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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?

The View from the Cheap Seats

October 28, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

After Long Wait, World Series Gets Started

Finally, after what seemed like interminable Division and Championship series, we get to the business of  the World Series.  Even though these teams seemcheap_seats_3_ like mirror images of each other, many have given the Yanks a slight edge due to their advantage in the bullpen.  I disagree.  Not that Mariano Rivera isn’t better than Brad Lidge; at this point so is Chita Rivera.  But the Yankee bats have just rendered two of the top closers in the AL powerless and there’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same to Lidge.  In other words, even if the Phillies’ closer was at the top of his game, Charlie Manuel would be making other plans, anyway.  What I think it’ll come down to is who starts Game Five for the Bombers.  We know Sabathia goes in Games One, Four and Seven but the Yankees don’t want A.J. Burnett to pitch in Philadelphia.  If they save him for a Game Six in the Bronx, that’ll not only put an inexperienced starter on the mound, it’ll mean Andy Pettitte goes just once in a seven game series.  Still, I like the Yankees in seven.

Major League Baseball Needs a Salary Cap

Last night’s Game One starters, Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia, stood as monuments to baseball’s biggest problem: the disparity in payrolls between small and large market teams.  As the last two winners of the AL Cy Young Award, they would have been a huge help to an Indians’ staff that featured both until Cleveland couldn’t afford either.  Much is made in New York about the “Core Four” of Yankee vets, Rivera, Posada, Pettitte and Jeter, all homegrown and together for much of the Yankees incredible run since 1996.  What most miss in that analysis is that, unlike many teams, the Yankees could afford to keep all of them once they became stars.  Would the Yanks have swept a Twins’ team that included Johan Santana and Torii Hunter?  Would that Twins team have even won the division if the Royals still had Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon?  The fact is, large market teams don’t do anything better than their small market counterparts.  They simply make more money because of their location; something baseball needs to address.

NY Jets’ Leon Washington Hurt at Worst Time

Next time you want to come down on an NFL player holding out for a contract extension, think of the Jets’ Leon Washington; on the verge of stardom until a broken leg ended his season.  These guys have a very small window to earn their money and each week brings the possibilty of a career-ending injury.

On Bob Griese, Jay-Z and Hypocrisy

ESPN college football analyst, Bob Griese, received a one game suspension from the network for remarks he made last Saturday about Griese_Sep26_bNASCAR’s Juan Pablo Montoya.  When a Top Five list of drivers was posted, another broadcaster asked where Montoya was.  Griese replied, “out having a taco.”  For his part, Montoya told reporters after Sunday’s Sprint Cup series race that he “couldn’t resist making fun of the controversy. I could say I just spent the last three hours eating tacos, but I was driving the car.”  Montoya said of Griese, “I don’t even know who he is and I don’t really care.”  That Griese apologized for the remark twice during the broadcast and ESPN later stated that it considered the matter closed was of no consequence once the PC police got their teeth into it.  Bob Griese is and always has been a professional gentleman on the air and it’s a shame that we no longer look at an entire body of work and simply see a good guy who screwed up.  Instead, Griese and others like him suddenly and inexplicably become bigots.

I’m wondering how long Griese would have been suspended had he, instead, glorified the rape and murder of prostitutes, African-Americans, homosexuals and police.   Didn’t seem to matter much to Major League Baseball or the Yankees last night as they invited rapper Jay-Z to perform before Game 1 of the World Series.  In a song whose title is too despicable for print, Jay-Z promotes each of those; something that doesn’t seem to concern the NBA, either; as he’s a part owner of the New Jersey Nets.  Just because freedom of speech cuts two ways doesn’t make a double standard less hypocritical.

Is There Life After High School?

I write weekly about college and professional sports because of their high profile and the fact that I just love sports.  But, I must confess, despite all of the time spent watching, analyzing and enjoying these televised events, my heart still belongs to the high school athletes.  Their spirit is as irresistible as it is inspirational.  Whether it be the jubilation experienced by a basketball team winning a championship in the last minute, the despair of senior football players weeping at the realization that they’ve just played their last game together or the apprehension of a cheerleader waiting to step on the mat while praying to avoid a misstep, each emotion is so raw as to take me back to the wonderful time when I felt that way, myself.   It’s why I still go to my school’s football and basketball games even though my sons have graduated, why I have my daughter’s competitions circled on the calendar and why I found myself at St. Joseph Hill Academy High School last week for a critical volleyball match with St. Joseph by the Sea.

