Thursday, February 28, 2013

49ers want to rescue Revis from Jets' disaster island

The looney New York Jets, who have been dead-set on getting rid of the best player on the entire team, since the off-season started, may have found a taker: the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners, who already traded befuddled back-up quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second round pick in this year's draft, are making moves to assure they can win the Super Bowl next year, which by the way, is in Revis' soon-to-be old stomping grounds.

The fact that the Jets have been this obsessed to trade their best player, and treat this off-season as a total rebuilding project, is an embarrassment and total slap in the face at fans who injected thousands of dollars in PSLs over the past few seasons.

One would figure the return of Revis from an ACL injury would be celebrated by the Jets. But don't tell that to owner Woody Johnson, who, as it was reported in January, doesn't feel he can pay Revis what he wants. The corner back has been in a long battle with the front office over his contract for over two years.

It's ironic that the Jets can't pay this man, yet they have the money to pay the worst player on the team; the man who has been the cancer in the clubhouse, and who has got to go ASAP, Mark Sanchez, $8.5 million in guaranteed money!!!

Acquiring Revis would make sense for San Francisco. They have 15 picks in this year's draft, and sending a couple of picks over to the Jets, who seem poised to rebuild, would make sense. Plus the 49ers get a cornerback who is arguably the best corner in the entire sport, even if he is coming off of a knee injury. The only caveat in a deal is that the 49ers would acquire a guy who is the walk year of his contract.

Revis would be a huge difference maker for the 49ers that were this close to winning Super Bowl XLVII last month. If the Niners had a shut down corner, perhaps Joe Flacco doesn't torch them they way he did in the Super Bowl. In short, Revis makes the NFL's top defense that much better.

In New York, meanwhile, trading Revis and keeping Sanchez would be a rough start for the John Idzik administration. While blame cannot be totally affixed to Idzik, because trading Revis has Woody Johnson written all over it; the GM is going to take a lot of heat from fans. The Jets have a conference call with Jets season ticket holders on Monday, March 4 at 1 p.m.

There is no logical reason why the Jets feel the need to get rid of Revis.

They tell people they can't sign him, and it is understandable that the Jets are in salary cap hell. If that is the case, the Jets should be trying to trim payroll from players who are not contributing positively to this team at all. That includes Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Santonio Holmes. Revis should be a piece to the puzzle for the Jets. He should be a guy they build around for a championship team once they figure it out on the offensive side of the ball.

Case in point: the Baltimore Ravens could have easily traded Ray Lewis at any point during the 12 year gap between Super Bowl titles. But they decided to keep their super-star player until they finally found a quarterback, a running back, and competent receivers to lead that team to the promise land. While Lewis had to wait until his final season to win one more ring, it was worth it for everyone. The Ravens have no regrets.

The Jets can't see that future. They don't even want to have the patience to wait a little bit for that future. Trading Revis will go down as one of the dumbest moves in franchise history. A move that makes no sense at all, other than proving that Woody Johnson is indeed a cheep fool.

Meanwhile Mark Sanchez is still the Jets starting quarterback. Makes sense? Ummm, no!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mets financial situation expected to get worse in 2013

About two weeks ago Fred Wilpon told reporters that the Mets would be big time spenders from here on out, because the Bernie Madoff mess was "behind them."

Well according to an investigative report from the New York Post business section, the Mets are about to lose more money this year, making it even harder for the embattled owners to run the franchise.

The Mets are expected to lose close to $10 million this year, inspite of the fact they host the All Star game this summer. The Mets, whose attendance has dropped like a stone the past few years, racking in on average 28,000 fans a game, will see a drop in attendance as well. Fans just aren't buying into a ball club that can't improve itself enough to compete on the field.

" The team is expecting to lose more than $10 million this year, after bleeding red the past two seasons, while attendance is projected to fall for a fifth straight year, The Post has learned.
The owners can expect to take about $65 million from separately owned SportsNet New York cable network, which airs Mets games. However, Citi Field saps $43 million in debt payments, leaving a net gain of $22 million from those two assets. That means there won’t be much left to sink into the ballclub.
“There is little room this year to raise salaries,” said a source familiar with the team’s finances" (New York Post).

