Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mark Sanchez could be on way out

A report from the New York Post has renewed speculation that the Jets could be close to ending the Mark Sanchez era.

According to the story, Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum went on 1050 ESPN Radio and said that the organization will look very carefully at the quarterback position, hinting that the position will look very "different" on opening day, September 9.

"We're looking at that position very carefully, and I wouldn't be surprised if at the end of the day, by September, that position group as a whole looks a little bit different than it did at the end of the 2011 season," Tannenbaum said.

Tannenbaum, who is famous for swinging big time deals like he did in ridding the Jets of another mediocre quarterback, Chad Pennington for the services of Brett Favre in 2008, did not extinguish the fire on the Peyton Manning rumors.

"It's really important that we always try to improve the team. With that said, I expect Mark Sanchez to be our quarterback next year, but when we have opportunities to improve our team, that's what we're going to do. You still have to do what's in the best interest of the team," Tannenbaum said. "My philosophy is you've got to be aggressive, you have to know what's going on out there, and you have to look for opportunities."

While it may be a load of nothing from Tannenbaum, the facts are out there. Sanchez has shown little improvement from year one to two to year three. His completion percentage has been stuck around 55 %, and his quarterback rating has been a steady 78. He turned the ball over 26 times, and he still has the "deer in the headlights" look he had when he was a rookie.

While a lot of the Jets problems can be attributed to a dreadful offensive line, running game, and overrated defense, there are too many dissenting voices in the Jets clubhouse who have come out publicly, and anonymously, against Sanchez. 

Several unnamed Jets players said that the Jets needed to look in another direction shortly after last season, and former Jet LaDainian Tomlinson said that the Jets coddled Sanchez too much during his two years with the team.

If the Jets are serious about Manning, they will have to send Sanchez out of town. They can't pay two quarterback roughly $8-10 million a season. Sanchez is due $16 million over the next two years. 

If the Jets strike out on Manning, and the future Hall of Famer lands in Miami or Arizona, then the Jets will likely try to sign one of the many free agent quarterbacks out there such as Chad Henne or Kyle Orton to challenge for the starting job, and possibly take over as the starter, if Sanchez gets off to a hideous start in 2012.

Giants will open season on a Wednesday

Once the confetti came down on Super Bowl XLVI, not only did the Giants win the Super Bowl, but they clinched their ticket to the annual Thursday night season opener the following season.

Only this time, the first game will not be played on a Thursday. Instead the Giants will begin their defense of their Super Bowl title on Wednesday September 5 because of President Barack Obama's speech to the DNC on Thursday September 6.

 Speculation is that the Green Bay Packers will be the Giants likely opponent, continuing a tradition that begin last season when the Super Bowl champs from the previous two seasons played in the opener. Last season, the Saints and Packers opened up the 2011 season.

The Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles, and Saints are the other attractive match-ups on the Giants upcoming schedule. The full schedule will be released in mid-April.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New York Jets give Bart Scott permission to seek trade

With free agency set to kick off in less than two weeks, the New York Jets are getting set to make some major changes to their damaged locker room. The team already restructured the contract of left tackle D'Brickshaw Ferguson, freeing up about $7 million on this year's cap.

Now, the franchise could be looking to deal unproductive linebacker Bart Scott. Scott, who is better known for his bark than his bite,  has been a colossal failure with the Jets. He has been at the front lines of Rex Ryan's boastful talk and predictions, but he has never played well during his three years with the team. With three years remaining on a six year $48 million contract, the Jets want to move that deal to someone else.

Scott is due $4.2 million with a $250,000 workout bonus. If the Jets move that contract, they would have freed up $11 million before free agency.

Why is this so interesting? The answer is the Jets have a lot of needs this year. They desperately need an outside pass rusher, and two guys, Robert Mathis, free agent with the Colts, and Mario Williams, free agent with the Texans, are available, and seeking big contracts.

The Jets could also be getting ready to make a move at quarterback. With lingering doubts from the front office on down to the locker room about mediocre Mark Sanchez, the Jets could suddenly be in the market for Peyton Manning if he became a free agent.

Rex Ryan didn't knock down the idea that Manning could be a Jet at last week's combine, saying that the Jets would look to improve every position, including quarterback, even though he wants Sanchez to be the Jets starter. If the Jets somehow landed Manning, they would have to find a taker for Sanchez's two year contract with $16 million owed to him through 2013.

Sanchez has shown little improvement in his three years as a starter, and many wonder if he will ever be a good quarterback, let alone a franchise quarterback. 

The likelihood that the Jets would go down that road is slim to none, considering the team failed miserably when they traded for Brett Favre back in 2008. Granted Ryan wasn't the coach then, but GM Mike Tannenbaum WAS the club's GM at that time, so he probably doesn't want to go 0-for-2 on aging Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Open MIke 02-24-12 Knicks vs. Heat, Spring Training preview

In the first hour of the Open Mike program of February 24, 2012, Michael discusses the fallout from the Knicks 102-88 loss to the Miami Heat since everyone appears to be jumping off the Jeremy Lin bandwagon. Is the panic justified, or are typical New Yorkers, who expect way too much from a young player, over-reacting?
Michael then welcomes Mike Sanfilippo of the Triple Coverage show to get his take on Linsanity, and to discuss the Ryan Braun steroid scandal.

In hour two of the Open Mike program, host Michael Cohen and guest Mike Sanfilippo take a look at Mets and Yankees spring training. Can the Yankees find a reliable number five starter? Are the Mets as bad as everyone fears? The boys debate, and make some bold MLB predictions.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

LeBron-a-mania & Heat shut down Linsanity

HEAT 102
KNICKS 88

For the past two weeks the Knicks have stood up to the challenge of playing the big teams with solid performances from Jeremy Lin and the Knicks' bench. Victories over Dallas and Los Angeles helped make "Linsanity" a reality for the Knicks, but on Thursday night, New York ran into a buzz-saw in the Miami Heat, who are arguably the best team in the NBA.

