Friday, September 30, 2011
Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander.
Game 2: Ivan Nova vs. Doug Fister.
Game 3: Freddy Garcia vs. Matt Scherzer.
Game 4: CC Sabathia vs. Rick Porcello.
Game 5: Ivan Nova vs. Justin Verlander.
Verlander will not pitch in game 4, because he has never pitched on three days rest in his career. Fister and Verlander combined to go 14-0 with a 1.66 ERA for the Tigers since August 16.
Nova earned the number two spot in the rotation after winning 16 games this season. Sabathia will have to be the anchor of this baseball team if they are to advance. Game one is on TBS at 8:37 pm.
Two days after Francona managed the biggest collapse in baseball, as his Red Sox went 7-20 in the month of September, blowing a nine game lead in the AL Wild Card, not to mention the AL East, Francona will not be back as manager.
GM Theo Epstien said he didn't want Francona to become a scapegoat for the Sox collapse, but with Francona's contract coming with a 2012 and 2013 option worth $4.25 million, the Red Sox thought it wasn't worth continuing with Francona.
He was not fired, but the sides agreed to part, according to the story.
Francona's Sox got off to a 2-10 start to the 2011 season, before going 81-42 from late April to August 31. In short, during the months of April and September Francona went 9-30 with a team that was expected to be the best in baseball.
The White Sox and Nationals are currently looking for a new manager, so maybe Francona ends up in one of those cities. It's unfortunate that Francona is now a scapegoat in Red Sox history, considering that he was manager of the Red Sox two world championship teams in 2004 and 2007 that broke the Curse of the Babe.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Four games to determine two playoff spots.
The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves had huge leads of 8.5 games in their respective AL and NL wild card races at the start of September. Both teams blew those leads and ended up in a dead heat with the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays entering play.
The formula for all four teams was simple: Win! If all four teams won, then one-game playoffs would have been played on Thursday to determine the leagues' wild cards; however, don't tell that to Braves and Red Sox that both blew late leads in Wednesday night's action.
The Braves held a 3-1 lead on the Philadelphia Phillies at home, only to watch Philly tie it with runs in the seventh and ninth innings. The game went into extras, and the Phillies did away with their divisional rival when Hunter Pence singled home Brian Schneider with the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th.
The Braves went quietly in the ninth, capped by a double play grounder by Freddie Freeman to end it.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, took care of the Astros, blowing them away 8-0 to clinch the wild card. The Cardinals will play at Philadelphia on Friday.
Then attention turned to the AL wild card chase. The Yankees built a 7-0 lead on Tampa Bay, while Boston held onto a 3-2 lead over the Orioles. It appeared that the Red Sox might have dodged a bullet but not so fast.
The Rays stormed back, highlighted by a three run homer by Evan Longoria to cut the Yankee lead to 7-6, and finished off by a Daniel Johnson solo shot in the ninth to tie it at seven.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Papelbon imploded in Baltimore. A two out double by Chris Davis set the stage for the Orioles. Then the next batter Nolan Reidmon doubled into the gap to score Davis to tie the game. Finally, Robert Andino blooped a ball in front of former Ray, $142 million man, Carl Crawford, who couldn't come up with the baseball, allowing Reidmon to score to put Boston on the brink of elimination.
As Boston watched their season fizzle, the Rays and Yankees were deadlocked at seven in the 12th inning. Minutes after the Andino base hit, Evan Longoria hit a rope down the left field line and watched as the ball curved around the foul pole, giving the Rays the victory in walk off fashion. The Rays are heading back to the playoffs!
For the Red Sox that was the most costly collapse ever; in fact, bigger than anything the Mets could come up with. This was a Red Sox team that loaded up on free agent talent in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford; they were supposed to be the best team in all of baseball. For five months they were the best team in baseball with big margins over both the Yankees and Rays, but it wasn't meant to be. The Red Sox caught a case of Mets disease, as they went 7-20 in the month of September.
If you believe October is a scary month with ghosts, zombies and monsters -- then you can bet heads will roll in Beantown.
As for the Yankees -- I'm sure they weren't that pleased to watch Tampa Bay celebrate at their expense. They will remember that if the two teams meet up in two weeks during the ALCS. In the meantime the Yankees will prepare to play the Detroit Tigers at the Stadium on Friday night at 8:37. CC Sabathia will start against 24-game winner Justin Verlander.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
In the bottom of the first inning in the Mets season finale against the Cincinnati Reds, Reyes bunted for base hit single, then took himself out of the baseball game because he had full knowledge that he was two points ahead of Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for the NL batting average title. In short Reyes cared more about a pointless statistic than about the well- being of a franchise, for which he will most likely no longer work for come November.
When asked about the decision to pull Reyes out of the game, Terry Collins back tracked, and said that Reyes, himself, decided to come out of the game, creating a huge uproar over his actions.
The actions by Reyes came as a shock to everyone sitting at Citi Field when his replacement was booed by the Mets fans. Even Keith Hernandez called Reyes' move "disappointing."
This begs the question: Why didn't Collins force Reyes to stay in the game? Collins is a baseball lifer; why did he bend over backwards for a player on the final day of the season? Reyes is one player on a 25 man roster and does not deserve special treatment.
To add salt to the wound, Collins decided to pull his best Dick Vermil impersonation as he broke down in tears on how hard his players tried this season. Huh??? There's no crying baseball, Terry! The words "hard" and "tried" were not exactly on display from this miserable, pathetic baseball team that won only 77 games and showed they couldn't perform the fundamentals of baseball. Suffice to say, they couldn't hit a bull in the behind with a bag of rice.
The Mets were a joke in 2011. Not only did the team not have an ace with guts (Mike Pelfrey this means you), they didn't even have a closer in spite of much ballyhooed expectations for Bobby Parnell who looked more and more like Brandon Looper than Mariano Rivera, if you catch my drift.
What's to be proud of with this Mets team? Jose Reyes bunting for a base hit? The fact that David Wright didn't ask for a trade this year? The fact that Jason Bay didn't knock himself out by smashing into the left field wall? The fact that the Wilpon's cheated out David Einhorn from purchasing 20 percent of the franchise? What's to be proud of with the Mets?
Here's your answer: NOTHING!!! N-O-T-H-I-N-G! NOTHING!!!
Maybe the only reason Collins was crying was because he signed a one year extension through 2013, meaning he will be part of this Fred Wilpon-driven mess for two more years. That would make me cry too.
Anyway it will be interesting to see if the Mets even sign Reyes. Wilpon himself said that Reyes is not worth $100 million, a contract price that Reyes will command especially if he wins the NL batting title.
Mets fans have nothing to be proud of with Reyes; he slapped them in the face today by taking himself out of the ballgame in favor of his stats. It was his way of saying, "I get this batting title; I get my ticket out of this Hell hole."
Met fans will hate Reyes even more next year when he is wearing another uniform. Then again maybe that anger will be directed at the Wilpons, who won't pay him the money he earned.
Namath has had just about enough of Ryan, his bravado, and his cocky football team when he spoke with Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay on ESPN radio on Monday: "It starts at the top. Coach Rex Ryan, I think, has been doing a great job getting the team to two (AFC) Championship Games. But if there's one thing about the athlete, if you keep telling him how good he is, he's going to start believing it, to the point that he may not be preparing not quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team."