The Mets have been busy jacking up ticket prices this year, in hopes of luring fans toward buying ticket packages which includes the All Star game as an extra incentive. However, with the effect of the secondary market (stubhub for example) the Mets could ultimately lose at the end of the day.

In short, it is going to be very interesting to see if Wilpon holds true to his word that the Mets are going to spend money next year, or if he will try to come up with another smokescreen for another calender year.

And of course, the Wilpon's will not sell the team, even though it would defiantly be in the best interest of the fan-base and franchise.

Yankees lose Granderson for 10 weeks with fractured forearm

The bad news hit the Yankees like led bricks, Sunday, when word came that center fielder Curtis Granderson will miss the next 10 weeks with a fractured forearm, after getting hit by a pitch. Granderson is not expected back on the field until early to mid May at the earliest.

This means that the Yankees will be without another big bat in their lineup when the season opens in five weeks. The Yankees lost Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin to free agency, and have watched Alex Rodriguez's career and credibility melt away with another steroid scandal.

Without Granderson, the Yankees will be without their leading home run hitter, 43 homers in 2012, and their best defensive outfielder.

The question now is what will the Yankees, who didn't spend at all during the winter do now to replace Granderson. The team will likely move left fielder Brett Gardner to center, and rely on either Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz in left field.

Diaz has never hit more than 13 homers in a season, when he was an everyday outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. Diaz is a guy who has struggled with his weight throughout his career, and has become a very light hitter who doesn't produce much. Last year, he hit only .222 with two homers and 13 RBI for the Braves.

As for Rivera, his presence on this team is at least interesting. He was in line to battle Travis Hafner for the DH role, but now he might be asked to be the Yankees starting left fielder for opening day. Rivera is a very streaky hitter. When he does get hot, he can hit home runs and drive in runs in bunches; when he gets cold, it's nuclear winter. The 35 year-old is not an ideal candidate, but who is? Rivera at least is a consistent .274 hitter, with his best season back in 2009 when he launched 25 homers and 88 RBI for the Angels.

If the Yankees are not satisfied with Rivera or Diaz, they could look to the wire for a cheap pick-up. Vernon Wells, yes that Vernon Wells of the bloated contracts with the Blue Jays and Angels, is available. But, let's be honest, Wells has nothing left.

He hasn't produced a season with a batting average over .270 in three years now. The last two years, he hit .218 and .230 respectively. While he used to be a complete player, Wells is not anymore, and the Yankees would be wise to look elsewhere.

That could also mean a possible return of Johnny Damon, who last played for the Yankees in 2009. Damon, inspite of his strong ties to the Red Sox, was beloved by Yankees fans during his short stay in pinstripes. However, Damon hasn't really played all that well the past three seasons, bouncing around the league, and is basically retired now.

Or the Yankees could do the right thing and actually look to their minor league system and find some young talent down there who can play center field. Why not? Because the likelihood that the Yankees are going to keep Granderson past this season, when he goes free agent, is highly unlikely. The future is now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Teaneck defeats Hackensack for Bergen County title

After watching their Bergen County title hopes virtually die in a second quarter where they were outscored 16-2, a valiant second half effort was not enough for the Hackensack Comets to dethrone the two-time defending Bergen County Champions and archrival, Teaneck Highwaymen in the 57th Oscar F. Thompson Memorial Bergen County Jamboree. 

Teaneck’s 70-55 victory over Hackensack at a packed Bill Bradley Center at the palatial campus of Ramapo College in Mahwah, was the school’s third consecutive Bergen County title, setting a county record with 11.

To read the rest of this article click on this link to!  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Open Mike 02-20-13; Yankees & Mets Spring Training Outlook

In this first hour of the Open Mike program from February 20, 2013 host Michael Cohen welcomes in Karen Vankat of Yankees 101 to discuss the headlines surrounding the Bronx Bombers heading into Spring Training.

 In hour two of the Open Mike Program from February 20, 2013, host Michael Cohen welcomes in Doug Rush, feature columnist on the Yankees and Giants on Bleacher Michael and Doug break down Spring Training for the Yankees, Mets, and everything MLB.

Listen to Hour 1

Listen to Hour 2 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yankees & Cano set to play Hard Ball

The Yankees and Robinson Cano are getting ready to do battle over the second baseman's long anticipated contract extension, and if the Bombers get their way a deal will be done soon.