Lin had his worst game of the season: eight points and seven turnovers. He was 1-for-11 from the floor, and his back-up, Baron Davis, was no better, going 0-for-7. Lin was double and triple teamed all night long as the Heat threw a combination of Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers to guard the flustered the young point guard in Miami's 102-88 victory.

The Knicks did the best they could to stay competitive in this game. To ask a team that has had so many moving pieces like the Knicks to win THIS game against THIS team on the road, on a back-to-back was asking a lot.

New York did grab a 25-24 lead on a Steve Novak three pointer, and regained that lead 28-26 on Novak's second three of the day. A Jared Jeffries layup to make it 32-28 was the last time New York was out in front in this game.

While Lin struggled, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony played very well, especially in the first half. Stoudemire contributed 11 of his 13 points in the first half, while Anthony had nine of team leading 19 points in the first half. Anthony hit the opening jump shot to start the game. Hit a three pointer to give the Knicks a brief lead and nailed a buzzer beater jumper to cut the Knicks deficit to four.

However, the Heat proved to be too much for the Knicks, as the Big Three of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were all over the Knicks. They blocked shots, forced turnovers, and scored at will. Wade and his 22 points, and Bosh with 25 points, were the leaders in the clubhouse for Miami.

The Knicks head into the break under .500 at 17-18. After a rocky first half, and an incredible month of February, the Knicks are still treading water. While the loss to Miami is not at all surprising, the fact that this team has losses against the Nets and Hornets this year is appalling. The Knicks need to develop some cohesion among everyone on this team.

The Knicks welcomed Stoudemire, Anthony and Davis back to the lineup for the first time in weeks, and they will be expecting Iman Shumpert and Bill Walker back soon too. The Knicks have to get on the same page with every player on this team if they hope to be taken seriously down the stretch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Knicks get much needed win vs. Atlanta

KNICKS 99
HAWKS 82

Less than 24 hours before they play another big game against another big NBA team when they travel to Miami to play the Heat, the Knicks got a much needed blowout victory over a solid Atlanta Hawks team. Granted, the Knicks caught a bit of a break when Hawks' superstar Joe Johnson missed the game with an injury; nonetheless, the victory was huge for several reasons.

1) The Knicks pulled back to .500, and
2) pulled ahead of Boston in the playoff standings, who lost to Oklahmona City 119-104.
3) With Philadelphia struggling in Houston, the Knicks have a shot to trim their deficit in the Atlantic division to three games.

While the chemistry between Jeremy Lin, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire is still a work in progress, the Knicks had a solid team performance against a potential playoff opponent.

New York jumped out early: a Landry Field opening jumper, followed by Lin's layup and Field driving layup with the foul helped the Knicks build an early 7-2 lead. Later with the score tied at 16, it was Anthony who finally made his presence felt when he nailed a basket to give New York an 18-16 lead, a lead they would never again relinquish.

The Knicks went on a 14-0 run after that Anthony basket, including four points from Jeremy Lin, a couple of free throws from J.R. Smith and a three pointer from Steve Novak to give New York a 30-16 lead after one quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. Anthony's two pointer with an assist by Lin was followed by a 25 foot jump shot by Lin and a driving layup by Stoudemire to push the Knicks lead to 45-27. Landry Fields would add a three pointer of his own, before Lin contributed another layup and two more free throws as New York led 58-31.

Overall Lin was solid yet again. The rookie point guard contributed 17 points and nine assists. He is morphing into a very consistent point guard who can put up a double-double on any given night. As for Anthony, his second game back, was much better. He contributed 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

But more importantly was the play of the Knicks bench. Reduced to few opportunities and plenty of missed shots in Monday's inexplicable loss to the Nets, the Knicks bench stepped up big this time. Fields had 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Steve Novak was once again clutch from around the arch, hitting five three points for 17 points. J.R. Smith added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Now the Knicks head to Miami for a showdown with LeBron James and the Heat. The Knicks have stood tall against greater competition this year. Beating the Lakers, Mavs and Hawks at home, have been incredible feats. Now they have to prove it on the road in a hostile environment. Once again it's a tall order, but so far the Knicks have been up to the challenge in the Lin era.

Magic slap Nets back to reality

MAGIC 106
NETS 86

Two days after Deron Williams' inspirational performance against the New York Knicks, the Nets laid an egg against the Magic in Newark, as Orlando jumped up early on New Jersey and never looked back, at one point building a 34-17 first quarter lead thanks to six points from Dwight Howard, and two long jump shots from Glen Davis, en route to a 106-86 victory.

Williams who dominated the Knicks on Monday, had a fairly quiet night against Orlando. Managing only 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting; the fact that Orlando was up so quickly made any impact by Williams virtually null and void.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Nets offense continues to struggle. The Nets managed only 46 percent from the floor and a hideous 37 percent from three point land. What was most glaring about the loss was the absence of forward Kris Humphries, who was nursing a strained calf. His inside defensive presence was key to their victory on Monday; without him, Dwight Howard and company had a easy night inside the paint.

Orlando built their lead up to 20, a lead that would prove to be insurmountable when Davis connected on a four foot jumper and a layup to give the Magic a 47-27 lead in the second quarter. 

Former Duke star J.J. Redick added a three pointer of his own at the start of second half to make it 61-41, which served as a virtual exclamation point on the night for Orlando.

