Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Newsflash: They Have the Internet on Computers Now

(For those who didn't get the above reference, click here.)

I've never cared much about the overexposure of Red Sox fans and their "Nation." Yes, the media seem to care more about what Joe Red Sox Fan is doing than what any other team's fans are doing, but since I'm not a Yankees fan, I guess it just never really bothered me. But today's is ridiculous. On the left is what passed for "news" today: A Sox fan started a web site asking Red Sox management to keep Manny Ramirez on the team. No. Freakin. Way. You mean a sports fan started a web site asking people in power to comply with what they want? Get outta here! Seriously, these sites have been around forever, including some of my favorites,,, and, more recently, the petition for Jake Plummer to grow his moustache. To say nothing of the guy who tried to score a date with Natalie Portman via the now-defunct I guess my point is this: the process has been going on forever - People in power have decision to make. Guy wants decision to go his way, starts web site. Other people agree with him, sign petition on web site. Why is this one news? Why is he on Cold Pizza tomorrow? And, most importantly, why does this bother me so much?

Reggie Bush Was Pretty Good in High School, Too

ESPN (among others) is currently airing a series of Nike ads showing highlights from the high school careers of Michael Vick and LaDanian Tomlinson. Nice ads, and it is quite entertaining to see snippets of those guys at the high school level. But neither holds a candle to the Reggie Bush high school highlights, written about today in the New York Times, with the video linked from the article here. Take the time to watch this video; as the article says, "the footage of Bush... can induce dizzy spells, even for a jaded viewer numbed by hours of cable highlight shows." Translation: if it made my jaw drop, it should make yours as well.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Billy Wagner Is a Met

Ed Coleman, reporting on WFAN minutes ago, says Billy Wagner is on his way to New York to finalize a deal that has already been agreed upon in principle to bring the market's top closer to Shea. Ken Rosenthal has the numbers: 4 years, 43 million.

Great signing. The only conceivable knocks on signing Billy Wagner are 1) He has blown big saves, and 2) 4 years are too many. Well, first of all, every closer - including the great Mariano - blows big saves. It's part of the job. You just hope that he gets his act together in October. I really believe that sometimes it's just potluck. Brad Lidge lost two games a month ago. You just never no, so better to roll the dice with someone you can have confidence in like Wagner, as opposed to someone you know will choke like Braden Looper or someone unproven like B.J. Ryan. And if giving that fourth year is what it takes, give it. Would any Met fan have been willing to not sign Pedro over that fourth year? Thought so. Great job by Omar again. He was the king of the 2004 Hot Stove Season, and is well on his way to repeating. Now get a catcher and a second baseman. And some bullpen help to get to Wagner. And maybe an outfield upgrade, from Boston....?

First Baseman... Number 21... Carlos Delgado

OK, so one thing that happened during my blogging absence was the Mets trading for Carlos Delgado. Since the press conference is going on right now, I think now's a good time to address the deal. (Tangent: Carlos Delgado gets a press conference. OK, I get it. Though it's not being televised, which says something. Billy Wagner probably gets a press conference. If you get Manny, there is definitely a (televised) press conference. But somehwere, it stops. If they sign Tony Graffanino, I don't think there's a press conference. So I guess my question is this: Where's the line? Who's the least important player that would get to stand at a podium to meet the New York media? And how awkward would it be if someone overvalued himself, thinking he's getting one, only to find out otherwise? Rafael Furcal: "OK, Omar, thanks for everything. What time do you want me at Shea tomorrow?" Omar: "Um.....")

So he gets #21. I think he should be allowed to take #25 from Kaz Matsui. Not buy it, not trade for it, just take it. And Tony Paige got a question in! Good for him.

Anyway, about the deal. I hesitate to call it a "great trade." Mike Piazza for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall, and Geoff Goetz is a "great trade." Everything else falls short of that. This is a very good trade, though. Let me explain why. Here's the thing about prospects: you have no idea what they'll turn out to be. Bill Simmons addressed this issue well last week. How many Mets prospects have we heard about for years, and then either they fail with us, or they fail on another team? Alex Escobar, Octavio Dotel, Alex Ochoa, Generation K... shall I go on? Point is, you have to believe in your prospects (see: David Wright), but each one should have a price. Which brings me to Carlos Delgado. 1st baseman, huge power numbers (even in Florida), addresses a major Met need. And his off-the-field "issues" are completely overblown. He didn't want to come to New York? I think he'll find that if they're signing the paychecks, he'll get by. Wouldn't stand for God Bless America? He will on April 3rd, and that will be the last anyone hears about it. Let's face the facts: the Mets have been getting power for 8 years (well, almost 8 years, anyway) from the catcher position, which is pretty unusual. Floyd is on the downswing of his career. They needed power desperately. And it doesn't hurt to get it from a traditional power position. Too much money? Well, they just saved a little bundle on Cameron, Piazza's 13 mil a year is no longer, and the Marlins gave some cash back. So all things considered, Delgado is a good acquisition.

What about the price? Like I said earlier, every prospect should have a price. You want to tell me that the Mets shouldn't give up Lastings Milledge for Delgado? OK, I'll buy that. Don't trade him for Manny Ramirez? Idiocy. Manny Ramirez is still putting up Hall of Fame seasons. Name me the last position player to come out of the Mets system that had Hall of Fame seasons. Answer: Darryl Strawberry. They've still yet to trade a blue-chip minor-league hitter that has made them kick themselves. Not Escobar, not Wilson, not Terrence Long. What about Petit? Well, what about him. From what I've read about him, he's good, but he's no sure thing like Kazmir. And with other top pitchers just drafted (Phillip Humber, Mike Pelfrey), that makes him expendable. So if it takes him to get Delgado, so be it. And as for Mike Jacobs, at best he's going to be a nice player. The outrage over trading this kid is laughable. But he hit 11 home runs in 100 at bats! So did Benny Agbayani. Would you trade him for Delgado? Or Shane Spencer? Remember: Mike Jacobs wasn't such a touted minor leaguer; he happened to be on the bench when Willie asked him to pinch-hit and he hit a 3-run homer, then he went on a tear. That doesn't mean they just traded the next Mark McGwire. At worst, they traded the next Carlos Delgado. And the chances of that are slim. Like I said, very good trade.

What's next? Sounds like Omar is going to make a big run at Manny. Should be entertaining. Wagner, Ramon Hernandez, and Benjie Molina are all getting offers. Should be interesting. The third baseball season of 2005 is well underway.

The Couch Critic - Week 12

Yesterday promised to be a good TV football day in the Student's Lounge. Two games featuring four good teams at 1, followed by a huge Giants game at 4. I decided to keep a running log of the games and their coverage. I'm calling it "The Couch Critic." Looking over it this morning, it's pretty interesting (to me, at least) to see how my thoughts about a game involving a team of mine evolve as the game goes on. Anyway, here's the first entry; click here to read the whole thing.
12:55 - Welcome to the first (and possibly last) installment of The Couch Critic, my notations on the day's NFL action from where I'm sitting. Who cares what I have to say? Well, consider this in the spirit of George Costanza: "Maybe I could be like, an announcer. Like a color man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game." Disclaimer: I'm not sitting on a couch, rather a moderately comfortable desk chair. My room can't fit a couch, and I'm not moving the TV to the living room. I have a nice swivel move between the TV and the computer, so I'm sticking to that.

12:57 - Two nice appetizers before the main event at 4 (Giants at Seattle). On CBS we have New England at Kansas City; a pair of 6-4 teams that match up pretty well. On FOX, a pair of 7-3 teams: Tampa Bay at Chicago. Excellent game, but as a Giant fan I have no idea whom to root for. I guess I'll support the Bucs, since I "picked" them. (My picks, for no other purpose than picking them, have a lot of favorites... I liked the lines, I guess: KC -3.5, Carolina -3.5, Cincy -9.5, San Diego -3 (that one's a lock), Tampa Bay -3, Minnesota -4, Tennessee -9.5, St. Louis -3, Jacksonville -3.5, Miami +7 (I feel like Saban needs to prove something after that whole "who-cares-if-we-lose" fiasco), Philly -4, Jets +2, and Colts -8 (no line is safe with that team, especially at home). Yes, I left out the Giants. I can't objectively assess them. But, for the record, Giants +5.

1:00 - I'm glad FOX assigned Kenny Albert to the Bucs-Bears game. I'm guessing Buck and Aikman have the day off after working Thursday, so Stockton/Moose slide up to do the Giants-Seahawks game, giving Albert/Baldinger this one. The reason I'm glad is because if Kenny was assigned to, say, Titans/49ers, I think he'd have to kill himself dealing with the fact that he missed the most exciting Rangers game in years in order to cover a pair of 2-8 teams. (CBS has Enberg and Dierdorf. Which is a good thing, especially because Enberg thrives off crowd energy, which Kansas City fans always provide.)

