed arena in Brooklyn. The final hurdle is approval by the remaining NBA owners who have already indicated they’d sign off on the deal.  No decision has been reached on Prokhorov’s request that the Nets be allowed to play with seven men on the court and shoot at a nine foot basket.

Hey, Giants Football Fans, Come In Off The Ledge
While Sunday night’s loss to Philadelphia probably cost Big Blue any chance of winning the NFC East, the Giants still find themselves in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card berth.  Yes, I know the defense was terrible; allowing back breaking plays at the end of the firat half and then, again, after the Jints had finally taken the lead.  Yet, regardless of how the D performed,  the Giants still win that game if not for the two TD returns allowed on a fumble recovery and a punt.  Hang tough, Giants’ fans.  A 9-7 record is easily attainable and more than likely secures the postseason for your football team.  Refresh my memory.  How’d the Giants do the last time they were a 9-7 Wild Card team?

Tiger Woods Named AP Athlete of the Decade
For the first time in three weeks, Tiger Woods got a little good news when he was named AP Athlete of the Decade.  Obvious jokes aside, Woods’ selection was as easy as you’ll see with an award so open to different interpretations.  Interesting to guess where Tiger would have finished had the vote been taken after Thanksgiving, though.   After all, Barry Bonds, four time MVP, batting champ and all time Home Run leader didn’t garner a single vote. Wonder why?

Dallas Cowboys Football Stadium Debuts 3D Screen
So I’m watching Chargers-Cowboys in Jerry Jones’ brand new palace last Sunday.  CBS fulfilled what seems like a contractual obligation by extolling the virtues of the new stadium ad nauseum.  There were views of the promenade, the enormous standing room area, six or seven thousand shots of Jones in his luxury box and, of course, many references to the enormous video screen that hangs over the field.  Now, I find that a video screen in a stadium is quite useful for replays; after all, it’s the one concession you make to television when you attend a game in person.  However, I’ve never seen the logic of broadcasting the game as it’s being played.  Why would anyone pay good money for a ticket to, essentially, enjoy less comfort for an activity that could have been enjoyed at home for free?

Be that as it may, the ‘Pokes went over the top with an “Emperor’s New Clothes” feature that really gave me a laugh.  At one point in the game, we were shown an image of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader wearing a pair of 3D glasses.  Apparently, Jones and the Cowboys were quite impressed with themselves for showing a three dimensional view of the game on the giant screen.  Fans seemed very excited about it, too.  Wonder if any of them realized that, along with the fans assembled in every other NFL stadium, they were already enjoying a 3D version of the game by simply looking down at the field.  Somewhere, P.T. Barnum must have been smiling.

Mayrose Honored
Congratulations to Virginia Mayrose, Staten Island High School Volleyball Coach of the Year.  Recognized for leading St. Joseph Hill Academy to its first title since she founded the program, Mayrose completely revamped her team’s style of play; raising the competitive bar in her own league while bolstering the reputation of Staten Island volleyball among the more established schools in New York City.  She’s really cute, too.  Well done, Gin.

But We Didn’t Ask For Boise-TCU!

December 18, 2009 under College Football, Uncategorized

College Football Bowls Conspire To Protect BCS System
Boise State vs. TCU in the Fiesta Bowl? With the sleight of hand used by a magician, the College Bowls make bcs_trophythemselves appear to be magmanimous by granting a sscond BCS bid to a non-conference school while diverting our attention from their bigger goal; protecting their wallets by diffusing the uproar for a playoff system to determine a champion in the NCAA Bowl Championship division.  Nice try, guys.

With five unbeaten teams headed into the Bowl Season, anti-BCS sentiment was running at an all time high and figured to ramp up to an intolerable level if as many as four were left standing after their Bowl Games. A likely scenario, as contracts between the Bowls and certain conferences should have had Cincinnati facing Georgia Tech in the Orange, TCU against Florida in the Sugar, Boise matched up with Iowa in the Fiesta with Texas and Alabama deciding the Championship.  While the loser of the BCS title game would have dropped from the ranks of the undefeated, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if all of the other perfect teams finished that way.  How then, would the powers-that-be quell the demand for a playoff?