So much for the Nets hot streak. New Jersey fell back to 10-25 on the season, as their depleated roster continues to put together stinker after stinker.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Deron Williams is a One Man Knicks Wrecking Crew

NETS 100
KNICKS 92

For the past two weeks the New Jersey Nets have had to listen to all the Linsanity. Whether it be newspapers, blogs, or talk radio, the Nets have heard it all: how the Knicks were a better team because of Jeremy Lin, who broke onto the scene in a game against the Nets on February 4.

To their credit the Nets backed up their bravado. They talked about how confident they were coming into their recent clash with the Knicks, they talked about how big this N.Y. /N.J. rivalry was to them, and they came out and spanked the Knicks 100-92, thanks in large part to a dominating effort by Deron Williams, who scored 38 points.

What makes this loss so embarrassing for the Knicks is not only did they lose to a Nets team that was 9-24 coming into the game, but they lost to a Nets team that is devoid of any talent, and, minus Williams, scored only 62 points in the game and shot only 35 percent from the floor.

The Knicks never had an answer for Williams, who connected on eight three pointers, including three in a row to blow the game wide open in the third quarter, taking hold at 75-59 with 2:43 left in the period.

As for the Knicks offense, they never got on track. Carmelo Anthony's first appearance in the now Jeremy Lin led offense, was a complete meltdown. He didn't get on the same page with Lin, as Anthony still tried to be the hero taking every shot he thought he saw but missing badly most of the time. With Anthony back in the line-up and Baron Davis coming off the bench, it actually hurt the Knicks offense since Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries and J.R. Smith were seldom used in the meltdown.

For the Nets, this was the biggest win of their season. They have become a forgotten story thus far this season with their poor play and depleted roster. The only news the Nets made before this game were pre-season rumors about acquiring Dwight Howard, and that's it! The Nets have been pathetic all season. They jumped on the back of Williams, and he carried them home, something that he has not done since becoming a Net last winter.

It was the game of his life, and in a town dominated by Linsanity, Deron Williams made sure to let everyone know that he is one of the best point guards in the sport as well.

For the Knicks this was a huge lose.

With the Boston Celtics dropping a decision to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, New York needed a win to jump over Boston in the standings. Plus, Philadelphia has been falling apart, so a Knicks win would have put New York 3.5 games out of first.

 Instead they are still under .500 and remain 4.5 games out of first. If the Knicks have any plans of winning this division, they had to win a game like this against a bad basketball team. The result was embarrassing, and it will only get tougher when they face the Hawks on Wednesday and the Heat on Thursday night.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Lin-credible Victory for Knicks

KNICKS 104
MAVERICKS 97

For the second time since the Jeremy Lin run began two weeks ago, the New York Knicks TKO'd a top NBA opponent. Last week it was the Lakers on a Friday night; this time the victim was the World Champion Dallas Mavericks.

A game that had plenty of build-up thanks to the recent "Linsanity" that has swept the Tri-State area, the confrontation did not disappoint, as Lin, along with newcomer J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, highlighted the Knicks 104-97 victory over Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs. Box score.

The unique match-up of the day was Lin versus Jason Kidd. Kidd, the former New Jersey Net who knows something about turning around basketball teams in the New York/New Jersey market, was pitted against this recent sensation who revitalized the Knicks; hence, the two point guards traded blows and counter blows in controlling the tempo of the game.

It was the Knicks, however, who got out to the fast start, opening up with a 30-18 first quarter lead thanks to a 17-0 run that was keyed by two three pointers by J.R. Smith, who had just gotten off the bus to join the Knicks on Sunday. Lin then added a three pointer of his own to give the Knicks a 12 point advantage.

Soon, NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki made his presence felt. Whether it was underneath the glass, or taking passes from Jason Kidd, Nowitzki slammed home every shot he made in the second and third quarters.

Nowitzki's eight foot jumper to open the second half cut the Knicks lead to one, 48-47. Then, it was Kidd who took over and delivered a huge third quarter. His three pointer in the corner gave Dallas a 54-53 lead. Later, Kidd kicked it out to Nowitzki who connected on a three pointer and a foul to give Dallas a 58-53 lead.

Kidd would get another assist on a Nowitzki three pointer when he found him wide open just outside the arch to increase the Mav's lead to 63-55. Kidd would put an exclamation point on his third quarter performance, connecting on another three pointer, giving Dallas an 11-point advantage.

But the Knicks would find a way to come back, thanks to the fact that Kidd was taken out of the game for a breather, and the Knicks enjoyed a resurgence. Lin's layup with 2:49 to go in the third quarter got things going for New York's stagnant offense. J.R. Smith sank a 25 foot jump shot to cut the deficit to seven before Jared Jeffries hit a three pointer to make it a five point game. On the Dallas in-bound, Lin snuck up and stole the ball from Lamar Odom and took it to the house, making it 75-72.

In the fourth quarter, the game turned into the Steve Novak show. Novak connected on four three pointers, twice giving the Knicks the lead at 77-75 and 81-80, and another one to blow it open at 84-80.  With 7:28 to go, Novak hit his fourth three-pointer to make it 87-81, before Lin sank a three pointer of his own to give the Knicks a 90-81 lead, leaving Madison Square Garden in bedlam. 

The Mavs never got back on the same page. Nowitzki started to miss his shots, and Kidd was rarely used in the fourth quarter, as New York held on to a five point lead while the clock ticked down to the final seconds.

