Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rangers and Devils Suffer Historical Collapses In Same Night

Talk about irony.

Not only did both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils hold seemingly commanding leads in their opening round playoff series, they both ended up blowing it big time in New York Met-like fashion.
Hope the boys of the ice enjoy their summer while they fume about what has happened to another season of broken promises.

In the Rangers game seven against the Washington Capitals, the Broadway Blue Shirts gave it their all but just couldn't figure out the Capitals defense. It didn't help matters either that the soul of the team, Sean Avery, was limping around either. The Rangers put up only 15 shot on goalie Simeon Varlamov, not exactly enough to make the Capitals defense nor the goalie sweat.

With the score tied at one in the third period, Sergei Federov's goal with less than five minutes to play, iced it for the Capitals. The Rangers never answered as they limped away into the off-season, having blown a 3-1 series lead. The Rangers were so close but so far from accomplishing any goals this season.

As for the Devils, the way they lost was indicative of the entire series. Back and forth and to and fro. With the score tied at two, half way through the second period, Brian Rolston scored on a power play to give New Jersey a 3-2 advantage heading into the final period. With that lead and Martin Broduer in front of the net, one would think a 3-2 lead was safe.

Not the case.

In the final two minutes of the game, the Hurricanes swooped in and stole the game away from Jersey. Jussi Jokinen scored his third goal of the series to tie the game at three. Then, with just 32 seconds to go in regulation, Eric Staal scored his fifth goal of the series, whipping it right past Brodeur to put everyone in the Prudential Center into a spasm of shock and awe.

Does this finish mean that Brodeur, who came off of an injury in late February to finish off the regular season, is getting too old? Probably not, but one reason the Devils had success this year was because of the younger Scott Clemenson. The debate will begin to snowball, as the Devils were iced.

Brett Favre Released By Jets, Becomes Free Agent

Red Alert! Red Alert! Brett Favre is now a free agent.

The New York Jets offically released Favre from the reserved-retired list and released the future Hall of Fame quarterback from his contract, making him a free agent. This means that Favre, who retired, again, in Februrary, can come back to football without having to worry about his contract status with the Jets.

Throughout the entire Favre saga last year, Favre professed a desire to play for the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears as a way to get even with the Packers for not welcoming him back with open arms after he retired in March 2008. Are we in for Favre Sage Part II?

When asked about it, Favre, through his agent Bus Cook, said, “Nothing has changed. At this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football.”

That is because it is not June. It is still April in fact. Give Favre another month and a half, and he will turn around on that statement pretty quickly. Let the speculation games begin all over again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yankees Continue To Struggle

TIGERS 4
YANKEES 2

After suffering a sweep at the hands of the hated Boston Red Sox, the Yankees showed little bite against the hungry Detroit Tigers; in fact, they didn't even show up. Whoever was playing in the Yankee uniforms tonight, they were not the Yankees, or, at least, not a team that spent $400 million in the off-season and posts a salary of over $200 million this season.

Justin Verlander cruised by the Yankees, scattering seven hits over seven innings while striking out nine and walking none. In five career games, Verlander is now 3-1 against the Bombers.

As for Tiger offense, they knocked around C.C. Sabathia. In the first inning, Miguel Cabrera's single to center drove in Placido Polanco for the game's first run. It seemed that Sabathia settled in after that, giving up just one hit, but in the sixth, the Tigers went back to hitting around the Yankee ace.

Curtis Granderson's bunt single got things started, and Sabathia was unable to throw up the speedy lead off man. Polanco followed up with a double to left center to drive home Granderson to make it 2-0, Tigers. Magglio Ordonez followed this up with a gigantic home run to right to make it 4-0, Tigers.

The Yankees never threatened again until the final inning, but, by then, it was too little, too late. The Yankees are now 9-10 and beginning to enter panic mode unless they begin to figure things out real fast. BOX SCORE.

Mets Snap Bad Pitching Streak, Beat Rival Marlins

METS 7
MARLINS 1
Wow! Break up the Mets! Better yet, break up the Mets rotation!
Finally, someone other than Johan Santana pitched extremely well in a baseball game. Such cynicism goes to show you how far the Mets have fallen this season. John Maine, who entered tonight's game with an ERA well over seven, shut down a good Florida Marlins lineup for a 7-1 victory, representing Maine's first win of the year.
Maine stymied the Marlins for six innings, surrendering only one hit and an unearned run in the first inning. He was sharp with his pitches and carried the swagger that he used to have in 2007.
The Mets offense did enough to give Maine some run support. In the bottom of the first, Gary Sheffield made up for a fielding error in the top of the inning by lacing a single to center to drive in Luis Castillo to tie the game. Next, David Wright, who has been anything but clutch, singled to right to drive in Carlos Beltran, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. Moments later, Omir Santos, that's right, Omir Santos, blasted a grand slam homerun over the 16 foot wall in left to give the Mets an impossing 6-1 lead.
It was an easy ride for the Mets, who have been in desperate need of some laughers after a disastrous start to the season. The Mets now improve to 9-10 with Livan Herandez and Johan Santana to pitch in the next two days.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Woody & Jets Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Last summer, when the Jets were successful in ridding themselves of Chad Pennington in a trade that brought in Brett Favre, owner Woody Johnson professed that he would never again have a weak-armed quarterback start for his ballclub.

That proclimation didn't last long.

This afternoon, the Jets pulled off a Mike Ditka-like performance, trading all of their day one draft selections: highly touted prospect quarterback Brett Ratliff, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and saftey Abram Elam to the Cleveland Browns, in order to move from number 17 to number 5 to nab quarterback Mark Sanchez of USC.

According to Randy Lange of New York Jets.com, Johnson "bounced out of the team's draft room, his face lit up as brightly as his green tie ... declaiming, "It's very exciting." (Lange, NewYorkJets.com). Yes, that's right the same guy who never ever, ever again wanted a quarterback who couldn't throw, tossed away his draft for another quarterback who can't throw very far in Sanchez.

One of the many knocks on Sanchez is the fact that he lacks a gun for an arm, something that is very important in today's NFL; watch Super Bowl XLIII between Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger to find that out. For years the Jets had to wallow as Chad Pennington struggled to throw a ball farther than six yards at a time, drawing the ire of fans and media alike by year's seven and eight of Pennington mediocre career in New York. It was the weak arm that prompted the Jets to go out and get a guy like Favre in the first place, and now they are reverting back to bad habits like a child playing with an electrical socket.

Another problem is Sanchez's height. At 6'2" Sanchez is supposed to be about the same height as incumbent starter Kellen Clemens, whom the Jets feared was not big enough to be a starting quarterback. Again, this is yet another condradiction from America's Most Self-Conflicted Franchise. At least Sanchez is more athletic and accurate than Clemens; he is going to need to be in order to dodge the likes of Richard Seymore, Teddy Bruschi of the Patriots, and Aaron Schobel of the Buffalo Bills.

