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The View from the Cheap Seats

January 13, 2010 under Cheap Seats, College Basketball, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL

By Eddie Mayrose

New York Jets Both Lucky and Good

The Jets went into Cincinnati last Saturday having spent as much time defending their Wild Card position cheap_seats_3_owumas they had preparing for the game, itself.  Blasted for having punched their ticket through the generosity of the Bengals and Indianapolis Colts; two teams with nothing to play for that had virtually rolled over and played dead for Gang Green in the season’s final two games, the Jets took the field with a little something more at stake than just a playoff game.  They wanted to prove they belonged.

And prove it they did, behind Mark Sanchez’s best contest of the season.  They sent the Bengals home for the winter in a performance that, while not as dominating as the previous week’s, saw them control every facet of the game from start to finish.  Head Coach Rex Ryan had raised more than a few eyebrows with some of his pre game statements; like calling his Jets the Super Bowl favorites, but his charges made him look like a prophet, for the first round at least, and have some thinking that maybe Ryan is crazy like a fox.

While the Jets are still the longest of long shots, there is a budding sense among players and fans alike that something special could actually happen.  Cursed for most of their existence by some of the most excruciating losses and disappointments the NFL has seen, these Jets have actually had the breaks go their way over the last month.  Their late season matchups with Indy and Cincy could not have been better timed, the myriad of teams that needed to lose in order for the Jets to advance did just that, there could not have been a better first round matchup than the one they drew with the Bengals and, finally, Baltimore’s rout of New England brought a second round tilt with San Diego; a daunting foe, indeed, but a far more favorable opponent than Peyton Manning and the Colts.  Are these guys really the Jets?

The one thing Big Rexy and his boys need to guard against, however, is the idea that they’re now playing Jets Patriots Footballwith house money; as if last week’s win validated a successful season and whatever happens next doesn’t matter.  While each of those points is true, to a degree, the NFL offers a very small window for teams chasing a title.  No matter how young, no matter how talented, franchises can never be sure how many opportunities they’ll get for championship glory.  The Jets should know this better than any as their Super Bowl drought is longer than every team but the Detroit Lions and is marred by missed field goals, snapped Achilles tendons and muddy fields.  Ryan has given every indication that he’ll keep his foot on the gas pedal and his team’s confidence seems to be growing because of it.  Now, let’s see how much of the newfound good fortune they can transport to San Diego.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

In the aftermath of the Jets’ first round victory came the post game comments of SNY commentator Adam Schein and WFAN host Mike Francesa.  Schein, on the SNY post game show Saturday night, came BrownFrancesa02smtdown very hard on punter Steve Weatherford, who was held out of the game due to illness, according to the team.  Schein, who gives no impression of ever having worn a football helmet, questioned Weatherford’s character; stating that the illness had better be serious.  The Jets would later reveal that Weatherford had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, something he’ll need to have surgically corrected in the off season.

That revelation did nothing to dissuade Francesa, who went down the same path Sunday morning, only to be corrected by a colleague.  That he was unaware that the punter’s condition had been made public the night before is not surprising as his indifference is exceeded only by his arrogance.  Each of these gas bags missed what was obvious to most: that since Weatherford was, in fact, on the sideline and in uniform, his condition must have been very serious for the Jets to hold him out of the game.  But, hey, why let the facts get in the way of sounding like a big, tough ballplayer?

NCAA Basketball Shill Vitale Loses Credibility

After thirty years, it’s time for ESPN’s lead hypocrite, Dick Vitale, to pack up his self-proclaimed “one eyed ziggy” act and go away forever.  While it’s always been difficult to stomach the superfluous nonsense he spews during his network’s broadcasts, he now regularly ignores and, in fact, rewrites the history of the dick_vitale_1coaches and programs whose fannies he chooses to smooch.