1:10 - Did you know the Bears' front four had 8 sacks last week? Yeah, I did too, but I forgot until they sacked and stripped Simms at the 1-yard line. One play later, 7-0 Bears. This D-Line is playing like my Madden 2005 Giants team when I play on All-Pro (i.e. comically good). Why Madden 2005 and not 2006? Because I'm in Year 13, and I'll be damned if I buy a new version before I finish my 30 years.

1:19 - KC drives down the field quickly. 7-0 Chiefs. This crowd is pretty pumped up. I'm glad the Giants get them at home. Then again, Oakland won't be much better.

1:30 - Scanning out of town scores, I see Nate Kaeding just missed a 40-something yarder in calm wind. See, Jets fans? You still have something to smile about.

1:42 - Bucs FG, KC FG, 7-3 Bears, 10-0 Chiefs. By the way, both games are now in the 2nd quarter and I have yet to see a Game Break on either network. Boo. And Sportsline/'s scoreboard won't load the GameCenter for Vikings-Browns. Boo.

1:45 - One downside of the Colts having home-field advantage this year will be the absence of the great "Cut that meat!" chant Peyton Manning was subjected to last January in Foxboro. Though I guess "De-Caf!" doesn't have the same sharpness to it.

1:50 - Around the league... David Carr is channeling his inner Joe Montana against St. Louis: 7-10, 100 yards, 2 TDs, 14-0 Texans. Bet he's gonna love having Reggie Bush around to take some pressure off. And there go the Jets fans' smiles.

1:53 - Our games? Not so exciting. Chiefs have picked off Brady twice, lead 13-0. Meanwhile, Bears-Bucs is a defensive battle (no surprise there), with the only TD coming off a fumble inside the 5. If you took the over (31.5) you deserve this. Game Break! Tomlinson 1-yard TD. Yeah, that was worth showing.

2:05 - I was wrong. Buck and Aikman are, in fact, working (I assumed they weren't because Nantz and Simms are off, but OK...), they're just working Eagles/Packers. Wait, what? FOX assigns its #1 announcing team, fresh off a Thanksgiving stinker, to the 2-8 Packers and the Mike McMahon-led Eagles instead of a battle between two first-place teams? Does this make sense to anyone? Anyway, all this courtesy of The Flash, who subscribes to SportsWeekly, which provides announcer info. So we'll be getting Stockton/Moose with more Siragusa than we'll want. Fine. By the way, the other guy who missed the Garden Showdown last night (seriously, between the skates to win a 15-round shootout?!) is Sam Rosen, who is in Buffalo for Panthers-Bills. Missing that game last night must be killing him, especially since he's probably thinking, "Hey, three weeks ago I did a Rangers game in the Garden Saturday afternoon, then did a Giants game in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, so why couldn't I do a Saturday night Ranger game and take the 1-hour red-eye to Buffalo?" By the way, I'm quite certain I'm the only person who cares about this. Besides Chris Russo.

2:13 - 24. Season 5. Frank? Jack! January can't come soon enough.

2:14 - Touchdowns coming in bunches now around the league, including Santana Moss's first one in over a month. Of course, our games are at 13-3 and 7-3, respectively. Meanwhile, a glance at the San Fran/Tennessee GameCenter shows the 49ers season in a nutshell:

1-10 - SF25 (3:59) K.Barlow right guard for 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on SF-K.Harris, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SF 25 - No Play.

1-20 - SF15 (3:46) K.Dorsey pass intended for B.Bajema INTERCEPTED by K.Bulluck at SF 23. K.Bulluck pushed ob at SF 7 for 16 yards (J.Smiley).

2:28 - Halftime pretty much everywhere. Low-scoring games, by and large (our games: 7 FG's, 2 TD's, many zzzzzzz's, while my "lock" of San Diego is losing). The most total points in any game at the half are the 27 in Texans/Rams game, with Houston holding a 24-3 lead. Carr's first half: 13/17, 171, 3 TDs. Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing quarterback for the Rams. I am not making this up. The only thing worse, in my mind, than a rookie quarterback being thrown into a losing game is a rookie quarterback from Harvard being thrown into a losing game. As a friend of mine once pointed out, do you think the Knicks' PA announcer had to retrain himself from laughter when introducing Chris Dudley "at 6'10" from Yale"? I mean, is there anything less intimidating than a center from Yale? I'm putting a quarterback from Harvard out there as a possibility. By the way, as the Texans roll over the Rams, two local thoughts just hit me: 1) This is great news for Jets fans, who can now be tied for first in the Reggie Bush sweepstakes by the end of the day, and 2) This is bad news for Giants fans, as a Rams loss means Seattle could clinch the division with a win today. Not that they're going to play any harder than they would have, but this doesn't really help.

2:36 - Chad Johnson's TD celebration du jour: scores, puts the ball on the ground, then putts it using the pylon as a club. My score: 9 out of 10. He shouldve found a hole to putt into. But give the guy credit: every week it's something else, and it's always entertaining. And he didn't resport to "Hey I'm playing in Baltimore, I'll just mimic Ray Lewis!" Side point: Minnesota/Cleveland GameCenter is up and running. My quesiton: who actually noticed and let them know there was a problem?

2:41 - Shows how much attention I'm paying to the KC/NE game on CBS: Dan Dierdorf isn't doing this game with Dick Enberg; on the receiving end of the "Oh my!"s today is none other than former QB Rich Gannon. I'm guessing this means he's not in the league anymore, though I'll bet Jets fans wish he was. Seriously, who'd you rather have at QB tonight: Brooks Bollinger or Rich Gannon? Oh right, you guys want to finish 2-14. My bad. Anyway, with Gannon in the booth, I'm gonna have to listen a little more carefully. And as I type this, he says "Will Shields, a perennial Pro Bowl." This 19-3 game may be worth watching after all.

2:49 - "Alex Brown should star in "Prison Break" because nobody would get away from him." -- Brian Baldinger, killing two birds with one stone. He made sure to continue his weekly tradition of working "Prison Break" into everything he sees in the 3 minutes following Kenny Albert reading that week's promo, and he continued his weekly tradition of being the most painfully unfunny football analyst on TV. By the way, think about his above statement. Alex Brown should star in Prison Break because nobody would get away from him. So Alex Brown should star as.... the prison?

3:09 - Bears 13, Bucs 10 after three quarters. 66 minutes until the Giants kickoff. Of course, what will undoubtedly happen will this game will get exciting in the 4th quarter, leading to a climactic final two minutes, which the New York market won't see because the Giant game will pre-empt it. Not that I'm complaining - I don't want to miss a second of the Giant game. But if you're gonna be a crappy game when I'm watching you, you'd better be a crappy game when I can't watch you due to network restrictions. Time to order pizza so it gets here in time for kickoff.

3:13 - Memo to San Diego offense: WAKE UP!!!

3:21 - Around the league.... Texans beating Harvard, 24-10... Definition of a FG battle: 9-6, Buffalo, mid-4th... Cincinnatti's 34-0 bashing of Baltimore led me to check the last time the Bengals shut out an opponent: 1989, Week 13, against Cleveland. 16 years since their last shutout, and they're a little more than one quarter away. If the 4th quarters of our games are boring (Tampa Bay just cut it to 13-10, though), I'll check if that's the longest a current team has gone without pitching a shutout. I'd have to think so.

3:26 - There goes the shutout. Now I'm going to check out of spite.

3:34 - Around the league... Brees picked off in the end zone, Ravens get another TD (shutout talk maybe a bit premature), despite their best efforts, Carolina gets a touchdown (on their fifth play of the drive inside the Buffalo 5), Harvard-led Rams cut Houston lead to 24-16. Meanwhile, Chris Simms is leading his second straight impressive drive. Turning into a good game, just in time to get me juiced up for (did I mention this yet?) Giants vs. Seahawks. By the way, I know the Giant game could get really ugly really quickly. I'm fully aware of this. But for now I'm just going to focus on the fact that the Giants are playing a game in Week 12 that could decide home-field advantage for the NFC.

3:41 - Bucs down 3, Simms leads a great drive, less than 3 minutes left, 29-yard FG attempt by Matt Bryant. Wide right. I feel bad for Tampa Bay fans right now, but as a Giants fan, I can't even pretend to act surprised. There's a good chance that kick keeps the Bucs out of the playoffs. And Bryant destroys yet another team's season. Amazing. The downside of this game getting good is that Pats/KC has been reduced to permanent picture-in-picture, so I can't keep track of Gannon's Grammar Gems.