Finally, it is the experience, or lack thereof that troubles. Sanchez has all of 16 whopping starts for one of the top programs in college football. 16 starts in a conference that is a shoe-in for USC every year. When asked how he felt about that, Woody Johnson shrugged off the inexperience factor. "I mean, nobody has everything you want," Johnson said. "But his high school career and those 16 starts, they were pretty fabulous."

I guess the wonderful brain trust of the New York Jets, from Rex Ryan to Mike Tannebaum to Brain Schottenheimer to Woody himself, believes that they have the next Matt Cassel, a guy who never started a college game and wrote miracles in place of Tom Brady last fall for the Partriots. Problem is, Cassel was in a winning system that was devised by Bill Belichick and already had great talent around Cassel, so the kid couldn't screw things up. We shall see how good Cassel can be next fall when he is playing with the woeful Kansas City Chiefs, that will tell the tale for sure.

By the way, where is that great talent on this Jet offense? The offensive line is okay; the running game is pretty good, but there is nobody to catch the football. There were a bunch of talented wide receivers in this draft, but the Jets decided they weren't worth the time. Right now, Gang Green is betting on Jerricho Cotchery to play Randy Moss and Chansi Stuckey to play Wes Welker. That is so phony, it makes dressing up like a vampire or a gorilla on Halloween seem real. Great job Jets.

If Sanchez ever sees a snap in 2009, and that's a big IF, because Kellen Clemens really hasn't been given much of a chance, and could still beat out Sanchez in training camp, he will fit Ryan's plan of playing dink and dunk football.

Oh no, Jet fans!!! Just when you thought the Jets were through with dinking and dunking, they pull you right back in. With his lack of arm strength, Sanchez will be mostly responsible for handing the ball off to Thomas Jones, who is 31 years old and dumping it off to Leon Washington in scripted screen plays. How wonderful; I can already see Washington or Jones getting smashed at the line of scrimmage already by the New England Patriots in the Jets home opener, admist 78,000 booing Jet fans.

Maybe all of those rabid Jet fans at Radio City Music Hall should think before they sell their souls and give away $40,000 for a season ticket and PSL. Same Ole' Jets, nothing ever changes.

Jets Roll Dice Take Sanchez, Big Mistake

Well, the Jets did it again. They have found a way to screw themselves again, trading defensive end Kenyon Coleman, quarterback Brett Ratiff, and safety Abram Elam, and their entire day one draft to old friend Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns, to trade up to the number five pick to select the tiny quarterback from USC, Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez played in only 16 games in his four year college career, and didn't even listen to the advice of his former coach Pete Carroll who warned the quarterback that he was not ready to make the jump from college to the rigors of the NFL.

The Jets don't seem to care obviously. They feel that Sanchez is ready to beat out Kellen Clemens for the starting job. Jet fans inside Radio City Music Hall were excited about the pick, but point in fact is this: Sanchez won't even play until at least mid-season when it clear the Jets are not going anywhere. When he plays Sanchez will be so raw and so untested that it will brutal to watch. Who knows how many years Sanchez will need to truly learn how to play as a starting quarterback in the NFL, since he is so inexperienced to begin with.

Then again, some will say that Matt Cassell, another USC alum, went untested for years, and was great when given the chance in New England. Memo to those people: Cassell had Randy Moss and Wes Welker to throw to, and Bill Belichick to teach him. Sanchez has Chansi Stuckey and Jerricho Cothery to throw to and the much maligned Brian Schottenhymer to teach him. Plus the Patriots didn't throw away their draft to get Cassell a few years ago, they got him very late in the draft.

In other words, it will be five years, at least, before the Jets really know if they have found a franchise quarterback. Making a mistake at quarterback in the draft can kill a franchise. I.E. the Chargers suffered for years after they chose Ryan Leaf in 1998. It was not until they brought in LaDanilian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers in 2002 and 2003 respectively that the team was able to turn things around.

The Browns have never recovered since they drafted Tim Coach, number one overall in 1999; the Bengals struggled for a few years after taking Akili Smith in 1999; In 2002 they turned around and drafted Carson Palmer, and it has worked out for them in some respects.

There are no guarantees in the NFL, and when it comes to drafting a quarterback, it is the biggest risk of all. The drafting of Sanchez, who is only 6'2" and has an arm similar to the Jets most hated man in America, Chad Pennington, could spell the beginning of the end for Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum.

Mets Get Much Needed Laugher

METS 8
NATIONALS 2

In what has been a week full of woe and misery for the Mets, they finally got something to smile about on a steamy Saturday afternoon in New York. Ryan Church led the way with a three RBI day, as the Met offense pounded Daniel Cabrera, who struggled with his control. Cabrera lasted only two and a third innings for the Nationals, walking four, giving up six hits and five runs to all but cement this game for the Mets early.

Mike Pelfrey was not great for the Mets, he was shaky at times, walking three and throwing 95 pitches in just five and two-thirds innings, but most of the outs were induced ground balls, which was a big plus for a Met team that has seen its pitches give up nothing but moonshots for the last three weeks.

The Mets got on the board early, thanks alot to Nationals center fielder Elijah Dukes. With Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado on base, David Wright skyed to center. Dukes, who was not wearing sunglasses, misplayed the ball entirely as it dropped behind him, allowing two the runners to score. Moments later, Church drove in Wright with a single up the middle to make it 3-0.

Finally, in the sixth the Mets put it away, as Dan Murphy scored on errant throw by catcher Will Nieves, who failed to throw Beltran out at third base. Later in the inning, Church again, singled to right to drive in two more runs to make it 8-2 Mets. BOX SCORE.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time To Break Up The Mets

Forgetaboutit! The 2009 season is O-V-E-R! Over! Over! Over for the New York Mets! And it is only April.

For 15 games this season the Mets have played comatose baseball, looking more like a corpse than an living, active ball club. For all the delusional Met fans, who spent most of the winter trying to fool themselves that this team did not need to be ripped apart at the seems after their second straight September collapse wake up! This team stinks to high heaven!

After getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets are now 6-9, and all the fears about the lack of starting pitching, the lack of clutch hitting, and the fears about the bullpen, other than K-Rod and J.J. Putz have all come to fruition.

The Mets are 11th in the National League with runners in scoring position, leaving little confidence in their fans that they can get it done when it really matters. On Sunday the Mets were 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and only manufactured two runs in a 4-2 loss to the Brewers. In today's 12-5 debacle against the Cardinals the Mets left 16 men on base, leaving the bases loaded twice and failing to drive in runners at key opportunities.

The starting pitching has been awful. Other than Johan Santana, the Mets just can't get anyone to pitch well. Oliver Perez was awful on Tuesday in St. Louis blowing a 4-0 lead by walking the ball park. John Maine, who is not one for self-confidence, got smacked around for five runs on Wednesday, and Livan Hernandez got swamped for seven runs in just four and a third innings. The Mets have no answers for opponents who face them. If you are a Met opponent who on this starting rotation scares you really, other than Santana? No one.

