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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.


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