3:51 - Fittingly, the game ends on a sack of Simms. By the way, when FOX just got back from commercial, the first shot was of a despondent Matt Bryant, leading to this exchange:
Kenny Albert (rhetorically): You know what Matt Bryant's thinking about.
Brian Baldinger: Yeah, he's thinking about that last missed field goal. This game could be tied up right now.

Why couldn't they show Kenny Albert's facial reaction to that? It was probably something like "Rangers kill off an overtime penalty, win a 15-round shootout, and I missed it to sit next to the world's biggest moron."

3:56 - KC beats New England, CBS switches to San Diego/Washingotn. Nice. Seems the San Diego offense got my memo, as Tomlinson just tied the game on a 32-yard TD run. After forcing a Redskins punt, they're driving for the win.

4:04 - Sean Springs may have just picked my lock of the week by picking off Bress with 65 ticks left.

4:09 - Chargers defense comes up huge, forces a 53-yard attempt from John Hall. No good. Bad day for former New York kickers continues. Unless Chargers can gain yards quickly (30 seconds left), this game will go into an unseen-by-New York OT. Meanwhile, Harvard-led St. Louis just cut it to 27-24. Of course, there's only 26 seconds left and... They recovered the onside kick! Woah! And now they're at the Houston 30! If the Texans lose this game and end up finishing 1-15, there needs to be an investigation into whether they lost this one on purpose. Redskins intercept hail mary, invisible overtime it is.

4:13 - Rams score 10 points in final 26 seconds, send game into OT. Dude.

4:15 - Goodbye Redskins/Chargers, we hardle knew ye... We'll follow ye on Time for the main event. And pizza arrived just in time. 2 questions about that: 1) how many times do you have to order the same thing before you can put your name on it? I'd love to save time by just calline and saying "Yeah, just send over a Student of The Game special." 2) How lazy am I that I ask for delivery when the pizza place is a 30-second walk from my apartment? Well, it's half laziness, half I-don't-want-to-miss-a-snap."

4:40 - Wow. FOX goes commercial-free for the first 14:17 of the 1st quarter, giving me little time to catch my breath. So here's why Tomlinson is an elite running back. He saves the game in overtime, wins a huge one for his team, and makes sure to cover the three-point spread in the process. What a guy. Then there's the Harvard-led Rams, who were down 24-3 at the half, 27-17 with a minute left, and won in OT, also on a TD (also covering a three-point spread. Amazing, by the way. When was the last time 2 games went into OT with a 3-point spread (thus increasing the odds of a push) and both end with the favorites getting 6 in OT?) Harvard rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's final line: 19/30, 310, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 1 W. Not bad at all. My apologies. No more Chris Dudley comparisons till next week.

4:41 - Oh right, the Giant game. Surprisingly, they've been stopping Shaun Alexander. Not surprisingly, Hasselbeck is picking on Corey Webster like he's one of the last O'Doyle brothers (O'Doyle rules!). Hard to hate the guy matched up with him, Joe Jurevicius (who just caught a 35-yard TD). Ex-Giant, plays hard, good guy, and tragic family stuff. Can't the Seahawks bring Koren Robinson back? That would make things easier. Other highlights so far: Burress has great hands, and a notable NFL record was set.... by a punter. Nice achievement, no question, but there has to be an asterisk when a punter sets a record for consecutive games. It's just not the same as a defensive end (Jim Marshall, previous record holder). To me, this is the football equivalent of breaking Cal Ripken's record by pinch-hitting in 2,633 straight games.

5:02 - 7 Giants penalties in 24 minutes. Wonderful. Most of those are false starts. Four, says Dick Stockton. Like I said earlier, this could get real ugly real fast. Around the league... well, it's hard to pay attention because 1) Giants are on, and 2) the other three games are awful. And now the Giants just got called for a false start ON A PUNT! AND AGAIN!! Someone needs to start passing out Prozac or Xanax or something on the sidelines. ENOUGH WITH THE FALSE STARTS!

5:08 - Time to see how I did in my early game picks. Won: KC, Carolina, Cincy (about that shutout...), San Diego (barely), Minnesota, Tennessee, Rams (see San Diego). Lost: Tampa Bay. Wow. Only Matt Bryant kept me from being 8-0 in the early picks. Giants force, recover fumble. Bout time something went right there.

5:15 - I have absolutely no idea how the Giants recovered that Manning fumble. Is it just me or does Manning seem to fumble more than any QB in the league? And that time he wasn't even hit! AND ANOTHER FALSE START! 7 today. At least 4 of those on Pettigout, who needs to be put out of his misery. I can't remember hating another New York Giant more. Wait, we had Ron Dayne.

5:27 - Giant game: Flag, flag, flag. Meanwhile, the offense isn't playing too well, but showing that it might be good enough to win later in this game. Tiki hit 1,000 yards, yay. Around the league... seems Byron Leftwich left the game, wonder how serious that is. Samkon Gado: 14 carries, 90 yards, TD. Gotta love this guy.

5:37 - While this Shockey TD is under review, a quick thought on what just happened. Shockey caught (maybe) the ball in the end zone, then got pounded by Marquand Manuel, knocking the ball loose. Despite the refs' signal that it was a TD, Manuel picked it up and ran it out, all the way to the 30 before he listened to the whistles. One quesiton for Mr. Manuel, though: what are you running with? If the ball was knocked out before Shockey had possession, it's incomplete. And if it's knocked out after he had possession, it's a touchdown. How could someone catch a ball in the end zone and fumble it? Anyway, TOUCHDOWN! Give the Giants credit; it looks like they're gonna make this a fight. Halftime. Gonna go check last time _________ shut out an opponent.

6:00 - And the second half has started. I can't believe the Giants actually are leading right now, but then again, the defense is playing relatively well, the offense began to click a little, and if they can stop committing penalties and make a few big plays (and not let Alexander break loose), they could definitely win this thing. And apparently there are other games going on as well. The Dolphins just sacked Kerry Collins in the end zone; 16-7 Miami.

6:21 - I'm not slowing down, I just have less to say. Close game, Manning just threw a costly interception. How costly it turns out to be depends on what Seattle can do with the ball and good field possesion. They haven't done much since that first TD drive; if they don't get points now, I'd be concerned.

6:24 - Good morning, Shaun Alexander. Please just hit the snooze and go back to sleep. TD, Seahawks. Pick? Costly.

6:29 - Near-INT, Tiki sidelined, false start, crowd frenzied, 3rd and 13. Should've been 3 and out, instead Manning completes to Burress. Gotta take momentum back here. Never mind. No momentum can be gotten when Petitgout and Diehl give 5 yards back every 4 downs. And another flag! That Manning INT is gonna be analyzed to death tomorrow.

6:38 - The results are in. Sure enough, the Bengals have gone the longest without shutting out an opponent, their last one coming in Week 13 of 1989, when they whitewashed Cleveland. But the next-longest one might surprise you: Washington, which hasn't shut out an opponent since Week 5 of 1991 (Redskins 23, Eagles 0). Then Arizona (Week 15, 1992), Minnesota (Week 14, 1993), and New Orleans (Week 17, 1995). All four recent expansion teams since then (Carolina, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Houston) have all forced the opposition to put up a 0.

6:42 - 14 penalties. And yet Manning-to-Burress can make 1st and 20 disappear.

6:57 - 4th and inches at the Giants 4 (play under review, the spot will stand; Holmgren was going to take a timeout anyway, so why not at least give the challenge a shot). I say go for it. The Giants defense is good, but they've been missing tackle after tackle, and odds are you're gonna get the inches you need in any case. By the way, Dick Stockton is lost. It's 14-13 Seahawks right now. First he says, "If Seattle kicks a field goal, they'll make it a two possession game ." Huh? OK, he corrected himself. But then, when debating whether to go for it on 4th, "If they get the touchdown, then it's a two posession game." Because there's no possible way to get 8 points in one possession, right? Oh. Forgive the bitterness, this game is getting tough to take. I think whether I watch the Jets game completely depends on the outcome of this game. If the Giants win, I'll be excited to watch another football game, even if it involves the Jets and Saints. If they lose, I'll need the stacked Sunday night lineup of The Simpsons/Family Guy/Desperate Housewives/Curb to distract me from what will certainly br a difficult defeat.

7:05 - Again with the "two scores"!! Memo to Dick Stockton: They play with the 2-point conversion now. They have since 1994. Wake the hell up.

7:07 - I swear, every time the Giants start a play, I hear whistles, even when there aren't any. That's how this game has been going.