That would definitely explain the series of lazy plays by the Jets since Ryan has been coach. As has been duly noted on this web site, the Jets have a propensity for sleepwalking through three quarters of any game they play against an "inferior opponent" only to have to pull of a miracle comeback to win the game. The Jets had five come-from-behind victories last year against teams they were perceived better. Just this season, the Jets 27-24 victory over Dallas was tainted by the fact that it required a blocked punt, the least likely play of all, to give the Jets a victory over the 'Boys.
So Namath, for my money, is justified in criticizing Ryan and the Jets. They have been a sloppy football team for far too long, and it is true their bark is bigger than their bite.
Just look at Bart Scott as an example, a guy who talks big but never makes a big tackle or sack during a game. You can find Scott falling on his face while Darren McFadden passes him on about a dozen running plays last week.
Upon hearing Namath's criticism, Ryan felt it necessary to stick it to the fur-coat king.
"I'm not gonna change who I am because Joe Namath said something. Joe Namath can come in here, and if he can still throw, we'll have him as a backup quarterback. He doesn't know our team. He's on the outside. Even though he's a Jet, and once you're a Jet you're always a Jet ... but he's on the outside, he's not in these meetings. I think if he was he'd be shocked at the preparation."
Wow, not in those meetings!? Wasn't that Joe Namath sitting in on a quarterback meeting on Hard Knocks last year, or was that some scraggly old man in a bad polo shirt and shorts? Hmmm?
The questions about the Jets preparation are only going to mount as this team continues to flounder. Mark Sanchez has looked awful this year, and it is no help to him that his offensive line is a quagmire, with no answer at right tackle, and Nick Mangold out for two more weeks.
The Jets running attack has been pathetic and has anyone seen Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress? Do we need to send out a S.O.S. party to find them?
Their defense outside of Darrell Revis is not living up to expectations. They only sacked Jason Campbell once last week and had no answer to stop Darren McFadden. In fact the Jets have developed a reputation since that AFC title game in Pittsburg as a team that can't stop the run.
If Ryan has any plans of getting his team prepared to play, now would be a good time since the Jets have to travel to Baltimore and New England over the next two weeks. A road trip that has 0-2 written all over it. The Jets can't afford to get swept on this trip, and right now, with the way they are playing, it doesn't appear likely they will come away with any victory.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Meanwhile the NFL is abuzz over the 3-0 starts by the Lions and Bills. The Lions haven't been 3-0 in a season since 1980, when Jimmy Carter was still president!! The Lions stunned the Vikings with a 23 point comeback to win in overtime 26-23.
As for Buffalo they erased a 21-0 deficit, their second consecutive big comeback, to beat the rival Patriots 34-31. The win snapped a 15 game losing streak to New England, and povalted the Bills into first place in the AFC East.
Is Hell freezing over? Perhaps it is. The Lions, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys, Browns, Texans, Redskins, and Raiders are all 2-1 or better and either in first or second place in their respective divisions. If it continues, 2011 could be the biggest parody year in the NFL ever!!!
Week 4 Rankings:
32: Kansas City Chiefs (0-3): They lost Jamall Charles for the season, and Matt Cassell hasn't been the same since Charlie Weis left for Florida University as its offensive coordinator. Cassell was a system QB for the Patriots, and has never shown that he can play with the best of them outside that system. Even though they made it interesting against San Diego, Cassell still lost the game with a late pick. Todd Haley is destined to be first coach fired.
31: St. Louis Rams (0-3): Not a good time to be a sports fan from Missouri, I guess. The Rams are awful. Battered by injuries all season, the Rams were quickly silenced by the Ravens 37-7 on Sunday. Sam Bradford is beaten up, and Steven Jackson has yet to return. The Rams schedule doesn't get any easier over the next five games. Can you say 0-8?
30: Miami Dolphins (0-3): See ya Tony Sparano. Miami needed a win in Cleveland and didn't get it. Chad Henne hasn't been bad, but the Dolphins don't have that spunk they had in 2008 and 2009.
29: Indianapolis Colts (0-3): Is Jim Irsay desperate to sell tickets? Is that why he keeps trying to convince people that Peyton Manning will play this season with a neck injury? Hello!
28: Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2): You have to be pretty bad to be ranked lower than the 0-3 Vikings, but the Jaguars are pathetic. They can't score and can't tackle anyone. I don't know how they won their first game against Tennessee, but they did. I find it hard to imagine these Jags winning more than that the rest of the season. See ya' Del Rio!
27: Seattle Seahawks (1-2): Some how the Pete Carroll's won a game against the equally droll Arizona Cardinals. The Hawks still can't score; they have no quarterback to speak of, and really not much to look forward to the rest of the way.
26: Minnesota Vikings (0-3): Donavan McNabb looks like an old man, completing only 58 percent of his passes, and Adrian Peterson has had a quiet 296 yards rushing this season. Peterson still has a lot of burst, but not the 70 yards to pay-dirt burst he used to have. The Vikings have also blown big leads to the Bucs and Lions in consecutive weeks at home no less! At HOME!
25: Cincinnati Bengals (1-2): The Bengals are rebuilding. Andy Dalton might be a good player one day -- but that won't happen with Marvin Lewis as the coach of this team. Why did Lewis return to Cincy again?
24: Denver Broncos (1-2): Tough three point losses to Oakland and Tennessee has prevented Denver from shocking people this year as well. The Broncos are turning the ball over way too much with 10 turnovers this year already! Denver has received surprisingly good play from Eric Decker and Willis McGahee.
23: Arizona Cardinals: (1-2): Wasn't this supposed to be the team that would run away with the NFC West? That might still happen, but what the heck? Allowing the dreadful Seahawks to comeback and beat them in the fourth quarter? Cards need a win against the G-Men, or this will get ugly fast.
22: San Francisco 49ers (2-1): I don't know what to make of these guys. They were impressive week 1 against the Seahawks, and nearly pulled it out against the Cowboys in week 2. However against Cincinnati, the Niners went back into a shell. Their offense is nothing to write home about, but the fact that Alex Smith has completed 68 percent of his passes is a miracle in its own right, and I guess it should be celebrated. I guess?
21: Cleveland Browns (2-1): Two wins against the putrid Colts and Dolphins does little to make me into a believer in Pat Schumer and the Browns. These guys also lost to the Bengals!! The schedule is fairly easy with the Titans, Seahawks and Niners on tap for the next month. But, I wouldn't buy the Browns as far as you can throw them.
20: Tennessee Titans (2-1):Mike Muncheck has done a nice job so far with a team that nobody is paying attention to right now. The Titans humiliated the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago, and Matt Hasselbeck seems to be regaining that old spark in his right arm. Keep in mind it's only a matter of time before Chris Johnson gets it going.
19: Carolina Panthers (1-2): If only the Carolina Panthers didn't have a cornucopia of turnovers this season, they too would be 3-0 like the Bills and Lions. I'm not be cliche either. Cam Newton has been brilliant, throwing for over 400 yards in his first two games, and the Panthers had the champion Packers on the ropes in week two, but couldn't deliver the knock out blow. The Panthers are improving quicker than people expected.