As for the pen, it has been overworked because of this leaky starting pitching, and it is now beginning to show. J.J. Putz gave up the game winning runs in a 6-4 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday and Sean Green got rocked by the Cards on Thursday. These guys have already pitched in eight or nine innings this season. If it continues they will all have over 80 innings of work by season's end.

Who is to blame for this mess? There is no more Willie Randolph to kick around anymore. Jerry Manuel will probably be fired if the Mets continue to play lackluster baseball, but it is becoming pretty obvious that no one can coach this baseball team. They are a group that is aware that they are remembered as the only group to not only suffer a 17 game meltdown in one season, but to suffer two meltdowns in back to back years. These guys are better suited for a psychologists sofa rather than the diamond.

The people to blame are the players, but the Wilpons can't fire them, at least not right now. The guy that needs to take the fall for this is General Manager Omar Minaya. Minaya put together this band of misfits and he is the one that refused to admit there needed to be a serious makeover after last season. Instead of throwing out-bidding the rival Braves for Derek Lowe who is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA, better then any of the other four starters on the Mets rotation, Minaya settled for a return of Oliver Perez, who Met fans have seen enough of over the years.

Instead of going ahead and jumping into the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes, Minaya was held back by the economically scared Wilpons, and instead had to settle for Dan Murphy, who even though he is a good hitter, is out of position in the outfield. Gary Sheffield, who the Mets brought in two weeks ago has been terrible, hitting around .182 when given an opportunity.

Minaya is the one to blame. He could have made a statement this past winter if he decided to shake things up, for example not picking up Carlos Delgado's $11 million option, or signing Ramirez, or even firing a couple more assistant coaches like hitting coach Howard Johnson to get into the heads of his players that they needed to produce or else. Minaya had that opportunity and he blew it.

Now the Mets are stuck with a team that is still mentally scared by the last two seasons, and has no idea how to get over it and move on with their lives. Omar Minaya...you're fired!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 NFL Draft A Catch 22 For Jets

Whatever the Jets decide to do when their number 17 pick is called upon Saturday night, and whatever they decide to do in the rounds that follow, one thing is clear: this draft is a lose-lose for the Jets.

For a team that has no really experienced player at quarterback, the team has flirted with the idea of drafting another rookie quarterback, which would be the fourth straight season that they have drafted a quarterback. The team is rumored to be in love with quarterbacks Mark Sanchez of USC and Josh Freeman of Kansas State.

Sanchez is supposed to be 6'2", but if you watch him on film, he looks smaller than that. He doesn't have a great arm and is compared a lot to Chad Pennington. Not exactly the ringing endorsement Jet fans want to hear. The upside that Sanchez has is that he is a great leader, which is nice, maybe he should run for president of the United States someday. But what is most troubling about Sanchez is the fact that coach Pete Carroll demanded that Sanchez not test the NFL waters, since he was not ready to get in the swim, as it were. Carroll knows something about quarterbacks having coached Carson Palmer, a pro-bowler when healthy; Matt Cassell, who broke onto the scene last season; and Matt Leinart, who has been the biggest bust of the three.

Sanchez is expected to be gone when the Jets draft in the first round with many predicting the Seattle Seahawks taking the small quarterback. The guy the Jets are really looking at is Josh Freeman. Freeman is 6'6" and is supposed to have a big arm but lacks consistency in his throws. Some have compared him to Joe Flacco of the Ravens, or Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers because of his size and throwing abilities; knowing Rex Ryan, who got a front row seat to Flacco, Freeman would be most attractive.

But here is the problem with drafting another quarterback. The Jets don't know what they have in camp right now. They have three virtual rookies as it is in Brett Ratliff, Eric Ainge, and the slightly experienced Kellen Clemens. Clemens was unimpressive in 2007 as the team's starter, but some in the Jets camp feel the jury is still out on him because of the patchwork offensive line he played with that season.

We shall see, but it behooves the Jets to avoid drafting another rookie QB in this draft if for no other reason than to avoid creating more confusion as to whom will be the starter next fall.

Another player the Jets are looking at is Branden Pettitgew, a 6'6" tight end, who is known for being a better blocker than receiver. The Jets feel they need a new blocking tight end with the departure of Chris Baker via free agency to New England. If history means anything, the Jets should stay away from Pettitgew, not just because of his criminal record, but because the Jets are terrible at selecting tight ends in the first round. Can you say Johnny Mitchell and Kyle Brady?

Here is my take on what the Jets should do. If Darius Heywood Bey or Kenny Britt, both talented receivers, should fall at their laps at 17, draft one of them. The Jets desperately need a receiver with the departure of Laverneous Coles; moreover, they have desperately needed a receiver taller than 5'10" for almost a decade. Both Bey and Britt would fit the bill as tall receivers with good catching abilities. If the Jets don't want a receiver, and Georgia running back Knowshawn Moreno should fall to them at 17, take him; he is the most complete running back in the draft.

But, as history once again demonstrates, the Jets will find a way to muck things up. Get your hands on some chairs Jet fans because you're going to be flinging them on Saturday.

Giants Need To Get It Done; Trade For Edwards

During off-season the Giants have been debating in-house what to do about their vacant wide receiver position. First, it considered what to do with disgraced Plaxico Burress, who got the ball rolling by shooting himself in the foot around Thanksgiving at a New York night club. After gathering enough information over the last three months about Burress and his complicated legal proceedings, the Giants finally decided to release him two weeks ago.

Now, the Giants are involved in another deliberation. Whether to trade for Browns receiver Braylon Edwards, or play Russian roulette and acquire one of the many so-called talented receivers in this year's unimpressive NFL draft.

The answer is pretty clear at this end. Trade for Braylon Edwards already!
Even though there are rumblings that Edwards doesn't have a great personality, which is nothing new for wide receivers nowadays, combined with the fact that he drops a lot of passes, he is a better risk than any 22-year-old coming out of school. The Giants have had experience drafting receivers that have not exactly panned out, most recently Sinorace Moss and Steve Smith. Both were expected to step up and become big contributors, but neither has really delivered on their draft day promise.

As for personality? The draft doesn't exactly have a great group of little boys who just went to class, did their homework, practiced football, and then went to bed with a glass of orange juice, if you catch my drift. Percy Harvin, who is supposed to go very high in the draft, has a checkered past of violence for example. So why not bring in Edwards?

Edwards is already a quality veteran receiver, something a team that will be looking to go back to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years starting this September needs. In 2007, Edwards had 80 catches for 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns for a Cleveland team that went 10-6 yet narrowly missed the playoffs. Last season, when Cleveland was spiraling out of control, Edwards had a down season with 55 catches for 873 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns went 4-12 in 2008.