During Tuesday’s matchup of Florida and Kentucky, Vitale went into a rant about Mark McGwire, repeating what he’d said that morning on “Mike and Mike”.  He used the term “cheater” numerous times, referring to how sick he was of the steroid mess in baseball and how he sought refuge by talking up the game between the Wildcats and Gators.  A game that, incidentally, featured one of the college game’s more infamous cheaters, John Calipari, who’d been identified as such just weeks before by Vitale’s ESPN colleague, Bob Knight.  Not surprisingly, Vitale chose to ignore the issue. Not only was much of the telecast filled with Vitale’s praise for Calipari’s coaching ability, a graphic soon popped up naming the Kentucky coach as Vitale’s selection as Coach of the Year through this point in the season.  Finally, he mentioned that Calipari is attempting to become only the second coach to take three teams to the Final Four.  A complete rewriting of the facts, actually, as both of Calipari’s previous trips to the Championship round with UMass and Memphis have been vacated due to NCAA infractions.  According to the NCAA’s own records, Calipari’s never been to a Final Four.  I guess Vitale didn’t get the news.  Regardless, until he’s told by ESPN to take his ball and go home; something that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be imminent, any game that he works will be an extremely difficult and annoying listen.

New Jersey Devils Star Toils in Virtual Anonymity

If Devils’ goalie  Martin Brodeur  had been as dominant over the course of his career in any other sport or for any other New York area team, there’d already be a statue of him standing in front of a stadium.

New York Knicks Haunted in Oklahoma

During their two day stay in Oklahoma City, New York Knicks forwards Eddy Curry and Jared Jefferies complained that they were unable to sleep due to the fact that their hotel, The Skirvin, is haunted by ghosts.   I’ll leave you to your own punchlines.

Mark McGwire’s Weak Apology Does Settle One Score

Why would we have expected anything different from Mark McGwire?  Why would we think that, unlike all of the other steroid cheats who have come forward, sort of, that he’d be the one to completely open up mark-mcgwire-congressabout his own use?  Sorry, wasn’t going to happen.  Despite the earnest attempts of MLB Network’s Bob Costas to guide him to the full disclosure necessary for forgiveness, McGwire resisted throughout.  As a result, he looked like someone who came forward only because it was a requirement for his employment with the St. Louis Cardinals.  However, despite the fact that we learned very little that we didn’t already suspect, McGwire inadvertently settled one major debate about himself.

Forget his ridiculous assertions that the steroids were low dosage, that they did nothing to improve his performance or that he always wanted to come forward about his use of PED’s. It’s all nonsense.  Focus, instead, on his admission that, due to his frustration with chronic injury, he decided against retirement and started using steroids in 1996 to help him overcome his physical woes and get back on the field. By that very statement, he is also confirming that in no way does he deserve to be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Prior to the ’96 season, McGwire had posted 220 HR and 657 RBI over his first ten seasons; a far cry from consideration for the Hall.  He had appeared in just 74 games over the previous two seasons, prompting his thoughts of retirement.  In 1996, however, McGwire embarked on a four year slugfest that saw him launch an inhuman 245 home runs. So, if we connect the dots, what McGwire actually told Costas was that, had it not been for steroids, he’d have retired with the 220 dingers that would have left him off of every voter’s ballot.

Baseball is a game in which cheating has long been revered.  Hitters cork their bats while teams grow the grass high to aid slow infielders and water down the dirt to foil basestealers.  The 1951 Giants won a pennant aided by an employee in the scoreboard stealing the other team’s signs, journeyman pitcher Mike Scott won a Cy Young by scuffing the ball and spitballer Gaylord Perry has a plaque in Cooperstown.  Oddly, fans and players alike look at these indiscretions with a kind of twisted admiration.  To that end, baseball got exactly what it asked for with these steroid cheats.  I just wish they’d have a little more respect for our intelligence when they come forward and not hand us the ridiculous crap that we saw from McGwire on Monday.

The View from the Cheap Seats

January 7, 2010 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

Jets Say Farewell To Giants Stadium Demons At Cincinnati’s Expense

It was right out of Meadowlands history.  The former defensive coordinator turned head coach cheap_seats_3_owumbrandishing a style of smash-mouth football behind a dominating offensive line and a punishing defense on a cold, windswept December evening.  A raucous crowd firing up the home team on its way to a playoff berth and a shot at the Super Bowl. Only, this time, it wasn’t Bill Parcells leading the Giants during their heyday.  Instead, the New York Jets; yes, those Jets, turned in the kind of dominating performance their fans hadn’t seen since Klecko and Mehl hung up their cleats all those years ago.  Behind first year Head Coach Rex Ryan, who, himself, had given them up for dead just two weeks earlier, Gang Green turned the final game at Giants Stadium into a coming-out party for what many hope to be a new era for the Jets.  That it took twenty five years to get here didn’t seem to bother any of the faithful Sunday night.