18: Chicago Bears (1-2): The Jay Cutler's are not looking too good. After beating up Atlanta in week 1, the Bears got dropped by both the Saints and Packers in consecutive weeks. Their once vaunted defense has more holes than swiss cheese, and the offense still can't find a legit receiving weapon.
17: Atlanta Falcons: (1-2): The only reason the Falcons beat the Eagles in week 2, had more to do with Michael Vick getting injured than Atlanta's sweat fourth quarter comeback. The Falcons looked even more pedestrian in Tampa, a game they were trailing 16-3, before making a last ditched effort to comeback. Are the Falcons on the way to bustville?
16: San Diego Chargers (2-1): Not much you can say here. The Chargers avoided a late collapse against KC last week thanks to a bone headed play by Cheifs QB Matt Cassell. The Bolts are 2-1, which is a fast start for them considering all their past troubles in September. But, by no means do these Chargers scare anyone right now. Also Antonio Gates is out five weeks with another injury.
15: Philadelphia Eagles (1-2): Time to worry about the Dream Team? Michael Vick is turning into a Ragady Anne doll, after first suffering a concussion, the bruising his hand the following week. Yet, the Eagles insist he can still play. Mike Kafka is ready at the waiting. Also the Eagles defense has looked pathetic since their week 1 thrashing of the Rams. They can't tackle anyone, and that so-called super secondary looked terrible against the Giants on Sunday.
14: Dallas Cowboys (2-1): These guys like to grind it out. Last second loss to the Jets, followed by heart-attack city against the 49ers and Redskins. If one thing is for sure this year, Tony Romo has won my respect, the guy fights his way through football games, even if his O-Line stinks and even if he is injured badly.
13: New York Jets (2-1): Probably shouldn't rank the Jets this high. They are quickly falling apart, and were a blocked punt away from being 1-2 this year. Even Joe Namath is criticizing Rex Ryan right now. The Jets offense has looked bad, as Mark Sanchez can't find his big target wide outs this year. He has also been sacked 10 times this year, and has suffered a concussion, stiff shoulder and broken nose in consecutive weeks. The Jets so-called super defense has looked dreadful this year as well. It won't get better over the next two weeks.
12: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): The Tampa Bay Youngry's are looking good. Great comeback over Minny, coupled with a solid effort against the Falcons has Tampa in good position.
11:Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1): They have been playing ugly football so far. The Steelers were outplayed by a Colts team without Peyton Manning, which has to leave Mike Tomlin scratching his head. They have problems all over the offensive line right now.
10:New York Giants (2-1): See what a win over the Eagles can do for ya! The Giants are not perfect, and with all of the injuries, there is long term concerns about this team, yet they grinded it out in Philly in inspirational fashion. Victor Cruz looks for real, and Eli Manning stepped up his game last week. Now if they can only keep it up, watch out for Big Blue.
9: New Orleans Saints (2-1): Not too crazy with the way the Saints play defense. Granted they got carved up by two great offensive teams, but boy these guys can't cover or tackle. Big concern for the Bayou boys for sure. But as long as Drew Brees and co. keep scoring all will be well.
8:Oakland Raiders (2-1): Another team that was just a few plays away from being 3-0. The Raiders are back baby! Darren McFadden ate the Jets for lunch last week, churning out 171 yards on the ground, and Jason Campbell is protecting the football. Hue Jackson has lit a fire under this band of misfits.
7: Houston Texans (2-1): The Texans would be 3-0 right now if they only had a defense. Houston should have blown the Saints out of the building last week, but Drew Brees led an inspiring comeback to beat back the Texans. No matter, these guys are still the best in the South.
6: Washington Redskins (2-1): There is something about this team that I really like. Even though they lost to Dallas on Monday night, the Redskins play tough/grind it out football, something that will help them later in the season. Rex Grossman hasn't turned it over that much, in fact he looks like a different QB, and Tim Hightower is running with lots of power.
5:Buffalo Bills (3-0): 3-0 is 3-0, and the Bills deserve to be in the top five. Their defense has not looked that great, but Ryan Fitzpatrick, and this Bills offense has been phenominal. Two straight second half comebacks have been led by the Harvard product. I guess all that calculus is good for something.
4:New England Patriots (2-1): I know they lost a heartbreaker to Buffalo, but does anyone really think the Patriots will lose this division to the Bills? Really? Not as long as Tom Brady has something to say about it.
3: Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Even at 2-1, the Ravens still have all the pieces in place. Their defense, even though they are old, are still playing at high level, the offense found a new weapon in Torry Smith last week.
2: Detroit Lions (3-0): Someone slap me in the face, I can't believe I am doing this, LIONS #2!!! Hey they deserve it. Their offense has been on fire, and defensively they have given up only 46 points all year. The Lions have a bite for the first time in a long, long, long time.
1: Green Bay Packers (3-0): The champions have shown no sign of slowing down, as Aaron Rodgers and this offense continues to roll.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
There were no miracle blocked punts this time around.
The New York Jets put up a heck of a stinker in Oakland Sunday as they dropped a 34-24 decision to the youthful Raiders; the Jets got manhandled in every facet of the game.
Who cares that the Jets offense racked up some numbers toward the end of the game; it didn't make up for the stinkfest that the Jets displayed on Sunday afternoon.
They entered this game with an inability to run the ball, an inability to get their big play receivers involved in the offense, and an inability to protect the quarterback. All three issues rose their ugly heads in Oakland.
For starters the philosophy of ground and pound is officially kaput. Once again the rushing attack was non-existent for the Jets as Shonn Greene ran for only 59 yards on 13 carries, and whenever he touched the ball, he was grounded and pounded into the ground himself by the Raiders defense.
The passing game was very limited too. Santonio Holmes had only one catch, and until the fourth quarter, Plaxico Burress was on pace for his second consecutive game with a donut.
A lot of the blame can be atributed to Sanchez who was timid and incompetent with the football. Sanchez hesitated against a Raiders secondary that is young and not very good, allowing Oakland to get some pressure on him. It didn't help, of course, that Nick Mangold was out with a leg injury, but Sanchez looked like a deer in the headlights all day; he was sacked four times and picked off once.
With the Jets up 17-7, the Raiders stormed back, spearheaded by the incomparable Darren McFadden who dashed for a 70 yard touchdown in the second quarter to pull Oakland to within three points.
Just before halftime, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell provided some great touch since he completed six straight passes to move Oakland into field goal range for Sebastian Janikowski, who connected on a 54 yard field goal to tie the game.
The third quarter opened up with the Raiders defense blowing up the Jets offensive line. They sacked Sanchez three times and hit him consistently. The only reason the Jets moved the ball in the third quarter had more to do with penalties levied against the Raiders.
After the Jets turned the ball over on downs on a fourth and two at the Oakland 37, the Raiders shoved the ball down the Jets' throats. Campbell hit Derrick Hagan for 13 yards before McFadden ran for 27 yards to the Jets 23. Denarius Moore took it from there with a 23 yard scamper to give the Raiders a 24-17 lead.