However, it will not be easy, especially with super-agent Scott Boras representing Cano. Boras, as most baseball fans know, is notorious for getting the most lucrative contracts for his clients - even if they don't deserve it.

Cano has steadily become one of the most lethal hitters in both the Yankees' lineup and in the majors, with his long-swooping, powerful left-handed stroke. Not only that; he has gotten better as a fielder at second base. He has hit 115 of his 177 career homers over the last four seasons, and has driven in 406 runs in that time span. Cano has 715 career RBI. He is also a career .308 hitter.

Players like Cano, who play second base, are very hard to come by. In fact, he leads all major league second baseman in every statistical offensive category, with Aaron Hill (26 homers and 85 RBI) the only one coming close to him.

A player like this will almost exclusively ask for a $150-200 million contract, kinda like the one Prince Fielder got from Detroit before last season. 

However, the Yankees are in the midst of the Alex Rodriguez fiasco, owing the broken down cheat $114 million over five years, a lump sum that will not be easy to digest no matter how the Yankees try to can him. The A-Rod contract could hinder the Yankees from giving Cano the max contract offer out there in free agency next year. The Yankees might be fearful of giving Cano a long term 10-year deal after watching Rodriguez break down mid-way through his 10-year extension, since Cano is already 30-years old. The Yankees have been trying to avoid these long term deals in recent years to get out of salary cap hell.

According to the New York Post, the Yankees are waiting for their payroll to come down to $189 million next year, from its current $207 million. They say they have enough money to sign both Cano and Curtis Granderson to extensions, but chances are New York is going to end up losing one of them. If they had a choice, they would rather keep Cano over Granderson most likely.

A deal is not likely to come anytime soon, according to the Post; so there is a chance this could linger through the summer and into next fall. If it does, it should be very interesting to see what kind of market is out there for Robinson Cano.

Phil Hughes Out 2 Weeks with Bulging Disk

In the up and down career of Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes, he could ill afford a set back, in what will be the walk year of his contract before free agency.

Well, the right-hander is now out for two weeks thanks to a bulging disk in the middle of his back.

Hughes injured his back while covering first base during a fielding drill on Monday, and has been taking medication and resting ever since. Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't think the injury is too serious:

"'Hopefully it's nothing major," Cashman said. "The doctor clearly isn't aggressively treating it, and that's a good sign, but there's no guarantees until we get through the two-week process and we see where he's at.
"I'm not going to BS you and say we're not [concerned]. We won't be out of the woods until we see all that stuff. It's a question mark until we can all forget about that it ever happened,'" (ESPN).

Staying healthy is in the best interest of both parties here.

The Yankees can ill afford to lose Hughes to a lingering back issue later in the season, especially with a rotation that is fragile in the back end. Andy Pettitte missed most of last season with a knee injury, and Ivan Nova is coming off the worst year of his career. Michael Pineda, whom the Yankees acquired last off-season for catcher Jesus Montero, is still recovering from elbow surgery; but, he is throwing.

Plus, this is Hughes' final contracted year in New York. If he wants to cash in big next winter, he is going to have to stay healthy, and produce the kind of consistent season - with 15-16 wins - that the  Yankees have been waiting for for years.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nets head into break on high note after shootout

NETS 119

Even without the services of point guard Deron Williams, the Brooklyn Nets went into the All Star break on fire after an offensive explosion against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night produced a season high 119 points. Three Nets found themselves scoring 20+ points in the Brooklyn romp.

The Nets turned this game around with a 39 point second quarter thanks to clutch shooting form Kris Humphries and center Brook Lopez as Brooklyn jumped out to a 62-57 halftime lead. Humphries opened up the scoring in the second quarter with a pair of free throws and a layup as Brooklyn built a 37-35 lead.

Then, Lopez and Joe Johnson took over. Johnson nailed two long distance three-point shots, while Lopez logged 10-points with three buckets and four free-throws.

Lopez and Johnson had monster games. Lopez posted 23 points and eight boards, while Johnson was on fire from the field. Johnson shot 10-of-19 from the field and 5-of-9 from three point land, for a total of 26 points. The Nets also got a big effort from back-up point guard C.J. Watson who added 25 points while filling in for Williams.

