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The View From The Cheap Seats

November 20, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

New York Jets In Familiar Position

It’s Groundhog Day for the Jets as the promise of a 3-0 start has been crushed under the weight of a skid that has seen them lose five of cheap_seats_3_their last six and landed them in their annual, mid-season playoff position; outside looking in. This year’s version of  “Same Old Jets” could be a little more interesting than its predecessors, though, as the characters are far more compelling.  Trash talking defenders forced to eat their words because of fourth quarter ineptitude, a color blind quarterback preparing post-game cheat notes for the media and the world’s largest crybaby as the leading man. While the swoon is something all too familiar to their fans, it’s a nice gesture by the Jets to, at least, put a new spin on an old, old story.

Does Punishment Fit The Crime?

Cheap Seats regular and Jets’ season ticket holder, Lou Ricciardi, took his son, Bobby, to Sunday’s Jacksonville debacle and I’m wondering how bad young Bob’s transgression had to be that it required such severe punishment.

CBS Sports Puts Stamp of Approval on Bonehead Play

Was amazed that the play that saw Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew take a knee on the one yard line instead of scoring the go-ahead touchdown nthat the Jets were conceding with a minute left in the contest was so well received.  Jags’ coach Jack Del Rio had instructed his star to, essentially, take a dive in order to run down the clock.  As if a field goal was a sure thing and the possibility of a fumble didn’t exist.  This would have been a smart play had Jacksonville been up by a point instead of down.  But, to pass up a certain score that would put you ahead is as ludicrous as the endorsement the play received from CBS analyst Dan Fouts. Had Jacksonville somehow failed to score, Del Rio would’ve had a long week.

New England Patriots’ Bellichick Still A Little Green

While on the subject of coaching blunders, you’d have to look long and hard to find one with results as disastrous as Bill Bellichick’s Sunday night.  Not only did his fourth down gamble hand Peyton Manning the ball just twenty eight yards from a winning score, Belichick also informed his defenders that he has no faith in them. The loss could have serious repercussions come playoff time, especially if it costs New England a home game. When you see a brain cramp like that, you have to wonder if Bellichick stiill suffers some minor effects from his one afternoon as HC of the NYJ.

New York Knicks Mull Signing of Allen Iverson

So now the Knicks are mulling the signing of Allen Iverson which, after ten losses in the first eleven games, seems like a logical, next step  as the season becomes the most disastrous in franchise history.  Selfish, divisive and not nearly as talented as he once was, Iverson is on the verge of becoming the latest act in Donnie Walsh’s expiring-contract sideshow.  Can’t wait for the first time each of Mike D’Antoni’s starters walks on to the court carrying his own ball.

Kelly Tripucka Still An All-Star

Although the Knicks may be completely unwatchable, they’re at least a good listen when Kelly Tripucka is behind the microphone.  His expert analysis and delivery are as smooth as the feathery jumper he displayed during his long NBA career; a career still unjustly snubbed by The Basketball Hall of Fame.

New York Mets Hire Wally Backman to Manage Brooklyn Cyclones

I don’t know much about what caused Wally Backman to step down after just three days as Diamondbacks’ manager in 2004 and even less about what he’s done to address those issues since.  But I’m positive I don’t get to decide that he doesn’t deserve the second chance given him by the Mets as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones.  I’m also sure that, if Backman does have his life in order, he’s exactly the kind of fiery personality so sorely lacking within the organization.

The View from the Cheap Seats

September 17, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

The Jets: Déjà vu all over again

Well, here we are again, Jet fans.  After an exciting Opening Day win on the road behind cheap_seats_3_owuma new quarterback, Gang Green returns to the Meadowlands for its home opener on Sunday to face a Patriots team that looks suddenly vulnerable.  Last season, a week after Tom Brady was lost for the year, Jets’ faithful were abuzz with talk of an AFC East title.  Not only was Brady done, but his replacement, Matt Cassel, hadn’t started a game since high school and future Hall of Famer Brett Favre was now under center for the home team.   Yet, despite all of their high hopes and expectations, the Jets couldn’t get anything started against Bill Bellichick’s defensive scheme and fell 19-10 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

This week, the Jets again prepare for a home opener against New England following an exciting, if not dominant, road win.  Mark Sanchez is now the quarterback that has the fans excited and the Pats, having lost four defensive starters from last year, may be without a fifth, LB Jerod Mayo, the AFC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in ’08.  Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that the Brady Bunch was extremely unimpressive in beating the Bills Monday night; a game in which they needed a last minute miracle to win.