Just an example of how frustrated Nowitzki grew toward the end of the game: he was stripped of the ball by Lin, who threw it up to a wide open Tyson Chandler for the exclamation point, 104-97. What was strange about the play is that after Nowitzki was stripped, the entire Dallas defense stopped and didn't even chase after Chandler! They assumed Lin fouled, but they had assumed wrong, and the Knicks walked off with another mega-upset.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yankees agree to send A.J. Burnett to Pirates

As has been rumored for well over a week, the New York Yankees are ready to rid themselves of mediocre pitcher A.J. Burnett. The Bombers agreed to trade Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday for right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

The deal is pending approval from MLB which needs to make sure that the exchange of money is fair and complete. Burnett signed a ridiculous $60 million deal with the Yankees back in 2009 and has $31 remaining on his contract. The Pirates are expected to pay only $13 million of that contract, according to ESPN.

With Burnett out of town, the Yankees rotation will almost certainly look like this: CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Koroda and Freddy Garcia, with Phil Hughes returning to the bullpen as a long reliever.

When the Yankees acquired Pineda in a trade with Seattle and signed Koroda, it made Burnett expendable. The Yankees grew tired of watching Burnett flounder during his three seasons with New York. He was a guy who had good stuff, but he never developed the mechanics to become a consistently effective pitcher, and he went 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA.

Garrett Jones was originally rumored to be a part of the deal, but the Pirates apparently pulled him off the table. This means the Yankees will now look to sign former Phillies slugger Raul Ibanez to be the team's power bat off the bench, and occasional DH.

For the Pirates, acquiring Burnett gives them a legitimate starting pitcher with post season experience. The NL Central will be considerably weaker this year with Albert Puljos leaving the Cardinals, Prince Fielder leaving the Brewers, and Ryan Braun facing a 50 game suspension with the Brew Crew as well. The Pirates were in the mix at the All Star break last year, and they might believe this is their chance to make a move.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Open Mike 02-17-12, Linsanity and Remembering Gary Carter

In part I of the Open Mike program from Friday, February 17, I analyze the Jeremy Lin phonomenon that has taken New York by storm. Is Linsantiy for real, and can it continue? I welcome in Triple Coverage co-host Dan Fuerestien to find out if he is ... All Lin.

The fellas then welcome in Warning Track co-host Korbid Thompson to get his thoughts on the passing of Mets great Gary Carter, who died Thursday from brain cancer. Should the Mets retire his number 8 jersey?

 In hour two of Open Mike from February 17,  a special guest, Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley joins us to talk about his undefeated, 22-0 St. Anthony Friars, who are ranked first in the state and third nationally. Can the Friars repeat as state and national champs? Coach Hurley talks about it. Also, Coach Hurley tells us what he thinks about "Linsanity."

LISTEN to PART I
LISTEN to PART II

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gary Carter 1954 - 2012

Hall of Fame catcher and former Mets great Gary Carter passed away after losing his six month battle with brain cancer. His condition worsened in recent weeks and months, and he was unable to attend several public events near his Florida home.

Carter was 57 years old.

He spent most of his career as the catcher of the Montreal Expos before coming to the Mets in 1985 and became a key piece to the Mets turnaround in the late '80s. Carter capped off his great career with a World Series title in 1986 with the Mets.

No word about what the Mets plan to do to honor his memory.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lin-Senational! How Jeremy Lin has changed the Knicks and the NBA

Nearly two weeks ago on Friday, February 3, the New York Knicks lost their 15th ball game.

A two point loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics was in some weird way an improvement for a team that had shown almost no ability to score on a consistent basis, let alone play a credible defense; New York stood at an abysmal 8-15. Things got so bad for the Knicks, they found themselves in a battle with the other underachieving New York/New Jersey basketball franchise, the Nets, for the booby prize of the Atlantic Division.

The Knicks entered the 2011-2012 season with high hopes. Coming off their best season in years and fueled by the signing of Amar’e Stoudemire and the mid-season acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks qualified for the playoffs at 42-40, but, more importantly, had rid themselves of the stench of ten horrific years in PR and salary cap hell thanks to the buffoonery of owner James Dolan and his accomplice, Isiah Thomas.

Nevertheless, to assert that the Knicks would be all the way back would be a gross overstatement. Being a .500 team in New York is not good enough; subsequently, when the Knicks got off to a horrendous start with Stoudemire struggling and Anthony playing the role of the “ball-hog,” the Knicks looked like dead team walking. It would be only a matter of time before Mike D’Antoni paid for the debacle with his job.

Then "Lin" happened.

By now everyone knows the story of Jeremy Lin; to say his feats of late have been nothing but miraculous qualifies as the understatement of the year. But, more important, Lin affected the NBA in a way that no player in the post-1999 lock-out years has (yes, I reach back that far) to snatch fan and media attention away from the NFL and MLB.

In a year where the NBA returned from another nuclear winter, Lin has made fans forget the bitter lockout that almost canceled the season. He has brought fans back to the game faster than anyone could have imagined, and faster than Tim Duncan and the Spurs, and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers did back in 1999 after that lockout.

Everything that NBA Commissioner David Stern wants the NBA to become, Jeremy Lin has magically performed in about a week and a half!

He is more than just a basketball player, and more than the latest hero for the Knicks; Lin has become the cultural and global icon that the league has craved for years.  Granted, Lin is a born and raised American, having grown up in California, but his Taiwanese descent makes Lin a marketable face for the league overseas, and what better town to represent that than New York City, the melting pot of the world!

Just check out Lin’s jersey sales. The Knicks website says that Lin jerseys are sold out and won’t be available again until the end of April! NBA.com says that Lin jerseys won’t become available again for another two to three weeks, and forget looking at Modell’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods because those sites proclaim: Sold Out, as well.