Overall this was a spectacular shooting night for Brooklyn. They shot 54 percent from the field and 59 percent from long distance. Even though Denver was equally deadly in their shooting, they missed too many key shots in the second and third quarter to make up the difference in this one.

Brooklyn (31-22) heads into the break on fire. They are 15-6 since P.J. Carlesimo took over, and won both of their games with Williams out of the lineup. Things are looking for Brooklyn as they head into the break competing for a top playoff seed.

Open Mike 02-13-13 Mets' Michael Bourn Drama

In the first hour of the Open Mike program from February 13, host Michael Cohen breaks down the fallout from the Mets failure to ink Michael Bourn to a contract. The Mets didn’t make many moves to improve the team for this year, and Michael debates it with Sean Bretherick of Triple Coverage.

In the second hour of the Open Mike program, host Michael Cohen continues to break down the New York Mets situation as they try to move forward with their 2013 campaign. Michael then breaks down the state of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets as they head toward the All Star Break.

Listen to Hour One

Listen to Hour Two

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mets lose Michael Bourn to Indians

Michael Bourn will not reign supreme in New York. The speedy outfielder will take his talents to the Cleveland Indians, after he signed a four-year deal with the club late Monday night.

Bourn, 30, was involved in a long give-and-take negotiation with the New York Mets who spent more time worrying about losing their 11th pick in the MLB draft if they had signed Bourn. According to MLB rules, a team that signs a free agent and has to pay compensation, shall lose a draft pick.

Losing the draft pick was a poor excuse by Sandy Alderson, who failed to get anything done for this Mets franchise this off-season that could make this years team at least competitive. Now, New York will be stuck with an outfield of Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in 2013. Not exactly an outfield that is going to inspire many Mets fans this season.

The only move this front office made this off-season with any substance, was to trade the team's best pitcher, R.A. Dickey, to Toronto for catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud. That is it ... unless Mets fans want to get pumped about the signing of reliever Brendon Lyon. The jury is still out on the D'Arnaud acquisition. He is supposed to be one of the best young hitting-catchers in the minors; so the Mets are going to have to bring him up this season in order to keep the fans calm.

While the pickings have been slim this off-season, and while Bourn is certainly not worth a four-year, $48-million contract, Alderson is running out of excuses for not improving this baseball team with proven major league talent.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Punchless Knicks fall flat against Clippers


Ever since this 2012-2013 New York Knicks team was getting healthy with the return of Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, the overall play of this team has gotten worse. Sure the Knicks are in first place in the Atlantic Division, holding off a Nets team, that at times, can't get out of their own way; but, the Knicks have become more of a one man show led by Carmelo Anthony that can't play any defense. A formula that will not work come playoff time.

On Sunday, the Knicks couldn't capitalize off a spirited third quarter, watching Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and even former Knick Jamal Crawford, run all over them in LA's 102-88 win at the Garden.

The Knicks, 32-17 are 14-12 in their last 26 games, and it is becoming clear with each passing game, that this team has to find more offense from the other players on this club; and for once they have to play solid defense.

The Knicks were once again led by Carmelo Anthony, who posted 42-points, his fifth 40-plus performance of the season; but the forward managed only two-points in the fourth quarter.

Anthony led the Knicks comeback in the third quarter, scoring 18-points, including four, three-pointers as the Knicks grabbed a 61-60 lead midway through the quarter. But, Anthony's third quarter, didn't mask the fact that New York couldn't get much from the small lineup.

J.R. Smith was quiet all day. He finished with six-points and went 1-for-9 from the floor. He was ineffective, while Jason Kidd looked old, and Iman Shumpert and Amare Stoudemire were nowhere to be found. Even though Raymond Felton scored 20-points, he missed a bunch of shots too, going 9-for-18 from the field.

The game changed in the fourth quarter when Clippers' Eric Beldsoe and Crawford connected on three consecutive baskets to give LA a 78-73 advantage. Crawford, the former Knick was a monster on the boards, connecting on 12-of-22 shots for 27-points as LA posted 31 points in the fourth quarter.

Crawford later connected on two easy drives to the hoop and an 8-foot jumper as the Clippers build a nine point advantage.

