Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Miami Heat: This Bad? [David Stefanini]

I am here at my house watching the Bulls, Heat game. The score is a pitiful 59-30 at half, Bulls. I know this is way to early to begin saying any team looks bad but...
Last night I wrote how the Heat are not going to be a good team this year. They are old, they look every bit their age right now, they are not hungry, I haven't seen one Heat play on the floor going for loose balls this entire game. With the exception of Dwayne Wade, who continues to look like Jesus in shorts, the entire team looks miserable.
With all that said, the Bulls look superb. Tyrese Thomas comes off the bench, giving them 6-10 quality minutes. The Ben Wallace affect is evident; the Bull's interior defense is not letting Shaq, or anyone for that matter get anything inside. Watch out for the Bulls... I may of had them to low in the standings.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Michael Vick: Growing into an Unstoppable Force [David Stefanini]

The past two weeks in the NFL season have yeilded 7, count them, 7 touchdown passes from Michael Vick. The same QB that people said will never grow into a great QB, just a RB with a strong arm. Well if there was ever 2 performances to quiet the critics. Personally I am a huge Vick fan. I think the man wins footballs games, and is exciting to watch. The question now is, how to stop him?
If Vick continues to throw the ball the way he has the lat two weeks, there is no defense in the world, including the Bears that can stop him. His speed kills teams all the time, and now his arm is beating teams. If the two are working together how can you stop him? Blitz, he'll run right by. Give him time throw the ball down the field, Drop back and play it safe, 10 yard run easily. Vick is a nightmare for defenses, the question is will this accuracy hold up or will he go back to run first pass second Vick?
Only time will tell. Until then enjoy watching him when he plays, the odds are we will never see a player quite like him again.

NBA Preseason Power Rankings [David Stefanini]

If you are expecting to see power rankings with the prediction of Heat and Mavs again, you are reading the wrong post. I am personally tired of people writing year after year, expecting to see a rematch of the Finals, whether it be Football, Basketball, or Baseball. How many people had the White Sox in the series this year? Yeah I thought so. Onto the rankings:
1) Nets - VC is in a contract year NBA you have been warned first by me....
2) Cavs - The king (LeBron) is coming to claim the throne.
3) Pistons - Losing Ben Wallace hurts, but won't be devastating.
4) Bulls - Gaining Ben Wallace doesn't bring a title, but will improve every aspect of the game.
5) Heat - THIS LOW? Yes, the hunger will not be there, and neither will Shaq's feet.
6) Wizards - Not much defense, but Arenas, Jamison, and Butler can produce offense.
7) Pacers - Adding Al Harrington will help, look for Jermaine O'Neal to return to All-star form.
8) Raptors - SLEEPER!!!! Not many have them in the playoffs, Chris Bosh will take them there.
9) 76ers - Iverson will keep them in the playoff hunt, everyone else will keep them out.
10) Magic - Dwight Howard is a star, unfortunetly no one else is.
11) Celtics - They have potential to make the playoffs, I don't see that happening til next year.
12) Bobcats - My new fav. team due to the ownership of Jordan, other than that, nothing new.
13) Bucks - Moving Bogut to center will hurt this team and cost them alot in the long run.
14) Hawks - Marvin Williams breaking his hand ruins any chance this team ever had.
15) Knicks - Just send them to the ACC, they still won't win 20 games.

Nets over Cavs in the conference championship.

1) Suns - Welcome back Amare, the missing piece is finally in place.
2) Mavs - Devean George brings championship experience, Nowitzki brings everything else.
3) Spurs - Great team balance will lead to another high seed in the playoffs.
4) Lakers - SLEEPER! With the best player in the league this team is primed to move to the top.
5) Rockets - TMac is back and healthy. Skip to my Lou runs the point. I smell playoffs.
6) Nuggets - Kenyon and Melo will lead this team back to the playoffs.
7) Clippers - Not many upgrades, not much improvement.
8) Hornets - Chris Paul should have been an All-Star last year. He will be one this year.
9) Jazz - Adding Derek Fisher will help, but it won't take them to the playoffs.
10) Kings - Artest is a great ball player no matter what he does off the court. No playoffs though.
11) Warriors - They added Keith McLeod, enough said.
12) Grizzles - OVERRATED! No Pau Gasol, and Stromile Swift as center, good luck.
13) T'Wolves - After Garnett there is no one. TRADE GARNETT! TRADE GARNETT!
14) Trail Blazers - Great potential, but stop with the drugs.
15) SuperSonics - Great potential, but I say that every year.

Suns over Lakers... thats right the Lakers. You can't stop Kobe, and with every one else developing this team is scary. To bad they will run into the Suns.

Nets over Suns in the Finals. Why? Steve Nash is good, but Jason Kidd is better. Steve Nash made Smush Parker look like a young Gary Payton. In other words, Steve Nash has NO defense. Jason Kidd is the perfect point guard. With Vince Carter in a contract year, and Richard Jefferson developing this team has all the pieces they need.

First Post: My NFL Top 10 [David Stefanini]

Through the first 8 weeks of the NFL season there have been many surprises, some good and some bad. The Steelers would have to be considered the biggest disappointment of the season, whereas the Saints would have to be the biggest surprise of the season.

