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Ahead of the Point Spread: Rife With Opinions Week 2

September 9, 2010 under College Football, Uncategorized

Locks Break From Gate With Unbeaten Week One

by CollegeSportsView.com

A year ago, with Gil Lock rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin’ so much that his family came to his rescue, it couldn’t have happened. Any thought of an unbeaten week was pure fantasy. However, in 2010, it’s exactly how the Lock family, Gil, Jill and Pad, started the season. Now, while we don’t expect to see the same kind of success throughout the season, we here at CollegeSportsView.com are starting to expect much from Rino Rife Sports Handicappers as they seem to have their fingers on the pulse of college football. Here’s how they see the campaign’s second week. Click here to read more.. »

The View from the Cheap Seats

November 25, 2009 under Cheap Seats

New York Giants Owner Mara Upset About Travel

Came out this week that Giants’ owner John Mara is upset that his squad must make the two thousand mile cheap_seats_3_owumtrek to Denver for its Thanksgiving clash with the Broncos.  “I don’t mind playing on Thanksgiving,” Mara said. “My complaint is sending us all the way to Denver on a short week.”  In fact, he was so irked by the scheduling that he filed a complaint with the NFL; which made me wonder.  Is that complaint hotline for the exclusive use of petty, carpetbagging owners that were born on third and thought they hit a triple? Or can it be used by life long season ticket holders being screwed out of their seats by Mara’s Personal Seat Licensing extortion?  Sorry, Johnny, if you’re looking for sympathy, you came to the wrong place.

NFL Football Serves Its Biggest Turkeys On Thanksgiving

Football and Thanksgiving are synonymous in the minds of many sports fans.  Can’t see that continuing into the next generation with an annual NFL slate featuring terrible matchups.  This year, Bruce Goodell’s boys serve up two of their worst;  The Raiders and Lions. Thanks, guys. If you need me, I’ll be watching the Godfather marathon on AMC.

Nets Basketball Fans Don’t Grow In Brooklyn

So, now Nets’ owner Bruce Ratner wins his eminent domain battle to evict homeowners and build his Atlantic Yards empire in Brooklyn.  Got news for you, Brucie.  Brooklynites aren’t dummies and won’t soon be drawn to that mess you call a basketball team.  If you build it, they won’t come unless you can play.

New York Jets Get Defensive With QB Sanchez

If you’re scoring at home, now that Derek Anderson and JaMarcus Russell have been benched, Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez is, officially, the worst starter in the league.  And how does Gang Green plan to address this?  With Head Coach Rex Ryan, hired on the strength of his defensive expertise, taking a more active role in the rookie’s development.  Who knows, maybe Sanchez will be more receptive to a defensive guy seeing as how receptive defenders have been of his passes.  However it works out, it’s another example of the Jets not getting it right.  Last off season, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was a candidate for the head job that eventually went to Ryan.  Amazingly, they decided to retain Schottenheimer.   No team but the Jets would then force an offensive coordinator on a new coach; he’d hire his own guy.  That Sanchez has gotten worse as the season has progressed is an indictment of both the Jets and Schottenheimer but, at least, an indication that they got one right in not hiring him to lead the team.  Hey, when you’re a Jets fan, you have to take your victories where you can find them.

Notre Dame Football Coach On Way Out

After last week’s loss to Connecticut, it’s a foregone conclusion that Notre Dame will pull the plug on the Charlie Weis era.  As they start their search for a replacement, one criterion is more important than any other.  They must sign their first choice for the spot.  The Notre Dame job was once thought of as the greatest in sports.  So much so that Lou Holtz, who coached at a number of schools, always had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if the Irish came calling.  But, in recent years, that perception has been diminished; much to Notre Dame’s detriment.  Bob Davie got the job back in 1996 after Gary Barnett thumbed his nose and headed to Colorado.  Before Ty Willingham was brought in, George O’Leary was hired then dismissed due to inaccuracies on his resume.  Then, when Willingham flopped, Urban Meyer was thought to be on his way, only to take the job at Florida and leave Notre Dame with second prize once again.  Given the fact that Weis is due $18 million on his way out the door, I’m wondering if it isn’t a better idea to keep him on until that Dream Coach is available.  It’d certainly be a more productive solution than settling once again.

