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The View from the Cheap Seats

October 22, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

The NY Jets? …. “Listen to your father, kid.”

November 27, 1994;  Jets vs. Dolphins at the Meadowlands.  New York came into the cheap_seats_3_owummatchup looking to gain a tie with Miami atop the standings in the AFC East as well as the inside track to the division title.  With a possible playoff appearance on the table, Jet fans were keyed up from the tailgates in the parking lot through the pre-game introductions.  When the home team scored to stretch its lead to 24-6 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter, Giants Stadium sounded just like Shea used to during the days of the Sack Exchange.  All that stood between Gang Green and a return to glory was eighteen more minutes of dominating football and four extremely winnable games against inferior opponents over the last month of the season.  Sure, that’s all.

I had been fortunate enough to score four tickets to the game through the courtesy of a friend.  I’d given up my own season subscription seven years earlier because, quite frankly, I hated everything about the Meadowlands.  I hated the Turnpike, the tolls, the traffic, the parking lot, the turf, the wind and, most of all, the losing.  God, they always lost!  I’d go home with a headache every week and for what?  They always lost!   But now, with a fiery young coach and a battle for first place with the hated Dolphins as incentives, I decided to accept the tickets and take my three young boys, ages seven, five and four.  They’d all just started playing various levels of flyweight football and had been watching games with me all season.  Their excitement built throughout the week until they were beside themselves when the game finally kicked off.  By the time Boomer Esiason hit Johnny Mitchell in the end zone to put the Jets up by eighteen, all three were convinced that they were watching the greatest football team in the world.  If only they’d known.

Our seats were in the lower section; about the five yard line on the home side of the field.  We were, naturally, sitting amongst Jet fans but, as we were using someone else’s tickets, didn’t know any of them.  When Miami QB Dan Marino closed out the third quarter with a TD pass to Mark Ingram and a two point conversion to Irving Fryar,  I threw my head back and said to no one in particular, “We’re going to lose this game”.  My oldest, Terrence, couldn’t believe my pessimism. “Dad, you gotta be kidding.  We’re still up ten, Boomer’s having a great game and there’s only one quarter left.  There’s no way we lose.”  Before I could respond, the guy sitting behind us, obviously a seasoned Jet fan and, until that moment, a total stranger, leaned up in his seat, looked at my son and said, “Listen to your father, kid.”  And, as if it was the period on the end of his sentence, the game immediately turned ugly.

Esiason would fumble three times in that fourth quarter and throw two interceptions.fake spike 3 Marino would find Ingram for two more scores, the second in the final minute courtesy of the now infamous “Fake Spike” that gave the Dolphins the victory.  The Jets would go on to lose all of their remaining games, fire Pete Carroll and usher in the disastrous Rich Kotite era that produced a 3-29 record over two seasons.  “Listen to your father, kid.”

As a recovering Jetaholic, myself, I try to steer other Jet addicts away from the evil teases thrown at them by our favorite team because, as surely as Lucy will always pull that football away from Charlie Brown and watch him land on his ample head, the Jets will break your heart every time.  Vinny Testaverde’s set to lead Bill Parcells’ heavily favored Jets to the Super Bowl?  Not with a snapped Achilles, he won’t.  Jets on the verge of ousting Pittsburgh from the 2004 playoffs and advancing to the AFC title game?  Doug Brien misses, not one, but two game winning field goals.  Man-genius?  Beginner’s luck.  Brett Favre leads Jets to 8-3 record?  Favre goes color blind in 1-4 finish while Chad Pennington wins the division for the Dolphins.  Jet fans are so starved for even a small measure of success, they’ll jump at anything resembling hope.  And, just like Lucy, Gang Green pulls the football away every time and laughs as they land on their heads.  “Listen to your father, kid.”

So, here we are again.  Despite the low expectations accompanying a first-time Head Coach and a rookie quarterback, the Jetsies started the season with three straight wins; including one where they completely dominated the invincible Patriots and Tom Brady.  Certainly, this season would be different.  Rex Ryan’s brought a new attitude to the organization, the defense is the best in the league, there’s a relatively easy three game stretch coming up and the Hall of Fame in Canton is clearing space for the bust of Mark Sanchez.  There’s no way Lucy pulls the ball away this time.  Is there?  Well, right on cue,  Rex Ryan developed a severe case of “Herm Edwards Clockophobia” in Miami, the defense couldn’t stop a backup QB from Harvard last week and Mark Sanchez suddenly has more interceptions than endorsements.  Leave it to the Jets to make a 3-3 record seem miles worse than the 1-5 start many had predicted.  And the fans?  They’re laying on their heads in the Meadowlands parking lot because, stunningly, Lucy pulled the football away yet again. “Listen to your father, kid.”

