Sunday, April 29, 2012

Knicks melt in Miami in game 1

HEAT 100
MIA leads 1-0

Nobody expected the Knicks to win their playoff series against the Miami Heat. The Heat are a perennial powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, that has had NBA Championship expectations for two years now, while the Knicks have been a team with so many transitions and moving pieces, that the match-up wasn't a good thing for New York.

That being said, nobody expected New York to run out of the building like it was a match-up between Duke and some sub-par Division I-AA school. The Heat stampeded over the Knicks, turned Carmelo Anthony into a pumpkin and and made every Knicks offensive possession into a farce.

It's easy to forget that the Knicks were actually winning this game 11-10 at one point. Eventually the power of the Heat proved to be a bit to much to handle, but even with that, the Knicks still trailed by one point 30-29. Then it all fell apart.

A 32-2 run by Miami, highlighted by 12 Knicks fouls on Heat players, and 10 Knicks turnovers, as well as LeBron James going completely nuts on the boards both offensively and defensively buried the Knicks for the entire night.

The fouls by the Knicks became so ridiculous that it seemed like every Knicks possession resulted in either a turnover or a hard foul. Even Tyson Chandler, who was rumored to be sick with the flue was almost ejected from the game for a flagarent foul on James, where he bumped James from behind and LeBron did his best acting job to make it look worse than it really was.

Speaking of LeBronamania he had 14 points and an assist during the 32-2 run, as New York  never had an answer for the former league MVP.

It didn't help matters that any shot the Knicks could get, which was few and far between either banked off the rim or missed the bucket entirely. Carmelo Anthony, who led the team down the strech, was nowhere to be found after a nightmarish 7 point first half, and forget about Amar'e Stoudemire who never arrived at the arena.

To add insult to injury, Knicks back-up shooting guard Iman Shumpert suffered a torn ACL and a lateral meniscus after falling to the court in a heap while bringing the ball up court. He will require surgery and is to miss the next six to eight months. That means the Knicks, who are already the walking wounded won't see Shumpert again until December, one month into the new season, at the latest.

On top of Shumpert's injury, point guard Baron Davis left the first half complaining of back pain, and third string point guard Mike Bibby played the point for much of the second half. The Knicks are already short on point guards with Jeremy Lin out of the season. Without Davis at 100% the Knicsk have to rely on Bibby who hasn't been a true starting point guard in about a decade when he was with Sacramento. In short, it's getting ugly fast.

Granted, nobody expected the Knicks to win this series, but a little bit more fight, would have been better than this.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jets take UNC's Coples with 16th pick

Leave it to the Jets to screw up a draft. It's their MO.

With their VP of college scouting on the way out the door, Joey Clinkscales leaves the Jets with another questionable defensive player from the draft in Quintin Coples.

Coples possesses great size and ability at defensive end; however, there has been plenty of criticism about his work ethic. Some out there think he doesn't have the desire to play consistently at a high level. Sound familiar? Vernon Gholston was a guy with great ability but lacked the motor to play.

The Jets could have, and probably should have, taken Chandler Jones, a highly touted defensive end out of Syracuse, but once the Jets passed on him, leave it to Bill Belichick and the Patriots to nab him. Watch Belichick turn him into a stud defensive player.

The Jets could have also drafted Melvin Ingram, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker who has the versatility to play both positions. He's a dominate player out of South Carolina and heading to the Chargers. In short, looks like another royal screw-up by Gang Green.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Open Mike 04-25-12 Mets lose Pelfrey, Yankees lose Pineda

In the first hour of "Open Mike" from April 25, 2012, host Michael Cohen breaks down the injuries that have afflicted both the Mets and Yankees this past week. The Mets lost Jason Bay to the 15 DL, and Mike Pelfrey for the season with ligament damage to his elbow. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost Michael Pineda for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Were the Yankees sold damaged goods? Michael welcomes in Dan Feuerstein of "Triple Coverage" and "Feuerstein's Fire" to investigate. The two also talk about the Rangers and Devils playoff hopes. Listen on Posterous.

 In hour two of "The Open Mike Program", host Michael Cohen imparts his take on the Darrelle Revis contract situation since the star corner plans another holdout. Then Michael welcomes in James Flippin of "Turnpike Throwdown" to talk about the NFL Draft. Will Andrew Luck be the real deal? Who will the Giants take and can the Jets trade for running back Trent Richardson? Michael wraps up the show with his usual weekly rant. Listen on Posterous.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jets to part ways with college talent evaluator

It has been a bizarre offseason for the New York Jets. First, they gave Mark Sanchez a ridiculous five year contract extension coming off a mediocre season. Then they traded for Tim Tebow and have tried to deny that he will challenge for the starting quarterback job, even though everyone knows better.

Next, Darrelle Revis came out and hinted that he would hold out again, with two years left on his contract. Truly a selfish move by a selfish player who cares more about his wallet than the team. It was only two years ago that Revis held out of Jets camp which became a focal point in the Jets infamous "Hard Knocks" appearance.

Now, Gang Green is parting ways with Joey Clinkscales. If that name doesn't ring a bell with you, fear not: Clinkscales is the Jets Vice President of College Scouting, and he plans to leave the Jets for the Oakland Raiders mere days before the NFL draft is to commence. For a team that has so many needs at different poisitions, the last thing they needed was instability in the college scouting ranks.