“Christopher is Well”

About nine years ago, I first met a young man named Chris; at the time, all of eleven years old.  He was a quiet, private kid and remains so to this day which is why I’m only using his first name.  His dad and I worked together on Wall Street and I convinced John to send Chris to the week-long basketball camp upstate where I was a coach.  Every day, during each meal and then again before lights out, I’d check on the kid to make sure things were going well.   Always got the same answer.  “Yeah, fine.”  Nothing more.   By the end of the week, one that saw him take home an All Star trophy, I told John that I wasn’t sure Chris had enjoyed the camp.  “Of course he did”, John said, “he’s just quiet.”

Chris went on to become a classmate of my son in high school.   They were very much alike in many ways and became friends and teammates.   They bonded while playing for a JV coach who worked them hard and challenged them every day and they both responded.   Each came out of his shell and emerged as a productive player; feeding off the confidence of their coach and their faith in all of their teammates.  It was one of those seasons where the record didn’t matter much as all of the young men improved as players and people.   They were each given a nickname as well, and one look at Christopher’s winter-white, freckled face instantly gave him away as the one they called, “Irish.”

About a year after Chris left high school as the captain of the varsity basketball team, we learned that doctors had found a mass in his chest.   Chris would undergo chemotherapy treatment with an uncertain prognosis.   His incredible physical condition, one that had actually masked some symptoms, would allow doctors to aggressively attack the tumor and they started almost immediately.   I remember being terrified for Chris, my friend John, their family and even of telling my own son what had happened.   I’ll always remember the night we went to visit.  Chris was wiped out from a treatment and was actually too weak to even speak.   When I entered the room shortly after my son, I was struck to see these two strong, young men, silently holding each other’s hand.  I won’t ever forget that image.

Six months later, Chris finished his last treatment and was told there were no longer any signs of the tumor.  He showed up at a basketball game at his old school and was mobbed by the many coaches and former classmates so happy that their good friend was doing better.  Given his quiet demeanor, it had to be one of the worst moments of his journey.   But he tolerated it very well.

It’s been a tough five years or so for a lot of us.  I’ve been struggling over the last few weeks to find the spirit of the season and avoid being dragged down emotionally by the difficult times in which I find myself while drawing very little consolation from the fact that I am but one of many going through the same thing.  Then I saw the envelope on the table.  It was big, like a wedding invitation and my first reaction was dread as an expensive gift is certainly not in the budget.   When I opened it, however, my heart was suddenly filled with the happiness of the holiday.  It was a  note from Chris and his family; updating his condition and thanking all for their support.  I had a hard time reading it, however, as my eyes instantly filled up after seeing the first three words:  “Christopher is well.”   Happy Thanksgiving.

The View from the Cheap Seats

September 30, 2009 under Cheap Seats

By Eddie Mayrose

 

Yankees Have Unfinished Business

Summer officially ended for the Yankees and their fans on Sunday with the clinching of cheap_seats_3_owumthe American League Eastern Division. Despite a wonderful season that saw the opening of a beautiful new ballpark, record numbers of home runs, exciting, last-inning heroics that seemed to occur every night, two or three viable MVP and CY Young candidates as well as the best record in baseball, a playoff run that ends short of a World Series title will turn 2009 into a failure.

It’s the one downside to playing for the Bronx Bombers.  Yes, you enjoy the best that money can buy but at a price:  If you don’t win it all, the season is lost.  Just ask Manager Joe Girardi, whose status for next year is still undetermined despite this season’s success.  Or Alex Rodriguez, possibly the greatest player of his time, who has struggled mightily in the post season since joining the Bombers and has become a target of fans’ frustration because of it.

Former Mets GM Frank Cashen once said that the best team always wins the division but the playoffs are a crap shoot. While it’s true that the Yankees go into the post season with some big question marks, namely their starting rotation after C.C. Sabathia, they have markedly fewer problems than the rest of the AL’s contenders.  Now, if ARod can just get hot and A.J. Burnett can imagine that he’s pitching for a contract, maybe Joe Girardi can worry about his ring size instead of his resume.

New York Jets Might Not Be “Same Old”

Try as I might to resist, the Jets are starting to nudge me in the direction of optimism.  Not so much because of their perfect record but more for the attitude with which the defense is confounding veteran quarterbacks.  Attack, attack, attack is the modus operandi; one that couldn’t be more foreign to fans raised on the heartbreak of the Prevent Defense.  Apparently, the aggressive style is contagious, as evidenced by Mark Sanchez lowering his head and driving toward the end zone during his touchdown run on Sunday.  No sissy-boy slide for Rex Ryan’s QB.