7:16 - OK, another review, and who knows if this one will stand or not. But I must say, atrocious job by Stockton and Moose. Any football fan worth his salt remembers the game a few weeks ago when the Saints got screwed by an absolutely awful call. Ernie Conwell was down, a Rams player picked the ball off of him and ran it in to the end zone. The play started before the 2:00 mark in the 4th quarter and ended inside 2:00, with Jim Haslett out of challenges. So what everyone learned that day is the rule that if the play starts outside of 2 minutes, it's a coach's challenge, and inside of 2 minutes is a booth review. But Stockton was busy telling the world that because the play ended inside 2 minutes, it was going to be reviewed by the booth. Awful job. In his defense, Larry Nemers, today's referee, misled everyone when, after reviewing the spot of the 4th down, announced, "Seattle has used its second challenge," when their "first challenge" was actually a booth review on Shockey's 1st-half touchdown. So Holmgren did have his second challenge, which is fine if he didn't know that (thanks to Nemers), but then Stockton's response should have been along the lines of "Well, this can't be challenged by Holmgren (he has none left) nor the booth (the play started outside of 2 minutes).

7:25 - After all that drama, I can't believe a) The Giants got that touchdown; b) they converted the neccesary 2-point conversion; c) the defense just forced a quick 3-and-out. Then again, I should start believing; they did the exact same thing against Dallas and Denver. Now, barring a Bledsoe-esque bonehead play (and against Seattle, you never know), the Giants either win or force OT. What a finish. By the way, it should be noted that this is maybe the finest games of Jeremy Shockey's career, edging out the season-ender against Philly in 2002.

7:30 - No good. Both the field goal and the Giants' chances right now. That was it, they had their chance. Now Alexander will pull a Tomlinson, and we'll have our 3rd OT TD of the day. Lost the toss. Game Over. Side point: Very nice of you, FOX, to have a virtually commercial-free 1st quarter, but did it need to be at the expense of the 4th quarter? Ever hear of setting up the situation? Commercial ends, - BAM! - ball is snapped. Next time just don't even show it. Like the way you miss pitches in the freakin' World Series.

7:36 - On a happier note, I've never had a better week for picks (again, for no other purpose than to pick games. Seriously. With picks like these, I wish I would've put money down.) In the late games, I won with Jacksonville, Miami, and Philly. I have the Giants +5, but I still think Seattle is getting a TD here. Barring that, I'll be 11-1 going into tonight.

7:38 - Bottom line: when you need a play to be made, get the ball in the hands of Burress. Another false start. I'm sure Coughlin will go easy on Luke in practice this week. And if the Giants win the division, thank Tim Carter, who just recovered what would've been a huge Shockey fumble.

7:40 - I've started to tape PrimeTime already. Win or lose, I have no idea if I can stomach it this evening. Maybe after the late SportsCenter.

7:45 - Yet another booth review. Here's something to pass the time: ESPN put up a graphic with some notes about our Harvard friend, Ryan Fitzpatrick. 1st Harvard QB to ever play in the NFL. 1 of 3 active NFL players from Harvard. 250th pick out of 255 in the 2005 Draft. And the 14th of 14 QBs selected. And now he has one more win than the 2 first-rounders, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers.

7:49 - Feely misses. Again. Defense needs to come up huge. Again. It should be noted that both Tony Siragusa on the TV side and Dick Lynch on the radio side interrupted the play-by-play to call the field goal no good. See, that's no good. Let the play-by-play guy call the plays. Granted, it was out of character for Siragusa, but Lynch does this on a regular basis.

7:58 - The return of Thunder and Lightning! Can't you feel the symmetry? Ron Dayne with a huge run in OT on Thursday, and now Tiki with a huge run in OT today. And for the record, I started typing that before Dick Stockton brought it up. First 100-yard rusher Seattle has allowed all season. Even if it did take an extra period.

8:00 - Third time's a charm? Oh for goodness' sake. Bring back Matt Bryant.

8:04 - You give a team that many chances, that's what's gonna happen. Terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible loss. Give credit to Manning, Tiki, Burress, and Shockey for doing everything they could to win this game. Give credit to the defense for standing tall as many times as you could expect them to. Blame Feely. And nobody but Feely. He lost this game. 3 times. 3 times! The weird thing is, I feel like the Giants answered the question of whether they can beat a quality opponent on the road with a yes. Sure, they didn't get the win, but the team proved they can win. I know theoretics don't count. I'm fully aware of that fact. But I have a lot more confidence in the team as a whole to win on the road, Manning specifically, then I did this morning.

So the Seahawks will get home-field advantage in the NFC, and the Giants and Cowboys will duke it out for the division next week. Maybe the Giants end up with the 2 or 3 seed, and end up back at Qwest Field with something to prove. And maybe they'll play disciplined and actually convert a field goal when it counts.

One final, Simmons-esque thought just came to me: you think opposing players who see Feely now will give him the Jim Levenstein treatment and hold up three fingers in the air, mocking him, as if to say, "Three times?"

This concludes The Couch Critic for this week. I just can't stomach watching Saints/Jets. Not after this. I'll probably flip to it during commercials, maybe keep it in picture-in-picture. But my mind won't be rational enough to do another three hours of this. Maybe tomorrow night, if I feel like it. But this was fun. Until the end, of course. Anyway, I'm outta here. Wait, false start!

I'm Back, Baby!

So one thing I've discovered about blogging is there's something worse than writing something pointless, or offensive, or just plain stupid: writing nothing at all. Especially when you're someone like me, who gets too busy to write for a day or two, but then the things I would have written stay in my head, and then as the days go on, I feel the need to write those thoughts along with the new thoughts from the current day, and then it just seems too daunting so I promise myself I'll post a flurry of items that night, except that it always seems like too much so I push it off. (For the record, that run-on sentence was deliberate; I'm trying to illustrate the run-on thought in my head.) Anyway, with three different people asking me why haven't I posted in awhile, I guess today is as good as any to get back into it. Mets have the Delgado press conference, Knicks and Rangers gave MSG one of its greatest days in a long time, and then there are the New York football teams. Ugh. More on that soon.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Morning Musings

  • I was listening to halftime of the Knicks-Lakers game the other night on ESPN Radio. Halftime in the Knicks-on-WFAN days meant first half analysis and an interview. Seemed pretty standard. But on 1050, they actually play highlights from the first half. Bizarre on two accounts. Firstly, I've never in my life heard radio highlights played before the game is actually over. Secondly, playing basketball highlights as a companion to a recap just doesn't work. If you don't believe me, hear for yourself. (WFAN never did it, by the way.) Obviously, post-game highlights fit best with baseball. It works well with football, too. With hockey, you just play the goals (or the rare out-of-this-world save). Trying to recap a basketball game and play accompanying highlights just doesn't flow.
  • When you listen to as much WFAN as I do, certain commercial jingles tend to get stuck in your head to the point you start humming them everywhere and can't shake it off. This has happened with many ads over the years, but the latest one is definitely the most disturbing. You know the jingle I'm talking about: it ends with "I've...... got gas!"
  • Doug Christie has a sore right ankle, and is going to miss some time. Key words in the brief article: "sidelined indefinitely" and "returning to his home." I don't know about you, but I'm glad he's going to get to spend more quality time with his wife. Those road trips were really taking a toll on her. Hey, whatever happened to that reality show?
  • Is it possible to get into college basketball before January? Didn't think so.
  • David Duval is still alive. And on a leaderboard. Good for him. It seems like only yesterday he was being called "the Arnold to Tiger's Jack." Yes, there was a time when he was going to be Tiger's rival for life. Not only did it not work out like that, Duval dropped off the golf radar completely. Hopefully he can make it back all the way; it's only six years since he was #1 in the world.

Fighting Is the New Black

Terrell Owens is many things, and now you can add "trendsetter" to the list.

One of the last straws with the Eagles was a well-documented altercation with team "ambassador" Hugh Douglas. (What does a football team's ambassador do, anyway? Spread good will to Paraguay?) Now it seems everyone in sports trying to get in on the fighting thing...

There was that Bears offensive line thing, with the 5-pound weight, the broken jaw, and the FBI. OK, two burly linemen get into it. Understandable.

Then yesterday, two Bengals backups brawl. OK, two tough players, a little over-aggressive maybe, fired up for a Huge Game on Sunday, get into it. I can hear that.

And then it extended to coaches! "...running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild square[d] off briefly in practice on Wednesday." Wow, this must be some exciting trend if even coaches are picking up on it! Well, it is the Rams, so I guess I can see that.