Here’s how.  Using loopholes to get around the conference agreements, the Sugar Bowl drafted Cincinnati as its BCS at-large team and the Fiesta paired Boise State with TCU; robbing both schools and college bcs2football fans of the opportunity to see how these “outsiders” would fare against the big boys.  What they did create, though, was a scenario where only one team beside the champ is unbeaten.  TCU is much better suited to handle Florida than the boys from Cincy who’d have had a much easier time with Georgia Tech in the Orange. Considering that the Bearcats will head into the Sugar Bowl without their head coach, beating Florida will be difficult.  As for the Fiesta, the loser is out of the conversation.

Every year we hear the same nonsense from NCAA officials about the logistical difficulty of staging an eight or sixteen team playoff.  Travel and academics are the two obstacles most often cited.  They’d have merit, too, if only the NCAA’s lower divisions didn’t already participate in a 32 team format.  What’s the old saying?  When they say it’s not about the money, it’s always about the money.

Ahead of the Point Spread: Rife With Opinions- Bowl Edition

December 15, 2009 under College Football

Welcome Back, Gil Lock

There’s something to be said for karma.  Just days after banishing husband and uncle, Gil Lock, from the ryno rifevery handicapping column founded to feature his expertise, Jill and Pad Lock suffered through their worst weekend of the season.  Jill, who had been rolling along at a two to one clip, turned in an oh for three stinker; her first of the year.  Nephew Pad didn’t fare much better; registering just a single win. Realizing they had ticked off the football gods by mistreating Gil just before the start of the all important Bowl Season, they decided to correct the situation and invite Gil back to the team.

“We never felt right about firing Gil”, said his wife, Jill.  “I mean, he’s a sports handicapper.  It’s what he does. What else is he going to do, work in a supermarket? He had a bad stretch and we overreacted.”  Pad echoed the sentiment, saying, “Uncle Gil has always been good to me. I hated to let him go but Aunt Jill wanted to protect her record.  Not much to protect now, I guess.”

Gil, while overjoyed at the news, was still feeling a little low after some personal misadventures took their toll.  “I’ve been pulled over a number of times by Jersey State Troopers because I look like the guy who brad ferro 2punched Snookie on Jersey Shore.  They usually notice I’m not the guy after I form a few complete sentences but, the last time, I got in over my head.”  “I have a buddy who’s a guido”, said Gil, “and this cop pulls me over with him in the car.”  “He takes one look at Phil’s hair gel and general, torpedo demeanor and assumes he’s ‘The Situation'”, Gil continued.  “I tried to explain that Phil’s nickname is, actually, ‘The Altercation’ and that the officer  was mistaken; but he wasn’t buying.”  “Finally, the cop, knowing that the real ‘Situation’ has six-pack abs, asked Phil to roll up his sleeveless tee.”  “As soon as he saw that Phil’s six-pack was actually a half keg, he let us go.”  Asked if he harbored any ill will toward his wife and nephew, Gil was gracious.  “Nah.  I’m just happy to be back.”   And, with that,  here’s how the Locks see the Bowl Season:

Locks of the Week(s)

Before we get to their individual selections, we present the Locks’ consensus picks along with this insight from Gil:  “The Big Ten is as overrated a conference as I’ve ever seen, yet, they get two BCS bids and two New Year’s games.  Now try and tell me the system doesn’t need to be changed.”  “We at Ryno Rife Sports Handicappers  have no confidence in any Big Ten teams or coaches, especially Penn State and Paterno, and have decided to pick against every one of them.”