The Knicks defense was terrible. They couldn't grab rebounds when they needed them, and they allowed guys like Crawford, and even an old man like Grant Hill to make plays offensively. Meanwhile, New York couldn't buy a shot when it counted. They missed eight shots and watched other possessions end in either an errant pass or a turnover; the only offense  in the fourth quarter came on free throw attempts.

Soon the Clippers All-Star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin took over, as they each nailed long distance jump shots as the Clippers pulled away 94-86.

The struggles defensively against their oppoents on the glass, and more importantly on the three-point line, is a constant problem for the Knicks. They struggled to handle Ricky Rubio and Timberwolves on Friday from both inside and outside the paint, and before that, the Knicks didn't even show up against the Wizards.

There are some serious issues here. The Knicks don't look in sync offensively when Anthony, Stoudemire and Shumpert are on the floor, and they are not getting the big three-point contributions they got earlier in the year from Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.

If things are to turn around soon, coach Mike Woodsen is going to have to get this team to gel big-time during the All-Star break.

Piazza dishes out on steroids and Clemens in new book

A month ago former Mets catcher Mike Piazza came up short on entering the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility. Perhaps one of the reasons Piazza didn't make it was because of consistent speculation that the former catcher used steroids.

Well, Piazza is now coming out with a  tell-all book that details his career, his rift and hatred for Roger Clemens as well as those steroid rumors.

While Piazza says he never used PEDs or anabolic steroids, he admits that he did take an over the counter muscle building drug called androstenedione, which contains creatine and amino acids. Andro is the same drug found in the locker of Mark McGwire in 1998, and Piazza says he eliminated it from his workout regime soon after that. Andro is banned by the FDA.

"Piazza admits that every team had a treasure chest of drugs.
“I used Vioxx because it was an intense anti-inflammatory and it made me feel good,” he writes in the book.
“When I caught for 22 straight days and could hardly drag myself out of bed to get to the ballpark, Vioxx picked me up. I’d sing, ‘It’s gonna be a Vioxx morning.’ ”
Piazza admits he took “greenies” — stimulants that were once common in baseball — usually in his coffee. But they made him too jittery. He preferred Dymetadrine, a light asthma medication that sends more oxygen to the brain. He also used Ephedra, an over-the-counter fat burner. It was later added to the banned list" (New York Post).

Whether people are going to interpret this as Piazza admitting to taking some form or performance enhancing drugs is going to be interesting. Nowhere is it mentioned that Piazza took steroids, only using over-the-counter drugs to keep him moving every single day. We will have to wait until next winter to see how the baseball writers interpret Piazza's take on steroids. But, as Piazza admits, every team had a "treasure chest of drugs," goes to show you that the steroid era has a wide encompassing umbrella.

Moreover Piazza also blasts former Yankee Roger Clemens. He details how he tried to prepare himself mentally and physically for a fight on the field with the "Roid Rage" pitcher, after he was beaned in the head by Clemens in 2000. Read the excerpts in the article; even to this day Piazza holds a grudge.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Open Mike 2-6-13 Super Bowl XLVII Recap

In this edition of the Open Mike Program, host Michael Cohen talks everything Super Bowl XLVII. He and guest Mike Sanfillipo break down the game; the legacy of the Ravens; the futures of Colin Keapernick and Joe Flacco, and whether the Ravens and Niners have a shot at Super Bowl XLVIII.

The duo even have a lively debate about the location of Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be in New Jersey next February.

Michael also breaks down the quality of Super Bowl commercials in his "Points of Contention." 

Listen to Hour One

Listen to Hour Two

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Jersey...Are You Ready for the Super Bowl?

Once Ted Ginn Jr. was tackled at midfield ending a heart-pounding Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, New Jersey officially went on the clock. No not for a number one draft pick, but for Super Bowl XLVIII, which will take place at MetLife Stadium next February.

For better or for worse, the very idea of hosting a Super Bowl in the freezing Northeast has drawn plenty of critics and backers since the decision was made two years ago to give the home of the Giants and Jets the big game.

Yet if one sat and watched not just Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, but all of the festitivies that surround the Super Bowl on gameday it is fair to wonder how New Jersey can pull this off when temperatures are usually no higher than 32 degrees at this time of the year. New Jersey has also gone through a huge cold snap the past month with temperature barely clearing double-digits.

