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The View from the Cheap Seats by Eddie Mayrose

April 3, 2008 under Cheap Seats

Here we are, right in the middle of the greatest sports week of the year.  Major League Baseball opened on Monday; the Masters starts today and the Final Four tips off Saturday.  Three huge events crammed into seven days.  May all of you who are faced with the usual, time consuming Spring projects around the house find suitable excuses to neglect them for just a little while longer as you plop down on the couch to enjoy the weekend.
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Johan Santana certainly came out of the box looking like he’s worth every cent the Mets gave him.  Now, if he can just dominate the Braves and Phillies the way he blew away the Marlins, Willie Randolph may be able to enjoy September, 2008 a little more than last year’s version.

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Thank you, Davidson, for reminding us why we bother to watch these games in the first place.  As if it wasn’t enough that we were captivated by your David vs. Goliath routine, you fashion one of the best sports stories in recent memory by loading  your students onto buses, putting them up in hotel rooms, handing them tickets to the Regional finals and picking up the tab.  Well done.

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Can’t believe that all of the veteran free agents that just signed with the Jets did so with the understanding that the team will be developing a young quarterback.  With the draft just a month away and Kellen Clemens still a huge question mark, could we be looking at the return of Chad Pennington?  If there’s some kind of plan here, GM Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Eric Mangini are doing a good job of keeping it to themselves.

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Speaking of quarterbacks, is it safe to assume that Giants fans feel a little more secure about their signal caller than they did going into last year’s draft?

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Couldn’t help but notice that, since acquiring Jason Kidd, the Mavericks are 0-10 vs. teams with winning records and have fallen into a tie for the last playoff spot in the NBA’s Western conference.  While it’s true that Dirk Nowitzki has been injured for a few of those losses, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Mavs miss the playoffs and the Nets manage to sneak in under the wire in the East?  That should be enough to give Kidd one of his infamous migraine headaches.

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The local High School baseball season got underway last week with all players prohibited from using metal bats.  It’s an idea that is extremely well intended but, has fallen way short of its most important target.  I have a very hard time trying to recall hearing an account of a pitcher on the Prep level suffering an injury due to a hot shot off a metal bat.  On the other hand, I can’t remember the last Little League season in which I failed to read multiple stories of players injured under the same circumstances.  These youngsters stand on a mound just 46 feet from batters who are twelve and, in some cases, thirteen and are swinging bats that are 32 inches long but as light as 21 ounces.  The bat speed generated combined with the short distance creates an extremely hazardous situation.  To ban the metal bats in High School and not on the Youth level is equivalent to treating a broken leg with an aspirin.

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Knicks’ coach, Isiah Thomas, announced this week that he is not a candidate for the vacant head coaching spot at his alma mater, Indiana University.  In an apparently unrelated story, comedian, George Carlin, announced that he is not being considered for the lead role in an upcoming revival of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

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I wonder how many times during this weekend we’ll hear talking heads like Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps refer to Memphis coach John Calipari’s second trip to the Final Four when this is actually his first.  In 1996, Calipari’s UMass Minutemen made their lone appearance in the championship round, only to have all records of their participation nullified after it was discovered that junior center, Marcus Camby, had taken $28,000 from two agents.  A year later there was no longer a banner hanging in the UMass arena and no sign of Calipari, who followed the time honored tradition of taking another job when the NCAA starts asking questions.

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Last weekend, XM Radio, offered a special channel called, Play Ball, which served up everything from classic radio broadcasts and interviews to comedy routines and music, all devoted to the national pastime.  While I enjoyed standards like John Fogerty’s Centerfield and Terry Cashman’s Willie, Mickey and the Duke, I was stunned to find out that Bob Dylan had recorded a song entitled, Catfish, a tribute to the great Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  Another treat was to hear Bob Murphy’s call of the 1969 Mets division clincher vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.  I was struck by the fact that during the entire ninth inning, Murphy never once mentioned the pitch count of Mets hurler, Gary Gentry, a rookie who was allowed to stay in the 6-0 game until the ninth as he worked on the complete game.  Don’t see much of that anymore.

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Make sure that Don’t Call Me Coach, an autobiography by St. Joseph’s University Men’s Basketball coach Phil Martelli, finds its way onto your list of books to read.  It’s a wonderfully candid account of how Martelli’s career path took him to the only job he ever wanted and everything he learned about himself along the way.  It’s a refreshing departure from the usual tomes by coaches who think they invented the game.  A must read for all aspiring young coaches, especially on the High School level.


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