Clinkscales spent 13 years with the Jets, drafting the likes of Nick Mangold and Revis; however, he has also been a part of some pretty big stinkeroos. Does Vernon Gholston ring a bell? Or how about trading up in the 2009 draft to take Sanchez, who still has not proven he is a first round franchise quarterback?

In short, he won't be missed if he indeed leaves in the next few weeks, but it is ironic to note that as Gang Green is about to open up the draft, this particular bombshell hits the fan. In an off-season full of headline stories, I'm sure the Jets are proud they are in the news ... again for all the wrong reasons.

Mets lose Jason Bay for 15 days, may lose Mike Pelfrey for season

It figures that only the Mets would suffer from another round of obscene injuries that cripples its major league roster. This time Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey, two Mets who had to prove themselves this season have been bitten badly by the injury bug.

Bay landed on the 15 day DL with a rib fracture on his left side. While Bay has three homers this season, he still has struggled in the clutch, and has drawn the ire of Mets fans this year for his inability to hit consistently. Still, without him the Mets outfield turns into a quagmire. New York now has to rely on the dregs of its minor league system, i.e. Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhui, Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, and Ronny Cedeno. Sounds wonderful. The Mets already had problems when they traded Carlos Beltran last year only to watch his replacement in center field, Andres Torres, injure himself in the season opener. 

To add insult to the injury, Mike Pelfrey may have suffered a worse fate. Originally diagnosed with elbow inflamation, Pelfrey, it turns out, suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. Pelfrey could require surgery and would essentially be lost for the season. But, this must be said, isn't it typical of the Mets that they get the wrong diagnosis on an injury before they try to correct it? At least the Mets caught their own mistake before Pelfrey threw another pitch. 

While Met fans may detest Pelfrey for his inconsistencies on the pitching mound, the guy was having a solid season this far in 2012. In three starts this year he achieved a 2.29 ERA with four walks and 13 strikeouts, including an eighth inning gem against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. 

The Mets will miss Pelfrey; they don't have enough pitching. It will be up to Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee to pick it up big time in the rotation. Would the long term loss of Pelfrey mean that the Mets will bring up one of their top pitching prospects, Zach Wheeler or Matt Harvey? Probably not. Harvey definitely is not ready; Wheeler might be closer to the majors, but, 
for the nonce, don't expect either to squeeze into the rotation for the near future.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rangers & Devils on brink of playoff extinction



So much for all of that talk that the second round playoffs would be a war between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. It appears that neither team will make it out of the first round of the playoffs. For all of the Rangers and Devils fans who complain that their teams don't get enough attention in a town dominated by the NFL, MLB and NBA, take note; if your teams continue to stink it up when it counts, no one will pay attention to your team.

The expectations for both franchises this season were very high, but now it could be over. For the Rangers, this is a big punch in the stomach. They were the best in the Eastern Conference during the season, but, as we all know, it doesn't matter until you get to the playoffs.

The Rangers were soft offensively. They took 41 shots on goal yet couldn't find a way to get even one puck into the net. Give credit to Ottawa's Craig Anderson, who shut down the Rangers offense and has flustered Broadway's front line all series.

Ottawa's first goal came from Jason Spezza in the first period, and that goal stood until the final minute of the game when the Rangers were forced to play with an empty net because of a penalty. For good measure, Spezza scored again with the empty netter.

The Rangers are now down 3-2 and now head up to Ottawa for game six. This was a huge loss for New York because they were at home; now they must win two hockey games if they want any shot at the second round. Don't bet on the Rangers.

Meanwhile, as for the Devils: Their 3-0 loss was another example that the great career of Martin Broudeur is, in all likelihood, coming to an end. While he is still a great goalie, he surrendered two goals in 32 shots and has not played well in this series, highlighted by New Jersey's choke job on Tuesday.

The Devils offense was nonexistent against the much younger Jose Theodore, who shut them out for the first time in this series.  New Jersey now trails 3-2, with the series heading back to Newark. Expect New Jersey to force a game seven, but it will likely end right there.

Another hockey season goes out with a whimper in New York.

Red Sox implode as Yankees storm back 15-9


It was only an innocent solo homerun in the sixth inning of a Red Sox blowout. With the Boston Red Sox up 9-0 on the New York Yankees, and having chased Yanks starter Freddy Gracia out of the game in the second inning, Mark Teixiera's solo homer to make it 9-1 didn't seem to amount to much at the time.

I repeat: at the time. Little did anyone know that homer was the beginning of a Yankee barrage that would leave the Boston Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine completely bewildered; the Bronx Bombers scored 14 unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings combined, stealing the game 15-9.

It all began to fall apart when Valentine inserted former Philadelphia Phillies flameout Vincente Padilla to pitch against the Bronx Bombers; I am sure that Valentine would love to have that decision back. Padilla gave up singles to Edwardo Nunez and Russell Martin, and walked Derek Jeter, loading up the bases for Nick Swisher.

Swisher, who has gotten off to a solid start this season, teed off on Padilla, belting a grand slam homer over the Green Monster in left to cut it to 9-5. Ironically, fans in New York didn't see the grand salami because Fox had turned away to Phil Humber's perfect game in Seattle for the Chicago White Sox. While Humber's feet was historical and deserved the attention, little did anyone know that the Yankees were about to make history of their own.

When Fox returned to the Yankees game, the Bombers had two on, the score was 9-5 and Padilla was out of the game. Then, Teixiera corked a second homer over the Monster to make it a one-run game, 9-8. With the Red Sox reeling, the Yankees continued the barrage in a 40 minute top of the eighth.