Champs Sports Bowl

(12/29-8PM-ESPN) Miami – 2 1/2 over Wisconsin

Insight Bowl

(12/31-6PM-NFL Network) Iowa State +3 over Minnesota

Outback Bowl

(1/1-11AM-ESPN) Auburn -8 over Northwestern

Capital One Bowl

(1/1-1PM-ABC) LSU +2 1/2 over Penn State

Rose Bowl

(1/1-4:30PM-ABC) Oregon – 3 1/2 over Ohio State

Alamo Bowl

(1/2-9PM-ESPN) Texas Tech – 6 1/2 over Michigan State

Orange Bowl

(1/5-8PM-FOX) Georgia Tech – 3 1/2 over Iowa
 

Jill Locks (22-12)

Poinsettia Bowl

(12/23-8PM-ESPN) California -3 over Utah

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl

(12/26-1PM-ESPN) Ohio-Marshall UNDER 50

Eagle Bank Bowl

(12/29-4:30PM-ESPN)  UCLA -4 over Temple

Humanitarian Bowl

(12/30-4:30PM-ESPN) Bowling Green-Idaho OVER 68 1/2

Sun Bowl

(12/31-2PM-CBS) Stanford +10 over Oklahoma

 

Pad Locks (10-6)

Meineke Bowl

-(12/26-4:30PM-ESPN) Pittsburgh -3 over North Carolina

Emerald Bowl

(12/26-8PM-ESPN) Boston College-USC OVER 45 1/2

Texas Bowl

(12/31-1PM-ESPN) Navy +9 over Missouri

Sugar Bowl

(1/1-8:30PM-FOX)  Cincinnati +10 1/2 over Florida

Alamo Bowl

(1/2-9PM-ESPN) Texas Tech-Michigan State OVER 60 1/2

 

Gil Locks (11-16-1)

New Mexico Bowl

(12/19-4:30PM-ESPN)  Wyoming +10 1/2 over Fresno State

Las Vegas Bowl

(12/22-8PM-ESPN) Oregon State – 1 1/2 over BYU

Armed Forces Bowl

(12/31-12PM-ESPN)  Air Force + 4 1/2 over Houston

Cotton Bowl

(1/2-2PM-FOX) Mississippi -3 over Oklahoma State

Fiesta Bowl

(1/4-8PM-FOX) TCU -8 over Boise State

Citi BCS National Championship Game

Thursday, January 7 – 8PM – ABC  bcs trophy 
Alabama 3 1/2 Texas

Jill: Alabama: Can’t see Nick Saban losing after a month of preparation.
Pad: Texas: Big 12 Football is underrated. The Horns will catch Bama sleeping.
Gil: Texas: Nobody giving Texas a chance; which is my favorite scenario.

Season Record

43-34-1

The View from the Cheap Seats

December 13, 2009 under Cheap Seats

Tiger Woods Dealing With Unplayable Lie

Is it possible to blow a billion bucks in just two weeks?   Tiger Woods may be in the process of answering that very question right now.  cheap_seats_3_Since driving into a fire hydrant on Thanksgiving night, we’ve found out a lot about how Tiger may have been entertaining himself off the course.  True or not, you can bet that those sponsors that originally stood behind him are having second thoughts as each alleged dalliance is revealed.  As it is, not one commercial featuring Woods has appeared in prime time since the story began.   If he can’t stop the bleeding somehow, his wife and family may not be the only things he loses.

New York Knicks Sit Nate And Go On Tear
If Knicks’ head coach Mike D’Antoni does nothing else during the regular season, he’s already won me over with his benching of Nate Robinson; his super-talented and super-childish guard.  Robinson is a classic case of a player that just doesn’t get it. He defended his role in a brawl with the Nuggets as a reaction to the fact that Denver was, essentially, running up the score and seeking to embarrass New York.  Then, after that philosophy earned him a ten game suspension, he was lambasted by Knicks’ coach Isiah Thomas for a ridiculously comical dunk attempt in a close game that resulted in a traveling violation.  Contradicting his earlier stance and showing no remorse, he claimed that, net time, he’d wait until the Knicks were up twenty before he tried it.

This season, his second under D’Antoni, Nate finally pushed too hard when he intentionally shot the ball at the wrong basket against New Jersey and spent most of the pre game warmups vs. Orlando fraternizing with his buddy, Dwight Howard.   D’Antoni, having seen enough, banished Robinson to the bench and sent the 4-14 Knicks into their hottest streak of the season.

Robinson has no idea how to play a winning brand of basketball. He’s  a player that thinks the outcome of a game is incidental to the way he plays, not a direct result.  As such, he’s as unwatchable as any player in the league and the first guy that should be shown the door when the housecleaning begins next summer.