And in a true, can't-miss sign that this is a real trend, fighting has extended to other sports, namely, that bastion of ill will and animosity, women's golf. Though it wasn't an all-out brawl, instead labeled by the media as a "feud" or "dispute," the LPGA Royal Rumble can't be too far off.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Least Surprising Headline Ever

"Tyson dinner ends in mass brawl"

Leave it to Iron Mike to turn even the British into uncivilized thugs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mid-Afternoon Musings

  • Bob Sheppard is retiring as public address announcer for the Giants. Hopefully he'll soon retire from his other job as well. With the Yankees. Bob Sheppard. Retiring. Bob Sheppard.
  • Rachel Nichols, on last night's Outside the Lines Nightly, reporting on the one-year anniversary of the Malice at the Palace: "While most of the focus of that night has been on the key players involved, they represent only a small proportion of those affected." Proportion? Are usage skills no longer a prerequisite to be an ESPN reporter? I'll give her a pass though; she usally does good work.
  • Chris Russo just called Ron Insana "Ron Insania." No big surprise there.
  • Donovan McNabb is out with a pulled groin. I can never hear of this kind of injury without thinking of a line from "Spin City" (credit to my buddy Flash for keeping this quote alive): "I pulled my groin. It felt so good I pulled it again."
  • Speaking of which, thanks to Mister Irrelevant for reminding everyone that McNabb was destined for this injury by letting himself be on the cover of this year's Madden.
  • Scott Boras is asking 7 years/84 million for Johnny Damon. Crazy nutjob, or smart agent trying to make 5 years/50 million seem reasonable?
  • Red Sarachek passed away on Monday. More on this later.

Don't Go There

The last time Mike Cameron played in a Major League Baseball game, it was in San Diego. If you don't remember it, perhaps the collage on your left will refresh your memory. Could it be the next game he plays will also be there? (Giants at Padres, April 3rd, in case you were wondering.) is all over the latest rumors, which are slowly turning into facts. Aside from the fact that personally I don't like any of the trades suggested, it bothers me more that the Mets could be cruel enough to make Cameron play 81 games in a building he could've been brain damaged in.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Xavier Nady, the first New York Met in history to have either of his names begin with the letter X.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Two Great Videos

A bit off-topic, but last night I saw two videos on the internet that I think should be shared. You need to be part of a specific audience, however, to appreciate them.

If you grew up with "Full House," as I did, check this out. Brings back memories.

On a more obscure level, if the words "All Your Base Belong to Us" mean anything to you, click here. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about and want to get in on the joke, you're quite late, but here's a good place to catch up.)

A Win Is a Win

Well, the Mets started out 0-5 and turned out a decent season, maybe the Knicks can do the same. I was watching MNF, but had the GameCenter on my computer. I couldn't believe what I was seeing: 37-36... at halftime? 55-44... after 3 quarters? I can't believe anybody enjoyed watching that game (73-62 final, by the way). Oh, congrats to the Knicks for allowing the fewest points they ever have, I guess. This is the first time in my life I can remember being more interested in the New York Rangers than the Knicks. But the Knick win is very encouraging. In the immortal words of Lou Brown, "We won today. If we win tomorrow, that's two in a row. That's a winning streak, and who knows what will happen."

Taking it a Bit Too Far, Maybe?

After seeing clips of the T.O. funeral on "Monday Night Countdown" last night, I wanted to see some follow-up on the event. I wasn't expecting this: a different radio station, 102.9 WMGK, also pulled a stunt, though with bigger ramifications. It seems "Thud," a DJ at the station, was arrested yesterday morning "for trying to push a 6-foot-4, cotton-stuffed T.O., which he'd kicked there from Love Park, into the Delaware (River). Sam Hagopian, as he's formally known, was cuffed and taken to DRPA headquarters in Camden. Hagopian, 24, has a court date Monday on a charge that he created a substantial risk to the public." What risk to the public is there in pushing an effigy into a river? I'm sure the guy checked that the water below was clear of ships.

Update: Ben Maller links to some fantastic pics of the stunt.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Welcome back, Bluths?

It pained me to break the news to people on Friday, be it via IM, phone, or the blog, about the cancellation of "Arrested Development." Therefore, it pleases me to be the bearer of good... rumors. From the good folks at
There's an interesting rumor going around the industry: Showtime is interested in getting Arrested Development.

OK, for now it's still in that "rumor" stage, but the SF Chronicle's Tim Goodman answers several questions about the show's FOX demise, and it says that it actually makes sense for Showtime to pick up the show. Nothing for certain yet, but there seems to be at least a faint pulse to the show this week when last week it was flatlining.

I agree with that last point. Rumors this early are very encouraging. And Showtime would mean no commercials. But if Showtime in fact picks it up, I'm hoping one thing doesn't change: the bleeping. Just because they can use swear words doesn't mean they should. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against obscenities on TV; quite the contrary, I think when used well, swear words heighten the comedy on a show like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the drama on "The Sopranos." But part of the brilliance of "AD" on Fox was evading the censors by using the bleeps and pixelation (especially on Buster's stub), to the point that last week's narration even included "I can't believe we had to bleep that!" Hopefully that won't change.

The Definition of Value

Funny thing about this year's American League "MVP": when I (along with every Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and other baseball fan) look back on Alex Rodriguez's 2005, here's what I recall: Rodriguez struck out swinging; Rodriguez hit by pitch; Rodriguez struck out swinging; Rodriguez grounded into double play third to second to first, Jeter out at second; Rodriguez grounded out to third; Rodriguez walked; Rodriguez walked; Rodriguez walked; Rodriguez grounded out to third; Rodriguez doubled to deep right; Rodriguez struck out looking; Rodriguez walked; , Rodriguez singled to shallow left center; Rodriguez grounded out to shortstop; Rodriguez flied out to left; Rodriguez struck out looking; Rodriguez walked; Rodriguez walked; Rodriguez popped out to second; Rodriguez struck out swinging; Rodriguez hit by pitch; Rodriguez grounded out to shortstop; and of course, Rodriguez grounded into double play third to second to first, Jeter out at second. Totals: 2-15, 0 RBI

And just for good measure: Cabrera safe at first on 3rd baseman Rodriguez's fielding error; and of course, Rodriguez caught stealing, catcher to shortstop.

But it's not like all this happened during an important 5-game stretch or anything.

Another Heat Legend Honored

College basketball superstars who are drafted by the Miami Heat will have one less number to choose from. The Heat currently have one retired number: the #23 worn by famed Heat player Michael Jordan. Well, this season another number joins Jordan's: Dan Marino's #13. Yes, the football player. I guess with no legends and no titles, Miami figured they should have something hang in the American Airlines Arena rafters. Great line in the article: "Hard to believe they passed on the chance to retire the jersey of the only NBA player ever named Bimbo."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Comment Moderation Off!

Thanks to the good folks at Faith and Fear in Flushing, I just realized that I needed to "approve" comments before they would be posted. Fixed that, so comment away.

Metaphorically speaking, I may have started moving into this blog 11 days ago, but I still need to install electricity and plumbing. I'll get around to it soon enough.

I'll Drink to That

Bobby Valentine now has a beer named after him in Japan. And to think, BoBeer could've been huge in New York in 1999 and 2000. I like Bobby V, and I know he likes Japan, but can't we all agree Major League Baseball is more fun with him in it? And while we're here, can't we also agree that he was far better than Larry Bowa on "Baseball Tonight"? Come back, Bobby. And bring a keg of BoBeer with you.

Update: Apparently alcohol-related product news comes in bunches. Drinking contest: BoBeer vs. Larry Bird's wine.

Major Props Department

I never envisioned any real exposure for this blog, but thanks to Jamie Mottram, aka Mr. Irrelevant, Student of The Game got a screenshot shout-out on this morning's "Cold Pizza." ... (Although cynics would point out that Cold Pizza might not count as "real exposure"... and they'd probably be right, unless you get something like this.) Check out Jamie's twice-weekly podcast, Sports Bloggers Live, here. As of this writing, it's the only place on the web to hear Ron Artest freestyle rapping.

Bye Bye, Bluths

The hits just keep on coming. First Gary Cohen leaves the radio booth, then FOX goes ahead and cancels "Arrested Development". That this news comes the same day as they decide that fans running onto the field is acceptable television is purely coincidental, but at the same time it's truly appropriate. Who has room on the schedule for the smartest TV comedy to come along in years when you can air new episodes of"Stacked" or "The War at Home"? I actually tried to watch "The War at Home" (sucked in by the "Simpsons" lead-in). It was beyond dreadful. There are still 8 episodes of AD left to air, and my advice to the television--viewing world is to cherish them. America is stupid, so smart shows are going to become extinct. First this, whither "Scrubs"? At least one good thing will come of this: the writers will find a way to take a few shots at the network on the way out. And if there is a television God, this show will land on cable somewhere.

Leave It to Fox...