In other words, if Edwards is on a team as good as the Giants, a team that can easily win 11 to 12 games in 2009, Edwards could have a breakout season and provide Eli Manning that tall, lanky receiver that he missed during the 23-11 debacle against the Eagles in January.

Forget about drafting a receiver G-Man; go for the sure thing and bring in Edwards. And get it done already. Why wait?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Same Old Mets: Pen, Defense and Hitting Cost Mets in St. Louis

CARDINALS 5
METS 4

Can we say it? The New York Mets are an average baseball team. No. Better yet; the New York Mets are a lousy baseball team. As has been the case for the past three seasons, and now in the first two and a half weeks of 2009, the Mets have a series of debilitating problems that cost them one game after another. (1) Bullpen, (2) Starting pitchers NOT named Johan Santana, (3) Lack of clutch hitting, (4) Poor defense.

The Mets had built a shocking 4-0 lead, shocking insofar as the lead came against the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that has haunted the Mets for over three seasons now;. nevertheless, the ghosts of 2006 NLCS past came back to bite the Mets ... as usual.

Oliver Perez lost total control of his pitches in the fifth inning. With two men on base, Albert Pujols lined a double to the left field corner to drive in two runners to cut the Mets lead in half. Then, Perez went wild, really wild. He walked Met killer Yadier Molina and surrendered a single to Chirs Duncan to load 'em up. Next, Perez walked Khalil Green to drive in Pujols to make it 4-3.

Jerry Manuel had no choice but to take Perez out of the game; in came Casey Fossum. As for Fossum, he did his job as if he were employed by the Cardinals: he walked Justin Thurston to tie the game at four, putting New York in a tenuous situation.

In the eighth, the Mets bullpen continued to spring leaks, this time from an unlikely scource ... J.J. Putz. Putz served up a triple to Brendon Ryan to start the inning, but it was not without major fault going to Daniel Murphy. Murphy misplayed the ball, falling down as the ball approached his head. Like they teach kids in little league, keep your eye on the ball; well, Murphy didn't get that memo. The ball glided over Murphy's head and rolled to the wall, allowing Ryan to sprint to third base. Rick Ankiel doubled to right to bring in Ryan with the game-winning run, making it clear that Putz just didn't have anything.

This is a horrendous loss for the Mets, but this is also painfully typical of this team. The Mets left 10 men on base, three of whom were runners in scoring position with two out in an inning. They just can't seem to get a big hit in a key situation. And for all the hoopla that the bullpen was improved, it was a main cuplrit in the loss tonight. There are only so many times during the course of a long season that a bullpen will be perfect; it needs the starters to help out a little, and that is where the Mets problems start. They have no starting pitching outside Johan Stantana and must address this issue sooner then the trade deadline if they hope to compete for a division title. BOX SCORE.

Yankees Begin To Put Opening Weekend Behind Them

YANKEES 5
ATHLETICS 3

After two days of constant debate how the new wind currents seem to be affecting the jet stream in the new Yankee Stadium, causing ball to fly out of the park with ease, and, more importantly, after days of concern about Chien Ming Wang, the Yankees finally started playing like the Yankees and drove right past the soft hitting Oakland Athletics in the first regular season night game at the new stadium.

With the always reliable Andy Pettitte on the mound for the Bombers, the Yankees were able to put this one away early. In the bottom of the second, Nick Swisher led off with a walk, then Hideki Matsui lined a double to left to move Swisher to third. Brett Gardner laced a single to right center to allow both runners to score easily. Two batters later, Johnny Damon singled off of his former team to drive home Gardner to make it 3-0. Finally, Mark Texieria added another single, this one to left to drive in Derek Jeter.

The four runs were enough for Pettitte, who went seven innings, scattering nine hits and two runs. What is even more impressive about Pettitte's effort is the fact that he didn't strike out a single batter but was still extremely effective.

Still, the big concern with the Yankees is their leaky bullpen, and Brian Bruney did little to earn any confidence of his manager and the fans, when he allowed Jack Cust to score on a Mark Ellis double to cut the Yankee lead to 5-3. However, Dr. Clutch, a.k.a. A. Mariano Rivera, was excellent in the ninth, earning his fourth save of the season. The Yankees are now 8-6 on the year. BOX SCORE.

Devils Struggle & Get Lost In A Hurricane

HURRICANES 4
DEVILS 3

This is turning into a very difficult series for the New Jersey Devils. After holding both a 1-0 and 2-1 series lead against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Devils just can't seem to be able to put their thumb down on the feisty Carolina team. For the second time in the series, Carolina came back to win a game and tie the series, this time at two to send it back to Jersey for game five, Thursday night.

Carolina got off to a fast start, as Eric Staal and Ryan Bayda scored successive goals in just over a minute apart to take a 2-0 lead over the shell shocked Devils. Martin Brodeur was really put the test in this game, having to defended against 46 different shots on goal but was only able to save 42 of them, not good enough to help his team win the game.

Brodeur's opponent, Cam Ward, got off to a very good start, shutting out the Devils for almost two hole periods but struggled late in the game. With Carolina up 3-0, Brian Gionta scored his second playoff goal of the series to get the score to 3-1 before the second period ended. The Devils used that late momentum to put a charge through their own team and make things very difficult for Ward and the Hurricanes. Brendan Shannahan scored 4:21 into the third to cut the lead to one, then a little more than four minutes later, David Clarkson scored to tie the game at three.

But that was not enough for New Jersey. With less then a second left in regulation, Jussi Jokinen scored the game-winning goal for Carolina to tie the series at two apiece. A crushing blow that could change the momentum of this series. BOX SCORE.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rangers Drop Game Three At Garden

CAPITALS 4
RANGERS 0
This was supposed to be a chance for the Rangers to drive the nail in the proverbial coffin Monday night as they took their 2-0 series lead against the Washington Capitals home to rabid Ranger fans at Madison Square Garden. In the end, the Rangers disappointed.
It was not Alexander Ovechkin who did the damage; it was another Alexander, Alexander Semin, who scored the Capitals first two goals of the night to give Washington a 2-0 lead after one period.
The Rangers had no answers for Capitals gaolie Simeon Varlamov, who recorded 33 saves in 33 shots on the night.
In the second period, Brooks Laich scored on the powerplay to make it 3-0, and Tom Poti scored the final goal of the night in the third period to put the capper on this one. Game four is Wednesday night. BOX SCORE.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rangers Inching Closer To Series Sweep

RANGERS 1
CAPITALS 0

Get you brooms ready Ranger fans! The Rangers shut out the offensive powerhouse that is the Washington Capitals today in D.C. by a score of 1-0, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the opening round of the 2009 NHL playoffs.

This game was all about Henrik Lundqvist who recorded a perfect 35 saves in 35 attempts, and more importantly, holds one of the league leaders in scoring, Alexander Ovechkin, to no goals on six shots. It was a brilliant performace by one of the game's top goal tenders.