New York Yankees Trade for Granderson
About a year ago, the Yankees made what looked to be a safety-net type of trade with the White Sox in acquiring Nick Swisher.  Swisher, who can play all three outfield positions as well as first base, provided the Bombers some protection in case they couldn’t sign Mark Teixeira.  More than that, however, they’d acquired a player with a team-first mentality whose personality would be an asset to the team in the clubhouse as well as on the field.  Swisher quickly became a fan favorite and flourished at the bottom of New York’s order.  He was a huge part of their World Championship; a throwback who’d have been just as comfortable with Joe Torre’s Yanks as he was with Joe Girardi’s.  Swisher debunked the “rotisserie baseball” style of filling out a roster that had been employed by the Yankees over the last decade and brought back some of the grinding temperament that hadn’t been seen since Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez left town.   Perhaps realizing the secret of his success, GM Brian Cashman made a similar move this week in grabbing Curtis Granderson from the Tigers.  He comes to the Bronx with a better resume than Swisher but is a very similar player.  Young, handsome and quick witted, he’ll be the object of fan affection the moment he steps on the field and should be equally as popular in the clubhouse.  Looks like Cashman has finally realized the value of good chemistry.

Fordham Basketball Coach Whittenburg Fired
Just five games into the season, Fordham University decided to dismiss men’s basketball coach, Dereck Whittenburg.  Coming off a disastrous 3-25 campaign, school athletic officials were hoping for a much better start from their Rams than four losses in the first five games.  So, after a twenty four point loss to neighborhood rival, Manhattan College, Whittenburg was shown the door. Fordham announced that a national search would commence immediately.

They can look all they want, even bring back Digger Phelps;  it won’t solve the biggest problem facing their basketball program.  Fordham, as a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, is in way over its head; a point driven home on Sunday by its former MAAC opponent, Manhattan.  In the world of big-time college hoops, Fordham is a relatively small school with very little success as part of its history.  They have no geographic rivals within the conference and generate little or no interest among fans in New York City.  As part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, however, they enjoyed rivalries with the aforementioned Jaspers and Iona while receiving  infinitely more local coverage.  You won’t see too many fans or reporters headed to Rose Hill on a cold February night for a Fordham-Saint Louis matchup.  Though, on the same night, Draddy Gym will have twice as many people for a Manhattan-Iona clash.  For some reason,(money), Fordham officials decided to leave the MAAC and signed on to be sacrificial lambs to the likes of A-10 powers Xavier, Dayton, St. Joseph’s, LaSalle and Temple; all programs with national reputations.  To expect a head coach to compete with those teams while also fighting a recruiting war at home with six other Division I programs is asking for too much.  That’s if he even chooses to fight that war in the first place.

While any coach would be behind the eight ball at Fordham, Whittenburg did have a hand in his own undoing.  A perusal of the Rams’ roster shows only one player from New York City; Alberto Estwick of Brooklyn.  Despite the fact that the New York Catholic High School League is considered the best in the nation, not one grad from among its members plays at Fordham.  Even Estwick played in New Jersey.  Legendary St. John’s coach, Lou Carnesecca, used to joke that his recruiting budget was a handful of subway tokens as his roster was made up mostly of city kids.  How’d he do with that strategy?  Current Johnnies’ head man, Norm Roberts,  has struggled almost as much as Whittenburg in his tenure; mainly due to his inability to recruit in his own backyard.   Ironically, Whittenburg’s last defeat came at the hands of Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen, formerly Pitt’s chief recruiter who made a living bringing New York players to Pittsburgh after they were ignored by their hometown colleges.   I’ve attended better than a hundred CHSAA games over the last eight years.  Rohrssen is a fixture.  I’ve never seen Whittenburg.

Fordham’s got a long road ahead on its way to hoop respectability; something it may never accomplish no matter how earnest the effort.  The first step taken should be toward a head coach with a New York reputation who’ll bring city players to Rose Hill and start to generate interest among Big Apple hoop fans. A few regular season games at The Garden wouldn’t hurt either. Until then, however, they’re just boys among men.  No matter who’s running the program.