I remember the first time I watched a Met game with my father that was interrupted by a fan running onto the field. (Actually, I remembering this happen a lot when I was younger, especially when I was at the game; tickets were cheaper, as was the beer, and the Mets were bad enough to make the cop/fan chase the most exciting part of the outing.) Anyway, we knew the stoppage on the field was due to a fan because the announcers were talking about it, though the cameras weren't on him. I asked my dad why they didn't show him. Dad, ever the seasoned vet, replied that if a fan running onto the field was shown on TV, it would only encourage more morons to do the same. As long as I've been watching sports, that's always been the philosophy. Until now. From today's Orlando Sun-Sentinel:
The networks are thinking twice about whether to show fans running onto the playing field during games.

Fox boss David Hill said that his network has changed its policy and will allow cameras to broadcast intrusions live.

The thinking: viewers deserve to understand why there's been an interruption in a game.
At the risk of sounding Mushnick-esque, um, isn't that why the announcers are there? They can just go into their "some idiot has had too much to drink" routine, and we can figure out the rest. Why do we need to see this? Don't get me wrong -- I would love to see the fan/police chase which inevitably ends with with a big police takedown (or the occasional linebacker takedown), I just think that showing them will, in fact, encourage more fans to do so, and more stoppages will ensue.

The Third Season

As a Met fan, I'm glad to see Omar Minaya is a busy, busy man. From (which is proving to be the best place to go for all things hot stove):
Appearing on ESPN News, ESPN’s Peter Gammons mentioned that Mets GM Omar Minaya has been the busiest person at the GM meetings. Gammons added that he believes this is indicative of how the Mets will behave the entire off-season…
And then there's today's Daily News:
General Manager Omar Minaya and aide Tony Bernazard were planning on leaving the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., today and going to Yuma, Ariz., to meet face-to-face with free agent catcher Bengie Molina, according to sources at the meetings. It's believed it's more of a "getting to know you" session. The Mets weren't expected to make an offer yet.

Last week Minaya was in Virginia at the home of Wagner, and the Mets are almost certainly going to make him an offer. And a trade with Tampa Bay is the hottest rumor out there. And of course, there's the Manny situation. I'm not saying Omar is going to dominate this offseason like he did last year's, but it seems that he definitely wants to. And the travelling from place to place is a good thing. Remember, when he went to the Dominican Republic last year, good things happened.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Water Hockey

No doubt you've forgotten that the Winter Olympics are right around the corner (February 10th). Well, it seems the host city of Turin has as well. While the new hockey arenas in Turin are "state of the art," they just can't seem to stop that danged ice from melting. Shouldn't be a problem, though. I'm sure if Jaromir Jagr slips through the thin ice and tears up his knee in a Czech preliminary match, the Rangers won't be fazed at all.


Last year, WFAN hosts Sid Rosenberg and Joe Benigno presided over a "funeral" for the NHL, complete with eulogies, mourners, and a casket. WIP in Philadelphia must have been listening. Today, Howard Eskin, WIP host, will host a "funeral" for Terrell Owens. Fans are being asked to toss jerseys into the casket, after which they will be donated to the homeless (the jerseys, not the fans).

(via Ben Maller)

Will He Let Howie Long Be the GM?

Look closely at that man on the left. He might be sitting between Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones at an NFL owners meeting in the future. That's right, Terry Bradshaw has expressed interest in buying the Saints, making contact with potential investors. From the article: “I’ve gotta line up the money first and make sure I’ve got the money. And then from gotta find out what Mr. Benson wants to do,” Bradshaw said. “It’s his team.”

Maybe, but count me among those who hope it becomes Bradshaw's team. Sure, I'd miss his crazy highlights every Sunday, but consider the potential payoff: JB and Howie presenting Bradshaw with the NFC Championship trophy on the field, and the subsequent interview. Wait, with the Saints that's asking a bit much. Well, maybe he can bring Jimmy Johnson back into coaching. Or bring Ricky Williams back to New Orleans. Put it this way: this has Mark Cuban potential written all over it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gary Speaks

From NY Sports Day (via Metsblog)
“I am just thrilled to be part of this new venture,” Cohen said in a conference call earlier today. “[SportsNet NY] is dedicated to making this the best regional sports network in the nation. For me, this gives me the opportunity to make the transition from radio to television, while maintaining my bond with the Mets. I look forward to the challenge.”
Well, at least there's one saving grace:
According to SportsNet NY’s president John Litner, Cohen will be allowed to speak his mind and able to criticize the team when needed, which is in contrast to other local sports outlets.
Hmmmmm.... what other local sports outlets could they be talking about?

UPDATE: Faith and Fear in Flushing, the best Mets blog on the web, weighs in. Money quote:
But those of us who live the Mets are at a loss. We consider the radio to be our oxygen, our atmosphere. We don't make a move without it. It would be disingenuous to suggest we'll be withdrawing all our AA batteries now and saving them for the next blackout. No, we'll listen to whoever does Mets games because we are Mets fans. But they'll just be baseball broadcasts. They won't be a way of life.

Just Look at the Damn Sign!

Ah, that Keyshawn Johnson. Always knows how to handle the media. When things with T.O. went sour, naturally reporters went to Keyshawn, another loudmouth receiver whose attitude got him in hot water. His response?
He posted a sign on his locker that read, "NOT MY PROBLEM," and pointed to it when asked his thoughts about Owens and the Eagles.
At least he kept his mouth shut.

Sad Day in Mets History

I haven't cried over anything involving the Mets since Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones. (The 2000 World Series was over too quickly to be as devastating as '99 was, in case you were wondering.) This morning I feel like crying, and by April I might. Usually I read the morning New York papers in November to see who the Mets might be looking at or what teams are eyeing Mets prospects. This morning's New York Post brought the worst offseason news I've ever dealt with as a Mets fan: Gary Cohen is leaving the radio booth, and taking the innocence of millions of Mets fans with him.

Now, before I get accused of overreacting, two things need to be said. Firstly, he's still a Met announcer, just in the TV booth. If you read the above paragraph, I made it seem like he's leaving the Mets altogether. This was done intentionally, to prove a point: a simple booth switch is not so simple. Secondly, I can't blame Gary himself for the move; he owes it to himself and his family to do what's best for him careerwise, and if he considers this a step up, then so be it.

I grew up with Gary Cohen under my pillow, talking me to sleep through the days of Keith and Gary leaving the team, Anthony Young's 27 consecutive losses, and Vince Coleman's explosiveness. In 1999, when we realized we might be having a special Mets year, my brother and I began recording Gary's calls during the highlight shows, ultimately making a casette of the best calls. We did the same in 2000. For us, as I'm sure was the case with many, a classic Met moment may have been produced on the field, but it was concretized for eternity by a classic call. Pratt's home run. Grand Slam Single. Piazza caps a 10-run inning. Agbayani. NL Champs. And all the little calls that may mean nothing to the world, but you remember it because of where you were and what you were doing when you heard the call. Those calls will continue no longer.

Friends of mine from out-of-town tell me Gary Cohen is the best radio play-by-play guy they've ever heard. Yankee fans tell me he's the best radio play-by-play guy in the business. Everyone believes it, and with good reason. It's true. In 17 years, he has established himself as someone who embodies every single possible thing you could want in a baseball radio announcer. Some time ago, I listed these things in a long letter to him explaining why I liked him so much and respected his work. I never sent it. I wish I had. Maybe if he understood how much his being on the radio meant to Met fans, he'd take one for the proverbial team.

When the emotional shock wears off, I'll take the time to explain from a more logical perspective why Gary's switch to TV is such a big one. But in the meantime, my life as a Met fan will never be the same. I wish I could say that's an overstatement, but it's not. I know many Met fans of my generation will agree.

Thanks for the radio memories, and good luck, Gary. With bittersweetness, I look forward to not muting my TV in April.

Never Dull When Dennis Is in the House

In-studio guests rarely appear on WFAN. That's fine; after all, it is radio. It should be noted, though, that approximately 100 times out of 100, the in-studio guest is there to promote something. The philosophy is simple, if slightly irrational: "well, ordinarily we wouldn't have this person on the show, he's not really relevant to sports anymore and he only wants to promote his new book/organization, but if he's willing to appear in studio, book him!" Granted, sometimes it's worth it because of the quality of the guest: Dick Enberg, Oscar Robertson, Freddy Adu. But more often than not, it's shameless on the part of the station. Yesterday was the best example I've seen in quite some time, when Dennis Rodman spent a few minutes with Joe Benigno. (I'm sure his agent was hoping for Mike and Chris, but they would never take him.) The 27 minutes of content that followed were bizarre, to say the least. Not to mention quite vulgar and vaguely racist. WFAN should be taken to task for lowering themselves this much; 27 minutes of Benigno Jet-ranting would have been more acceptable to listeners than this wack-job plugging his book. Anyway, in case you want to listen for yourself, the interview is here. If you don't have time and just want to know what he said, here are the top ten quotes:

"I think 1 out of 10 people in the world have met Dennis Rodman and partied with Dennis Rodman and they would tell you the one thing about me - I'm very, very good."

