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The View from the Cheap Seats

November 25, 2009 under Cheap Seats

New York Giants Owner Mara Upset About Travel

Came out this week that Giants’ owner John Mara is upset that his squad must make the two thousand mile cheap_seats_3_owumtrek to Denver for its Thanksgiving clash with the Broncos.  “I don’t mind playing on Thanksgiving,” Mara said. “My complaint is sending us all the way to Denver on a short week.”  In fact, he was so irked by the scheduling that he filed a complaint with the NFL; which made me wonder.  Is that complaint hotline for the exclusive use of petty, carpetbagging owners that were born on third and thought they hit a triple? Or can it be used by life long season ticket holders being screwed out of their seats by Mara’s Personal Seat Licensing extortion?  Sorry, Johnny, if you’re looking for sympathy, you came to the wrong place.

NFL Football Serves Its Biggest Turkeys On Thanksgiving

Football and Thanksgiving are synonymous in the minds of many sports fans.  Can’t see that continuing into the next generation with an annual NFL slate featuring terrible matchups.  This year, Bruce Goodell’s boys serve up two of their worst;  The Raiders and Lions. Thanks, guys. If you need me, I’ll be watching the Godfather marathon on AMC.

Nets Basketball Fans Don’t Grow In Brooklyn

So, now Nets’ owner Bruce Ratner wins his eminent domain battle to evict homeowners and build his Atlantic Yards empire in Brooklyn.  Got news for you, Brucie.  Brooklynites aren’t dummies and won’t soon be drawn to that mess you call a basketball team.  If you build it, they won’t come unless you can play.

New York Jets Get Defensive With QB Sanchez

If you’re scoring at home, now that Derek Anderson and JaMarcus Russell have been benched, Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez is, officially, the worst starter in the league.  And how does Gang Green plan to address this?  With Head Coach Rex Ryan, hired on the strength of his defensive expertise, taking a more active role in the rookie’s development.  Who knows, maybe Sanchez will be more receptive to a defensive guy seeing as how receptive defenders have been of his passes.  However it works out, it’s another example of the Jets not getting it right.  Last off season, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was a candidate for the head job that eventually went to Ryan.  Amazingly, they decided to retain Schottenheimer.   No team but the Jets would then force an offensive coordinator on a new coach; he’d hire his own guy.  That Sanchez has gotten worse as the season has progressed is an indictment of both the Jets and Schottenheimer but, at least, an indication that they got one right in not hiring him to lead the team.  Hey, when you’re a Jets fan, you have to take your victories where you can find them.

Notre Dame Football Coach On Way Out

After last week’s loss to Connecticut, it’s a foregone conclusion that Notre Dame will pull the plug on the Charlie Weis era.  As they start their search for a replacement, one criterion is more important than any other.  They must sign their first choice for the spot.  The Notre Dame job was once thought of as the greatest in sports.  So much so that Lou Holtz, who coached at a number of schools, always had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if the Irish came calling.  But, in recent years, that perception has been diminished; much to Notre Dame’s detriment.  Bob Davie got the job back in 1996 after Gary Barnett thumbed his nose and headed to Colorado.  Before Ty Willingham was brought in, George O’Leary was hired then dismissed due to inaccuracies on his resume.  Then, when Willingham flopped, Urban Meyer was thought to be on his way, only to take the job at Florida and leave Notre Dame with second prize once again.  Given the fact that Weis is due $18 million on his way out the door, I’m wondering if it isn’t a better idea to keep him on until that Dream Coach is available.  It’d certainly be a more productive solution than settling once again.

“Christopher is Well”

About nine years ago, I first met a young man named Chris; at the time, all of eleven years old.  He was a quiet, private kid and remains so to this day which is why I’m only using his first name.  His dad and I worked together on Wall Street and I convinced John to send Chris to the week-long basketball camp upstate where I was a coach.  Every day, during each meal and then again before lights out, I’d check on the kid to make sure things were going well.   Always got the same answer.  “Yeah, fine.”  Nothing more.   By the end of the week, one that saw him take home an All Star trophy, I told John that I wasn’t sure Chris had enjoyed the camp.  “Of course he did”, John said, “he’s just quiet.”