The Raiders put the game away in the fourth quarter, when they recovered a fumble by Antonio Cromartie, who was back to return the kickoff. McFadden gashed the Jets for 12 more yards to move the ball to the 1 yard line, just before Michael Bush plunged in to give Oakland a 31-17 lead.
McFadden ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns against a Jets defense that looked soft, had no desire to blitz, and couldn't tackle a chicken. So much for Ryan's much ballyhooed defense. These guys are pathetic to watch.
The Jets slip to 2-1, and they are lucky not to be 1-2, if it weren't for that blocked punt in the Dallas game.
The road trip from hell continues next week when the Jets travel to Baltimore. Guess Halloween came early for Gang Green this year.
The New York Giants have saved their season.
Granted, it is only Week Three, and there is still a lot of football to be played, but for a Giants team decimated by injuries, written off by their fan base, and led by a head coach battling for his job, won the most important game for Big Blue since their Super Bowl victory more than three years ago.
Nobody expected the Giants to walk into Philadelphia and pull out a victory, especially with Michael Vick playing this game, concussion or no concussion.
Instead the Giants came out like gangbusters, opening up a 14-0 lead on Philly, shocking the Dream Team and rest of America.
Eli Manning's 40 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jacobs in the first quarter set the tone for Big Blue. Later in the quarter, Manning hit a streaking Victor Cruz 74 yards down the sideline for the score, giving the Giants a 14-0 lead.
Even though the Eagles scored 16 consecutive points, the Giants never let Michael Vick and LaShaun McCoy dictate the football game. In fact in the third quarter, with New York up 14-13, the Eagles drove the ball all the way to the Giants two yard line. At that point the Giants defense stood its ground. They pushed back Olin Schmidt for no gain. Stopped Vick on a rush up the middle for no gain and kept Schmidt out of the end zone on third down, forcing the Eagles to settle for the field goal.
As for Vick, the Giants beat him up. They hit him hard and often, including a couple blows to the head that were not ruled penalties. At one point Vick was seen holding his head after being dropped hard to the ground. Vick eventually left the game, with what the Eagles diagnosed as a broken hand, but I am sure it had more to do with the concussion than anything else.
Once Vick left, everything fell apart for Philadelphia. Mike Kafka was awful, completing four of seven passes for 35 yards and two interceptions and never displayed the kind of accuracy that he had shown in Atlanta the week before.
Offensively, the Giants woke up in the fourth quarter. Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for nine yards to the Eagles 46. Ahmad Bradshaw then churned out 13 yards on two carries before Manning hit Victor Cruz on an acrobatic 28 yard touchdown. Cruz caught the ball between two defenders and fell to the ground while bobbling the football. The play was reviewed, and it was determined that Cruz got the ball over the plane before he dropped the football. The Giants then succeeded on a two point conversion by Brandon Jacobs to take a 22-16 lead.
After Aaron Ross picked off Kafka on the Eagles first play of scrimmage, the Giants stuck it right down the Eagles throats as the G-Men drove it 56 yards, culminating in a 18 yard pass to Bradshaw to make it 29-16.
For a Giants team so beaten up by injuries to wide receiver, they relied heavily on Bradshaw and Jacobs, and it worked out. Getting those two backs more involved in the game is something the Giants didn't do successfully in the first two weeks. They did it on Sunday, and they will have to keep it up the rest of the season. Bradshaw and Jacobs all day, every day.
How about that doom and gloom now, Giants fans?
Friday, September 23, 2011
This week we take a look at the Giants vs. Eagles match up, where Michael Vick has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion in last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
After that, we discuss the MLB playoff picture, and where the Yankees fit into the October landscape.
Finally I take your calls, to discuss Jets vs. Raiders and much much more.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The New York Yankees are heading back to October for the 16th time in the last 17 years. The Bronx Bombers got it done once again as they swept away the Tampa Bay Rays in a double-header at Yankee Stadium while the slumping Boston Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 in Boston, helping the Yankees capture this title.
In game one, the Yankees clinched no worse than a playoff spot in the 2011 postseason when the came back to beat Tampa Bay 4-2. The Rays held a 2-1 lead going into the eighth inning, until Eduardo Nunez cracked a solo shot to left to tie the game against James Shields who was clearly running out of gas.
After a single by Brett Gardner and a walk to Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano nailed a double to center field to drive in both runners giving the Yankees the lead.
Then in came Mariano Rivera in the ninth, and the greatest closer of all time notched down save 603 with a crisp ninth inning to clinch the playoff spot.
The Yankees magic number was down to two heading into the night cap. They needed the combination of a win and a Red Sox loss to capture the division for the third straight season.
The Yankees jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, thanks to a solo shot by Cano in the second inning; however, CC Sabathia couldn't hold onto the lead.
Sabathia worked 7.1 solid innings but gave up two homers to Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez to tie the game at two heading into the eighth.
In the eighth, the Yankees bats woke up. Nick Swisher doubled to lead off the inning before he was removed for pinch hitter Greg Golson. Both Mark Teixeria and Cano walked setting up a bases loaded situation for Jorge Posada.
Posada, who has been in Joe Giradri's dog house all season beginning with losing his catching job to Russell Martin in spring training, came through with the biggest at bat of his season. Posada ripped a single to right center driving in Golson and Teixiera to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead.
Rafael Soriano shut down the Rays in the bottom of the ninth, as the Yankees celebrated their 17th division title.
Sanchez, who inked a five year $60 million deal in 2009, has provided mediocre results since becoming the Jets franchise quarterback.
Here is the their reasoning: "Sanchez, though, has also thrown three interceptions. He enters Week 3 with a middle-of-the-road passer rating of 87.7. That’s an improvement over the low 70s Sanchez averaged in his first two seasons after signing a rookie contract worth up to $60 million over five years. This season happens to be the balloon year of Sanchez’s five-year deal: he’s owed $14.75 million. Like any QB drafted high, Sanchez is being paid for the potential the club figures he has to develop into a star. But while he’s progressing, there’s no way to avoid viewing his salary as anything but excessive until that big year actually comes.
"So picking the most overpaid requires a touch of subjectivity and some common sense. Going down the list of the NFL’s highest 100 salaries for 2011, we focused on those whose career history is lacking not only statistically (QB passer ratings, etc.) but on those who haven’t consistently earned starting berths or who haven’t made All Pro despite collecting one of the top salaries in the game at his position. Base 2011 salaries were used, according to data kept by spotrac.com – not annual averages or one-time bonus payments."
Sanchez's career stats are as follows: 71 QB rating (which is an overrated statistic in its own right, since its measurements are never indicative of actual performance. For example a QB can complete 1 pass in 1 attempt and have a QB rating of 154.5! Yeah, a little nutty).
He has completed 55 percent of his passes, thrown for 6,200 yards with 33 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Sanchez is also 22-11 as a starter in the regular season.