Nunez singled, and Jeter walked, before Swisher once again delivered, this time a two run double to give the Yankees a 10-9 advantage. After Robinson Cano and A-Rod  walked, Teixiera once again delivered, hitting a ground rule double to right to drive in two more to make it 12-9.

Finally, Russell Martin's two run double to center scored Teixeira and A-Rod to make it 14-9. Valentine came out of the dugout to remove Joe Thomas and was simultaneously serenaded with boos as he made the pitching change.  Valentine looked up to the crowd, grinned and tipped his cap as he walked back to the dugout; that's right, he tipped his cap! What is going on here, Bobby?!

The Red Sox totally wilted under the pressure, and now at 4-10, the noose around Valentine's neck is going to get awfully tight. The Red Sox face the prospects of a sweep at the hands of the Yankees with CC Sabathia pitching for the Bombers. Could Boston actually lose six straight home games?

And if they do, is it over for Bobby V? That is the biggest question surrounding this Boston team. How much longer will ownership take it; how much longer will Bobby stand it himself? Valentine has done himself little favor by acting like a fool since getting the job; in fact, most of his recent behavior is uncharacteristic of the guy who took the Mets to the World Series in 2000.

As for the Bronx Bombers, the win shields the Yankees from the obvious complaint that their pitching stinks. Once again Freddy Garcia was awful, but with the bad news that Michael Pinenda suffered a set back in his rehab, the Yankees can only remove one of their three woeful starters between Garcia, Phil Hughes and Hirioki Kuroda. Andy Pettitte will be back by mid-May, but it can't come fast enough for this Yankees team.

Yankees pound Bobby V's Red Sox in opener


What is the best tonic for a baseball team with high expectations that has watched its starting pitching struggle out of the gate and watched the middle of its order struggle out of the gate, a la the New York Yankees? The Boston Red Sox.

The Boston Red Sox are in complete free-fall. The Bobby Valentine experiment, granted only 12 games into the season, is looking more and more like the biggest failure in baseball in some time. Valentine was brought into Boston with the plan that he would discipline a rambunctious clubhouse that basically chased out the mild-mannered Terry Francona. Instead, it has completely backfired.

Not only are the Red Sox losing and losing badly, but Valentine is having difficulty getting along with both the players and the general manager; moreover, Valentine's support is waning with the fans up in Beantown who are booing him louder every time he sticks his head out of the dugout.

Valentine's status didn't get any better on Friday, as the Yankees pounded Boston on the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park, on the day when the Red Sox honored their historic past of highs and lows with great players from yesteryear and most recently the Red Sox World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 returning to Boston. Neverthless, Valentine's BoSox put up a stinker.

The Yankees wasted no time in putting their foot on the throat of the Red Sox; in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez delivered an RBI single to drive in Derek Jeter, who led off the game reaching on an error by Dustin Pedroia.

Then in the third, the Bombers brought the thunder out. Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez went deep with solo shots to extend the Yankees lead to 3-0. Boston's Clay Buchholz was awful. He surrendered five solo homeruns against the Yankees including two to Chavez, who hadn't even started a game this year until this one. Even A-Rod got into the act, cracking a 424 foot homer over the Green Monster to make it 5-1 New York. The homer was A-Rod's second of the year, and it put him in sole possession of fifth place in the All-Time Homerun list, surpassing Ken Griffey Jr.

The barrage on Buchholz continued into the sixth inning when Russell Martin blasted his first homer of the year to give the Bronx Bombers a 6-1 lead. Why Valentine felt the need to leave Buchholz in the game is beyond human understanding. Valentine should have pulled him out of this game a long time ago if he wanted to give his team a shot. Instead, by leaving Buchholz in to get blasted, he killed his team's spirit.

As for the Yankees: What a win1 This was a huge win for a ball club that is starting to get its sea legs after a rough start to the season. Ivan Nova was once again incredible. Through six innings Nova surrendered two runs and scattered seven hits, while striking out five. He is the true number two starter of this team. I don't care what Joe Girardi thinks after his dreadful decision to make Hiroki Kuroda the Yankees number two starter this season. Nova is the real deal and is now a team best 3-0 this year.

If the Yankees should win one of these next two games, especially on Saturday afternoon, it will become very interesting to see what the headlines will be for Boston. Remember the Red Sox got off to a hideous start last season, fought back and had the playoffs within sight before they choked. This AL East is too tough, and if Boston continues to freefall, its hard to imagine that Valentine will survive Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Open Mike 04-18-12 NHL Playoffs and Knicks playoff chances

In hour one of this brand new edition of Open Mike, host Michael Cohen welcomes in John Silva of Hudson Hockey to talk about the Eastern Conference of the NHL playoffs. Are the Rangers and Devils in for a collision course? Or are both teams on pace for another failed spring run. Michael also talks about the Knicks playoff chances, and whether the Mets are for real. Listen on Posterous!

In hour two of Open Mike from Wednesday April 18, Michael Cohen welcomes back John Silva for another segment to discuss the Western Conference of the NHL playoffs. Michael wraps ups the hour talking about the Giants and Jets schedules for the upcoming NFL season. Listen on Posterous!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Giants and Jets 2012 schedules released

The NFL has released its 2012 regular season schedule. The World Champion New York Giants will open their campaign at home against the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, September 5 on NBC. The game would have been broadcast Thursday night, but President Barack Obama's DNC acceptance speech is on that Thursday, so the network decided to move the game up.