Offensively, the Rangers didn't get much accomplished against Simeon Valamov, who surrendered a goal to Ryan Callahan early in the first period.

The Rangers will now come home for games three and four on Monday and Wednesday night, where fans will pumped for a possible sweep.

Indians Score 22 To Stomp On Yankees

INDIANS 22
YANKEES 4

This was not exactly a good day to be at the ballgame, especially if you were rooting for the Yankees, or if you were Yankee pitcher Chien Ming Wang. Wang who has been just awful this season, got worse, and, yes, that was possible, believe it or not.

Wang couldn't get out of the second inning, before he allowed eight runs to cross the plate for Cleveland in a second inning where the Indians put up a 14 spot, all but ending the competitive nature of this game before it even started. Wang's already astronomical ERA climbed up to 34.50. There must be something wrong with Wang, physically, because it doesn't make sense that a guy who won 19 games in 2006 and again in 2007, can't seem to get the ball boy out in 2009.

The Indians sent 17 men to the plate and pounded out 13 hits in the second inning. Shin Shoo Choo hit a three run homer to get it started. Mark DeRosa hit a double to right to drive in two runners to make it 6-2 Cleveland, and Victor Martinez drove in DeRosa with a single to make it 7-2. That was enough for Joe Giradri, who pulled Wang out of the contest. Johnny Peralta would greet new pitcher Anthony Claggett with a nice two run double to make it 9-2 Tribe. Asdrubal Cabrera would later blast a three run homer off of the rookie, and Grady Sizemore added a homer of his own for good measure. Welcome to the majors kid.

14-2 Indians. Ball game over. Yankees lose. DDDAAAAAAAAH Yankees Lose. Drive home safely folks; sorry you had to pay so much to see a disgraceful performance.

The Yankees must tap into Wang's mental state at this point and try to figure out what is bothering the man. Wang is coming off of season ending surgery from a collision he suffered in Houston last summer, and one has to wonder if Wang is still bothered by the injury.

This is not a good sign for the Bronx Bombers. Their top two starters have not pitched well at all this April. C.C. Sabathia has been average at best, and Wang has been awful. The only saving grace for the Yankees is the fact that both A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite have been lights so far this season. They will have to continue that if the Yankees are to stay around .500 before the season begins to really roll later this summer. BOX SCORE.

Santana Brilliant in Citi Field Debut

METS 1
BREWERS 0

It was a simply gorgeous day to be at the ballgame Saturday in Queens, New York, as Johan Santana made his first appearance in brand new Citi Field, and made the place sparkle with an electrifying seven inning shutout performance to earn his second win of the 2009 season.

Santana had to pitch most of the game without any run support whatsoever but still found a way to shut down the difficult lineup of Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and J.J. Hardy. None of these players could touch Santana throughout the afternoon; he struck out seven batters and surrendered only five hits.

The Mets just couldn't figure out Yovani Gallardo, who was surprisingly brilliant. Gallardo went six innings of shutout ball, surrendering only five hits and striking out seven as well. It appeared that the game was turning into a replay of last Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Florida Marlins, where Santana fanned 13 Fish yet still lost because the Mets couldn't help him past a Dan Murphy error.

When Santana left after seven, it appeared that he was going to leave another brilliant effort for a no decision, but that is when the Mets finally cracked through the ice offensively.

After Ramon Castro drew a walk from Carlos Villanueva, Alex Cora laid down a bunt, but Villanueva's throw to Fielder at first was wide, allowing Cora to move at first and pinch runner Omir Santos to move to third base. Jose Reyes came up and slapped the ball right into Villanueva's glove, who was so surprised by the hit that he dropped the ball and allowed it to trickle behind him; good enough to bring home Santos with the only run of the game.

As Jerry Manuel would like to have it, on a day with Santana on the mound, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez made easy work of the Brew Crew in the eighth and ninth innings as the Mets captured their second straight to improve to 6-5 on the season. BOX SCORE.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Captain Delivers At New Stadium

YANKEE 6
INDIANS 5

There is a reason why Derek Jeter is Mr. Yankee. He always comes through in the big moments at the biggest times in Yankee history. That storyline did not change at all today, as Jeter hit a solo home run to right field in the eighth to give the Yankees their first ever victory in New Yankee Stadium.

As for the game it was a slug fest. In the opening moments of the game, Mark DeRosa hit an opposite field home run to right, off Joba Chamberlain, to give the Indians a quick 1-0 lead. Unlike Thursday's debacle, the Yankees did not shrink under the pressure. Johnny Damon and Mark Texieria went deep for their first Yankee Stadium homers to give New York a 2-1 lead in the third inning.

The seesaw continued throughout the afternoon. Chamberlain walked Travis Hafner and Shin Shoo-Choo then surrendered Ben Francisco drove in Hafner for the tying run with a single to center. Cleveland didn't enjoy the tie for very long; Melky Cabrera homered to right to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

In the fifth, the Indians would grab the lead right back. DeRosa's single to left brought in Asdrubal Cabrera to tie it up. Later, Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly to left drove in Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko's double brought DeRosa home to give the Indians a 5-3 lead. All five runs were charged to Chamberlain, whose command, again, waned the longer he pitched. Think he wouldn't be better served in the bullpen? It's time, folks, Joba just can't last longer than four or five innings as a starter without seeing his nasty 97 mph stuff dissipate. A move to the pen is needed badly.

Still, the Yankees found a way to get Chamberlain off of the hook. Robinson Cano's homer and a throwing error by Vinnie Chulk tied the game in seventh inning. BOX SCORE.

This set the stage for Jeter, who blasted a home run to right with two out in the eighth inning. Mariano Rivera came in and worked his way out of trouble to get his third save of the year. So, now the champagne bottles can be broken; the Yankees have finally won at their new home with many more victories to come.

Cohen's Corner Videos. A Rant on the New York Jets

Here are a series of videos I have made critiquing the Jets latest attempt at excuse making. The Jets are upset that the NFL scheduled two home games during Jewish holidays in September, and they want the game moved to different times to accomidate Jewish fans.

I have a problem with the Jets paranoia over the schedule. The fans will show up no matter what holiday the game happens to fall on.

WATCH BELOW!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mets Ring In Citi Field By Losing Series To Padres

PADRES 6
METS 5

How does pitcher John Maine reward Carlos Delgado and his teammates for giving him a 3-0 lead early in Thrusday night's game against the San Diego Padres? Surrender five runs in the third and get slapped around by a guy named Chase Headley. Nice job.

With the Mets lead now dwindled to 3-2, Maine walked Adrian Gonzalez intentionally to load the bases, with the fear that Gonzalez would bop the ball out of the ballpark. Maine should have been more fearfull of Headley. Headley singled to right center to drive in Jody Gerut and David Eckstein to give the Padres a 4-3 lead. Finally, Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to left to drive in Gonzalez to give San Diego a 5-3 lead.