Chris went on to become a classmate of my son in high school.   They were very much alike in many ways and became friends and teammates.   They bonded while playing for a JV coach who worked them hard and challenged them every day and they both responded.   Each came out of his shell and emerged as a productive player; feeding off the confidence of their coach and their faith in all of their teammates.  It was one of those seasons where the record didn’t matter much as all of the young men improved as players and people.   They were each given a nickname as well, and one look at Christopher’s winter-white, freckled face instantly gave him away as the one they called, “Irish.”

About a year after Chris left high school as the captain of the varsity basketball team, we learned that doctors had found a mass in his chest.   Chris would undergo chemotherapy treatment with an uncertain prognosis.   His incredible physical condition, one that had actually masked some symptoms, would allow doctors to aggressively attack the tumor and they started almost immediately.   I remember being terrified for Chris, my friend John, their family and even of telling my own son what had happened.   I’ll always remember the night we went to visit.  Chris was wiped out from a treatment and was actually too weak to even speak.   When I entered the room shortly after my son, I was struck to see these two strong, young men, silently holding each other’s hand.  I won’t ever forget that image.

Six months later, Chris finished his last treatment and was told there were no longer any signs of the tumor.  He showed up at a basketball game at his old school and was mobbed by the many coaches and former classmates so happy that their good friend was doing better.  Given his quiet demeanor, it had to be one of the worst moments of his journey.   But he tolerated it very well.

It’s been a tough five years or so for a lot of us.  I’ve been struggling over the last few weeks to find the spirit of the season and avoid being dragged down emotionally by the difficult times in which I find myself while drawing very little consolation from the fact that I am but one of many going through the same thing.  Then I saw the envelope on the table.  It was big, like a wedding invitation and my first reaction was dread as an expensive gift is certainly not in the budget.   When I opened it, however, my heart was suddenly filled with the happiness of the holiday.  It was a  note from Chris and his family; updating his condition and thanking all for their support.  I had a hard time reading it, however, as my eyes instantly filled up after seeing the first three words:  “Christopher is well.”   Happy Thanksgiving.

Cream Rising To Top In ACC

October 7, 2009 under College Football, Uncategorized

ACC Looks Like Three Team Race

Miami rebounded from a tough loss to Virginia Tech by staging a late comeback to beat Oklahoma 21-20. Virginia Tech did just enough to get by Duke while Georgia Tech impressed at Mississippi State.  Don’t know what’s become of Florida State who continued to flounder with a loss to BC.  The Eagles will identify themselves as contenders or pretenders this Saturday with a trip into Blacksburg to face the Hokies.va tech

Big 12 Gets Down to Business

It seems to have taken awhile, but Big 12 action finally begins this weekend along with the first big matchup of the conference season which kicks off tonight as Nebraska travels to Missouri.  Look for the Huskers, who’ve faced a tougher schedule, to steal away with a win. Disappointing matchups dot the rest of the slate; which should feature blowout victories by Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas Tech.  Keep an eye on that Oklahoma-Baylor matchup, however, as defending Heisman winner Sam Bradford, may return to action.
 

Can Cincinnati play for the title?

Don’t know how many BCS geeks would like to see it happen but the Bearcats continue on their march to the top of the rankings. They’ll enjoy a weekend off before heading to South Florida for what may be their only obstacle to an undefeated season. The Big East continued its stellar, out-of-conference, performance as West Virginia dumped Colorado and Cincy topped Miami of Ohio.  In Western NY, Syracuse football fans are beginning to identify with the frustration felt by Duke basketball fans over the last four years.  Greg Paulus is as weak a QB as he was a PG.

