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The View from the Cheap Seats

September 23, 2009 under Cheap Seats, MLB, NBA, NFL

By Eddie Mayrose

Giants Lost in the Shuffle

With the Jets off to a stunning 2-0 start, much of the sports discussion in New York cheap_seats_3_owumhas become different versions of, “Everything you always wanted to know about Rex but were afraid to ask.” Unfortunately, the media frenzy surrounding Gang Green’s unexpected success under its fiery, new Head Coach has pushed an even better story off of the back pages.

In the August 31st edition of Sports Illustrated, Giants’ GM Jerry Reese discussed how the team’s Wide Receiver position would be impacted by the loss of Plaxico Burress and the organization’s decision not to trade for an established veteran.  “We love developing our own guys and we feel like we have quality receivers to get the job done”,  he said at the time.  Reese looked very smart Sunday night as  Mario Manningham and Steve Smith each pulled in ten balls for over 100 yards and a touchdown in the Giants big win over Dallas.

The thing is, Reese’s quote was just a different take on similar statements he’s made regarding Head Coach Tom Coughlin, QB Eli Manning and an untested Offensive Line over the course of the last few years.  Under Reese, the Giants have established themselves as a consistently competitive team simply by sticking to their guns; making sound evaluations and then supporting them when things get tough.  So far, it’s produced four straight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl.  So, enjoy the excitement of the Meadowlands’ other tenants.  The Giants actually prefer that you do.  But don’t lose sight of the fact that consistency beats occasional success every day of the week.

Jets’ Fast Start Fools Even Most Loyal Followers

Cheap Seater and Jets season ticket holder Lou Ricciardi, who would have opted to start Kellen Clemens over Mark Sanchez because of what he expected to be a disastrous start, chimed in this week on the euphoria sweeping Jets’ nation.  “I can’t believe how wrong I was but I hope they continue to prove me incorrect all year” said Ricciardi.   “I’ve had season tickets for twenty years and I’ve never heard the Meadowlands that loud.”

We’ve seen this kind of quick turnaround under a new head coach before.   In his first season, Herm Edwards won the AFC East only to oversee three ensuing flops while Eric Mangini was dubbed “Man-Genius” after his first year netted a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance.  It seems a little different with Ryan, though, if only because he’s recognized that the first thing that needs to be changed is the team’s attitude.  He’s imposed his attack mentality on his defensive charges and fired up the fans in the process.  That he rubbed one in the face of archrival Bill Bellichick is even better. But, after all of the phone calls to ticket holders and pregame speeches, this is still a team with a rookie QB that has struggled in December throughout its history.  If Ryan and Sanchez can finish the season the way they’ve started it, the Jets may finally have themselves a winner.

On The Joba Training

Now that Phil Hughes has firmly established himself as a reliable eighth inning reliever, the Yankees have no alternative but to use Joba Chamberlain as their fourth starter in the postseason.  With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to get Chamberlain some more work; as his latest outing in Seattle clearly indicates that the Joba Rules put in place to limit his innings are also limiting his effectiveness.

Shooting Guard

Apparently misunderstanding his coach’s instructions to “drive and shoot”, Cleveland Cavs’ guard DeLonte West was arrested last week for carrying two unlicensed handguns and a shotgun while riding his motorcycle.  After two years of passing the ball to LeBron James, seems like West finally decided it was his turn to take a shot.

Sore Loser

When Bill Bellichick offers his dead fish handshake to an opposing head coach after a game, he looks like a jerk.  But when he brushes off a rookie quarterback who goes out of his way to shake his hand, as Mark Sanchez did on Sunday, he deserves a smack.

Manuel Labor

A few weeks ago, I wrote in this space that it was impossible to hold manager Jerry Manuel accountable for the Mets’ terrible record because of the team’s extensive injury list.  However, after watching how his undermanned charges have begun to phone in the balance of the season, I’m wondering if Manuel has actually lost his squad.  Bad is one thing.  Apathetic is inexcusable.

Fans Enjoying Last Hurrah?

Lost in the euphoria of the Jets upset of New England in their home opener was the fact that many of the fans that made up the most raucous crowd I’ve ever heard at a Jets’ game will probably not be there next season because they can’t afford the Personal Seat Licensing fees. And, it may be a more difficult transition than they think, as local TV blackouts of home games loom if the Jets can’t fill those seats.

Out of Timeouts

Though it’s completely understandable that a coach would want to use a timeout to freeze the opposing kicker before a last second field goal attempt, someone needs to explain to me how it’s more effective when it’s called at the last possible second.  We see this nonsense every week; most recently on Sunday night in Dallas.   The kick goes through, the winners start to celebrate and the line judge comes running in to wave the whole thing off.  It’s something that the NFL needs to address before a player is injured on one of these non-plays.

Redskins Rookie Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot

Sunday night, after the Redskins stumbled through a 9-7 win over the hapless Rams in a game that left the hometown fans dissatisfied, Skins’ rookie line backer Robert Henson, listed by Washington as inactive for the first two games of the season, shared this little missive on his Twitter account. “All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won’t go there but I dislike you very strongly, don’t come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!!” “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

Ignore for a second the obvious flaw in his thinking that anyone working 9 to 5 at McDonald’s could even afford the absurd cost of a Redskins’ game ticket.  Focus instead on the ironic point that, after leaving  TCU without a degree and no real indication from the Skins that he has a future in the league, Henson may very well become the biggest employee at his own local McDonald’s.  That is, if the fast food giant deems him a qualified applicant.