Nobody will complain about Media Day or Radio Row next year because those events could be held at indoor facilities like Radio City Music Hall, MSG, the Prudential Center, the Javits Center, or Hell, even Trump Tower!

Plus a lot of radio stations who attend Radio Row are already located in New York, minimizing the need to even do the remote. Stations like WFAN, ESPN Radio and SIRIUS NFL and Mad Dog Radio can broadcast out of their own studios on some days during Super Bowl week if they should choose.

However, the actual game-day experience might be an unmitigated disaster especially if next winter resembles anything like this one with Green Bay-like temperatures; or worse, is like the winter of 2010 that featured several feet of heavy snow and skin-cracking winds.

Case in point, ESPN, the NFL Network and CBS Sports each had tables set up outside and inside of the Superdome for their extended coverage of the Super Bowl throughout the week. These same sets were then used the day of the game for each networks seven hour pregame shows, which began around noon on Sunday.

Can you imagine watching NFL Network, and seeing Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin bundled up like mummies for seven hours with only their eyes showing during a seven hour pregame show in the bowl of a blustery MetLife Stadium for a Super Bowl kick-off special? Next year's game is on FOX, what will Terry Bradshaw do to protect that bald head of his?

Then think about this: Super Bowl XLVII's insidious halftime show that featured Beyonce in scantly clad Victoria's Secret underwear, a performance that will be remembered more for her chunky legs, and over-the-top pyrotechnics, will be nearly impossible to pull off next year.

The New York Post reported that the NFL is "freaking out"about holding the Super Bowl and all of the side-dishes that go with it in a freezing stadium.

There is no plan for a halftime show at next year's Super Bowl, according to the Post, "because NFL officials can't figure out how to stage the festivities in frigid climate."

For one thing, it will be very difficult to set up a gigantic stage in a stadium where the sideline room is pretty narrow. Dolphin Stadium in Miami and the Superdome have plenty of sideline room for both media, photographers, halftime stages, and TV sets for the sports networks. There is no such room at MetLife. They barely have enough room for the Jets cheerleaders during the season.

That and the fact that it will be very difficult for any performer to put their best foot forward when temperatures are below freezing.

The best case scenario is to put the halftime show in the Izod Center, which is unused since the Nets and Devils moved out of it years ago; or move it to the Prudential Center, with a live feed being transmitted to the jumbo-trons in the stadium.

Local officials have already warned the NFL that the game might be impossible to play in hazardous conditions.  Forget about a dome being quickly put up on the building however. The idea about putting up a dome on the initial construction of MetLife Stadium cost over $200 million, something both the Jets and Giants, and taxpayers didn't want to pay for.

So what will happen with Super Bowl XLVIII? Don't expect NFL officials to suddenly balk and take the game to Tampa or Miami. Too much time and even money has already been committed toward bringing the Super Bowl to the New York Metropolitan area. However, if winter 2014 is like a lion, Super Bowl XLVIII, will likely be remembered for more than just the game.

Ravens Hold Off Kaepernick & 49ers to Win Super Bowl

49ERS 31

Super Bowl XLVII will forever be remembered as a Super Bowl so good, the power couldn't stay on in the Superdome.

A game that was about the battle between brother coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, turned into a chess match between two good young quarterbacks. 

Shortly after Jacoby Jones returned a kick-off 108 yards for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 28-6 lead, it appeared that Baltimore was on their way the first Super Bowl route since Super Bowl XXXVII.

Instead, a power outage that blacked out half stadium after a surge blew outside the building, seemed to turn the momentum in favor of the Niners. Even the Ravens would admit later, that the outage seemed to give renewed life to San Francisco 49ers, who erased the 22 point deficit down to just two points, 31-29, late in the fourth quarter, setting up the stage for a dramatic finish to the Harbaugh-Bowl.

But before we get to that, let's set up the table of this fantastic Super Bowl.

The Ravens totally dominated the first half of this football game. Joe Flacco was unbelievable finding his receivers, Torry Smith and Anquan Boldin in tight coverage all over the field. Even if the duo was in double coverage, Flacco found them. On the Ravens first drive, Flacco set the tone to his eventual MVP nod, leading a crisp six-play 51-yard drive, culminating in a 13-yard scoring strike to Boldin to give Baltimore a quick 7-0 lead.