If you want to go saber metric (a la "Moneyball") on Sanchez, he has been often credited as a fourth quarter genius, thanks in part to the various comebacks that he has been a part of in his career thus far. However, statistically, Sanchez has completed only 48 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter, with four touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
While Sanchez is maddeningly inconsistent, Forbes doesn't measure these statistics: Sanchez is 4-2 in the postseason, which is more postseason wins than any QB after two years of NFL experience. Also, when the chips are down, Sanchez more often than not makes the big throw -- i.e. any game winning touchdown pass last season in the final quarter or overtime. He has also completed 60 percent of his passes in playoff games.
Sanchez hasn't exactly lived up to the contract. With great weapons around him from Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, LaDainian Tomlinson and Dustin Keller, one would think that Sanchez would be putting up monster numbers, but he hasn't.
In fact, he may never become a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. He isn't that type of player.
That being said, Sanchez's mediocrity doesn't mean he is doomed to be a terrible quarterback. John Elway never completed more than 60 percent of his passes during his first 11 seasons in the NFL. It was not until he got Terrell Davis in the backfield and an offensive guru like Mike Shanahan as a coach, that Elway's statistics matched his pedigree.
In 1986, Elway completed 55 percent of his passes and threw only 19 TDs to 13 INTs and still led the Broncos to the Super Bowl. 1987 (54 % complete, 19 TD's 12 INT's) and 1989 (53 % complete, 18 TD's and 18 INT's) were also Super Bowl years for Denver; granted, they lost to the Giants, Redskins and 49ers respectively.
Is Sanchez the next Elway? I won't go that far. Sanchez has a long way to go before he can join the company of the elite in the NFL. Is the most overpaid - hey, if you play in New York and don't put up big numbers you are indeed overpaid.
By next Tuesday, Rolle might be wishing that he never opened his big mouth.
Vick, who suffered a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night when he was spun around and bent backwards, his head slamming into the shoulder of his own offensive lineman, is preparing to play on Sunday.
Vick took part in the Eagles walk-through on Wednesday morning, even though he didn't practice later in the day.
Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said Vick doesn’t have “a whole lot of concussion symptoms,” and would undergo further testing, including seeing an independent neurologist in the next day or two.
“Just because he doesn’t have symptoms today doesn’t mean he won’t have symptoms tomorrow,” Burkholder said. “You can’t predict.”
In case he can't go, the Eagles have a lot of depth at quarterback. Mike Kafka was very impressive in his brief stint against the Falcons, and his overall performance since joining the Eagles gave Andy Reid and company confidence to trade Kevin Kolb to Arizona in August.
Vince Young, the former Tennessee starting quarterback, who is nursing a hamstring injury, is close to returning, but, in all likelihood, Kafka will start if Vick can't go.
If Vick plays, the Giants could be in some big trouble. Vick created a lot of problems for Big Blue last season, and since the Giants have so many holes on defense, a healthy Vick would be even more of a headache.
For his part, Kafka is no pushover. The guy can gun the football with accuracy and he plays with plenty of poise in the pocket. Either way, the trip to Philly will be no gimme for the G-Men.
Even though he made an acrobatic catch in the end zone Monday night in the Giants 28-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams, Domenik Hixon's season is now over yet again.
For the second straight season, Hixon tore his ACL in his right knee and will be lost for the year.
The Giants were hoping that Hixon would be a key contributor to the Giants this season after the team let Steve Smith and Kevin Boss go via free agency.
Ironically, Hixon was injured on that terrific catch.
Before his injury trouble, Hixon had over 1,500 yards as a kick and punt return man for Big Blue; however, during spring practice in May of 2010, Hixon injured the knee on a sprint at the Meadowlands. After a full year of rehab, Hixon was now healthy and contributing to the Giants offense until this big blow.
Where the Giants go from here is anyone's guess. There are available free agent receivers like Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Big names, but big names who are well past their prime, and who's negative history in the club house, probably won't entice a Giants team that needs to win right now.
The Giants did sign Brandon Stockley last week to become a slot receiver, and the Giants will likely rely on him and Victor Cruz a lot more as the season progresses.
Bad break for the Giants in a season full of bad breaks so far.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Ever since Trevor Hoffman became MLB's all time saves leader a few years ago, it was pretty widely accepted that as good as Hoffman was, he was not really the best closer in baseball. That title belonged to Rivera before he ever came close to 602 saves.
Rivera developed a reputation as the game's greatest closer with his impeccable performances in the most important games in Yankees history. This is a man who has locked down opponent after opponent in October, and the man who has locked AL Pennant after AL Pennant and World Series after World Series with his clam, cool demanor, and one pitch: a cutter.
To say that Rivera has had ice water in his veins over the last 15 years of his Hall of Fame career, does only so much justice. No one pitched with more gusto, and more intimidation than Rivera. When good ole number 42 came out of the Yankees bullpen everyone, even the Yankees opponents and the hitters that would face Rivera, knew one thing: ball game over!
When Rivera notched save number 602 to become the game's top closer of all time, it was a fitting touchstone on a career that does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Rivera has 43 saves and a 1.98 era this year, and he is 41 years old!
Rivera has never been one to boast about winning games like his overexuberant counterparts, K-Rod and Jonathan Papelbon. Whenever Rivera notches a save, he gently tips his cap, shakes the hand of Jorge Posada and goes about his day quietly.
When Rivera earned 602, it was no different than any other save, regular season or post season. Rivera handled it with grace. In a era dominated by home runs and strikeouts, this accomplishment truly is one that will be unbreakable.
It is one thing to get a save, it is quite another to become the greatest closer ever. We should all be thankful that we have had the opportunity to watch true greatness in the form of Mariano Rivera.
Mangold suffered a right ankle sprain when a Jaguars defender rolled up on his leg in the first quarter of the Jets 32-3 victory over Jacksonville at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
Mangold, a Pro-Bowl center will be greatly missed by this Jets offense as they square off against two of the top defenses in the NFL, the Pats and Ravens, over the next three weeks; it could be a rough stretch for Mark Sanchez who threw two picks Sunday, and the running game, which only gained 49 yards on the Jags.
The Jets hope that Colin Baxter can fill in for Mangold and insist they don't need a veteran. I think the Jets better start looking. Like I wrote on Sunday, former Giants center Shaun O'Hara is a free agent, and would be a perfect fill in until Mangold returns.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
See what can happen when the New York Jets remember when kick-off is and actually play for 60 minutes?
After last week's lucky victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the Jets needed a laugher in the worst way, and they finally got it against the pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jets wasted little time in putting distance between themselves and a Jaguars team that beat them two years ago in old Giants Stadium as Mark Sanchez opened the game completing four consecutive passes highlighted by a 33 yard pass to Dustin Keller and culminating in a 17 yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes.
For Keller, this was the break out performance the Jets have been waiting for from him for some time. He had six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. It was Keller's best individual performance for Gang Green since Week Two of the 2010 season when he had seven catches for 115 yards against the Patriots.
If the Jets offense has any plans of doing big things this season, they have got to get Keller more involved in the offense, and Sunday may have been the right start.
Moments after the Jets touchdown, the Jets defense, which was much maligned last week, stepped up and sacked quarterback Luke McCown on the second play of scrimmage for Jacksonville to extend the Jets lead to 9-0.