Seven years ago, the Staten Island Catholic Girls’ High School league was established, with three schools initiating programs and joining two others in their infancy.  Sea quickly established itself as the loop’s dominant force while another school, Notre Dame Academy, grabbed last year’s title.  This time around, Hill started the season 7-0; a record that featured a big home win over Sea but would later include a loss to their rival in a rematch; sending both teams into last week’s rubber match with identical records.  The winner would take the title.  Now, the result, (Hill won), is secondary to my point, even though I have to admit , the victory made for a much happier home as my wife, Virginia, is Hill’s fearless leader.  As I sat there in a packed, noisy gym watching the Hill girls in the stands screaming their support to their classmates, I was reminded again of why I eat this stuff up.  High school is the only sports arena in which the athletes and the fans are bonded by friendship.  The fans don’t cheer for love of school but, rather, love of the players; their friends.  It is the reason the passion is unmatched.  Yes, I know all about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, the Bleacher Bums in Chicago and Cleveland’s Dawg Pound but how many of them studied for a chemistry test with a player the night before a game?   How many had a player decorate their locker on a birthday, cry on their shoulder after a failed road test or celebrate the birth of a baby sister?  And where else is a coach so concerned with a player’s development as a person?

On the prep level, coaches are not motivated by financial gain.  If you ever broke down their stipend to an hourly wage, it would work out to just pennies. Instead, it is the dedication to young men and women that drives so many of them and it is that same dedication that serves as a model for how their impressionable, young players should lead their lives.  It is why I am so grateful to the incredible people that have coached my children and a reason I am so proud to say I am my wife’s husband.  It’s also why I’ll be sitting courtside this weekend watching the St. Joseph Hill girls volleyball team, Staten Island Champion, take on the other boroughs in the city playoffs in front of a gym full of their close friends.  Let me know how Notre Dame does against Washington State.

The View from the Cheap Seats

October 7, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

Yankees Manager Should Tell Burnett, “Shut Up and Pitch.”

I can’t believe Yanks’ manager Joe Girardi is planning to bench Jorge Posada in Game 2 cheap_seats_3_owumof the ALDS because of the perception that A.J. Burnett pitches better when Jose Molina is behind the plate.  Now, I might give Girardi a little wiggle room here if say, C.C. Sabathia preferred Molina.  But Burnett?  What, exactly, has he done this year to warrant such a huge accomodation?  Here’s a little perspective on A.J.’s season:  He’s got 13 wins for a team with the best offense in the game at the not-so-bargain basement price of $18 million.  Conversely, Minnesota’s Game 3 starter, Carl Pavano, had 14 wins while pitching most of the year for the last place Indians.  See how many Yankee fans you can find that’d want Pavano in pinstripes tomorrow night.  To bench Posada, a proven post season vet enjoying one of his best seasons, for such a disappointing pitcher is ludicrous. And with Girardi facing dismissal if he doesn’t bring home a ring, it’s really ill advised to alienate one of the team’s leaders.  For the skipper’s sake, Burnett had better throw a gem.

Gardenhire Thumbs Nose At Robotic Managers

Despite the fact that there were really no pennant races in Major League Baseball outside of the AL Central, The Twins and Tigers certainly made up for it Tuesday night.  Of all the moves and counter moves made by both managers throughout the twelve inning marathon, my favorite came in the top of the eighth.  With two on and one out, Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire handed the ball to,(hold on to something before you read this), his closer Joe Nathan.  Yes, in the most crucial part of the game and season, a manager finally decided that he needed his best pitcher to get him out of trouble, no matter what inning it was.   Look for Gardenhire to have his Manager’s Union card revoked.

Jets Look To Bounce Back With Some Extra Help

While it’s true that there is no such thing as a good loss, that wasn’t such a bad one suffered by the Jets in New Orleans.  It’ll have no impact on Division or Conference tie-breakers, they held one of the league’s top offensive units to just ten points and were done in by the mistakes of their rookie QB; something they knew would eventually happen.  Mark Sanchez had better start tucking that ball away in the pocket, though, and the offensive line has to step it up in order to make use of RB Thomas Jones.  We’ll get our first look at how Sanchez handles adversity this week.  I like his chances. Especially with WR Braylon Edwards in the fold.  Maybe all  he needed was a change of scenery.  Jet fans certainly hope so.

Give Eli A Week Off To Heal Heel

I’m not saying the Giants can win a Super Bowl without Eli Manning. But, they can absolutely beat the Raiders with David Carr under center, something I hope to see this Sunday.  No sense losing sight of the big picture while facing such a bad team.

New York Mets Broadcaster At Top Of His Field

Tuesday night, during Twins-Tigers on TBS, a national audience saw first hand what Mets fans have known for a few years: Ron Darling is a superb analyst.  Never too wordy, always on point, Darling had his best moment in the bottom of the seventh.  With one out and one on, Orlando Cabrera stepped into the box with the Twins trailing 3-2.  “Orlando Cabrera is a winning player who always seems to get a big hit when his team needs it the most”, said Darling.  The Twins’ shortstop made Darling a prophet with his two tun homer just a few minutes later.  And, as Cabrera rounded the bases, not one “I told you so” from Darling.  A total professional.

Fifty Years? Already?