While there seems to be every reason for optimism, it’s hard to imagine that Bellichik won’t come up with a game plan to make life miserable for Sanchez.   The one thing the Jets can hang their hats on, though, is that it’s likely Rex Ryan will return the favor.  The aggression and intensity with which Ryan’s defenders played in Houston was something that hasn’t been seen in green jerseys since the days of Joe Klecko and Lance Mehl.  If the Jets can somehow steal a win this week or next, (vs. Tennessee), they’ll have weathered a brutal early schedule and may be able to start thinking playoffs.  Longtime fans know from experience, however, just how big an IF that actually is.

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U.S. Open Tennis: “I’m telling Mommy!”

Let’s be clear.  Serena Williams’ outburst during the women’s semifinals of the U.S. Tennis Open was deplorable.  That it came after an earlier tirade that saw Williams destroy her racket renders any defense of her behavior as “heat of the moment” ridiculous.  However, the sight of the line judge that made the call scurrying over to the referee like a small child tattling to her parents was pretty funny.

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Giants’ Hands

We’ll certainly know more about the Giants after this week’s visit to Dallas but, based on first impressions; it looks like the receiving corps of Hakeem Nicks (out for two weeks with an ankle), Mario Manningham and Steve Smith certainly has the potential to develop into a unit more than capable of winning a Super Bowl.  Until then, Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs and the game’s best offensive line are enough to put the Jints in the postseason.

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Mike Francesa:Only on Sundays

While his condescending arrogance is the reason I no longer listen to WFAN’s Mike Francesa on weekday afternoons, his Sunday football preview show, The NFL Now, is a must listen.  Clearly driven by his passion for the sport, Francesa delivers concise, informative analysis and even seems to enjoy the fans’ call-in segment.  It’s a shame we haven’t heard this entertaining persona during the week for years.

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Yankees: Where’s A.J.?

With the final two weeks reduced to nothing more than a tuneup for the playoffs, it’s got to be a real area of concern for the Yankees that A.J. Burnett has struggled so mightily in the second half.   Without Burnett, whose history is such that he only seems to perform at his best during the last year of his contract, the Bombers’ rotation is without a reliable third starter heading into the postseason.   They seem invincible everywhere else, however, something for which GM Brian Cashman doesn’t seem to get enough credit.  While it’s true that the Yankees have an almost unlimited amount of money to spend on free agents, it’s still incumbent upon Cashman to sign the right guys; something that’s proven difficult over the last decade.  But, in Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, Cashman not only plucked the top talent from the list but also got two guys who fit seamlessly into a clubhouse that’s reminiscent of Joe Torre’s dynasty.  The delicate mix of both stars and role players may very well bring the Yanks that 27th trophy.

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Hey Ref! Isn’t that a little loud?

As an old AFL fan, I really enjoyed the throwback uniforms worn by the original, pre-merger franchises on Monday night.  The only problem was that I couldn’t hear the broadcast over the referees’ outfits.

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Mets Fans?

Here’s a sad but interesting question that may be difficult for Mets’ fans to answer.  Which was more difficult to endure; the last two seasons that ended in unbelievable disappointment but featured pennant race baseball through September or this year, which offered little better than an unwatchable,  AAA team for most of the second half?

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Greatest baseball song ever: Peter, Paul and Mary

Farewell to Mary Travers of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.  Best known for their hit, Puff the Magic Dragon, they also recorded the greatest Baseball song ever written; Right Field.  Godspeed.

The View from the Cheap Seats by Eddie Mayrose

May 1, 2008 under Cheap Seats

It’s called the most exciting two minutes in sports.  The Kentucky Derby, an event I watch every year even though thoroughbred racing is far from an area of expertise for me.  I’ve always wanted to understand the sport of kings well enough to be able to have some idea as to who I’m putting my money on come Derby day.  Unfortunately, I’m as capable of handicapping a horse race as I am to perform open heart surgery.  I usually just bet on the horse whose name I like the best.
So, seeking a bit of an education, I headed to the local OTB hoping to gain some insight into this year’s run for the roses.