A "leaked schedule" that hit the web 11 days ago turned out to be exactly what the NFL said it was hours after its release: phony.  That schedule had the Giants playing against Cleveland in Week 2 when, in fact, they are playing Tampa Bay. That will be an interesting match-up only because former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano returns to New Jersey as coach of the Bucs. The Giants will play the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football before heading to Philadelphia for a Sunday night clash in Week 4.

The Giants will have their NFC Championship rematch with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6 on Fox and won't see the Packers until Week 12 on Sunday Night Football. The Giants Bye Week is late, Week 11.

As for the Jets and all of their problems whether it be the incompetent play of Mark Sanchez, the bad attitude of Santonio Holmes, the circus that is Tim Tebow, or Woody Johnson's desire to get as much publicity as possible, the team gets a tricky schedule in the first month of the year. The meet the Bills in Week 1, a team the Jets struggled to beat last season. Then in Week 2, Mark Sanchez's job could be on the line as the New York travels to Pittsburgh.

The Jets are on prime time only three times: home to Houston on Monday Night Football, home to New England on Thanksgiving night, and at Tennessee on a Monday night. The Thanksgiving game will be the second time in a three year period that the Jets will host a Thanksgiving prime time game. Unlike years past where the prime time turkey game was broadcast on NFL Network, this year's version will be on NBC. San Diego is tentatively scheduled for a Sunday night in Week 16, but chances are, if the Jets truly suck, that game will be a 4:05 on CBS.

Other highlights of the NFL schedule include the Broncos hosting the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 1 on September 9. The Green Bay Packers play host to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, that game will be on FOX. The Ravens host the Bengals in the first game of ESPN's Monday Night double-header in Week 1. The entire 2012 regular season schedule can be accessed at this link!

NY Giants 2012 schedule
9/5 DALLAS ................ 8:30 NBC
9/16 TAMPA BAY.........1:00 FOX
9/20 @ Carolina ............8:20 NFLN
9/30 @ Philadelphia......8:30 NBC
10/7 CLEVELAND.......1:00 CBS
10/14 @ San Francisco...4:15 FOX
10/21 WASHINGTON....1:00 FOX
10/28 @ Dallas................4:15 FOX
11/4 PITTSBURGH.........4:15 CBS
11/11 @ Cincinnati..........1:00 FOX
11/18 Bye Week
11/25 GREEN BAY.........8:20 NBC
12/2 @ Washington.........8:30 ESPN
12/9 NEW ORLEANS.....4:15 FOX
12/16 @ Atlanta...............1:00 FOX
12/23 @ Baltimore...........1:00 FOX

NY Jets 2012 schedule
9/9 BUFFALO.................1:00 CBS
9/16 @ Pittsburgh............4:15 CBS
9/23 @ Miami..................1:00 CBS
10/8 HOUSTON..............8:30 ESPN
10/21 @ New England.....4:15 CBS
10/28 MIAMI..................1:00 CBS
11/4 Bye Week
11/11@ Seattle................4:05 CBS
11/18 @ St. Louis...........1:00 CBS
11/22 NEW ENGLAND..8:30 NBC (Thanksgiving)
12/2 ARIZONA..............1:00 FOX
12/9 @ Jacksonville........1:00 CBS
12/17 @ Tennessee.........8:30 ESPN
12/23 SAN DIEGO........8:20 NBC
12/30 @ Buffalo.............1:00 CBS

Rangers hold off Senators, win game 3

NYR leads 2-1

For those expecting a typical New York Rangers choke job, temper those expectations a bit, for those same New York Rangers put a stranglehold on their series against the Ottawa Senators, winning 1-0, taking a 2-1 series edge, and capturing home ice in the process.

For a game that remained scoreless for two whole periods, the Senators had plenty of opportunity to bury New York, taking 39 shots on goal. Fortunately for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist picked the right time to pitch a shutout, recording all 39 saves, thus proving why he is the Rangers' best player.

New York finally scored with 7:35 to go in regulation with a Brian Boyle goal. Ottawa attempted five shots in the final two minutes, but none went even close to the net.

The Rangers play game four on Wednesday; if they should win, they can clinch the series victory Friday night in New York.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dickey & Mets stun Phillies in series opener


The Mets are at it again. Just when everyone thought the Mets were dead meat on a platter for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Metropolitans fool us again! That is why they are the Amazin's; they amaze you when they win and even more when they lose.

But in this case, the Mets limped into Philly with their Triple-A lineup without David Wright in their lineup, who is likely heading to the DL with an injury to his pinkie finger, to confront Phillies ace number two, Cliff Lee, and still, they beat the Phillies.

It didn't take long for the Mets to set the tone for the rest of the evening. Ruben Tejada led off the game with a long double to left field, and was driven in immediately by Daniel Murphy who doubled to right before anyone could settle in their seats. The Mets continued to tatoo Lee later in the first inning, when Jason Bay, that's right Jason Bay, cracked a two run homer to right center, his first of the year, to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

R.A. Dickey was excellent. In seven dominant innings, he scattered nine hits and struck out seven. He had the Phillies guessing all night while lowering his era to 2.08 and improving to 2-0 on the season.