In all my years watching professional sports, I have never seen one player become this big, this fast. When Ichiro Suzuki came to the States to play for the Seattle Mariners, his jerseys never sold out the way Lin’s has. Derek Jeter’s jerseys never sold out like this when he made it big in the late 90′s, nor did Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr, or Albert Puljos.  While people came to the ball park in droves to see these great players play, the home crowd never cheered for the visiting super star the way people seem to do for Lin. Just look at Lin’s three pointer in Toronto when the entire Raptors crowd cheered on the Knicks star.

Lin’s vast popularity in NBA circles is even trumping that of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. While both Bryant and James are two of the most successful players in the league, they are not the most popular. Many dislike Bryant for his perceived arrogance, ball-hawking style, and his poor relationships with the humble Shaquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson.

James could have become the next Michael Jordan if he hadn't taken the money and run to Miami last year.

James was the only current NBA superstar, who experienced the kind of wide fanfare that Lin is experiencing now. James was credited with resurrecting a dead Cleveland Cavaliers franchise, was known as a good teammate, and was admired due to his dynamic style of play at a young age which made even the most experienced NBA players look bad by comparison. Remember how James was cheered at the Garden whenever the Cavs came to town? Now those days are gone and James is looked upon as a typical, greedy individual who cared more about money than creating a Jordan-like legacy in Cleveland.

Some have even compared Lin’s national and international popularity to the “Tebow Time” sensation that swept the football world this past NFL season. Tim Tebow’s fan base has grown for several reasons. One: he has beat the odds, much like Lin, winning ball games even though he lacks prototypical quarterback skills. Two: the religious right has grown to love Tebow for his devote Catholic  persona as he wears his religion on his sleeve from “Tebowing” to thanking his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” before every interview.

Yet, the real reason Tebow has become a cult figure has to do, in part, with his loud and vocal detractors. There are lots of people who hate Tebow for his far-Right stance on religion and social issues. People usually do the “Tebow” as a way to mock the quarterback for his religious beliefs. People also hate the fact that a quarterback, who completes only 40 percent of his passes has been so successful so far in his career.

As far as one can tell, Lin doesn’t have those same detractors, at least they are not as pronounced.
Lin is global. His humble, down to earth personality, and his surprising ascent as the leader of the Knicks has taken every fan by storm. While many have been wondering how much longer Linsanity can continue, the young star continues to impress. Even when he was playing some of his worst basketball against the Raptors, Lin still managed to post 27 points and proved to be the deciding factor in the Knicks victory.  First time it might have been ascribed to luck, but by now people have to accept the phenomenon as real. Lin IS this good.

He has rescued a franchise that has been dormant for well over a decade, a franchise that once thought Stoudemire and Anthony would be the faces of the franchise; the image of Lin pumping his fist after a big basket that has become the new face of the Knicks franchise. And why not? The Knicks fan who has suffered through so much deserves it, even if it feels like 15 minutes of fame.

Will Lin always make the big shot? No.

With 37 games remaining, it’s not reasonable to think the Knicks will be unbeatable for the rest of the year. They will lose their share of games, and Lin will miss a open shot here and there. Keep in mind, he’s only 23 years old, and he’s still learning how to run an NBA offense; furthermore, he still needs to learn how to kick the ball out to open men, instead of driving to the rim.

But, if the kid can master his relationships with both Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and the Knicks finish 25-12 down the stretch to get into a competitive playoff series with the Heat or Bulls, then a playoff berth is not out of the question. Who knows? If the Knicks do get into the brackets, maybe Mr. Lin will have another trick or two up his sleeve.

Let Linsanity Live!

Linsanity strikes again! Lin's late heroics rescue Knicks

KNICKS 90
RAPTORS 87

Jeremy Lin mania took another dramatic turn Tuesday night. With the Knicks trailing for pretty much the entire game, and with Lin struggling both offensively and in his adjustments to playing with power forward Amar'e Stoudemire, the kid from Harvard still found a way to stick the dagger through the hearts of the Raptors and their fans with a last second three-pointer to send Knicks fans into hysteria.

After New York had trimmed the Raptors' lead to two points, 78-76 with 6:52 remaining in the game, Toronto went on a furious 8-3 run led by two baskets by Leonard Barbosa. The Knicks were tripping all over themselves at this point as Lin missed a couple free throws, and Tyson Chandler missed a pair of foul shots, preventing the Knicks from getting closer.

It appeared all was lost until a Landry Fields two pointer, off a rebound, and a Stoudemire jump shot cut the deficit to four points, 86-82, with 2:39 remaining. Now the Knicks showed some semblance of life, but they needed to play defense. The Knicks forced a Toronto turnover and converted it into points on a long range two pointer by Iman Shumpert, making it a one possession game, 87-84.

After Chandler blocked a Toronto shot, Lin drove through the lane and nailed the basket, getting fouled hard to the floor. Lin, who had struggled from the free throw line all night, hit the the foul shot to tie the game at 87.

With time ticking down, Leonard Barbosa missed a 26 foot jumper for the Raptors that would have sealed the deal, and the Knicks pounced on the ball. Shumpert's attempted shot was wide, but Chandler lept into the air and kicked it out to Lin, who held it for the final shot. He directed the offense to back up to the net as the clock ticked down to 8,7,6,5. Then the underdog took his shot - a three pointer; the shot sank right through the hoop for the victory with 0:00.5 left on the clock.

Even though the Knicks were on the road, the entire stadium broke into cheers since Lin had delivered yet another improbable victory. Box score.  The Knicks have now won six in a row, and head home for a five game home stand that starts Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jeremy Lin leads Knicks past Lakers

KNICKS 92
LAKERS 85

Who is Jeremy Lin, you ask? He is the new sensation that has swept and won the hearts and minds of New York Knicks fans in a New York minute. A Taiwanese American, born and raised in California, who was largely ignored by the big California schools, UCLA, Cal, and Stanford, and who came to Harvard and shaped a incredible career at the Massachusetts-based university.