Luckily for me, ( I think), I ran into three veteran horse players more than willing to share their extensive knowledge with me but not as forthcoming when asked for their names, choosing instead to identify themselves only as Johnny Gaga, Oakie and Philly Wrinkles.  Undeterred, I explained to them that most of the gambling I had done on the horses had been limited to five dollar pools at work or family parties and that I needed a little advice if I was to place an intelligent wager on this year’s race.

The first thing I learned was that you’d better have a little time on your hands when you ask guys like this for their opinions.  They’re a little passionate about the subject.  They began by recalling numerous wins and losses caused by a variety of criteria involving jockeys, horses, trainers and track surfaces. They indoctrinated me as to the meaning of some slang terms such as Juice (Lasix), Five Pound Bug (A weight adjustment based on the size of the jockey), Weeds (Grass surface), Blinks (Blinders), Changing leads (Something about the horse’s front foot; I thought he had two) and the downside of being “Caught on the wood behind a dead piece”  ( Being trapped inside the field near the rail behind a slow moving horse.)

Finally, after detailing at least one reason to like just about every horse in the race, they got down to their picks.  Wrinkles liked the filly, Eight Belles; a choice I quickly discounted as he seemed to be the type of guy that liked anything to do with females and I questioned his objectivity.  Gaga and Oakie were the logical two of the three and therefore more persuasive with their pick, Colonel John.  So, after all of this research, who am I putting my money on?  Court Vision.  I like his name the best.

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Last year, the Patriots and their affable, fun loving coach, Bill Bellichick, were caught red handed taping the defensive signals of the New York Jets during the season opener for both teams. After a lengthy investigation, Commissioner Roger Goodell levied sizable fines against the organization and Bellichick, himself.  It was further decided that they would forfeit their first round pick in this year’s draft; the 31st overall.  While the Pats also owned the 49’ers pick, which turned out to be the seventh overall, Goodell decreed that he was only allowed to strip New England of its own pick, not the better one. So, since the Patriots traded the seventh pick to New Orleans for the tenth pick as well an additional selection in the third round, could someone explain to me how they were actually penalized?

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The key number for the Jets in this year’s draft may very well turn out to be 37.  That is the total number of times that first round pick and new multi millionaire, Vernon Ghoulston, was able to bench press 225 pounds during the NFL scouting combine; sending the Jets into a “we have to have him” frenzy.  It is also the total number of tackles that Ghoulston made during thirteen games in his senior season at Ohio State.  A starting defensive end with 14 sacks who managed just 23 more tackles in an entire season. Hard to believe, but Gang Green has been seduced by workout demons in the past, most recently trading two first round picks in 2003 to move up and select defensive tackle  Dewayne Robertson in the fourth overall slot.  Despite the fact that Robertson was only voted 2nd team all-Conference in the SEC, the Jets decided he was the fourth best player in the nation and paid dearly for that evaluation.  Last week, after five highly forgettable seasons, Robertson was traded to the Broncos for an undisclosed draft pick. Smart money says it won’t be the fourth pick overall.

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Much has been written over the last decade about the practice of professional sports teams abandoning their standard colors for black alternate uniforms.  By now we all know that this is done strictly for purposes of merchandising and with no regard for their ridiculous appearance.  It is silly that the Kansas City Royals would wear any color other than royal blue and the black and gray clad Blue Jays actually have their color in their name.  One team, however, wears its black hat in violation of more than just good taste or common sense.  The Mets, who now sport an alternate helmet that features not even a hint of their standard orange anywhere in the logo, have thumbed their noses at their own tradition and heritage.  While multiple changes of  official colors by teams like the Rays, Padres, Astros and Diamondbacks are a simple matter of preference by ownership, the Mets’ original colors actually have a deeper meaning, one that is a tribute to the baseball history of New York City.  The uniform of the original Mets was designed to pay tribute to the three teams that came before them.  It incorporated the blue of the Dodgers, the orange logo of the baseball Giants and the pinstripes of the Yankees.  A fact lost on many of today’s younger fans; depriving them of a chance to baseball’s past in the Big Apple.

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