While the Mets lineup continued to struggle, i.e. Justin Turner went 0-for-4 dropping his average to .167, Ike Davis went 0-for-3, dropping his average to .043, and Lucas Duda went 0-for-4, dropping to .120; it was nice to see Bay get a big hit. This is a guy who has really struggled since becoming a Met three years ago. In sum, Bay has stunk. If David Wright is going to miss any time, the Mets need Bay to pick it up and deliver. Probably wishful thinking.

Anyway, the NL East remains upside down as the Mets and Nationals remain in first place.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A-Rod ties Griffey, as Yankees romp in home opener


Does anyone remember when the Yankees were 0-3 anymore? Didn't think so. After the Yankees did away with their personal slapping boys the Baltimore Orioles, during the week to get back to .500, the Bronx Bombers flexed their muscles against an American League favorite, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim; Hiroki Kuroda settled down nicely as the Yankees number two starter, and Alex Rodriguez woke up from his week 1 doldrums.

The day began on a high note; Jorge Posada, who retired over the winter, threw out the first pitch to delight of the sell out crowd at Yankees Stadium. Then the Yankees went right to work. In the bottom of the first after an A-Rod single and walks to Robinson Cano and Mark Tiexiera, Nick Swisher cracked a pitch to deep center for a three run double to give the Bombers a quick 3-0 lead. WATCH VIDEOS!

With the big lead, Kuroda did the rest. He struck out Vernon Wells, and induced a ground ball double play in the second inning; then struck out Chris Iannetta and Peter Bourjos to get through the third. Kuroda was solid, pitching into the ninth inning, giving up five hits, while striking out six. He evens his record to 1-1 and drops his ERA to a respectable 2.63.  The question throughout the day was how new Angel Albert Puljos would do in his new digs, and he didn't fare well. Puljos was 1-for-4 with a double play grounder in the ninth inning. Puljos has struggled since arriving in Anaheim, batting .222 with no homers. Think someone is feeling the heat after signing a $250 million deal?

Speaking of multimillionaires, Alex Rodriguez made a little history. In the third inning, Rodriguez cracked his first homer of the season to make it 4-0, but the significance of the blast was huge for Rodriguez, as it ties him for fifth all time on the all time home run list with his former Seattle Mariners' teammate Ken Griffey Jr. with 630 homeruns.

The Yankees and Angels will play game two on Saturday afternoon on FOX, and game three on Sunday night on ESPN.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Open Mike moving to Wednesdays!

The Open Mike program of MTR is officially moving to Wednesday nights at 7 pm. The fun begins this Wednesday April 11, at 7 when Michael Cohen is joined by Triple Coverage co-host Mike Sanfilippo in studio B. Call in at 609-910-0687. Open Mike will air every Wednesday from CSB studios from 7-9 pm.

Monday, April 9, 2012

NFL upholds Sean Payton suspension

When the New Orleans Saints break for training camp this July they will do so without Sean Payton as head coach.

The NFL has upheld a previous ruling to suspend the Saints head coach for the entire season for his involvement in a bounty scandal that rocked the NFL landscape over the past month. Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt will still serve a six week suspension during the regular season, and GM Mickey Loomis will still serve an eight week suspension beginning September 5.

This means while Loomis will work in the Saints front office during the draft and in training camp, neither Payton nor Vitt will have any access to the team. Thus, forget the scenario where Vitt has his suspension shortened to act as Head Coach through training camp, serve a short suspension and then take over as the HC of the NO Saints in October. Therefore the Saints will have to decide, allow either Pete Carmichael or Steve Spagnoluo to become the head coach, or go out and get Bill Parcells.

Payton has been campaigning for Parcells to take the job, an odd recommendation considering Parcells hasn't coached since 2006, and was last seen wrecking the Miami Dolphins franchise from a front office seat. Perhaps Payton, fearing  great success for either Carmichael or Spagnoluo that might cost him his job in the long run, would rather see Parcells in the gig since he is no threat to Payton's long term job security; as is his wont, Parcells is here today, gone tomorrow.

More important, Parcells doesn't know this coaching staff. He doesn't know the players, and outside of occasionally meeting players here and there, he really doesn't know their tendencies and needs. He can't just walk in at this point in the off-season with players four weeks away from mini-camp and expect to command immediate results.

Thus, Carmichael is the best choice. No disrespect to Spagnoluo, who was a head coach for the St. Louis Rams the past three seasons, but he just took over as the Saints defensive coordinator and will still need time to learn about the team in his own right. Carmichael has been with the Saints for years and was credited with sparking this offense last season when he took over the play-calling after Payton injured his leg on a freak sideline accident that sidelined him for six weeks. A lot of teams were curious about Carmichael this off-season to be their head coach, and if he does get the Saints gig and succeeds, he becomes that much more valuable in 2013.

Either way, Sean Payton will have no future with the Saints until next year, barring Tom Benson growing more accustomed to the interim coach, and then deciding to make the move that should be inevitable; i.e., fire Payton.

It's hard to exonerate both Payton and Vitt from this fiasco. They both knew. Everyone on the Saints coaching staff knew about Greg Williams' bounty plans. They are both guilty because both served as the head coach of this team when Williams was running amock. Payton and Vitt got what they deserved. The question now remains, how does this affect the status of both when the return from suspension? Vitt was never a head coaching commodity, he's a long time assistant. Payton, however, was the golden boy who turned around a woebegone franchise. If he is released from his contract after, or during, this suspension it will be interesting to see which team would dare go after him.

Someone will.