Lin then went undrafted in 2010 and bounced around the League from Dallas to Golden State and then, finally, the New York Knickerbockers. Nobody knew what to expect from Lin as recently as last week! He was picked up by the Knicks two days after Christmas and was called up after Amare Stoudemire went down with an injury. Then, Carmelo Anthony went down with an injury in Monday's game against the Jazz, and the rest even now is writing itself.

Lin has taken an underachieving basketball team and given them hope. He has gifted them not only the point guard they desperately needed, but, apparently, the leader they needed as well. Lin's heroics were on full display the past three games, leading the Knicks in scoring in victories over the Nets, Jazz and Wizards.

Then came the confrontation Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers led by superstar Kobe Bryant. If Lin and the Knicks shrank under the pressure, nobody would have been that surprised; it was the biggest stage this team had been on all season.

But, the kid didn't disappoint; in fact, he led. Lin's 10 points in the opening quarter to spark the Knicks to a quick 13-4 lead proved to be the big difference for the night. After Lin's fast start, the Knicks never trailed again in this contest.

When the Knicks needed Lin to make a big play, he was there, whether it was his spin drive under the hoop and dish under the basket to extend the Knicks lead, or answering Kobe Bryant on multiple occasions, such as his deadly three-pointer in the corner to give the Knicks an 84-76 lead. Lin was there.

And it wasn't only Lin making big plays for New York. After Bryant connected on a layup and two free throws, and Jason Kapano nailed a three pointer to bring the Lakers to within three points, 70-67, it was Iman Shumpert who came to the Knicks rescue. Shumpert connected on a 21 foot jumper and scored on a drive through the lane to increase the Knicks lead back to seven.

Then the game turned into a battle royal between Bryant and Lin. Whenever Bryant scored, Lin answered. First Bryant hit a basket to cut the Knicks lead to eight, 79-71. Lin answered with a 23 foot jump shot to increase it back to ten; minutes later, Lin brought the house down with that killer three pointer. Box score.

Lin played the game of his young lifetime. He scored 38 points and carried the Knicks to victory over one of the NBA's best teams. Sure the Lakers struggled offensively; they only shot 37 percent from the floor, but the effort this kid displayed at the Garden on a Friday night when all of the attention was on his 23-year old shoulders, was incredible. He delivered big time.

Lin added four more points down the stretch to give New York a 90-82 lead with 0:52 to play.

Something has to be said about this kid's leadership because since he has arrived, the Knicks have played much better defense, going after the basketball like a mad pack of wolves; there is a fresh sense of comradeship that was not on the Knicks earlier this year.

Lin has even displayed the ability to orchestrate this offense. He is not afraid to dish it out to the likes of Landry Fields, Shumpert, Tyson Chandler and Bill Walker. Consequently, everyone was contributing on a high level for the Knicks.

It will be very interesting to see how much better Lin gets when Stoudemire and Anthony return to the lineup, and if that duo allows Lin to lead the offense the way he has the past four games.

Fact is, the Knicks are better today with Lin, then when they were without him just a week ago.

Jeremy Lin mania is alive and well in New York City.

Open Mike 02-10-12, Super Bowl XLVI recap

On this edition of the Open Mike show, host Michael Cohen breaks down the results from Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, and answers some questions about the legacies of both Eli Manning and Tom Brady, as a result of this super match-up.

Michael is joined by Karen Vankat to go over the Bowl game, and look ahead to the baseball season for both the Yankees and Mets. Michael also discusses the new phenomenon that has hit New York in the form of Jeremy Lin. Is Mr. Lin the real deal for the Knicks?

Listen to Part I
Listen to Part II

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Giants Honored with Gigantic Parade

Two days after they beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years, New York City was decked out in red, white and blue, mostly blue, when the Giants were welcomed home in a ceremony down the Canyon of Heroes, as well as a hour-long City Hall presentation hosted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Giants great Michael Strahan.

Eli Manning received the biggest cheers as he carried the Super Bowl trophy on the Giants float. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck held the George Halas trophy during the ride.

Fans came out in droves to support Big Blue, and whenever a Giants fan was put on camera, they made sure to take pot shots at the Jets, the other New York team who guaranteed last Augusr that they would be celebrating on this day.

John Mara ironically called Giants fans the "most loyal fans in the world;" just goes to show that winning does heal all wounds because Giants fans were calling for everyone to be fired as recently as week 17.

Regardless, the Giants are World Champions and deservedly so. 

Here is a link to the photos from the parade.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Giants win Super Bowl XLVI

Eli Manning celebrates another title.
GIANTS 21, PATRIOTS 17 

Now the Giants PR staff can post "Giants: Super Bowl Champions" on the Giants website because the New York Giants are NFL world champions for the second time in five years.

Once again Eli Manning drove the Giants down field in the final minutes, and, once again, Tom Brady came up small in the final seconds as the Giants beat the Patriots 21-17. While this game was not a classic nor as dramatic as Super Bowl XLII, it was still an incredible victory for Big Blue.

As for the Patriots, they will regret one big play. With New England facing a 2nd and 11 at the Giants 44, Brady had Wes Welker wide open for a first down at the Giants 20, but the usually sure-handed receiver dropped the pass, forcing a third down. Brady then, threw another incompletion on third down, forcing New England to punt.

At that point, Manning took full control. In the building that his brother Peyton built, Eli Manning proved that he is indeed one of the elite quarterbacks in this league. On first and ten at the Giants own 12 yard line, Manning rolled to his left and found Mario Manningham streaking down the sideline, heavily covered by two corners. Manningham made the catch down the sideline, keeping both feet in bounds for the first down near midfield.