While many have pointed to the Jets’ good fortune in facing two teams, (Indianapolis and Cincinnati), with no motivation, Big Rexy’s boys will offer no apologies as participants in the Super Bowl tournament.  Even though it’s a long shot to think they would have beaten the Colts had Peyton Manning and Company turned in a full day’s work, the Bengals absolutely came to play last week until their spirit was broken by the suffocating Jets’ defense in the first quarter.  Carson Palmer was an abysmal 1 for 11 and the former Chad Johnson couldn’t catch a cold.  Instead, the Jets dominated every facet of the game behind the tried and true formula for playoff success: Rushing and Defense.  Piling up 257 yards on the ground while allowing just 61 bodes well for New York in this week’s rematch.  Cincinnati can take heart in that they’ll be welcoming back a number of starters but, unless their names are Unitas and Butkus, it may not be enough.

New York Giants Shame Their Own Tradition

At the beginning of the season, who’d have believed that the unyielding and overpowering shutout to tom osiclose Giants Stadium would be turned in by the Jets while the Meadowlands’ main tenants went meekly into the off-season?

The type of performance given by the Giants over the last two weeks is one that surfaces every year.  At the end of each season, we see teams quit on their teammates, coaches and fans; embarrassing themselves professionally in the process.  That, this time, it occurred with a team on the brink of the playoffs and just two years removed from a Super Bowl title is as amazing as it is sad.

Big Blue’s total lack of effort in being outscored 85-16 over its final two games is a sign that a huge overhaul is necessary.  The process started Monday with the firing of Defensive Coordinator, Bill Sheridan but should not include, for now, the Head Coach.  What Tom Coughlin needs to realize, however, is that, somewhere along the way, he’s picked up a number of whiners and weak links that need to be banished no matter what their previous record of success.  Blind loyalty for past achievements is a potent formula for getting yourself fired.  He can start with DE Osi Umenyiora, who got into it with Sheridan during training camp, went home for a nap and a ba-ba and was awful, thereafter. The Jints have enough talent to rebound in 2010.  However, with two playoff teams already in the division and Mike Shanahan arriving in Washington, they’d better be quick about it.

Magic Johnson Denied Courtside Seats By New York Knicks

The New York Daily News reported that NBA legend Magic Johnson had his request for complimentary tickets denied by Knicks’ brass; reportedly due to critical comments Johnson made about former Knicks’ boss, Isiah Thomas.  Based on that, I’m wondering how anyone gets in the building.

NBA Commish Must Ban Arenas For Life

Washington Wizards’ teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon are alleged to have drawn guns on each other in the Wizards’ locker room over a gambling debt; something Arenas has confirmed.  arenasApparently, it was Arenas’ idea of some sort of prank.  He’s been suspended indefinitely as D.C. police continue to investigate.

There is no gray area here for Commissioner David Stern as to his course of action.  This was no courtside melee that spilled into the stands and endangered ticket holders; something for which Ron Artest lost a season.  This was a real, live, life-or-death situation created by two idiots with no regard for the value of a dollar, let alone a life.  How would you like to be the clubhouse guy for Washington?  Young guy, going about your business and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a shootout.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Once you’ve actually become unbalanced enough to draw the weapon, how far, actually, is the next step to fire it?

The NBA averted the worst event in its history by an eyelash.  Should Arenas or Crittendon be allowed back, the league will be as culpable as the players when, not if, it happens again.  Sadly ironic that it happened with the Wizards, a team whose name was changed from the Bullets because its late owner, Abe Pollin, was concerned about the violent image the name projected among D.C. youth. 

NFL Playoff Predictions

Green Bay 31 Arizona 23: Bobby Carr, Joe Berg and Lynn Dickey rejoice.
Dallas 27 Philadelphia 13: Tell your father-in-law to kiss your arse, young Flanagan.
Patriots 26 Ravens 21:  Is there any way both teams can lose?  Won’t even watch this game.
Bengals 17 Jets 9: Condolences to Lou Ricciardi, Jack O’Sullivan and Mike Walsh.