SEC Elite Continues to Flex Muscles

Pity poor Georgia.  Absolutely the toughest 3-2 team in the nation, they blew a 4th quarter lead last week and a shot to knock off #4 LSU and vault itself into the league title picture. They’ll head to Tennessee this week to see if Lane Kiffin’s boys can back up their talk.  The biggest matchup of the week features Florida at LSU.  Gator QB Tim Tebow’s status for the game is still uncertain, (have to think he’ll play), as is his ability to rebound from a concussion. A loss here won’t be fatal to Florida’s hopes for an SEC Championship, (they’re in the East; LSU and Bama in the West), but may derail their chance to repeat as National Champs.
 

Cal Bears Can’t Bear Tough Schedule

Who was the idiot that had California ranked #2 as late as two weeks ago?  Oh yeah, me.  That the Bears lost two straight to Oregon and USC is not nearly as surprising as the fact that they managed just six points.  Two field goals.  Well, as the Bears go to sleep for the winter, we’ll turn our attention to Halloween night, when the Ducks and the Trojans lock up to determine which goes to the Rose Bowl. In other action, Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies are nobody’s patsy this year, as proven by their close call in South Bend.  There may be no moral victories in football but a 2-3 record coming off a winless season is pretty close.  Don’t be surprised to see Stanford hanging around the top of the standings for most of the season.  They’re a scrappy bunch heading to Corvallis for a tough matchup with Oregon state this weekend.
 

Big Ten Football, Whether You Want It or Not

Did every producer at ESPN go to a Big Ten school?  Last Saturday, (every Saturday actually), four conference games were broadcast almost simultaneously by ESPN and its family of networks. Can’t tell you how exciting it was to watch Iowa, regarded as the league’s second best, hold off  perennial power Arkansas State 24-21. Really, guys.  Arkansas State?   Both Penn State and Illinois looked as disinterested as I was until someone whispered into JoePa’s hearing aid that Illinois is really bad and the Lions ran away in the 4th QTR while viewers who sat through Michigan-Michigan State still can’t decide which team played worse.  Looks like a cakewalk for the only legitimate power in the conference, Ohio State.

Boise’s Road to BCS Title Game Gets Shorter

Assuming Boise State can run the table and finish its season undefeated, there is a distinct and viable possibility that the Broncos will find themselves playing for a National Championship.  Currently ranked at #5 in the Coaches’ poll, they’ll see two of the four ahead of them drop out.  Alabama, Florida and LSU must all play each other, which will eliminate at least two.  Boise’s chances then come down to two matchups: Oklahoma-Texas and USC-Oregon.  If Oklahoma can beat Texas next Saturday, they’ll likely knock the Longhorns out of the Big 12 picture; just as Texas Tech did last season.  Then, if Oregon can hold off USC on Halloween, Boise can point to its own victory over the Ducks as reason for consideration.  A longshot, yes, but one we’re pulling for.  Houston ended its BCS dream in getting crushed by UTEP while Notre Dame continued to struggle with less than elite teams.  Honestly, when was the last time any ND team was 4-1 and unranked?  Their defense is non-existent.

CollegeSportsView.com’s  Top 25

1) Florida (4-0)
2) Texas (4-0)
3) Alabama (5-0)
4) LSU (5-0)
5) Boise State (5-0)
6) Cincinnati(5-0)
7) TCU (4-0)
8) USC (4-1)
9) Virginia Tech (4-1)
10)Ohio State (4-1)
11)Kansas (4-0)
12)South Florida
13)Oregon (4-1)
14)Mississippi (3-1)
15)Iowa (5-0)
16)Oklahoma State (3-1)
17)Miami (3-1)
18)Oklahoma (2-2)
19)Auburn (5-0)
20)Georgia (3-2)
21)Wisconsin (5-0)
22)Penn State (4-1)
23)BYU (4-1)
24)Missouri (4-0)
25)Nebraska (3-1)

Five Teams to Watch
Utah (3-1)
Georgia Tech (4-1)
South Carolina (4-1)
Boston College (4-1)
Nichols (2-3)

 


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