However, in the early stages of the this game it looked like San Francisco was on to something. They were having early success running their offense out of the pistol, as Colin Kaepernick was able to fool the Ravens on a number of occasions with hand-offs to Frank Gore, or quarterback keepers to the outside on the Niners first scoring drive.  But a monster sack of Kaepernick by Paul Krugger on third and eight at the Baltimore 18 killed the drive, and forced the Niners to settle for 3-points. A huge opportunity missed for San Fran.

Later in the second quarter, the Niners were on the move again after Keapernick completed two passes to tight end Vernon Davis for a total of 40 yards, but LeMichael James' fumble gave the Ravens the football back and with it, the momentum.

The Ravens took full advantage as Flacco completed two huge passes to a wide open Ed Dickson for a total of 37 yards, setting up Flacco's touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta to make it 14-3.

Finally, Baltimore's defensive pressure got to the young Keapernick. He was forced to drop back deep in the pocket and threw an errant throw into the hands of Ed Reed. While the turnover didn't result in points for Baltimore it was a play that almost became a headline in this Super Bowl.

Facing a fourth and nine at the 49ers 14, coach John Harbaugh elected to try a fake field goal. The play didn't work as kicker Justin Tucker came up a yard short. It was an ill-advised play call that almost came back to bite the Ravens at the end of the game. Harbaugh was also lucky he didn't get his kicker injured on the play.

Still the 49ers couldn't move the football on the Ravens defense, and Baltimore didn't shy away from the big plays. First, Jacoby Jones made an acrobatic catch at the 10 yard line, avoided tacklers and scored to make it 21-3. Then, of course, Jones made a case for Super Bowl MVP with the 108-yard kick return.

If you thought the game was over and turned off the television set, you made a big mistake.

Suddenly, a surge exploded outside the stadium, causing the electricity to go out on the 49ers sideline and knocking out the ceiling lights in half the building. The delay lasted 34 minutes, giving the Niners time to regroup and proving to be a unnecessary delay for the elder Ravens who were amped up big time after the Jones kick return. While the power visually blew out the lights in the Superdome, it also blew out the Ravens momentum.

The 49ers grew red hot. Keapernick quickly resembled the man who led the 49ers to this very spot over the course of the last nine weeks. He couldn't be stopped. The Ravens couldn't get enough pressure up front, and when they did, the second-year pro rolled out of the pocket and made plays with his legs. The only way Keapernick could be stopped from making history was a costly turnover; with the way he drained the Ravens defense, a turnover wasn't likely to happen.

Keapernick slowly picked apart the Ravens on his first drive after the power outage. He scrambled for 15-yards to the Niners 40. He then hit Randy Moss for nine yards, and found his favorite target, Vernon Davis for 18 more. Finally, Keapernick hit Michael Crabtree on a perfect slant, allowing the receiver to cut up-field for the touchdown. 


The 49ers had a pulse.

After a Baltimore three and out and a terrible punt by Sam Koch, the Niners were in business at the Baltimore 20. Keapernick hit Davis for 14. The pulse was getting louder. Then, Frank Gore cut across the Ravens defense, thanks to a great block by the fullback, Delanie Walker, and scored.


Suddenly, the 49ers pulse was a heartbeat. They were back in the game.

The 49ers comeback was so amazing, it caught the Ravens off-guard. They were exhausted, and San Francisco knew it. It felt like it was only a matter of time before the 49ers took the lead and blew past Baltimore to the Lombardi trophy. But that moment never came.

After San Francisco kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to five points, Flacco led a brilliant drive composed of solid runs by Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, and a huge 30-yard completion to Boldin to set up Tucker with a field goal to extend the lead back to eight. While the Ravens would have liked a touchdown there, the field goal settled the game down a bit at 31-23.
For Flacco, to lead that drive with complete composure when it was clear that the game was falling apart for Baltimore, was the reason he won the MVP award for this game. His cool was the difference.