The View from the Cheap Seats

December 2, 2009 under Cheap Seats, Uncategorized

By Eddie Mayrose

Tiger Woods Drives Into The Rough

I’m wondering just how many of those calling for Tiger Woods to come clean about the circumstances cheap_seats_3_owumsurrounding his auto accident would be so open with the authorities in the same situation.  Here’s all I need to know.  Woods was involved in a one car accident where he was the only person injured and no alcohol was involved.  He met his legal requirements by producing license, registration and proof of insurance and is recovering from minor injuries that will not affect his career.  That’s it, I’m good.  Whatever else may have happened is the sole business of Tiger and his wife; no matter how far he can hit a golf ball.  Funny, a sports superstar crashes his car and public outrage ensues because we can’t find out  why it occurred.  Yet, when two morons trying to get on TV commit a felony by trespassing on White House grounds and compromising Presidential security, it’s received as little more than a college fraternity prank.  Here’s an idea.  Let’s cut Mr. and Mrs. Woods some slack and throw Mr. and Mrs. Salahi in prison for as long as President Obama resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

 New York Rangers’ Tortorella May Be Writing Own Pink Slip

After a weekend that saw his hockey team blown out of two games while surrendering thirteen goals, Rangers’ Head Coach John Tortorella had an interesting take. “The locker room, sooner or later, has to take some ownership as far as how we’re gonna go about this,” Tortorella said. “It’s about accountability … individual players taking responsibility for their play.”  Seems to me that accountability and responsibility are part of the head man’s job description; right up there with motivation.  Every coach knows the game.  The successful ones are those that inspire their players to compete.  Could it be that Tortorella may soon be held accountable for the Blueshirts’ malaise?   Then again, he’s being evaluated by GM Glen Sather; an exec that’s reigned over a decade of mediocrity while escaping any vestige of accountability, himself.   Who knows?   Maybe he and Tortorella are a perfect match.

Derek Jeter Named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year

This one is a little confusing.  Now, a case could be made for a player of Derek Jeter’s caliber just about BASEBALL/every year.  Having said that, if SI was looking to select a baseball player based solely on his accomplishments in 2009, Albert Pujols should have been the choice.  If Jeter’s exceptional season was viewed as part of a career resume that includes a number of championships, how can Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson be overlooked after setting an NBA record with his tenth title?  After all, Jeter’s been with the Yanks for each of the last nine seasons that have failed to produce a title.  It wasn’t until C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira arrived that the Bombers were able to rise to the top of the baseball world once again.  No matter your opinion, however, the editors at SI are grateful for the interest generated by any controversy.   That said, the pick here would have been Jackson.

New Jersey Nets Fire Coach Lawrence Frank

There.  That ought to fix everything.  No word yet as to when Nets’ playoff tickets go on sale.

Tennessee Titans On Comeback Trail

This is the flip side to the New Jersey Nets situation and one for those who recognize that a great coach doesn’t suddenly become stupid.  After Tennessee’s 0-6 start, some were calling for the head of Titan’s coach Jeff Fisher.  Fisher, the NFL’s longest tenured head man, was under fire after his team’s disastrous opening to the ’09 campaign.  Wonder if a new guy would have been able to rally the Titans back to playoff contention with a five game winning streak the way Fisher has.

McAlarney Leads Fort Wayne Mad Ants To First Victory

Fort Wayne Mad Ants?  Well, it doesn’t always come easy.  For every NBA star, there are a hundred kylemcalarneyscratching and clawing to get into the league.  Some, like former Knick,  John Starks, go from bagging groceries to the All Star Game.  For many others, though, it’s a long trek through a lot of small towns that doesn’t always end with an NBA contract.  Former Notre Dame star, Kyle McAlarney, is currently on the first step of that journey, toiling in the NBA Developmental League for the Mad Ants.  He had twenty two the other night in the Ants’ first win as he tries to refute the notion that a player his size can’t make it.  Hard to believe there isn’t a team in the NBA that couldn’t use one of the best shooters at any level.  You listening, Donnie Walsh?


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