On October 10th 1959, Notre Dame traveled to Berkeley and laid a 28-6 pasting on California while LSU, the #1 team in the country, knocked off Miami 27-6. The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford was born, Pan Am announced the beginning of the first global airline service and Eileen Forsyth married Artie Mayrose at St. Anselm’s Church in Brooklyn. In the fifty years since, through four children, twelve grandchildren and all of the excitement, disappointment, triumphs, setbacks, achievements, failures, milestones and heartbreaks that make up half a century, they have been a shining example of the invincibility of two people that love each other.  They created a strong family that spawned four others by living and teaching one simple rule:  There is nothing that parents can give their children that is more valuable than the parents themselves.  Though they never missed anything, even though our time took up all of theirs, and we never wanted for anything, despite the fact they were not wealthy, it is a simple fact that they never sacrificed anything for us.  At least, that’s what they’d say.  As kids, our lives didn’t take away from theirs, rather, our lives became theirs. It is a legacy of love that now benefits their grandchildren as well.  So, Happy 50th, Mom and Dad.  Here’s hoping the next fifty are just as much fun.  Eat your heart out, Lou Kennedy.

The View from the Cheap Seats

August 12, 2009 under Cheap Seats, Uncategorized

It was the kind of weekend Yankee fans imagined when C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett cheap_seats_3_owumand Mark Teixeira were signed last winter. Burnett and C.C. each turned in a dominant performance on the hill while Teixeira’s big bomb sealed the four game sweep over the hated Red Sox.  Heading into the home stretch with a six game lead, the Yanks have hit their stride; getting contributions from every part of the lineup.  With Phil Hughes filling what was a gaping hole in the Bombers’ pen and Mariano Rivera enjoying a career year; it’s looking like there may be a deep October run in the new stadium.

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In what may be a sign that MLB clubs are feeling the effects of the weak economy, the Blue Jays jettisoned their two time All Star outfielder, Alex Rios, for, essentially, nothing but relief from the obligation to pay the balance of his contract.  Even more alarming is that, despite the fact that Rios is just 28 years old; no team other than the White Sox was interested.

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When they tee it up today in the PGA championship at Hazeltine, it’ll be the last chance in ’09 for Tiger Woods to win a major; something that hasn’t happened since 2004.  He comes in on the heels of two straight wins that followed a missed cut at the British Open.  The way things have gone for him this year, however, if he doesn’t get out fast, it’s not likely he’ll come back. 

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Could we please cease and desist with the ridiculous notion that the Red Sox and Yankees are part of the “greatest rivalry in sports”?  They play each other at least eighteen times each year, the regular season results usually mean nothing as both routinely qualify for the post season and they rarely meet each other in the playoffs.  Earlier this season, New York lost eight straight to Boston and yet, found themselves six games ahead of the pack just two months later.  If Michigan lost eight straight football games to Ohio State, they’d have suffered almost a decade of misery that likely included zero trips to the Rose Bowl.  That’s a rivalry. 

The networks and talking heads calling the games can say anything they want to hype the matchups but can’t undo the reality that the players just don’t care as much as the fans.  They’re too transient and have a much larger financial stake than emotional.  Head down to Philadelphia this fall and ask a Navy offensive lineman what it means to beat Army.  Walk into the Duke locker room on the first day of basketball practice and ask any of the players the date of the North Carolina game.  They’ll know.  There was a time in baseball when Jackie Robinson retired rather than accept a trade to the hated New York Giants.  Remind Johnny Damon of that little bit of history when you ask if he circles the Boston games on his schedule.  Yanks-Sox is a great watch because the teams are two of the game’s most talented and each is a contender for the AL East crown, not because the outcome is a matter of life and death to the participants.

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NationalFootballPost.com reported that the Jets have spoken to an NFC West team to gauge interest in RB Thomas Jones.  A Jet source claimed the report was untrue and I hope that’s the case.   Heading into the season with a new coach, new QB and a scarcity of talented receivers, it’s inconceivable to consider dealing the team’s best offensive player.

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I’ve been chastised at times by Cheap Seats readers unhappy with the lack of attention given to soccer in this column.  So, with the World Cup qualifying game (sorry, match) being played yesterday in Mexico City, I thought it’d be a good time to take a peek.  Imagine my surprise then, when I learned that, despite the fact that the U.S. hasn’t won a game (sorry again, match) against Mexico in its last twenty three tries, its players only worked out together for two days.  Two.  Seems that the players have other commitments and the whole qualifying system is an inconvenience to many.  Could it possibly be that this World Cup stuff isn’t as important to the players as my soccer antagonists would have me believe? 

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In a season that’s become unwatchable, Johan Santana gives disappointed Mets’ fans a reason to tune in every fifth day.  In an ongoing tribute to professionalism, Santana is tied for the Major League lead in wins.  Each offseason, the agent for a sub .500 pitcher will make the case for a salary increase by pointing out that his client’s team averaged a paltry amount of runs during his starts.  It’s a ridiculous argument as it doesn’t take into account how many runs the pitcher allowed.  It doesn’t matter if his run support was bad if his ERA was worse.  Anyway, think about Santana when you hear that argument next year.  If a pitcher is a big, tough guy who cares more about the team’s record than his own, he’ll have plenty of wins no matter how meager the run support.

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