"I don't need a relationship with David Stern. I made too much money for the NBA. I don't need a relationship with anybody. So just have a good time baby."

(On playing again) "I don't need to get 20 rebounds. All I got to do is sit on the bench and I'll fill the stands. How bout that? I'll be way better than the guys on the bench right now."

"A lot of NBA teams don't want Dennis Rodman, just because I'm... I'll call myself too famous. Too famous. I don't need to be in this game anymore because I'm too famous for this game. I'm too big for this game."

"If you gave me a contract today, the minimum's what? Half a million, if that? They can take the money and shove it up their ass. I just go play just for the hell of it."

(To Benigno): "Are You Jewish? Just making sure. [Benigno: What's wrong with being Jewish? It's a good thing!] It's a good thing. All black guys need a Jew."

Note: This comment was so random and confusing, I'm Jewish and I'm not even sure if I should be offended.

(On a suggested boxing match between himself and Charles Barkley): That fatass did not want to box me for 3 rounds, they were gonna pay us a million dollars. I said, 'you know what Charles, it ain't about the money, they want to see us kick each other's ass. How bout that?' And all of a sudden Jose Canseco got in the picture, I said, 'all right, great. Lemme kick his ass.' That's kinda cool."

(On playing for Utah): "There ain't no money in the world gettin me back in the Mormon area."

(On athletes' "bad boy" image): "Terell Owens right now, dude I can't believe that one. That's kind of wack. I like Terrell Owens, I know Terrell real good, it's like oooooooh, guy, what is really going on right now."

Note: If Dennis Rodman is calling an action of yours, "kind of wack," it's time to re-evaluate things.

And to top it all off...

"I don't screw anything that's ugly."
Be sure to listen tomorrow when Tom Cruise will be in studio discussing psychiatry with Joe at 11:30.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TMQ Stifled

I've been reading Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column since the Slate days. I loyally followed him to a natural new home, ESPN's Page 2, and when he got unfairly dismissed by ESPN, I was among many who couldn't wait until TMQ landed somewhere. That somewhere, unfortunately, was Why "unfortuantely"? Well, for one thing, the column lost a lot of its pinache, what with the league website barely promoting the column anywhere on its pages and not even linking to a full archive. But more importantly, by moving to Easterbrook lost something so crucial to his genuine likability as a genius-turned-football writer: free reign.

See, Gregg Easterbrook is a brilliant political writer. He's a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He writes for publications no football fan has ever heard of. Yet because he's an intelligent individual with a smart wit, as well as a big football fan, he succeeds in writing a fantastic football column every week. I like it when someone like him "lowers" himself to the die-hard sports world. TMQ is like George F. Will, only without the total nerdiness. Equal parts analysis and humor, research and snark, TMQ has always been a must-read for fans. Part of the fun is the varied spectrum of items covered in any given column. Nowhere else in the world will someone be able to intelligently and authoritatively comment on the space program and the weak-side blitz on the same page. And what other respected political journalist puts a "Cheerleader of the Week" in his columns? The point is that when you consider what TMQ is, it comes as no surprise that it also used to be the place to go for amusing commentary on NFL scandals and subplots.

But as soon as that column switched to the NFL's official site, that aspect of TMQ changed. I first noticed this in his Super Bowl XXXVIII column. Pats 32, Panthers 29. Of course, there was a major story that also occured during that game. At halftime, actually. An event that carried with it massive cultural, social, and political implications - for years to come, as it turned out - and it happened during the Super Bowl! I couldn't wait to read TMQ's take. But check the column for yourself. Neither the words Janet nor Jackson appear anywhere. Of course not. You can't write about something that embarassed the league on their own website. And he hasn't since. All negative stories became off-limits. Which I guess I understand, from the NFL's perspective, but still lament. Anybody who's reading TMQ already knows everything about the stories TMQ would comment on. So what harm is there in letting a rational commentator do his job?

Anyway, I bring this up today because I'm sure many, many people submitted some extremely talked-about cheerleaders for this week's "Cheerleader of the Week" honors. (OK, I was among the submitters.) For sure he'd have an amusing comment or two on the situation, as everyone from Tony Korneiser to Jay Leno have already contributed their two cents. As it turns out, no such luck. That's the downside of writing for the official website. You know he desperately wants to write something about it, but he can't. Hopefully his column will move again, and we'll get our true TMQ back.

Start Learning How to Spell His First Name

Well, if after Rae Carruth got sentenced you were biding your time until the next athlete got charged with attempted murder (unless you count Ray Lewis), the wait is over. "Ugueth Urbina was arrested on a charge of attempted murder after he and a group of men allegedly attacked several employees at his family home using machetes and trying to set them on fire, police said Tuesday."

I'm going to rot in Hell for taking this angle, but what a crappy week to be a Philly sports fan.

Second Chance Department

Sid Rosenberg has had his share of off-the-air problems. However, as someone who has been listening to him since his WNEW days, as well as someone who knows him personally, I'm thrilled to see that 790 The Ticket in Miami is giving him a chance to get back in the game. When he stays out of trouble, he's a great radio talent, and I hope he gets a chance to prove it again in the Sunshine State. (Sid co-hosted a Miami-based radio show years ago, "The Drive," with Scott Kaplan.)

From the article:
He said his abuses are under control. But asked if they are completely in his past, he said, "Anybody who says that is not being realistic. . . . I would hope so . . . I'm taking the right steps. I've learned there are certain people and places and things I can't surround myself with.''
Good luck, Sid. Many listeners and fans are still rooting for you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Maybe They Can Give Him Dad's Old Cell

Pete Rose Jr. took a gamble and lost. What are the odds?

Bad: "Pete Rose Jr... turned himself in to federal authorities Monday to face charges accusing him of distributing GBL, a drug sometimes used as a steroid alternative."

Worse: "
Rose, 35, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison."

Worst: "
Rose admitted that he received GBL... while a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts, the double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds."

Double-A? And juicing couldn't get him further than that? Oh, wait...
"Rose played most of his career in the minor leagues, but made it to the majors for 11 games with the Reds in 1997. Last season he played for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League." My apologies.

The Results Are In

Exactly how many times was Terrell Owens mentioned last night? Here's the official breakdown by reference (pronouns included) and announcer: Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, and Suzy Kolber. Remember, I didn't count pre-taped features or when they were quoting someone else.

"Terrell Owens" - Patrick: 6 times; Theismann: 7 ; Maguire: 1 (almost made it all the way, he finally caved with 1:10 left in the game); Kolber: 6; Total mentions of "Terrell Owens": 20

- Patrick: 6 times; Theismann: 1; Kolber: 12 (!, including about five in a 20-second span before the game); Total mentions of "T.O.": 19

"Terrell" - Maguire: 1 time (after the long Reggie Brown touchdown: "Terrell who?"); Kolber: 1; Total mentions of "Terrell": 2

"Owens" - Kolber: 1 time; Total mentions of "Owens": 1

Total mentions by name: 42
- Patrick: 9 times; Theismann: 9; Maguire: 1; Kolber 4; Total mentions of Owens by saying "He": 23

"Him" - Theismann: 3 times; Maguire: 1; Kolber: 3; Total mentions of Owens by saying "Him": 7

"His" - Patrick: 1 time; Theismann: 3; Kolber: 3; Total mentions of Owens by saying "His": 7

Other - Patrick: 1 "The guy"; Theismann: 1 "This kid"; Total other mentions of Owens: 2

Total mentions using pronouns: 39
By announcer: Patrick 23, Theismann 24, Maguire 4, Kolber 30.

And when you add it all up, you get a number that actually makes a lot of sense, considering how ESPN tried every which way to mention him: Total references to Terrell Owens during last night's coverage of the Redskins/Eagles game: 81. 81 times! You're telling me they didn't plan this?

Oh, and just for good measure, Mike Patrick mentioned Tedy Bruschi. Just to remind you he played last Sunday, in case you missed it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Place Your Bets...

If for no other reason than simply to satisfy my own curiosity (and to maybe make a mini-statement about ESPN football coverage in the process), during tonight's Eagles-Redskins game (8:30 ET, ESPN) I will be documenting exactly how many times the announcers mention the name of a certain Eagles wide receiver who's been in the news lately. Point: How many times will announcers refer to someone not even playing in the game? And how many people will this cause to hit the mute button on their remotes? (Sadly, I cannot document the answer to that one.)

Two things inspired me to do this. One is this morning's "Sunday NFL Countdown" on ESPN. The show is two hours long. Say 30 minutes of that are commercials (and that's being generous). So you have 90 minutes of football coverage. From 11:00 to 11:20, Chris Berman and company talked about nothing but T.O. Later in the hour, there was a five-minute "on the field" demonstration of how the Eagles offense would function without #81. Then at 12:00, another 15 minutes. So 40 out of the 90 minutes of content this morning was dedicated to one loudmouth. Terrific NFL coverage, really.