Say What?! Yankees 0-3 after sweep to Tampa Bay

Rays 3
Yankees 0

Woebegone is the life of the Yankees. Who would have thunk this: not only are the Mets undefeated after three games, but the Yankees are winnless and have looked just plain awful after their first series of the season. Concerns about the Yankee rotation were augmented after a hideous three game stretch that can't make anyone in the Yankees front office comfortable as the Yankee season limps out of its start.

For the Yankees, this is the first time they have begun a season at 0-3 since 1998, the same season that saw the Yankees win 114 regular season games, en route to a sweep of the San Diego Padres in the World Series, so all ended well the last time this had happened to the Bronx Bombers. But the difference between that team and this one is significant: the starting pitching. That '98 team that started 0-3 had crafty veterans from David Cone to David Wells and Andy Pettitte in the rotation. This year's rotation, outside of CC Sabathia, is a gigantic quagmire. While Yankee fans can take solace knowing the Red Sox are also 0-3, the first time since 1966 that both the Yankees and Sox started a season at 0-3, and that the Baltimore Orioles are 3-0 right now, there are reasons for concern for this team.

Hiroki Kuroda, who was a clear mistake to make a number two starter, was lit up on Saturday night, giving up six runs en route to a Tampa Bay 8-6 victory. This time around it was the inconsistent Phil Hughes, who needs to prove that he is back to his 2010 form, who got tagged on Sunday. While Hughes wasn't awful, he especially didn't help. He got into trouble right away in the first inning, surrendering a double to Evan Longoria and then a triple to Matt Joyce to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, Hughes served up a solo shot to Carlos Pena, who proceeded to hit his second homer of the series, to make it 2-0.

Hughes lasted only four and two-thirds innings, and while he wasn't bad as he did strike out five batters, it was a bit of a step backwards from his fabulous spring training outings.

Offensively, the Yankees bats were silenced by second year righty Jeremy Helickson, who dazzled for 8 and 2/3rds innings, giving up only three hits on 118 pitches. Even when Helickson walked Nick Swisher in the ninth, he still had great velocity and probably could have finished off the game. Still he was very good. He shut down Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, who were a combined 0-for-11 against the sophomore, and he never allowed a Yankees batter past second base.

Another big concern for the Yankees after this awful loss is the ineffectiveness of Mark Teixeria. Teixeria is hitting .111 this season and is off to another slow start; he is notorious slow starter, but for a guy who is the heart of the Yankees lineup, they need him to produce especially since Teixeria is coming off his worst season in which he batted .248. If the Yankees are going to go anywhere, they need Teixeria to have a big season at bat. Teixeria's slow start looms even larger when the struggles of both Jeter and Granderson are added to the equation. Jeter is only hitting .231 and Granderson .167.

While the Yankees are not an aging team, their average age is 29, they display way too many issues; the number one issue is the rotation. Sabathia was lit up on opening day and didn't look good at all in spring training. While one would expect Sabathia to work through his early struggles, the people behind him represent a huge question mark. Meanwhile Kuroda is dreadful, period. He is NOT a number two starter; moreover, he struggled to achieve an ERA under four in the pitcher-friendly National League when he played as a Dodger. The fact that he was promoted to the number two guy in the rotation over Ivan Nova who won 16 games for the Yankees last year, describes a huge mistake by manager Joe Girardi. Speaking of Nova, who pitches Monday night in Baltimore, he needs to bounce back from a horrid spring, where he posted a six ERA. Which Nova will the Yankees get this season?

Then, of course, the rotation rounds out with Freddy Garcia, who has really nothing left; his once dynamic 90+ mph fastball is barely over 85; he walks the ballpark every time and he is prone to getting lit up by opposing batters. Finally, there is Hughes, who was decent on Sunday, but he is basically the 2012 Yankees version of A.J. Burnett; one never knows what one will get out of him on a start-by-start basis.

So who are these New York Yankees? Are they good enough to again rebound from an 0-3 start? Yes, they should change their luck very soon. Is this a sign that the Yankees aren't ready to compete with the Rays, Tigers and Angels? Yes. And that constitutes the problem.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Simply Amazin'; 2012 Mets improve to 3-0 after sweep

Maybe it's a sign of the apocalypse? Maybe we all fell asleep and woke up in the Bizarro World? Quick, someone, slap the nearest Met fan ; he's trying to wake up.

Yes, believe it or not, the New York Mets are undefeated, 3-0. That's right, UNDEFEATED!! The Mets best start since the 2007 season, and if New York should win the next two games against the Washington Nationals, it will tie for the best start in franchise history with the 1985 Mets! So who would have guessed that this Mets team, which is arguably the worst collection of talent in the history of the franchise; the worst talent since the dark days of the mid-to-late 1970's and the Mets inception of 1962; yet here they are, 3-0, in sole possession of first place in the National League's Eastern division. 

Granted, the Atlanta Braves are no better. Everyone knew that this would be a tough year for Atlanta with Chipper Jones near retirement, and Tim Hudson, once again injured, but nobody thought they would be abysmal and uncompetitive.

The fact that the Mets swept Atlanta is both a testament to the hard work Terry Collins has put in during Spring Training to separate his players from an off-season full of embarrassment and humiliation as owner Fred Wilpon dragged the franchise through a financial maelstrom. It is also a testament to how bad the Atlanta Braves really are.