I got an email after the Miami loss from Cheap Seater Lou Ricciardi, a Jetaholic attempting recovery but prone to lapses such as this one: “Now that they’ve sucked me in again this year”, he wrote, “I am not jumping off the bandwagon and saying, ‘same old Jets’, just yet.”  “If, however, they lose one of the next two games, then I will.”  If ?!  If ?!   Poor, Lou.  Landed on his head again.  But, if it’s any comfort to him, or fellow Cheap Seaters Brendan Grady, Jack O’Sullivan, Mike Walsh and any other Jetaholics that need assistance, there is hope.  No matter how many times the Jets convince you that this is finally the year,  no matter how many past warnings have gone unheeded and no matter how strong your instinct to jump back up on that bandwagon, there is a cure.  It will save you.  All you need to do, the next time thousands of Jetaholics start racing at Lucy to kick that football, is to take a step back, close your eyes and wait for the wisdom of that anonymous Jet fan who’d seen enough.  I promise, if it’s what you truly want, that you’ll hear his voice above the din of your television or the roar of the crowd and you’ll be safe.  Such simple advice; but it’ll save you a broken heart.  “Listen to your father, kid.”

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

September 10, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose


Jeter Chases Gehrig

Anytime a Major League player is mentioned in the same sentence as Lou Gehrig, he’s accomplished something significant. In Derek Jeter’s case, passing Gehrig as the all-time hits leader of the New York Yankees is an achievement that should be listed somewhere near the top of his Cooperstown resume.   For this record, or any like it, to stand for seventy years and survive the many, great players that have been part of Yankee history makes it that much more special when it finally falls.  To have it eclipsed by the team’s most popular player is simply an added gift for the fans as they get to share the moment with their hero; something apparently lost on Yankee broadcasters convinced that the attraction is not Jeter’s assault on the record but their description of it, instead.

The pre-game soliloquies, (Whatever happened to, “Hi, this is Frank Messer and welcome to Yankee baseball.”?), the silly stats and the wink-wink, “I spoke to Derek”, nonsense that seems to have become a competition among the broadcast crew, has grown more and more tiresome as the shortstop has struggled to get the last few hits he needs.  And can you imagine the over-the-top silliness that Sterling has already come up with for the record breaker?   How about just letting the fans enjoy Jeter without getting in the way?

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Missing Mangini

Read this week that Eric Mangini still hadn’t announced his starting QB for the Browns’ opener on Sunday and started to respect Rex Ryan a whole lot more.

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Dedicated Superstars

Next time you hear someone start whining about how today’s athletes just don’t care, that money is everything and team loyalty is a thing of the past, mention Carlos Beltran.  Out three months with a bone bruise that hasn’t completely healed, Beltran came back to a Mets’ squad so devastated by injuries that many advised the center fielder to shut it down for the year.

Or Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford; reigning Heisman Trophy winner.  He spurned the millions that awaited him in the NFL in order to return to school and join his teammates in their quest to win the National Championship that they just missed last season.  Pundits were criticizing Bradford’s decision this week after he sustained a shoulder injury in Oklahoma’s opener.  As if a guy who thinks team first isn’t already above their criticism.

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Denver Broncos: Tough Love?

Strange coincidence in Denver where WR Brandon Marshall, suspended indefinitely for insubordination, redeemed himself in his coach’s eyes just in time for the season opener.

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September Yawn

It’s a sorry September in Major League Baseball as only one of the six divisions has even a sniff of a pennant race.  Despite Bud Selig trying to sell me on the Wild Card, I’m not exactly flipping to Sportscenter to find out how the Red Sox and Rangers did.

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September 11, 2009

Eight years ago, just prior to the kickoff of a freshman football game between Xaverian High School and Xavier High School, the captains from each team proceeded to midfield.   The pregame ritual seemed as mundane as every other coin toss; eight kids who’d never met greeting officials and opponents they probably wouldn’t recognize an hour later.   Until one of the Xaverian captains, the smallest actually, reached across to the Xavier side.  “We’re really sorry about your coach”, he said.  “Thanks, man” came the reply, “thanks a lot.”

Almost two months earlier, on September 10th, a whole new world opened up for those kids as they started their high school careers.  The next day brought a whole new world for all of us.  While football became a refuge for the Xaverian freshmen; their safe haven from the sadness and fear, it was a daily reminder of both for the Xavier kids who’d lost their coach in the World Trade Center attacks.  And now, just before a game that was as much a neighborhood rivalry as any they would ever play, these young boys took a second away from the sport to address their grief.

I thought about that game when I saw that the two schools would open their Varsity seasons against each other tomorrow night, September 11th, at Aviator Field in Brooklyn.  I remembered how I felt back then; that there would never be a time that I’d enjoy anything on that day.  I thought about those high school freshmen; college grads now, and how they managed to find their way through those terrible times.  Finally, I thought of how often since that horrible Tuesday morning I’d been told that the loved ones we lost would want us to enjoy our lives.  That, to do so, would honor the rescuers whose sacrifice was made to preserve that freedom.  Maybe, after eight years, it’s time to let that advice sink in.