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 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

August 4, 2009 under Cheap Seats

This time, it’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.  In the latest leak of the infamous cheap_seats_3_owumlist of 104 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003, we’ve found out just how Big Papi got that way and that, oops, Manny’s positive test in May wasn’t a one-time thing.  Now, while I still don’t care what any of these cheats put in their bodies and I’m not up in arms about the integrity of Major League Baseball’s record book, there are some disturbing aspects about this revelation that make it different than the others.  In Ortiz and Ramirez, we may, finally, have an indication that, despite their denials, MLB and its owners were aware of the widespread use of PED’s.

In December, 2007, when former Senator George Mitchell released the results of his investigation into the use of steroids in professional baseball, much was made of the fact that, while Mitchell was a part owner of the Red Sox, no Boston player appeared on the list.  Those suspicions were given new life last week, as the exposure of Ortiz and Ramirez as well as speculation surrounding former Sox pitcher, Bronson Arroyo, called Mitchell’s objectivity into serious question.  Could he have directed his investigation away from any of his own players?  Did he ignore information that may have been gathered about them?  It’s likely we’ll never know.  However, the conspiracy theory gained significant momentum when it was discovered that, last year, the Red Sox fired two employees after an MLB investigation into steroid use within the organization.  Jared Remy and Alex Cyr were canned after state police found a vial of steroids in Cyr’s car as he was returning from a Red Sox event last July.  Cyr acknowledged that he had purchased the drugs from Remy, who admitted to his own steroid use.  Remy’s subsequent comments about baseball’s probe were quite troubling.  “I’m sure they were hoping I didn’t know anything,” he said.  “It’s like they didn’t want to know.” 

So, now we have documented steroid use by Manny Ramirez in 2003 and 2009 as well as two employees of the organization with clubhouse access being dismissed.  That it is unlikely Ramirez did not use a performance enhancing drug between his two positive tests casts serious doubt on the credibility of Mitchell’s report.  That the dismissal of Remy and Cyr was not made public for a year points to the possibility that the Red Sox not only knew their players were juicing but may have acted to cover it up.  None of the evidence supporting these theories is any better than circumstantial but, in the court of public opinion, the Boston brass looks bloodier than Curt Schilling’s sock.

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Here’s a question for the Major League Baseball Players Association.  Since it’s obvious that whoever has this supposedly anonymous list plans to leak the names a few at a time, why not get in front of things and release the names, yourself?   Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if we knew who the players are?  Those on the list would be able to get past what has to be significant anxiety in just one news cycle while those not on the list would be cleared of suspicion.  Already, prominent major leaguers like Mariano Rivera and Torii Hunter have lobbied for just that.  While a union is charged with protecting its members, how can it justify giving cover to 104 while placing another 500 under the same cloud?  Those numbers should be reversed.

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Former Giants’ WR Plaxico Burress, indicted for carrying an unlicensed gun into a nightclub and then shooting himself in the leg, faces up to three and a half years in prison if convicted.  Welcome, Plax, to the world where athletic ability does not exempt you from bad acts.  That you were the only victim in this shooting was nothing but dumb luck.  Perhaps if you seemed sorry about that rather than the fact that you were caught, you’d have caught a break.

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The stories could have been written immediately after the Jets hired Rex Ryan. Instead, we had to wait until camp opened to read the inevitable comments from players about Ryan’s coaching style.  His demeanor is a welcome change to the iron-fisted reign of Eric Mangini, who was a necessary shift from the easy going Herm Edwards who created a player-friendly atmosphere that was in sharp contrast to the tyrannical reign of his predecessor, Al Groh.  The only thing any of them have in common is that, except for Ryan, all have failed.  It has become a very sorry cycle broken just once, when Bill Parcells was brought in to bring them back from a two season stretch that netted just three wins. 

Despite this very clear record of failure and success, Gang Green chose to ignore five available head coaches with Super Bowl victories on their resume during the offseason.  While Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan could have been approached about the opening, Gang Green turned once again to its tired policy of enlisting the services of the hottest young coordinator.  Who knows?  Maybe Ryan will, finally, be the guy.  Unfortunately, recent history says he’s not.

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Even though it was disappointing that David Ortiz didn’t provide the usual bit of nonsense in trying to explain away his steroid use, there were still some yuks to be had.  Thought it was funny that the New York papers chose to taunt the “Roid” Sox and question the validity of Boston’s two World Series titles while completely ignoring the fact that the “steroid apology” press conference has become an annual event for the hometown Yankees during spring training.

 

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