In game three, the Mets dominated early thanks to an incredible performance by Jon Niese. Niese, who received a five year extension worth $25 million, a contract that might seem undeserved for a pitcher who has been mediocre and never seems to stay healthy, but Niese earned his weekly check this time out. He had a no hitter through six innings, working around a handful of walks, and keeping a weak Braves lineup quiet for much of the afternoon.

Offensively, the Mets broke out. Instead of the Mets offense consisting of the David Wright Show; the others delivered big time. Ruben Tejada, who has struggled offensively of late, broke out with a 4-for-5 day including scoring on a Daniel Murphy two-run double to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

 Later, after a Jason Bay walk and Lucas Duda single, Scott Hairston doubled both runners in to make it 6-0. Then, Tejada capped off the offensive outburst with another RBI double to make it 7-0.

Niese took the no-no into the seventh before falling apart, giving up a walk, two hits and an error that scored three Atlanta runs. Niese gave up four runs on the day, but only three earned. In spite of the bad inning, it was still a solid outing for Niese, who improved to 1-0 on the season.

With the win the Mets, believe it or not, are now in first place at 3-0, and they have a chance to pad their standing when the second place Washington Nationals come to town on Monday.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mariano Rivera blows opener, Yankees fall to Rays


For 15 years Mariano Rivera has established himself as the greatest closer in the game of baseball. While there is no doubt he still has something left in the tank at age 42, Rivera's opening day was alarming. Blowing a 6-5 lead and giving up two runs as the Rays sped past the Yankees, Rivera cost New York a chance at opening the season on a winning note.

The disastrous inning was alarming because Rivera has been so good for so long; now fans will wonder how much he has left. While not time to panic, after all it's only one blown save, but for it to come on the grand stage of the first game of the year is all that more surprising.

Rivera's cutter wasn't cutting; in fact, it stayed up when Ben Zobrist nailed a game-tying triple to get things moving for Tampa Bay. Then Joe Girardi did something that was pure mystery: He told Rivera to not only walk Evan Longoria, but he told him to walk Luke Scott too, loading the bases in the hope of securing a play at the plate. With no one out and bases loaded, the Yankees were in a no win situation, yet Rivera was able to strike out Sean Rodriguez and moved to two strikes on the next batter, Carlos Pena. Could Rivera pull this one out? No. Pena cracked into one to deep left-center for the game winning single, lifting the Rays to victory.

For Rivera, it was his worst Opening Day ever, and his second blown save in his last 62 attempts against Tampa Bay.

To make matters worse, CC Sabathia looked awful for the Yankees. The starter gave up a grand slam to Pena in the first inning that put the Yankees in a 4-0 hole, and, later, gave up a solo shot to Longoria to cut the Yankees lead to 6-5. Sabathia, who had a terrible spring training, didn't have it in the opener, and there needs to be concern about him as well. The Yankees' rotation is fragile at best, with unreliable Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Freddy Gracia manning spots behind Sabathia. The team needs CC to pitch well just about any time he steps to the mound. Friday's performance, like Rivera's, was alarming.

The only good thing to happen to New York on Friday was Raul Ibanez's three run homer, giving the Yankees an early lead; other than that, the Yankees pitching woes are starting to catch up with them out of the gate.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Open Mike 04-06-12 MLB Opening Day Recap

It's the final Friday edition of "The Open Mike Program." Host Michael Cohen is moving the show to a new day and time, likely either Wednesday night at 7 pm or Saturday afternoon at 1 pm beginning next week. Michael opens up the show with a recap of the Mets 1-0 Opening Day victory over the Atlanta Braves; he is joined in the CSB studio by "Triple Coverage" host Sean Bretherick, who attended the Mets opener on Thursday, to gauge his reactions to the team's victory. Listen on Posterous!
In hour two of this final Friday edition of "The Open Mike Program," Michael Cohen and Sean Bretherick listen to the entire Greg Williams audio that recorded in the New Orleans Saints locker room prior to their playoff game at San Francisco. The boys react and discuss what the Saints ought to do about Sean Payton once and for all. Updates on the Yankees season opener game, along with breaking news about the N.Y. Jets 2012 schedule, leaked online, follow with NBA and NHL playoffs.
Listen on Posterous!

N.Y. Jets 2012 schedule leaked?!

Shazam! Only in the world of mainstream media and the internet can this happen. While surfing through Facebook, I ran into a post that revealed the Jets' upcoming home schedule for the 2012 season. After doing some quick research, the entire schedule was revealed. JetsTwit.  It's hard to know if this is the real deal or not. If it is real, here is what it looks like:

Week 1: Dolphins @ Jets 1 pm CBS
Week 2: Jets @ Patriots 8:20 NBC 
Week 3: Bills @ Jets 1 pm CBS
Week 4: Jets @ Rams 4:15 CBS
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Jets @ Dolphins 1 pm CBS 
Week 7: Cardinals @ Jets 4:05 FOX
Week 8: Jets @ Seahawks 4:15 CBS
Week 9: Jets @ Steelers 8:20 NBC
Week 10: Colts @ Jets 8:30 ESPN
Week 11: Chargers @ Jets 1 pm CBS 
Week 12: 49ers @ Jets 1 pm FOX
Week 13: Jets @ Titans 1 pm CBS
Week 14: Jets @ Jaguars 8:20 NFLN
Week 15: Jets @ Bills 1 pm CBS 
Week 16: Texans @ Jets 1 pm CBS 
 Week 17: Patriots @ Jets 1 pm CBS  

In spite of all their problems last season, the Jets get four prime-time games, two on Sunday night, Week 2 against the Patriots and Week 9 against the Steelers. It is interesting to note that for some reason ESPN felt it necessary to put Jets-Colts on Monday night, and the NFL Network did ESPN one better by putting (yawn) Jets-Jaguars on a Thursday night. I find it surprising that those two games have been scheduled at night, which might mean that this release may not be the official schedule (read below).