The View from the Cheap Seats

July 21, 2009 under Cheap Seats

cheap_seats_3_owumIt had come down to this. A nine foot putt that would break a little bit to the left as it got to the hole. It was the kind of putt Tom Watson had been knocking in all week in writing one of the most incredible sports stories of the last decade. Seeking to become the oldest player in PGA history to win a major by a full thirteen years, Watson needed only to drain this short bender to raise the Claret Jug. Seemingly unfazed by the fact that his approach shot had been right at the flag before rolling off the back edge of the green, Watson decided to putt his ball rather than chip up, and failed to get it as close as he wanted. Sadly, his second putt never had a chance and he was off to a four hole playoff against fellow American, Stewart Cink. Somewhere between the eighteenth hole and the first playoff tee, however, Watson seemed to tire, as if suddenly realizing how old he actually is. He bogeyed the first to drop a shot back and drove his ball way left on the third, ensuring Cink’s first victory in a major. And just like that, the Open Championship became that novel we’ve all read; a terrific story with a terrible ending.

I’ve heard the argument many times that golf is a game and not a sport. That, while there are athletes that play, athleticism is not required. There are points on both sides with which I agree. But, if anyone tries to tell me that what we all watched on Sunday morning wasn’t sport, I’ll have to check them for a pulse. Tom Watson, an unfailing gentleman and one of the most popular players in the history of the game, gave us a glimpse of the determination and heart of a champion. That, while age may compromise ability and endurance, it can never douse the competitive fire that burns within a great player. That, some times, when things are right, true champions have the ability to reach back and remind us what made them so special. At the British Open, this was the second time in a row where such magic was witnessed. Last year, Greg Norman was on the leader board through Sunday, only to fade on the back nine. Watson, however, just kept coming, unfazed by the attention and seemingly savoring what had to be a completely unexpected result. Until the ending went bad on eighteen.

In 1975, after the Reds and Red Sox had done battle in what may have been the greatest World Series ever, a Boston writer said that the Sox had won the series “three games to four.” Anyone who had witnessed the Game Six heroics of Bernie Carbo and Carlton Fisk knew exactly what he meant. I thought of that Sunday, as I watched Watson struggle to find his ball in whatever they call that high stuff that passes for rough on the other side of the pond. In my heart, Tom Watson won the Open Championship. Stewart Cink won the trophy.

* * * * *

With Michael Vick having completed his term of house arrest that was the last part of his prison sentence, the debate about whether or not he should be able to resume his NFL career rages on. Vick will meet soon with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to find out his fate in a meeting that will surely be difficult for the man convicted of operating a dog fighting ring. Two years ago, before Vick pled guilty, he met with Goodell about the charges and lied right to his face, telling the league boss that he was innocent. Not much of a chance that Goodell will forget that one.

I’m both amused and saddened by various aspects of this controversy. It’s almost comical to hear the experts theorize that franchises are worried about taking a public relations hit for signing Vick. Rest assured that the decision to ink the troubled QB will come down to one point: Can he help our team? If he can, he’ll be signed. If he can’t, he won’t. The sadder issue is the indignation that many feel toward Vick for his horrible crimes. Now, I’ll be the first to say that his offenses were horrendous, despicable and inhuman. His abuse of the animals knew no bounds; not even murder. However, he’s served his sentence, paid fines and lost two years of compensation. He can’t legally be prevented from pursuing a career. But, even if he could be, where are the groups outraged by the current professional athletes that have abused women? Michael Vick is the first sports figure I can recall that’s been convicted of animal abuse while, each month, we learn about another player that smacked around his wife or girlfriend. Isn’t it a shame that dogs seem to have more advocates than women?

* * * * *

For those Knicks fans waiting for the free agent class of 2010 to return a championship banner to Madison Square Garden, it’s been a tough summer. First, the NBA announced that it was lowering the salary cap by a million dollars. Then Trevor Ariza, who eventually signed with Houston, revealed that while Cleveland was recruiting him, he was assured by LeBron James that the Cavs’ superstar would resign with his hometown club. Miami started negotiating a long term contract with Dwyane Wade and Steve Nash re-upped in Phoenix. Unsure about whether to save the cap money or re sign David Lee, the Knicks have let their best player twist in the wind all summer. Fans had better hope that Lee returns, Danilo Galinari recovers from back surgery and that draft picks Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas can actually play as it’s looking more and more likely that they and not any of the potential free agents, will be the team’s core going forward.

* * * * *

If the reports that Omar Minaya turned down an offer for Toronto ace Roy Halladay that would have sent Jonathan Niese to the Jays are true, then let’s get Niese up to the big leagues. You can’t tell your fans that you’re not giving up on the season and then trot Livan Hernandez out to the mound every five days. There’s a reason this guy’s got a closet full of jerseys.

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