But Kaepernick wouldn't go away. He hit Randy Moss for 32-yards, and watched Frank Gore gash the Ravens for 21-yards to the Ravens 18-yard line. Then, Keapernick made his signature move. He rolled out of the pocket, found a hole and took it, racing 15-yards for a touchdown to bring San Fran within two points of the tie.

While San Fran didn't convert the two-point attempt, the Ravens weren't moving the ball as well in the second half, and it seemed that the comeback was going to happen.

 And it almost did.

Keapernick got one last shot at leading an inspirational come-from-behind-victory for the 49ers, and nearly pulled the rabbit out of his hat. After Gore broke free for a 33-yard run down the sideline,  Keapernick had the 49ers sitting pretty with a first and goal at the Ravens five yard line. On second down, he couldn't hit Crabtree in the end zone as the ball was swatted away at the last second by Corey Graham. On third down, Keapernick tried to hit Crabtree again on the sideline, but the ball was knocked out of his hands by Jimmy Smith.

Finally, in the most disputed play of the night, Keapernick lobbed a pass into the end zone for Crabtree, but the ball was out of his reach. The Niners wanted holding on Smith, but never got the call.

The Ravens were world champs.

While the 49ers were losers on Super Sunday, they gave America one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. Keapernick acquitted himself well, and one could argue he should have been named game MVP even in losing effort. Have no fear, while they were this close, the 49ers will be back in this spot soon.

As for the Ravens this championship concludes a season full of incredible storylines. From Ray Lewis pending retirement; to Joe Flacco's record setting postseason with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions; to Ed Reed finally making it to the big game, and coach John Harbaugh finally reaching the top of the mountain after leading Baltimore to five straight postseason berths; this was a title well deserved.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bill Parcells makes it to Canton, Michael Strahan does not

Former Giants and Jets head coach Bill Parcells will have his day in Canton, Ohio next summer.

The coach, also known as the Tuna, was one of seven candidates to make it to the Hall of Fame. Notable players joining him will be former Vikings wide receiver Chris Carter, Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen.

Parcells turned around a fledgling Giants franchise when he took the job before the 1983 season. After a 3-12-1 start to his career, Parcells won 82 games over the next seven years with Big Blue, winning Super Bowl's XXI and XXV.

The 1986 Giants, who beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl, were on of the best teams in NFL history -- sparked by the great play of linebacker Lawrence Taylor, and the consistency of quarterback Phil Simms.

In 1990 after Simms was lost for the season, Parcells leaned on the right arm of Jeff Hostetler to take the Giants back to the big game. The Giants upset the heavily favored Buffalo Bills, 20-19 in one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever played.

After leaving New York, Parcells went up to Foxboro, Massachusetts and turned around a dead Patriots franchise taking them all the way to the Super Bowl in 1996. However, a dispute between Parcells and Patriots owner Robert Kraft eventually led to a split and Parcells left New England for the New York Jets in 1997, giving birth to one of the leagues most intense rivalries.

Parcells changed the culture of the Jets, who went 1-15 in 1996 under Rich Kotitte.

In his first year with Gang Green, Parcells led the Jets to a 9-7 record, narrowly missing the playoffs.

The following year, Parcells brought his favorite running back Curtis Martin and journeyman quarterback Vinny Testaverde to the club; the Jets went 12-4 and came within 30 minutes of Super Bowl XXXIII, before losing to Denver in the 1998 AFC title game, 23-10.

Parcells finished his coaching career with four up and down years in Dallas. While he wasn't successful in Big D, Parcells found a franchise quarterback for the Cowboys in quarterback Tony Romo.

This was the fourth year Parcells was on the ballot, and he is long overdue for this honor.

As for former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, he did not make it to the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility.

 Strahan, is fifth all time in the NFL in sacks, and became a leader of the Giants' team that won Super Bowl XLII in 2007. However, he was usually known as clubhouse cancer during the early part of his career. Strahan's biggest accomplishment was breaking the single-season sack record; but even that was under debate at the time, because many felt that Packers quarterback Brett Favre let him have the record by sliding in front of him on purpose. Strahan will eventually get his day in Canton. So Giants' fans should not fret. Strahan has become a great ambassador for the game with his work on television, and his leadership at the end of his career left a lasting impact on current Giants Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

It was a great class with a lot of great candidates, and next summer at Canton is going to a great moment.