After that the Jets kind of went into a shell. Their offense struggled to run the football, and Mark Sanchez threw two interceptions and never again found Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards open. The only scoring the Jets could muster for much of the second and third quarter were two Nick Folk field goals, as the stubborn Jaguars hung around all afternoon.
Luckily for Gang Green, their defense was up to the challenge; they picked off McCown four times on the afternoon. The sad sacked quarterback threw for only 59 yards and had a 1.8 quarterback rating, before he was pulled for rookie Blaine Gabbert.
The Jets offense didn't wake up until late in the third quarter when Keller made a fantastic 37 yard catch and run to move the ball to the Jets 45 yard line. Sanchez then found Santonio Holmes for 18 more, and, finally, Keller for a 11 yard touchdown to give New York a 22-3 lead.
The Jets put this game on ice when McCown was intercepted by Antonio Cromartie; however, the clumsy cornerback forgot to put the ball in his right hand and reach for the pylon when he was falling out of bounds near the goal line. Cromartie's clumsy mistake forced the Jets into a first and goal at the one, and thankfully, they were able to plug it in when Shonn Greene dove over the top to score. Box Score.
Even though the Jets won and won big, there are still major concerns, beginning with Nick Mangold who left the game in the first quarter after a Jaguar fell on his ankle when the pro-bowl center was trying to run block for Greene. Mangold left for X-Rays, which came back negative, but he didn't return to the game. Colin Baker came in to replace Mangold, but the Jets are already thin at center after they lost Robert Turner in pre-season with a season ending injury.
If Mangold misses time, the Jets will be forced to look around for a center. Shaun O'Hara, who was cut from the Giants because of his injuries is available and could come at a cheap price if he is fully healthy.
Also, safety Jim Leonhard left the game for a short time after pulling up and holding his calf. Leonhard missed the rest of the season last year when he broke his hand. Leonhard returned to the Jaguars game and played the rest of the day. He will be reevaluated as well.
Then there is the fact that the Jets still can't run the football. Greene had only 49 yards on 16 carries, and LaDainian Tomlinson didn't have much impact on the game either. For a team that prides itself on ground and pound, the Jets have been forced to rely mostly on their passing attack. Fortunately for the Jets, they played two of the worst secondaries in the league, allowing Mark Sanchez to find open receivers.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
For the third episode of Open Mike, I welcome CSB graduate Alex Cordova, and the two of us break down the Jets dramatic comeback against the Dallas Cowboys last week, as well as the Giants hideous showing in Washington.
We also take a look ahead to the Jets-Jaguars and Giants-Rams match-ups for week 2 of the NFL season.
Will the Red Sox collapse? Boston is holding onto a slim lead in the AL Wild Card race, entering Friday's action with a three game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. We discuss that situation further.
Take a listen! HERE
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The New York Jets are bringing back the Titans uniforms for Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. New York will wear the blue helmets, with blue jersey and gold pants for the first time since 2009.
During the 2009 campaign, the Jets wore the uniforms three times, wearing the blue jersey against the Tennessee Titans in September before switching to white jersey's with blue numerals in an October 25 game against the Raiders, and a November 1 game against the Dolphins. Overall, the Jets went 2-1 in the Titans jersey's in 2009.
All time, the Jets are 5-2 when they wear the uniforms. In that time frame, the Jets have averaged 35 points a game when they wear the jersey, highlighted by a 56-35 victory over the Cardinals in 2008.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Apparently, the Jets like to play like this. Don't show up for three quarters, then miraculously wake up, rally and win the game in the fourth quarter when it appears that all hope is lost.
Sunday night's season opener against Dallas was a continuation of a fun, and very disturbing pattern by Gang Green as the Jets pulled one out against the Cowboys 27-24.
However, for three quarters, the Jets looked clueless. For three quarters the Jets had no pizzazz, and for three quarters the Jets couldn't throw or catch a football if it hit them in the face.
The Jets defense gave up huge plays to the Dallas Cowboys in the first half; for example, Dez Bryant schooled Revis Island on a number of occasions. Bryant dazzled early with a 42 yard catch to set the Cowboys up at the 17-yard line. Five plays later, Romo found Bryant again in the corner of the end zone against Antonio Cromartie for the score.
As for the Jets offense, they were asleep at the wheel. They couldn't run the ball and couldn't throw the ball on a Cowboys defense that had a young, banged up secondary, and that just had installed the 46 defense, so for three quarters, the Jets didn't have a clue.
When they were down 10-0, only then did the Jets stir: Mark Sanchez found Dustin Keller twice for 28 yards, and the Jets moved to within the Cowboys goal line. Finally, on second and goal, Sanchez found Keller in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 10-7.
Then the Jets went back to sleep. After a Jets three and out to start the third quarter, Tony Romo picked on Cromartie again, when he connected with Miles Austin for a 36 yard score, a ball that both Cromartie and Austin were battling for with possession going to Dallas.
Later in the third quarter, Sanchez made a huge bone-headed play. While trying to zip to Keller down the middle, he instead found Cowboys linebacker Steve Lee, who picked it off and rumbled 38 yards for an apparent touchdown. The touchdown was called off because Lee stepped out of bounds, but it really didn't matter. The Cowboys punched it in anyway with Felix Jones to give Dallas a dominating 24-10 lead.
With a fourth quarter still to play, the Jets had sleep-walked through the entire game. They watched as the Cowboys ripped them apart through the air and watched a young Cowboys defense dictate the pace of the game for much of the night. Hell, Sanchez didn't connect with Keller until the third quarter, and he didn't find Plaxico Burress until the end of the third.
Then, suddenly the Jets did what they do the best, pull a game out of the fire when it appeared doomed. Suddenly Sanchez was finding his receivers wide open all over the field. He hit Holmes for 28 yards, Derrick Mason for 13 yards, and LaDainian Tomlinson for 11 more yards. Next, Sanchez found Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone for a 26 yard score to pull the Jets to within 24-17 with 11 minutes to play. Box Score.
After a Dallas three and out, the Jets started moving the ball well again until Mark Sanchez fumbled the football back to Dallas. It appeared that the game was over; the Jets who made a living of making ridiculously improbable comebacks last season were finally going to be taught a hard lesson that they should have showed up at 8:30 p.m., not 11:00 p.m. But then, the lord of "Helmet Catches" and "Immaculate Receptions" shone on the New York Jets.
After Dallas went three-and-out on their ensuing drive, they were forced to punt. The snap was low and Jets running back Joe McKnight burst through the hole and got his hand up high enough to block the football. Isaiah Thomas picked up the loose ball and scored easily to tie the game, sending PSL Jet fans into a frenzy.
It was a lucky play that normally wouldn't have happened. The Jets once again cashed in on some really good fortune.
Later in the quarter, a desperate Tony Romo rolled to his right, threw a bullet that was picked off by Revis -- ball game! The Jets moved the ball inside field goal range, and Nick Folk did the rest by kicking a 50-yarder to give New York the win.
As nice as it is to win a game on opening day, and as much fun as it is to witness a comeback, the Jets have developed a truly disturbing pattern of play. They pump their chests week in and week out about how this is a Super Bowl team with a Super Bowl defense, but they rarely play like it on game day.