The Mets, who had a chance to beat up on Jake Peavy early in this game, had no more answers for the Padres ace. Peavy lasted through five innings and only surrendered that three run homer to Delgado in the first innning. Peavy is now 2-1.

In the fifth, Headley added to the Padre lead when he doubled to right to bring in Gonzalez, making it 6-3. Headley went 4 for 4 on the day with three RBI, not bad for a guy who was hitting .171 entering tonight's game.

The Mets inched closer when Ramon Castro lifted a two-run home run that just cleared the left field wall, but Heath Bell shut the door by getting the Mets out in order for the second time in three days.

The Mets are 4-5 and are already four games behind the surging Florida Marlins who are 8-1. If that continues, the Mets won't have to worry about another September collapse. At least Met fans will have a happier September if that's the case. BOXSCORE.

It's The House That Sizemore Built

INDIANS 10
YANKEES 2

Not exactly what Yankee fans envisioned when they were dreaming about the first regular season game in the history of the new Yankee Stadium. After a pre-game ceremony to inaugurate in the new ballpark, the Cleveland Indians went ahead and broke in the Yankee stadium, pounding 13 hits and scoring 10 runs in the opening regular season game.

C.C. Sabathia once again was shaky in a big spot. He surrendered only a single run but lasted only five and two-thirds innings, throwing 115 pitches, walking five batters to boot. It was the first time that Sabathia faced his old team since they traded him to Milwaukee last summer. Was it nerves again? One never knows, but if Sabathia continues to build a repuation of a guy who gets nervous when it matters most, the Yankees are in big trouble.

After the Yankees tied the game on a Jorge Posada homer in the fifth, the Indians brought out their hitting gloves in the seventh. Cleveland torched the Yankee bullpen for nine runs and five hits in the seventh, sending 12 batters to the plate. With Victor Martinez and Mark DeRosa already on base, Johnny Peralta doubled to the right field corner to drive in both runners to give the Indians a 3-1 lead.

Joe Giradi had to make a move, so he took out Desemo Marte out of the game for Jose Veras. Big mistake. Veras hit Shin-Soo Choo, then allowed Ben Francisco to reach on a fielder's choice to load up the bases. Kelly Shoppach laced a single to right-center to drive in Peralta, making it 4-1. Three batters later, Grady Sizemore blasted a grand slam homer to the new bleacher creatures in right field to give the Indians a shocking 9-1 lead. Victor Martinez capped the inning with a solo shot of his own to make it 10-1 Tribe.

Cliff Lee, who had struggled in his first two starts this season for the Indians, settled in against the Yankees, pitching six solid innings for his first victory of the year. Last season, Lee won 22 games and was a Cy Young award winner, so he is due for some big victories in the coming weeks.

The Yankee bullpen is a mess. They have to address it. If the Yankees have any plans of getting the ball into the hands of Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, they must find a guy to get the team through the seventh and eighth inning. One of those guys should be Joba Chamberlain, but the Yankees are still trying to fool themselves into thinking that Joba can be a starting pitcher.

Someone needs to tell the Yankees to make a change sooner rather than later. BOXSCORE.

John Madden Calls It A Career

For the past 28 years, whether on CBS, or FOX, or ABC, or NBC, John Madden changed the way NFL games were covered by in-game analysts. His presence at a game, meant that it was clearly the "Game of the Week."

Today, Madden retired from broadcasting at age 73, ending his legendary Hall of Fame run.

Madden got his start in football as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1969, after serving as a linebackers coach for the previous two seasons. He was one of the youngest and most successful coaches during that time, capturing a Super Bowl title in the early 1970's but retired from coaching in 1979. He never coached again.

Madden quickly became the icon of Sunday afternoon broadcasts. Over the decades he became even more famous for his Thanksgiving Day turkeys, his multi-million dollar video game, and his traveling bus.

"It's time," Madden said. "I'm 73 years old. My 50th wedding anniversary is this fall. I have two great sons and their families and their five grandchildren are at an age now when they know when I'm home and, more importantly, when I'm not."

Madden was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006. It is not known who will replace Madden in the NBC booth for this season's games.

Devils Dominate Hurricanes

DEVILS 4
HURRICANES 1

Unlike the Rangers, who had to sweat out their game against the Washington Capitals, the New Jersey Devils took a walk in the park against the Carolina Hurricanes in Newark, Wednesday night. The Devils totally dominated the contest with 39 shots on Carolina goalie Cam Ward and held a pretty good Carolina offense to only 19 shots on goalie Martin Brodeur.

In the first period, the Hurricanes got off to a terrible start when they were called for penalty for having too many men on the ice. Yes, even the NHL can have NFL-like rules about the number of men on the field of battle. That pretty much set the tone for the night; later in the period, the Devils started to tighten the noose on the Canes, as Mike Mottau scored an unassisted goal to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, Zach Parise opened with a goal of his own to make it 2-0 Devils. Patrick Ellias would add the third goal of the game to give New Jersey the commanding 3-0 lead.

Brodeur had a pretty quiet night. With only 19 shots on goal, the goalie really didn't have to sweat this one at all. The Devils now lead the series 1-0. BOXSCORE.

Rangers Outlast Capitals In Game One

RANGERS 4
CAPITALS 3

Looks like the Rangers are gearing up for a long playoff run in 2009.

The Rangers stuned the number two seeded Washington Capitals 4-3 in Game One of a best of seven series in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers lead the series 1-0.

After a scoreless first period and a goal by Washington's Thomas Fleischmann, the Rangers stormed back to take the lead and quiet the Capital faithful. Scott Gomez tied the game with an unassited goal with 7:49 to go in the second. Later, Nik Antropov scored on a power play goal to give New York a 2-1 lead. Two minutes later, Markus Naslund scored on another power play goal, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

But the Capitals would come back. Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin scored on consecutive goals to tie the game at three in the opening minutes of the final period. The game went into a defensive standoff from there, as neither team could get anything past the respective goalies.

Finally, 11:43 into the thrid, Brandon Dubinsky scored the Rangers fourth goal of the night to take a 4-3 lead. Rangers goalie Henrick Lundqvist bore down and held the Capitals shooting star Alexander Ovechkin scoreless for the entire contest, which was a huge factor to the Rangers success. BOXSCORE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jets and Giants Regular Season Schedules Revealed

It's April. Baseball season has just started, and spring has sprung. The farthest thing from anyone's mind is fall and football, but the NFL has finally released the 2009 NFL schedule.

The Giants will open the 2009 season at home against the Washington Redskins for the second straight season. In 2008, the Giants opened the year with a 16-7 thumping of the Redskins, the lasting images of the game being Justin Tuck and the Giants defense swarming all over quarterback Jason Campbell. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 on FOX. The Giants will end the season exactly the way they ended it in 2008: home to Carolina and on the road to Minnesota.