The other was last week's Sunday night game between the Patriots and Bills, when every other player on the field was ignored because Tedy Bruschi was playing again. Nothing against Bruschi - in fact, I'm thrilled to see him back - but if you were watching the game, the story from the announcers was Bruschi Bruschi Bruschi*, and - oh! - by the way, there's also a football game going on. I'm expecting the same tonight, so, as the title entreats, place your bets. Bonus betting line: Which announcer says his name the most? Rules: Coverage starts as soon as Berman hands off from "Primetime" and goes until Mike Patrick sends it away to SportsCenter. Pre-taped features and interviews don't count. Using his name while quoting someone else doesn't count. Using "cute" references, like "#81," count.

*Since this blog did not exist at the time of last week's game, no official record of Bruschi mentions exists, though the number is believed to be around 793.

Get This Man Some Coffee

I respect Sam Rosen an awful lot as an announcer (and not just because he responded kindly when I bumped into him at the Rangers-Devils game Thursday night). In his dual role as Rangers TV play-by-play man and as the leader of NFL on FOX's 3rd-line, the fall season keeps him quite busy. To wit: he was in MSG yesterday for Rangers-Devils; that game ended at close to 4:00 Eastern time. Now today he's in San Francisco, merely 2,909 miles away, calling the Giants game at 4:00 Eastern. (And my guess is he won't miss Sidney Crosby's Garden debut tomorrow night, and will reverse his journey tonight). At some point all this travelling was going to catch up to him. That point was at about 5:15 this afternoon, as this call (with Bill Maas) of a Jeff Feagles punt illustrates:

SR: Jeff Feagles, in his 280th consecutive game, 2nd longest streak in NHL history, just two behind the record holder, Jim Marshall. [Long pause] NFL, er, did I not say NFL?

BM: [Mumbles incoherently, sounded like "No, yes." Seriously. Symptomatic of his overall performance, but that's for another post.]

SR: Nick Greisen with the tackle on the return man, Rasheed Marshall... Did I say NHL?

BM: The National and the League were correct.

SR: Oh, Man. NFL. Sorry.

Let's just hope nobody tunes into OLN tomorrow night to hear "And that is Crosby's first of what will probably be many touchdowns in Madison Square Garden."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Those Big Numbers Can Get Confusing

Heard this back-and-forth between play-by-play guy Chris Carrino and analyst Tim Capstraw during tonight's Nets game on WFAN:

CC: Clifford Robinson has now passed Hal Greer to move into 20th place all-time in minutes played in NBA history. [Long pause] To put that in perspective, only 19 players in NBA history have ever played more minutes than Cliff Robinson.

: Thanks for explaining that again Chris; if you had just said 20th place all-time, I wouldn't have been able to figure out how many people were ahead of him.

CC: Well, sometimes things sound differently when worded differently.

Too bad Capstraw said it playfully and not sarcastically. I would've loved to have heard Carrino's reaction to that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Rangers 4, Devils 2

Went to a hockey game last night for the first time in a couple of years. Bonus: It was Rangers vs. Devils. I can't believe I forgot how enjoyable hockey is when you're at the game. The game pace seems quicker, you could actually see things that are going on away from the puck, and the genuine passion of the die-hard fans is probably unmatched by fans at any other sport.

I'll admit I haven't been to that many games over the years, but I'll say this: I can't remember any Ranger in my lifetime - with the exception of Wayne Gretzky, but that was for historic purposes - that ever generated as much excitement when he's on the ice as Jaromir Jagr. After he scored his first goal of the night (league-leading 13th, by the way), every time he put skate to ice the place was different. Rangers fans were excited, Devils fans a bit anxious (the crowd was about 60-40 Devils). At 9:22 in the 2nd, he showed why. With the Rangers up 2-1, Jagr had the puck behind the net. And he held it there, unchallenged, for about 20 seconds. Nobody attacked the puck. Rangers fans were screaming in anticipation, Devils fans pleading to put a man on him. The patience paid off; he finally flicked it to Michael Nylander, who banged home his second goal of the night. It was a thing of beauty. Just for good measure, Jagr added an empty-netter as well.

I think the new rule changes are helping him, and I'm sure new coach Tom Renney is as well. But it's about time the Rangers are seeing the kind of player Jagr had been and could be. Like I said earlier, he creates excitement, not to mention goals. Don't think it's not being noticed, even by casual fans like me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cutting Down the Nets

Though I'm a fan of the duo, I don't find it particularly enjoyable when Mike and the Mad Dog talk down to, interrupt, patronize, and generally abuse callers (with some exceptions, of course). However, I find it highly entertaining when a high-ranking officer of a local sports franchise receives the same treatment. Past victims include Jay Cross, Brian Cashman, Jim Duquette, and Fred Wilpon. Today's victim was new Nets CEO Brett Yormark, a guest on the show today for the second straight day, a M&MD rarity. Suffice it to say that yesterday's appearance (in person at Continental Arena) went a bit better for Mr. Yormark, who has been brought in to, among other things, actually sell some tickets. He promoted various things yesterday, including the fact that Opening Night had sold out in Jersey for the first time in years. All good. Well, not so much, you see. Apparently the Nets didn't "sell out," as the place had a few thousand empty seats. (Semantics is key here - Yormark maintains selling all the tickets constitutes a sellout; Francesa feels that many empty seats makes calling it a sellout insulting.) Why this bothered Mike as much as it did is anyone's guess. (Mine is that it got him from 1 to 3 on an otherwise boring day with no guests.) Anyway, after abusing Yormark for more than an hour, the poor guy came on to discuss the issue. He got pounded. I'd say deservedly so, as I have in the past with Duquette, Cross, et al. except I don't think issuing a press release touting a maybe-they-did-maybe-they-didn't sellout falls under the category of high crimes and misdemeanors. (Charging 50 dollars to be on a season ticket waiting list does.)

I doubt WFAN will post the interview to its site; if they do, it'll be here.

Update: They posted it. Direct link here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Marvin Lewis Channels Martin Luther

I like Marvin Lewis, but why did he have to go and ruin a good thing?

Anybody's who's watched SportsCenter since the Bengals season opener knows about Chad Johnson's famous cornerback checklist, the fantastic piece of paper on his locker which tells him (and the rest of the ESPN-watching world) who he's taking on that week.

Well, the list is no longer. Marvelous Marv took town the list this morning and replaced it with his own, less fun list, "Did 85 do everything he could to lead His Team to Victory 11-6-05." Not quite as catchy.

Though disappointed at first, it seems the man of a thousand dances has gotten over it. I'm sure this will spawn some new antics.

Why Me

The most important quesiton of all. (Side point: I remember getting a Sports Illustrated in January of '94 with Nancy Kerrigan on the cover. The photograph was taken just after she had been assaulted. If I remember correctly, the words on the cover were "Why Me? Why Now? Why?" If I go ahead and publish this post with the title as is, my first three post titles will echo her sentiments, word for word. Well, I don't know of anybody who would benefit from having my knee taken out of commision, so I guess I'll take my chances and leave the title alone.)

Update: Here's the aforementioned cover. If you find it unusual that I remember a specific cover from 11 1/2 years ago, fear not. I was a relatively new subscriber at the time and cherished every issue. I can still tell you the first 30 or so covers I got.

Anyway, Why me? Well, for starters I've been following sports and media my entire life. Over the years the two interests melded and now I have a keen interest in the sports media as well. Not surprisingly, I'm a media studies major, a journalism minor, and intend to pursue a career in media. So far, the only thing of note on my resume is an internship at a top sports radio station. So I go that going for me... which is nice.

As the blog's URL and title indicate, I like to think of myself as a student of The Game. No specific sport is indicated, and though you can't see it, I capitalized "The." So it's a metaphor. For what? For whatever you understand it to mean. Yes, it's incredibly pompous. It's perfect.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why Now

Well, I've always been a fan of starting things off at natural starting points. The first of the month seems like as good a starting point as any for this new venture.

On a broader scale, however, now is a good time because I seem to have the time. I'm a college student - enough said. As this blog will probably never reach a point of any significance (subjective term, obvously, but let's be serious here) or readership, its existence will purely depend on whether or not I have the time to dedicate to it.


Why not.

Because everyone and his brother, sister, and ferret has one. Because as a student of journalism, it's better to be an insider looking around than an outsider looking in. Because if someone spends just a few minutes wasting his time reading this, then the devilishly cyclical nature of the blogosphere will have been realized, and my mission will have been completed.

Oh yeah, and that old staple: Because.