Last year, the Jets had to pull off five games, including the playoffs, by the skin of their teeth after having played sloppy football. The only time their messy play came back to bite them in the butt was in Pittsburgh in the AFC title game when the Steelers built a 24-0 lead in the first half and held on, 24-19.
The Jets have got to stop playing like this. The Dallas Cowboys have talent, but by no means was this the 2007 Patriots the Jets were playing this night. This was a young, developing Cowboys team that shouldn't have had any confidence coming into the building. The Cowboys walked into MetLife Stadium like the owned the place, and the Jets didn't take notice until the clock was near midnight.
Rex Ryan has got to put his foot down and put an end to this kind of play. He condoned last season when the Jets pulled out games against Denver, Houston, Detroit and Cleveland, bad football teams the Jets should have blown out.
He again complimented his team after the Dallas game as a group with great heart -- which is good and true -- but this kind of play is getting infuriating to watch. Great coaches, like Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells, wouldn't stand for sloppy, lackadaisical play for 45 minutes. In fact, they would find a way to shake it out of their team.
Ryan hasn't shaken the sloppiness out of this football team. He didn't get that team ready last year in the AFC title game when they tried to pull off a similar fate, but they needed a blocked punt for the miracle this eveing. If Ryan thought he got the message across after that AFC title game, it clearly didn't sink it.
The Jets have to understand that if they think falling behind against teams like New England, San Diego, Philadelphia, Baltimore, the New York Giants, even Miami, will ultimately lead to a Jets win in the fourth quarter, they can forget about it. It won't happen; unicorn dust and marshmellow fluff doesn't last forever.
Sure, it is good to be 1-0 on the season, but the Jets are extremely, extremely fortunate that they were not embarrassed in their home opener Sunday. If the Jets pull this garbage against a lousy Jaguars team next Sunday, something, whether it's personnel or philosophy, something will have to change.
Giants fans, now you can panic!
After a horrid pre-season that saw the Giants lose seven players for the year to injury, as well as lose the availability of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora to nagging injuries, the Giants went out and played like trash in their regular season opener against the Redskins.
Rex Grossman looked like Joe Theisman as he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns against the banged-up Giants secondary. The Giants feared that the loss of Terrell Thomas would have a big impact on the play of their secondary and it clearly did since the Giants couldn't find a way to bat a ball down, couldn't find a way to cause an interception, and couldn't cover a receiver if their lives depended on it.
After the Giants grabbed a 14-7 lead on a Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown, the Redskins stormed back to tie the game before halftime. Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney for 39 yards to spot the ball at the Giants 15 yard line. Then, on the next play, Grossman hit Anthony Armstrong for the touchdown.
Things didn't get any better for Big Blue in the second half. On, third down and 10 at the Giants 18, the game changed forever when Manning's pass was tipped into the air and picked off by Ryan Kerrigan who stumbled and bumbled his way to the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Fed Ex Field was the loudest it had been in years as the Redskins defense smothered the Giants. They held the Giants to 15 first downs and 75 yards rushing on the entire afternoon. Whenever the Giants tried to make something happen, a Redskins defender was there to make the tackle or break up the play, drawing loud roars from the hungry Redskins crowd.
The Giants best opportunity to get back into the game came in the fourth quarter after Grossman was stripped of the football by Jason Pierre Paul. The Giants were in business at the Skins 27; however, the Giants just couldn't handle the change in momentum. The Giants went three and out on the drive and had to settle for a field goal, which was blocked at the line, giving Washington the football at the 30.
The Redskins shoved it right down the Giants collective throat as Grossman drove the ball down field and completed a four yard touchdown to Gaffney to ice the contest.
For the Giants, this was a huge loss. Of course, this game became harder to win when they received the news that Justin Tuck would not play with the stinger in his neck, but, for Big Blue, this was a game they had to win.
There is not much confidence in this Giants team this year, and they needed to get off to a fast start. It didn't happen, and the schedule is only going to get harder. This could get ugly.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Today's pod cast I go over Thursday night's classic between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, all three touchdowns coming in the first quarter, as Green Bay held off the Saints 42-34.
I then move on to a discussion of Peyton Manning's status for the upcoming season. Manning had surgery on his neck for the third time in 19 months. The Colts believe that Manning could return by November, but chances are he won't play this season.
I continue to discuss the status of the NFL with John Silva, a graduate of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, before concluding the show on the Jets and Giants.
Take a listen RIGHT HERE!!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
A Russian plane, carrying 45 people from the Russian ice hockey team the Lokomotiv of the EHL, crashed early Wednesday killing all but two people on board. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff, as the players were heading to Minsk for a game on Thursday.
It is believed that two former Rangers, a former Islander and a former Devils' prospect were aboard the plane.
Former Rangers player Alexander Karpovtsev, who won the Stanley Cup with the team in 1994, and was working with the Russian team, as well as former Rangers defenseman Karel Rachunek, 32; center Josef Vasicek, 30, who played for the New York Islanders from 2005 to 2008; and Alexandr Vayunov, an NHL prospect who played for the New Jersey Devils, all perished on the flight.
So the musical chairs of injury continues for the New York Giants as Jon Goff is expected to miss the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee. Goff was the Giants starting middle linebacker, a guy who was showing steady improvement over the past three seasons. He was a run stuffer for the Giants, as recorded 70 tackles last season.
Ironically this was Goff's walk year, he was scheduled to be a free agent after the season, and now he won't even have a chance to take his play to the next level in order to make a mega contract next year.
Goff is one in a long line of injuries for the Giants this year. The G-Men already lost Terrell Thomas, Clint Sintom, Marvin Austin, Bruce Armstrong and Bruce Johnson for the season. They have also lost Prince Amukarua for the first month of the year with a broken foot.
Plus the G-Men will also be without Osi Umenyiora who is nursing a knee injury for the first month of the year as well.
The once formidable Giants defense is starting to look more and more like a joke. Teams will be licking their chops at the prospects of facing a Giants D that is not at full speed. That being said, the G-Men still have a healthy Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, and Antrele Rolle. They will get Osi back before October, so it shouldn't be this bad for very long.
One would think.
Injuries this early in the season are a bad sign. When a team starts to lose players, its like a conga-line, suddenly dozens of starters begin to drop like flies. The Giants have to hope that the injuries stop here, otherwise it could be a looooooong season.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Are you ready for some football?
Eight weeks ago, it seemed unfathomable that the NFL would be up and running at this point in September.Talks between the owners and players were so distant and bitter, there was discussion of cancelling the entire pre-season and the first half of the year, or even cancelling the entire 2011 season.
Thankfully, both sides realized the price of no football was too great a risk, and eventually the sides agreed to a new CBA, and with it, a new dawn.
Now that football is back, we are going to get a heck of a marquee match-up on Sunday night. New York's bright lights may not be enough to keep the glow on this match-up between the up-start, big mouthed Jets and America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Rex Ryan, once again, has written a blank check for his New York Jets, stating that this is the best roster he has had in his three years as head coach, and that this team will win the Super Bowl this season.