The Jets will open the season on the road for the second straight year. This time they will start against the Houston Texans. The last time the Jets played Houston was in 2006, a 27-11 victory for Gang Green. The Jets have not played in Houston since 2003 when they beat the Texans in the first ever matchup between the two by a score of 19-14. Kickoff will be 4:15 on CBS. The Jets will then play the Patriots at home in week two for the second straight season. It will also be the third straight season that they open the home schedule with New England.

GIANTS SCHEDULE:
WASHINGTON.....1:00 FOX
@ Dallas.......8:15 NBC
@ Tampa Bay....1:00 FOX
@ Kansas City..1:00 FOX
OAKLAND........1:00 CBS
@ New Orleans..1:00 FOX
ARIZONA........8:15 NBC
@ Philadelphia.4:15 FOX
SAN DIEGO......4:15 CBS
BYE WEEK
ATLANTA........1:00 FOX
@ Denver.......8:20 NFLN
DALLAS.........4:15 FOX
PHILADELPHIA...8:15 NBC
@ Washington...8:30 ESPN

CAROLINA.......1:00 FOX
@ Minnesota....1:00 FOX

JETS SCHEDULE:
@ Houston......4:15 CBS
NEW ENGLAND....1:00 CBS
TENNESSEE......4:15 CBS
@ New Orleans..4:05 CBS
@ Miami........8:30 ESPN
BUFFALO........4:15 CBS
@ Oakland......4:05 CBS
MIAMI..........1:00 CBS
BYE WEEK
JACKSONVILLE...1:00 CBS
@ New England..4:15 CBS
CAROLINA.......1:00 FOX
@ Buffalo......8:20 NFLN
@ Tampa Bay....1:00 CBS
ATLANTA........1:00 FOX
@ Indianapolis..4:15 CBS
CINCINNATI.....1:00 CBS

View everyone's schedule.

Cohen's Corner Videos

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In a digital world, it is now more important than ever to publish, produce and edit online videos. So here at Cohen's Corner, I will post videos produced and edited by myself as video blogs that will feature commentary and predictions on the daily events in sports. Above is my first video created a week ago on Opening Day of the baseball season.

You can also find my videos on YouTube by either typing in "Cohen's Corner" into the search box on YouTube or log onto http://www.youtube.com/user/mcohen07834. More videos will be on the way in the coming days.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Reminder To Yankees: Rays Are Still For Real

RAYS 15
YANKEES 5

Anyone thinking that the Tampa Bay Rays were phony last season, better think twice. The Rays went to the World Series for a reason, and they are a good young team for a reason as well. That was on display and more, as the Rays bombed the Bronx Bombers 15-5 on Monday night.

Chien Ming Wang got blasted for the second straight start. Wang lasted only a single inning, surrending six hits, eight runs and walking three on the evening. His ERA is now 28.23. Maybe it is time for Wang to consider working on his pitches a tad more. Maybe now is a good time to have a pow wow with pitching coach Dave Island and manager Joe Girardi about his work thus far this season.

Wang opened the evening the way any pitcher at any level of baseball would NOT want to start a game: walking the lead off man and hitting the second batter of the game before anyone got a chance to bite into a lukewarm hot dog. After Evan Longoria struck out, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton advanced on steals of third and second, putting more pressure on Wang. Wang, then, served up a grapefruit to Carlos Pena, who blasted the ball as big as the Ritz off the right center field wall, giving the Rays a quick 2-0 lead. Pat Burrell, who made his career beating up the New York Mets, started a new career in beating up the New York Yankees, by doubling to center to allow Pena to score. 3-0 Rays.

Duaner Navaro followed with a single to center to move Burrell to third, and finally, Gabe Gross singled to left to drive in Burrell to make it 4-0 Rays.

In the second inning, Giraridi gave Wang one last chance to not screw things up, but he did. Jason Bartlett singled to center to open the inning. B.J. Upton recorded a bunt single to move Bartlett to third, Crawford then walked, and Wang walked Longoria to drive in Bartlett and re-load the bases. That was it for Wang. At least he got a chance to have an early dinner. Jonathan Albaladejo played the role of guinea pig, serving up a beach ball to Carlos Pena, who blasted the ball out of the ball park, this time for a grand slam home run.

The Yankees never got any closer to the Rays. It was just too big a deficit for the Yankees to recover. The Bombers now fall to 3-4 on the season. BOX SCORE.

Mets Open Citi Field A Loser

PADRES 6
METS 5

At least the Mets are consistent.

The Mets opened brand spanking new Citi Field the same way they burned down Shea Stadium in September ... in ignominious defeat. Only the Mets can find a way to start things off on the wrong foot.

After a pregame ceremony that included a first pitch by Tom Seaver to Mike Piazza, a fly over by B-15 jets, and the National Anthem performed by the cast of the recent rendition of "West Side Story, Jody Gerut became the next tough trivia question as he laced a solo home run to the right field corner to give the Padres a 1-0 lead, silencing the crowd of 41,000 plus. The home run was the first in Citi Field history.

Mike Pelfrey just didn't have it for the Mets. He was slapped around all day by the formerly light hitting Padres for eight hits and five runs over five innings. Surpise! It was such an embarrassing night for Pelfrey that he actually fell off the mound when he was trying to deliver a pitch. Someone forgot to tell Pelfrey that he was supposed to let go of the ball and not use his own body like a projectile at opposing hitters.

Anyway, in the top of the second with two out, opposing pitcher Walter Silva singled up the middle. This was followed up by a single for Gerut and a double by David Eckstein to drive in both Gerut and Silva. Later, Brian Giles singled to center to allow Eckstein to score to make it 4-0 Padres.

The Mets did make a comeback. In the fifth, Dan Murphy singled down the right field line to drive in pinch hitter Gary Sheffield. Moments later, David Wright lifted a 1-2 pitch into the left field stands to tie the game at five. The crowd exploded, and the brand new apple in center field popped out of its hole for the first time.

Still, the Mets defense came back to kill them. Luis Rodriguez' fly ball to right was misplayed by Ryan Church, who couldn't get a hold of the baseball, allowing Rodriguez to sprint to third base. Rodriguez would then score on a balk by the struggling Pedro Feliciano to give San Diego a 6-5 lead.

The Mets never answered. Heath Bell, who has been seeking revenge on the Mets for not giving him a chance to be a reliever for them earlier in the decade, shut down the Mets in order in the ninth to earn the first ever save at Citi Field.

The Mets are now 3-4, and are not looking good when Johan Santana is not pitching. It is getting pretty obvious, this early in the season that the Mets are in need of some better starting pitching. Problem is they don't have a solution on this team, or in the minors. BOX SCORE.

One of the Great Voices of Sports Dies: Harry Kalas 1936-2009

Baseball and the NFL lost a legendary voice today.

Harry Kalas, who has been the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1971 to today, and the voice of NFL Flims highlight reels, suddenly died in the broadcast booth before the Phillies were to take on the Washington Nationals in Washington D.C. this afternoon.