So, I’ll be there tomorrow night because, after all this time, it’s where I think I should be.  It’ll be my tribute to those we lost, those we didn’t and those overseas fighting to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again.  And I’ll carry those eight young football players in my heart; grateful for the example they set on that autumn afternoon.  Thoreau once wrote “All men are children”.  But, on that day, children were men.

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Happy 19th Birthday to one of LaSalle University’s finest, Ryan Mayrose.

The View from the Cheap Seats

September 2, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

Joba Chamberlain: Is He or Isn’t He?

Are the Yankees serious about these Joba cheap_seats_3_owumRules?   I have to admit, when I first heard that they were looking to limit his innings this year, I thought it would be based on his level of success.  He’d pitch somewhere around 160 innings as the fifth starter due to days when he’d be pushed back or skipped altogether to keep the others in the rotation on their normal, five day cycle.  If he finally developed the command that had been lacking since he was taken out of the bullpen, everyone would benefit and he’d be in the 180 range.  The lunacy that has transpired, however, boggles the minds of even the strictest of the pitch-count police.

Sunday, Chamberlain was lifted after three innings and thirty five pitches.  Thirty five! That’s not even an off-day, bullpen session.  But, according to the way Yankee brass has dictated Chamberlain be handled, that was all he’d be permitted to throw.  So, for the rest of the season, multiple relievers will get extensive work each time Joba takes the hill.  A plan with little downside as long as the other four starters go deep into games each time out.  If they don’t, then the workload on the bullpen could negatively impact what looks to be a long post-season.

The process by which Chamberlain has been brought along has been ridiculous since the outset.  Despite tremendous success in the bullpen and the potential to be a solid closer, the Yanks insisted upon inserting him into the rotation.  Then, ignoring his struggles with his command and endurance, they staunchly refused to send him back.  Now, it seems like a case of not wanting to admit a mistake, as he remains a starter but will only shoulder a reliever’s role.

It’s time for the Yankees to decide what this guy is going to be and let him be just that.  As it stands, he’s a burden to both the coaching staff and the bullpen as well as a distraction to the rest of the team.  And, if he’s a starter, take off the shackles and let the guy pitch.  He’s a big, strong kid; let him act like one.


Are the Giants Ready for Prime Time?

There’s usually very little coming out of Giants’ camp during the preseason, as Tom Coughlin has fashioned a successful, all business style over the course of his tenure.  The tranquility was disturbed somewhat this week as DE Osi Umenyiora stormed out of camp; apparently as a reaction to criticism during a film session.  Umenyiora returned, accepted full responsibility and apologized but, on the heels of two straight, sub-par performances in the exhibition season,  Big Blue fans have to be a little concerned about the Jints’ readiness heading into Opening Day; especially if Eli Manning’s receivers continue to struggle.


Michigan Football Coach in Hot Water

Tough week for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez.  First, he learned he was the subject of a University investigation after current and former players complained to officials that they were practicing far beyond the time limits set down by the NCAA.  Two days after a tearful press conference (Thanks again, Dick Vermeil) where he denied the charges, he was hit with a lawsuit by a bank charging that he failed to pay back $3.9 million on a loan for a struggling Virginia condominium complex.  Not exactly the way you’d like to prepare for your season opener.  I think I’ll take Western Michigan and the points.


Jets Fans Know Better

Cheap Seater and long suffering Jet fan, Lou Ricciardi, chimed in last week on the Mark Sanchez – Kellen Clemens QB battle and how he would have decided it.  Have to say, it’s a shame Rex Ryan didn’t have a chance to sit down with Ricciardi because his logic is flawless.  “A loss to Houston, whose team is on the rise with some of the best pass rushers in football,  followed by tough home games and likely losses to Pats and the revenge-seeking Titans, makes me think Clemens was the wiser choice to start”, said Ricciardi.   “An 0-3 start under Clemens, with a subsequent move to Sanchez, appeals to me a lot more than a  confidence-crushing, winless September for the rookie, with no where else to go but Clemens to continue a lost season.”  Excellent points all around but it’d be hard to convince Ryan and his staff that their optimism is not shared among the fan base.


Notre Dame Football’s Weis Under the Gun

“Best Wishes to Charlie Weis in the 5th Year of his College Coaching Internship”, reads a sign just across from the Notre Dame campus.  Apparently posted by former Irish players from as far back as the 60’s, it is simply signed, “Linebacker Alumni”.  Weis has been good natured about it, thanking his anonymous critics for their good thoughts but, there’s no mistake that Weis is on the hot seat this year.  It’s expected that anything less than a BCS Bowl appearance will cost him his job.   The journey begins Saturday vs. Nevada, a much better team than the San Diego State squad that almost walked out of South Bend with a win last year.  It’ll be interesting to see how Weis, now acting as his own Offensive Coordinator, reacts to a slow start by QB Jimmy Claussen.


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