UPDATE 11:10 pm, Friday: While the source of the initial schedule release is probably not reliable, there has been a huge influx in the last few hours of calls to the NFL offices about leaked schedules online for all 32 teams. According to NBC's Mike Florio, these schedules are "bogus." If fake, it's a pretty convincing job. The REAL NFL schedule will be released on April 17. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mets stun Braves in season opener, as Santana goes five strong


Holy Cow, who would have thunk it, there was actual footage today of the Mets winning a baseball game. Even though victories will likely be a rare occurrence for New York this season, the Metropolitans found a way to hold off the equally putrid Atlanta Braves in a 1-0 pitchers duel to open the season.

The most important factor in today's game however was the status of ace Johan Santana. Santana missed all of 2011 with a leg injury, was solid in his first outing back on the mound. He went five innings of shutout baseball, holding Atlanta to hits, while striking out five, and at one point retired 12 striaght batters.

Santana did get into some trouble in the fifth inning, when he gave up a double to Matt Diaz, and walked Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy Hanson to load up the bases, but, he was able to get out if it by inducing a ground ball out by Michael Bourn to get out of the inning unscathed.

Offensively, it was an uneven day for the Mets. While David Wright and Daniel Murphy had big days at the plate, it was not the case for Jason Bay and Lucas Duda, who both inept. On the good side, Murphy had two hits on the afternoon, while Wright actually delivered a clutch hit, when his single drove in Andres Torres with the games only run in the sixth.

However in the seventh, Torres was injured in the outfield and had to leave the game; he will likely land on the disabled list. This is bad news for the Mets, who have a dreadful outfield to begin with, and an even more despicable bench. The Mets have absolutely no depth on the bench, and they will have to go out and shop for a center fielder, something they should have done a long time ago. Not that Torres was any loss, but now the Mets have to find someone to play center field and lead off.

As for Bay, what can you say? He was bad again, going 0-for-3 with a fly out, once again showing little pop in his bat. As for the over-hyped Duda, he was really bad going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, including striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

The only bright spot for the Mets was the bullpen. The combination of Ramon Ramirez, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco shut down a meek Braves lineup in four shut-out innings to preserve the victory.

So be happy Mets fans', your team is in first place at 1-0. Probably the only time this year the Mets will be in first place and over .500. Congrats!

NFL preseason schedules announced

While the NFL regular season schedule won't be released until April 17, the league released it's preseason schedule last night, and even though the games don't count there are still some interesting match-ups.

Specifically, the annual Jets-Giants clash has now been moved to week 2 of the preseason to accommodate nationally televised games for both the Jets and Giants in week 3. The Jets play the Carolina Panthers in week three of the preseason on Sunday Night Football on NBC, while Giants play on Saturday night against the Bears on CBS. That's right CBS carrying a NFC game!

Here are the preseason schedules:

@ Jacksonville.....7:30 NBC
@ N.Y. Jets ..........8:00 CBS
CHICAGO ...........8:10 CBS

@ Cincinnati ........8:00 CBS
N.Y. GIANTS.......8:00 CBS
CAROLINA..........8:30 NBC
@ Philadelphia......7:00 CBS

Interestingly the Giants hold their Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots in the final week of the preseason when no starters will take part of the game, which is a shame. It would have been nice to see the starters participate in that rematch, even if the game meant nothing.

The Jets-Panthers game is a feature for two reasons: 1) Cam Newton. The guy had an unbelievable season as a rookie quarterback for the Panthers last year, and believe me he is 100x better than both Jets quarterbacks. 2) That's the other headline, the battle royal between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, which mediocre QB will win the prize as the Jets starter for this new season?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Woody Johnson: Jets could return to Hard Knocks

As if owner Woody Johnson didn't receive enough publicity the past two weeks when the New York Jets traded for controversial quarterback Tim Tebow, the star-struck owner didn't rule out a Gang Green return to HBO's "Hard Knocks."

"I've heard (the speculation), but we've yet to receive a formal invitation," Johnson said during a promotional appearance to launch the NFL's new pop-up store in Manhattan. "And when we do, we will take a look at it."
Johnson said there have been informal talks with HBO, but he declined to speculate on an outcome because "we can't react to anything unless it's a real invitation."

In case you need to be reminded, the Jets flipped "Hard Knocks" on its head in the ratings department after Rex Ryan spewed more F-bombs than Tony Soprano in an entire episode of "The Sopranos." The Jets were truly entertaining when they did "Hard Knocks" two years ago, and a return to it would be very interesting with Tebow now in a locker room that was fractured by poor relationships between incumbent Mark Sanchez and his teammates.

If HBO does invite the Jets, and why wouldn't they, the Jets are a good product from an entertainment standpoint; don't be shocked if the Jets jump in faster than you can say "Bada Bing!"  

"Hard Knocks" did not air last year because of the lockout, and many speculated that the Detroit Lions would be HBO's next choice after the success of the Jets from 2010. But, hey, a Jets sequel would definitely be a lot more fun.