Kalas was known for his familiar and uncanny deep voice that made him a Hall of Fame broadcaster. He received the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Fick Award in 2002 "for contribution to the game"(Yahoo Sports).

Major League Baseball has lost one of the great voices of our generation,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere.

The Phillies gave Kalas a great gift in the last year and a half. In the fall of 2007, the Phillies beat out the Mets on the final day to capture the NL East title, and then, in the the fall of 2008, the Phillies again capitalized on another Mets collapse and rolled to a World Series title.

Manny Being Manny Again...Wants To Go Back To Indians?

Well, I hope the L.A. Dodgers now know what they got when they finally resigned Manny Ramirez to a two year $45 million contract late last month. They have the biggest conundrum in baseball. Manny Ramirez is exactly what Tom Hanks said in the movie Forrest Gump, "A box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get."

Nobody ever knows for sure what is going through Manny's head, but the latest episode is even more puzzling. Ramirez was quoted by USA Today as saying, "I would like to play for Cleveland one more time to go back where I started .... I have so many good memories there; why not? I think to go back where you started is everyone's dream."

In other words, thank you Dodgers management for giving me $45 million, but the truth is I want out ... that is basically what Ramirez is saying when one week into his first full season with the Dodgers, he is already, ALREADY, complaining about his time in LA in speaking of his desire to play for the Indians again.

The Dodgers are in for a wild ride with Manny. When he was with Boston, it was well documented what a pain in the neck he was for his teammates and management. Whether it was standing at home plate and raising his hands to the air after hitting fly balls to the outfield, or whether it was flopping like a fish when charging for a ball, or even spending an entire inning hiding inside the Green Monster when he was needed on the field; Ramirez continues to find a way to amaze everyone with his behavior.

There is a reason why it took so long for Ramirez to sign with a team. No one wanted to deal with the baggage that Ramirez brings with him, and the media attention that he likes to command. Whether Ramirez is just saying he wants to leave the Dodgers to get media attention away from his sluggish start to the season with only six hits in 21 at bats, with no homers and four RBI, or if he really means it. It is anybody's guess. One thing is for certain, the Dodgers are in for a very long and twisted ride.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Choke Job: Reliever & Manager Cost Yankees Win vs. Royals

ROYALS 6
YANKEES 4

If there is one aspect of the 2009 Yankees that will need to concern the team's fans and supporters, it is this: the Yankee bullpen, excluding Mariano Rivera, is a crap shoot. The Yankees don't have the perfect bridge to Rivera now that Joba Chamberlain is cemented in as the club's fifth starter, and it is very apparent that the Bombers better start to rethink the idea of having Chamberlain in the pen, or they must go out and try to find a decent eighth inning reliever.

Speaking of Chamberlain, he did get the start this afternoon, and his performance was average at best. Joba went six innings, allowed five hits and three runs on the afternoon. His biggest mistake of the day was a fat pitch he threw to John Buck who ripped the pitch out of the ballpark to tie the game at one in the third inning. However, it was not until the fourth inning that the Royals started to hit Chamberlain hard. First, David DeJesus walked, and Mark Tehan was hit by a pitch; not a good sign for Chamberlain who is wild but usually effectively wild. Three batters later, Alberto Callaspo made Chamberlain pay for his wildness by lacing a single to right to drive in DeJesus. Buck followed up with single to left to drive in Tehan, giving Kansas City a shocking 3-1 lead.

If the Yankees think that extending Chamberlain as a starter will increase his effectiveness, they are greatly mistaken. The speed on his pitches has been dropping the longer he is on the mound, and that was clearly the case today.

Still, the Bombers are not called the Bombers for nothing. The Yankees stormed back with three runs in the seventh inning to retake the lead. Xavier Nady doubled to left to drive in Nick Swisher. Robinson Cano was called safe at first after Mike Jacobs' defensive error at first allowed Hideki Matsui to score to tie the game. The Yankees finally took the lead on Melky Cabrera's RBI-double-play ground out. Hey, whatever works, I guess.

But, when it mattered most, the Yankee pen imploded. Jose Veras came in relief of Dasemo Marte, who had recorded two outs in the inning already, to face the right handed Billy Butler. Veras walked Bulter, forcing Joe Girardi to make another pitching move. Girardi, instead of bringing out Mariano Rivera for a four out save, decided to bring in Phil Choke. And, as a result, Coke choked.

First, Brayan Pena drilled a double to center to allow pinch runner Tony Pena Jr. to score from first. Next, Callaspo singled up the middle to drive in Pena to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. Finally, Buck delivered again, this time doubling to left to drive in Callaspo to make it 6-4 for good measure.

The fact that Girardi didn't have Rivera at the ready was inexcusable. Rivera has made a career of pitching the Yankees out of jams with a four or five out saves. There is no reason why he couldn't have done it in the present situation. Girardi needs to stop acting like Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa by making a million different pitching changes and simply play the game out; otherwise, he will kill his own team again. BOX SCORE.

Met Errors Waste Santana's Excellent Effort

MARLINS 2
METS 1

When Johan Santana pitches for the Mets, it usually means that the Mets have their best opportunity to come away with a victory. Well, thanks to a defensive miscue by left fielder Daniel Murphy, and a masterful performance by Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson, the Mets lost any hope of winning for Santana on this Easter Sunday.

In the second inning, with Jeremy Hermida on first, Cody Ross skied the ball deep to left. Murphy had the ball in his sights on the warning track, but instead of securing the ball with both hands, the left fielder decided to catch the ball with his glove, causing the ball to bounce out and strike the ground. Hermida raced home to score the game's first run.


With the way Johnson was pitching, it became increasingly obvious that 1-0 was about all that the ace of the Florida Marlins needed. He held the Mets hitless for the game's first five innings and never even broke a sweat under the bright Florida sunshine. The only time the Mets had a chance to get into this game was in the ninth inning, when Carlos Delgado stroked a double off the scoreboard in left center. Carlos Beltran then followed with a single to center to drive in Delgado to make it 2-1 Fish. Johnson didn't panic, however, and neither did the Marlins; Johnson was able to get Ryan Church on a fly out to left to end the game.

What has to be noted from this game is not the performance of Johnson, but the performance of Santana. Santana was brilliant this afternoon, going seven strong innings, surrendering three hits and two unearned runs, while striking out 13 batters. Santana has always pitched well against Florida, i.e. his masterpiece on the next to last day of the 2008 season when he threw a complete game shutout against Florida.

It is a shame that the Mets wasted this opportunity. With questions still lingering about the productivity of John Maine, Oliver Perez, Livan Hernandez, and Mike Pelfrey, the Mets can ill afford to waste any outing by Santana, especially one this brilliant. This one will hurt for a while. At least the Mets will open up their new stadium tomorrow night against the San Diego Padres. BOX SCORE.