Before I start booking a Super Bowl trip, however, I’d like to see some consistency in the running game.  Despite their 3-0 record, the Jets have only been productive on the ground in the second half of their opener in Houston.  With a rookie signal caller in Sanchez, they’ll have to establish their ground attack if they hope to keep opposing defenses out of his face as the season goes on.

Knicks Plan For Life Without LeBron James

Finally, the Knicks seem to be acknowledging that they must have an alternative plan in place should they come up empty next summer when players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents.  While it’s true that Donnie Walsh has done a great job in ridding the Knicks of the bad contracts that left the organization no room under the salary cap, that cap space alone does not guarantee that James or Wade will be wearing a New York uniform in 2010.

In signing David Lee to a one year deal for significantly more than Lee was entitled, Walsh established some good will with his young star going forward while maintaining wiggle room under the cap.  Besides, there’s this little business of playing the 82 games on this year’s schedule first; something not all that promising to begin with but entirely more watchable with a budding star like Lee on the squad.

MLB Disabled List Doesn’t Have To Mean All Is Lost

Is it reasonable to expect a Major League team to contend for a divisional title when   its two best players miss huge chunks of the season to injury; only to be followed to the disabled list by three of the five starters in the rotation?  Even if the team survives that initial wave of injuries, it couldn’t possibly stay in the race when a second wave of bad health removes two more power hitters from the middle of the lineup; one for the remainder of the season, could it?   Well, if you’re asking that question out at CitiField,  Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel would tell you the answer is a resounding, “No”.   But, in Minnesota, where the Twins head into Detroit this week for a four game series just two behind the Tigers in spite of all the aforementioned casualties, the answer is, “Why not?”

The Twinkies spent the first month of the season without Joe Mauer, a two time batting champ about to add a third title and an MVP award to his trophy case.  Think they might have been two games better over the first five weeks with him behind the plate?  Their projected ace, Francisco Liriano, has contributed nothing while serving three different stints on the DL,  they’ll finish the season without former MVP Justin Morneau, down with a bad back, just as they’ve muddled along trying to patch the huge hole left by starter Kevin Slowey; 10-3 before saying goodbye to ’09 with a broken wrist.  Hard to believe Minnesota wouldn’t have long since iced the division with these guys all in the lineup but, even without them, they still have a shot.  It’s a tribute to the excellence of the organization, from scouting to player development, and something for Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon to consider when evaluating the job done by Minaya.  It’s also why there should be an investigation if Ron Gardenhire isn’t named AL Manager of the Year.

Florida Gators Lose Tebow For No Good Reason

Bonehead call of the week goes to Urban Meyer, Head Coach of the top ranked Florida Gators.  With under eight minutes to go in the third quarter of Florida’s matchup with Kentucky on Saturday, the Gators scored to make it 31-7.  To that point, Tim Tebow, perhaps the game’s premier player, had been directing Meyer’s spread offense even though he was sick enough to require two bags of intravenous fluids before the game just to be able to play.  Yet, despite the big lead and his superstar’s illness, Meyer chose to leave Tebow in the game; a decision that bit him on the behind when Tebow suffered a concussion. 

Now, if Meyer thought that Kentucky would rally from 24 points down in 22 minutes against his Gator defense, he was the only one in the country.  But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  Say there was enough time for the Wildcats to come back.  This was a football game; not baseball.  If Kentucky made it close, Tebow could always return to the lineup.  Instead, Meyer flirted with one of  the few things that could derail his team’s run to its third title in four years.  Bonehead.

2009 SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

August 28, 2009 under College Football, Uncategorized

Think they take their football seriously in the SEC?  Most of this season’s Media Day was spent trying to determinesec-mini-pennant-set which coach didn’t vote Tim Tebow as the conference’s best quarterback.  Now, he was still the consensus pick as the league’s best, just not the unanimous one so, the investigation was launched.  Turns out it was South Carolina head man, Steve Spurrier, who pled ignorance to the fact that an aide had voted for someone other than Tebow.  Such is life in the SEC.

Heading into 2009, it’s hard to imagine Florida not repeating as National Champions, let alone Conference Champions.  However, two other coaches who have won national titles, Nick Saban of Alabama and Les Miles of LSU, may have something to say about Urban Meyer’s quest for a third ring. 

Can Houston Nutt build on last year’s momentum and guide Ole’ Miss past Florida?  Is Lane Kiffin all talk at Tennessee?  Check out our 2009 SEC Football Preview.

 


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