Rex and his Jets stunned the world each of the last two years when the Jets advanced to back-to-back AFC title game appearances. While 2009 was mostly due to luck, (thank you Jim Caldwell for pulling out the Colts starters in Week 16), 2010 was a big statement year for the Jets. Victories over the Colts and Patriots in the playoffs proved that the Jets were a real player in the AFC.
However, a last ditch comeback against the Steelers in the AFC title game was not enough to make up for an empty first half as Gang Green lost 24-19.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, had a 2010 to forget. The Boys got off to a dreadful 1-6 start that led to the ouster of coach Wade Phillips. To add insult to injury, Tony Romo was lost for the year with a broken collarbone he suffered in a game against the Giants.
Still, there was reason for optimism in Dallas. Jason Garrett took over at mid-season, and Dallas won five of eight games to end the season. Now the Cowboys are healthy are Jerry Jones is pumped up about the possibilities for this year's team.
It should be an exciting opener, so let's take a look at some of the key match-ups in this heavyweight clash.
Friday, September 2, 2011
The show titled "Open Mike," opens with a discussion of A.J. Burnett's performance against the Boston Red Sox on September 1, a virtuoso performance by Burnett who shut down the Red Sox for five and a third innings.
Then I move on to the Mets fiasco involving Fred Wilpon and David Einhorn. Einhorn was denied rights to become a partner with the Wilpons because he wanted to eventually become a full time owner of the Mets franchise, which the Wilpons didn't want. I have strong words for the Wilpons.
Later I welcome in Mike Sanfillipo of Triple Coverage, and Magic 98.3 FM. Sanfillipo joins me to talk about the Mets as well as the opening of the NFL season. LISTEN TO THE POD CAST HERE!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
This was a game the Yankees truly needed to win.
With so much to prove to themselves, in a season where their pitching has staff has been abominable, the Yankees got the kind of effort from A.J. Burnett that they had been waiting for all season.
Burnett was brilliant. For the first time in months, he impecable with his control, and never wavered in his confidence. A noticible difference in Burnett's performance was his delivery. Burnett understands that he is no longer a guy who gun rip off 98 mph on the radar gun, and is in the midst of learning how to pitch more creatively.
He did it tonight, mixing and matching his pitches for five and a third innings, giving up five hits and two runs, while striking out four. The only mistake he made was a pitch to Dustin Pedroia, who cracked a two run homer in the fourth inning, but overall it was a big step for Burnett.
Burnett and Phil Hughes have been teetering on the brink of being out of the Yankees rotation. Burnett had a horrid August, and entered Thursday night with an ERA well over five. Another bad outing and he would likely be destined for the bullpen.
If the Yankees are going to go deep this fall, they need Burnett to step it up and put together solid performances like he did tonight. If he does, the Yankees will have a legit 1-2 punch in their rotation come October.
Offensivley, the Yankees did a great job getting to the Red Sox bullpen. After Jon Lester left with 114 pitches in five innings, the Yankees teed off Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard. Russell Martin's two run double off Bard gave the Bombers a 3-2 advantage. Eric Chavez, who has been swinging a hot stick, drove in Martin with a sharp single to right to make it 4-2.
Fast forward to the ninth, and Mariano Rivera got into some trouble. With a runner on and two out, Rivera walked Jacoby Ellsbury to keep Boston's hopes alive. Then, Rivera served up a single to Marco Scutaro to load the bases for MLB batting leader Adrian Gonzalez. Rivera bore down and struck Gonzalez looking on a cutter on the outside of the plate to end it, giving the Yankees a huge victory.
Tuesday nights impressive 5-2 victory was huge from the standpoint it gave CC Sabathia his first win against Boston this year, in an epic 128 pitch marathon, that saw him throw 50 pitches through the first two innings of the game. Sabathia who was 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against Boston this year, needed to show the Yankees he can beat their biggest rival, for if he struggles against them, then nobody can pitch well against Boston. While Tuesday was a shuttle reminder of how good the Yankees could be when things are clicking for them, Wednesday night was an example of what can go wrong for this team.
Phil Hughes was putrid again. Giving up six runs in five and two-thirds innings, Hughes' ERA rose to 6.75, and, now tonight the Bombers turn to A.J. Burnett.
Burnett has been the model of inconsistency and failure all season long. Last week after imploding against the Twins, Burnett was taken out of the game, when he turned to Joe Girardi and appeared to be talking back at his manager. The episode led Girardi to come to Burnett's defense later in the post-game when he angrily told a reporter that he and Burnett "had a fist-fight," calling such questions "ridiculous."
But this is all Girardi can do, defend Burnett as often as possible. Fact is Burnett can't hide from a 9-11 record and a 5.31 ERA. Tonight he goes up against Boston's ace Jon Lester (14-6), and if all goes as one would expect it could be an ugly night for the Yankees that drops them 2.5 behind Boston for the divisional title.
No matter what happens to the Yankees over the next 28 days, they will make the postseason, but their problems in the rotation is such a black eye that it will be hard to envision them moving past the first round.
Sure Ivan Nova (11-4) has been spectacular, and outside of Sabathia is the Yankees only reliable arm, but after Nova and CC, the Yankees have to hang their hopes on Freddy Garcia, who is coming off a cut finger, Bartolo Colon, who has been inconsistent and Hughes and Burnett.
Match this staff up against the Texas Rangers who have a lot of good pitchers, and one of the best offenses in baseball and it will be difficult to see the Yankees winning more than two games in a best-of-five set.
Match the Yankees up against the Tigers, you can call game one a wash with Sabathia squaring off against Justin Verlander, and again after Sabathia the Yankees don't have a reliable answer in the rotation.
Whoever steps up over the next four weeks will determine who will remain in the rotation, and who will even remain on the roster come October. For Burnett this is his chance to save his job. As a veteran pitcher with electric stuff, he has an edge over Hughes, and even the hulking Colon to make the team in October, but another lackluster outing in Boston and the Yankees will have some tough decisions to make.
The choice is Burentt's to make.
According to terms of the deal, Einhorn could have become majority owner in three to five years, but that all fell through when the sides couldn't agree on the initial stake in the franchise.
Adam Rhubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets will now try to sell off smaller shares to family and friends in order to make up for the $200 million they need to help pay off the team's debts.
This is another in a long line of black eyes for the Mets franchise. Not only are the nearing bankruptcy thanks to the Bernie Maddoff scheme, they can't even sell off a small portion of the team without making mass headlines.
What a joke, and this is a franchise that believes it can re-sign Jose Reyes in the off-season. Even with Einhorn out of the pitcher the Wilpon's continue to sing the same ole song that they are not in financial ruin and that they can pay off the losses from the 2011 season. It is not known how much in ticket sales they Mets sold this year, but just by looking at the empty seats in Citi Field every night, it would be stunning if the Mets drew two million fans to the ball park this year.
The Einhorn is also a power play for the Wilpon's, another example why they have no intention of selling the bumbling baseball team anytime soon, if ever. Which means that the Mets will continue to stir in baseball hell for the next handful of years, until either the team turns it around on the field, or the Wilpon's finally give up and sell, or the lawsuits against the Wilpon's push them to the brink of utter financial Armageddon.