Later, Manning him Manningham again, this time for 16 yards; then he found Hakeem Nicks for 14 more at the Patriots 18. With the clock ticking down, the Patriots decided to let the Giants score, as Ahmad Bradshaw went backwards into the end zone for the score to give Big Blue a 21-17 lead.

The strategy for New England was very similar to that of the Green Bay Packers back in Super Bowl XXXII, allow your opponent to score and thereby give yourself time to come back and score. Only problem was the Patriots forgot that the Packers lost a game with that strategy. Brady had Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez open, but they all dropped passes before Brady was sacked, forcing a fourth down. Brady completed his next pass to Branch for a first down, but after that, time was running out on New England. Three straight incompletions, including a desperation throw into the end zone cost the Patriots any hope of victory, and the Giants held on to win.

Tom Brady walks off in defeat, again.
The Giants they opened this game very fast, grabbing a 9-0 lead thanks to a weird safety call on intentional grounding, and a Manning touchdown to Victor Cruz. While the Giants offense went into a virtual funk for a better part of the game, managing only two field goals, the Giants defense did a fine job keeping the game within reach at 17-15.

The Giants defense sacked Brady twice; they never allowed the quarterback to make big plays to his tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Even Branch, Ochocinco and Welker had quiet days for the Patriots. On the verso, while it wasn't the kind of performance we have seen from the Giants in their previous Super Bowl against this Patriots team, it was still a solid effort by this unit.

The win now changes the legacies of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. Much maligned by Giants fans who booed and heckled both throughout their careers in New York, they now sport two Super Bowl rings on their resumes. Coughlin, you can now argue, is a Hall of Fame coach; he created a solid team in Jacksonville, and led the Giants to two miraculous Super Bowl runs.

As for Manning, he is only getting better. He was very solid for the Giants, completing 75 percent of his passes for 296 yards. He was deadly accurate with his throws, threading the needle throughout the game, and he was completely poised. While he may not have the numbers his brother does, he has one more Super Bowl ring than Peyton, and one can argue he is one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks in football today.

Giants fans who have called for the heads of both of these men, need to keep their mouths shut and thank them for bringing them two Super Bowl titles.

So now all the die-hard Giants fans, and bandwagon hoppers, can jump in the streets as the Giants are World Champions. The parade will be Tuesday in New York City.

Giants' Chris Canty predicts Giants win hours before kickoff

The Giants are really enjoying sticking their own foot in their mouths this week, hey what?

Chris Canty deemed it appropiate to post on his Twitter account that the Giants would win Super Bowl XLVI by a score of 28-17! That's right, he included a score!!  And the prediction came five hours before kickoff.

What in the name of Rex-Ryan-guarantees is going on here? The Giants are setting themselves up for disaster. They slammed the Jets all week last week for helping them get to this very point, then started Super Bowl week by poking fun at Tom Brady and the Patriots. Then, on Saturday, the Giants posted a collage on their website declaring the team world champions, and now this.

The Giants, that like the consider themselves a classy organization, are looking classless with each passing hour leading up to this Super Bowl game.

If the Patriots don't need extra motivation, they are certainly getting it. Take the Giants own arrogance + the fact that everyone is picking the Giants could = equal a Patriots victory. Remember no one is better at getting his team revved up as the underdog than Bill Belichick. The Giants may be asking for big trouble.

Giants website prematurely publishes Super Bowl Champions page

Remember four years ago when the New England Patriots mistakenly handed out T-shirts that read 19-0?

Umm, well, it's happening again, and this time, it's the Giants who are making the big booboo! The New York Giants published on their website a collage titled "The Giants are Super Bowl Champions," with Super Bowl XLVI championship gear and the trophy in tow.

Now unless, the Giants got into a time machine and fast forwarded to Monday morning, this was a really dumb mistake by Big Blue.

Do the Patriots need any extra motivation? Well, now they have it.

The image was removed from the Giants site, but guess what? Everyone knows about it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Curtis Martin heading to Hall of Fame, Bill Parcells misses out

In what has to amount to a drastically different Hall of Fame class than what many expected, the NFL announced a pretty shocking list of members for pro football's highest honor.

Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, and Curtis Martin will all make the Hall of Fame this year. A list that focuses mostly on offensive and defensive lineman, with the exception of Martin who was a running back with the Jets and Patriots.

It's a rather shocking list due to the fact that Giants/Jets/Patriots head coach Bill Parcells was left out of the Hall of Fame final selections. Here is a coach who resurrected three different franchises and established a group of coaches who had worked under him that are now currently successful head coaches in the NFL. Parcells should have been elected to the Hall of Fame, but the vote continues a pattern established by the NFL of not electing two-time Super Bowl winning coaches for this honor.

Andre Reed, Chris Carter and Tim Brown, all terrific wide receivers, were also held out of the Hall of Fame, as well as Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

As for Curtis Martin, his induction is a bit surprising since he was not exactly the best back of his era, and he was a notorious compiler throughout his career; one can make the argument that Bettis was a better running back than he. Yet, the voters were swung by Martin's numbers since he ranks fourth in the NFL in total rushing yards.

So while Giants fans might be disappointed that Parcells will not get in, Jets fans can take some solace that Martin will make it, making him only the third Jet to enter Canton.  While Parcells may not be enshrined in the NFL's Hall of Fame, chances are he will introduce Martin into the Hall. Martin and Parcells were close during their time in New England and New York, and in some respects, Martin considered Parcells a father figure.

In 1998, when Martin was a free agent with the Patriots, Parcells brought him to the Jets to help turn around that franchise. The Jets went 12-4 in '98, their best team, arguably, ever during the regular season. Martin spent seven years with the Jets, retiring in 2005; he led the league in rushing at the age of 31 in 2004 when he out-gained Shaun Alexander by one year.  Martin had 10 years of 1,000 yards or more during his 11-year career, becoming one of the most consistent backs in NFL history.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Peyton Manning cleared to return to field

The ball is now in the Jim Irsay's court to make his move.

Earlier this week a story surfaced that Peyton Manning would likely retire because the nerves that extend from his neck to his shoulder and arm have not cooled and healed as expected and, in turn, would truncate his velocity if he should play again.

However, on Thursday night news broke that Manning has been cleared to rehab and play football by two doctors, including Dr. Robert Watkins who performed Manning's neck surgery in December.

Watkins said that Manning's neck fusion surgery had achieved firm fixation, and the four time MVP should begin an aggressive rehab program in time to return to the field next year.

Now the questions will abound about where Manning will play next season. The Colts seem intent on moving past Manning and drafting Stanford's Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in April's draft. Before that happens, the Colts have to either pay Manning his $28 million signing bonus in March, or release him from his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Numerous teams from the Redskins, Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers, Dolphins, and Jets are all be rumored to be interested in Manning.

On the Jets part, owner Woody Johnson has never TKO'd the notion that Manning would be in green and white next year, and rumors have swirled that the Jets are ready to pursue him. Even players in the Jets locker room have expressed their desire, albeit anonymously, to have Manning on the team next year. Heck, even Jets hall of fame running back Curtis Martin endorsed the idea of having Peyton Manning in the Big Apple.

For that to happen, the Jets would have to likely outbid the Redskins, Dolphins and Cardinals who are thought to be the most aggressive pursuers of Manning. The Redskins and Dolphins have deep pockets, but the Cardinals at least offer Manning a better chance to win coming out of the dreadful NFC West.

In addition, the Jets are paying Mark Sanchez $16 million over the next two years which could prevent Gang Green from making any move. So, stay tuned...

Plaxico Burress slams Mark Sanchez and Jets

I thought Super Bowl week was supposed to be all about the Giants and Patriots?

Well, not really.

Other than the obvious fact that both Big Blue and New England started their winning streaks with victories against the Jets, and the fact that both teams have publicly ripped the Jets over the course of the past two weeks with Logan Mankins of the Patriots calling the Jets "full of hot air," it has not been a good week for Gang Green. Not only are they getting ripped to pieces publicly, but they have to watch their two hated rivals go at in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. Ouch.

This is what happens when coach Rex Ryan guarantees a Super Bowl trip only to come up snake eyes as Gang Green tanked at 8-8 this year.

Apparently receiver Plaxico Burress takes little solace in the fact that the Jets season crashed and burned. The former Giants Super Bowl star took some of his free time in Indianapolis this week to also rip into the Jets and Mark Sanchez.

When asked about what he thought of Mark Sanchez as a player and leader, the lanky receiver offered this wisdom: "Mark Sanchez is what Mark Sanchez is." Ouch. Talk about getting thrown under the bus. Burress, like a lot of people inside the Jets locker room, has next to no respect and admiration for Sanchez. As most know, several Jets players said Sanchez was not developing as fast as they would have liked, and that it was time for the organization to move on.

For those who like to compare Eli Manning's early struggles to Sanchez, keep this in mind: Burress never once threw Eli under the bus during his time there, the way he did Sanchez. Maybe this means that Burress understands how mediocre Sanchez really is.

When pressed about what he thought of how the Jets used him this season, Burress responded, "They used me the way they wanted to use me," which, if you were paying attention to any Jets games this season, Burress was used sparingly.

Clearly Burress will not be back with the Jets, and who is going to miss him? Nobody, and I am sure the feelings are mutual . While Burress says he has no regrets not returning to the Giants, who are in this Super Bowl, one would have to think that Big Blue's success is killing him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NYNJSports.com is coming soon....

Attention readers of the Cohen's Corner sports blog: I would like to announce that in the near future Cohen's Corner will be making a transition to a brand new proprietary website, http://www.nynjsports.com/.

The site will be an expansion of this blog with richer and more interactive features. In addition to posting links to stories on the day's local sports headlines, game recaps and editorials, I will also begin covering live games and publishing them to the site, with photos and video.

It is my goal to have a sports website that is user friendly, covering the vast area of sports in the New York/New Jersey area, and, eventually, becoming a recognized piece of the sports media landscape.

While Cohen's Corner has enjoyed much success since its inception on June 20, 2008, the new website will be the beginning of even brighter days for our readers. Keep posted to Cohen's Corner Sports for more details in the coming days and weeks; links to the new site will be posted here to start.

Remember to listen to my live radio show on MTR media.com, a great company started by Bill Zeltman in conjunction with Flippin Out Radio and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. We will still broadcast Open Mike, live every Friday at 2 pm. Tune in.

Who knows where in this world of digital media the journey will take us; it is my hope that one day the new website will leave a bigger footprint in the region we love and better serve our listeners and our readers.

-Michael Cohen
CEO/Editor - "Cohen's Corner Sports" & "NYNJSports.com"
Host - "Open Mike" on MTR Media.com

Open Mike 1-27-12; Giants and Patriots Super Bowl preview

On this edition of Open Mike from last Friday, host Michael Cohen welcomes in James Flippin of the Turnpike Throwdown, and Sean Bretherick of Triple Coverage to discuss upcoming Super Bowl XLVI between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

That and the Greg Schiano move to Tampa Bay, and the collapsing Knicks are discussed as well.

Listen here on MTR Media.com!

And be sure to check out the latest Open Mike show, this Friday, February 3 at 2 pm ET on this link, as Michael welcomes in Karen Vankat and Mike Sanfillippo, as they make their Super Bowl XLVI predictions.