The Bears look like a well-oiled machine that will never lose, in the next couple of seasons at least. The Colts are once again 7-0, however I don't see them as the team who will represent the AFC in the Superbowl... On to the Rankings:

1) Bears- Do I need to say anything? Best offense, best defense, great special teams...

2) Colts- Only because they are 7-0 am I ranking them second. Their game against the Broncos was a big statement for a team with alot of doubters.

3) Patriots- With Tom Brady at the helm, the Pats will not disappoint. The WR's are not exactly stars, but this team is the definition of consistancy. Look for their showdown with the Colts to determine my #2 slot next week.

4) SUPERChargers- LT is the most complete player in the NFL. I wouldn't be suprised if Phillip Rivers went down with an injury, LT would step in and be the QB of the team. With him leading the way and a great defense they will be a feared team come playoff time.

5) Falcons- If Michael Vick can play the way he has these last two games, they may be the only team in the NFC to have a shot of beating the Bears. Deangelo Hall is becoming a shut-down corner. There defense line is great, and did I mention they have Michael Vick?

6) Broncos- Jay Cutler... Jay Cutler... Jay Cutler... and maybe this team would be in the top 3.

7) Giants- Wins on the road in Atlanta and Dallas are huge games for this team. We will see if they are for real when they get a chance to upset the Bears on Sunday Night Football in 2 weeks.

8) Baltimore- O where o where has Steve Mcnair been o where o where has he been...

9) Cowboys- I'm sure people will hate them in the top 10 but the facts are the facts. TO is the best reciever in the game, and now that Tony Romo is in look for TO to have an amazing season. Their defense showed last night they can shut down a high powered offense. That is a recipie for success.

10) Vikings- Yes the Saints could be here, but honestly will the run Last? No. The Vikings are quietly 4-2 going into a showdown with the Pats. If they can pull off the upset they won't be winning quietly anymore.

Ranking the NFL - Week 8 [EdMcGon]

Steeler fans, you may officially hang your heads in shame.

How about them Raiders? Two wins in a row! If we win the rest of the games, we will be 11-5. And Jessica Alba will be waiting for me under the Christmas tree too...

Anyway, I may tweak the rankings after tonight's Patriots-Vikings game, but for now, here they are:

BEARS: Love those orange uniforms. But, I also used to like the old Buccaneers' uniforms too, so take that compliment for what it is worth.

COLTS: A HUGE win over Denver. It is now time to give the Colts credit. they are elite. They have just enough defense to keep them in close games, and more than enough Peyton Manning to win.

BRONCOS: It is hard to watch the Broncos and not wonder: If Jay Cutler were starting...

SAINTS: The Saints are hanging here by a thread. Losing to the Ravens is not the end of the world.

CHARGERS: Just taking care of business by beating the Rams. When they lose Shawne Merriman to suspension, that will hurt.

PATRIOTS: Tonight vs. Minnesota.

SEAHAWKS: Since they were playing without Matt Hasselbeck, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. For now.

RAVENS: It is easy to see the Ravens are good, but hard to tell just how good. They beat the Saints and Chargers, but also lost to the Panthers and Broncos.

GIANTS: Spanking the Bucs is a good sign. Their game against Chicago in two weeks looms large. But the game coming up against Houston this week yells "trap game".

FALCONS: I saw "The Prestige" a week ago. Mike Vick reminds me of it. Like a magician, he tells us he will do something, and we watch sceptically as he goes out and does it. But I have to wonder what the trick is...

BENGALS: Which Bengal team will show up next week? Stay tuned...

PANTHERS: Ouch! Dominated by Dallas. This shows those losses earlier this season without Steve Smith in the lineup were not flukes.

CHIEFS: Beating the Hawks minus Matt Hasselbeck proves nothing. Also, their loss to the Steelers a couple of weeks ago hangs over them like a cloud.

EAGLES: A three game losing streak? Considering the best team they have beaten was Dallas, the Eagles are wearing the label "overrated" quite proudly.

COWBOYS: The Tony Romo era has begun. The true test comes in three weeks against Indy.

BUCCANEERS: Don't feel bad Buc fans. Better teams than yours have lost to the Giants. Like Atlanta...

VIKINGS: Tonight vs. New England.

JAGUARS: Don't read too much into their victory over Philly. The Jags could easily turn around and lose to Tennessee next week.

STEELERS: Open trap, insert Steelers. If they cannot beat the Raiders, they can only be average, at best.

RAMS: The Rams should lose to San Diego, and they did. 'Nuff said.

REDSKINS: Oh merciful bye week.

BROWNS: Poor Cleveland. When they get a weak team on their schedule, they beat them, as evidenced by their victory over the Jets. With their upcoming game in San Diego, they remind me of Kevin Bacon in "Animal House": "Please sir, may I have another?"

JETS: Losing to the Brownies proves the Jets may be the worst 4-4 team in the NFL.

BILLS: Bye week.

TITANS: Now if Vince Young could just look this good against a REAL team (not the Texans).

TEXANS: Smart move putting Sage Rosenfels in yesterday. But don't think for a second that this is the start of the Rosenfels era in Houston.

49ERS: Remember that scene from "Monty Python" where the big foot comes out of the sky and stomps somebody? That was the Bears-49ers game, with the 49ers under the foot.

RAIDERS: The Raiders rule! Hey, they beat the Super Bowl champs. Ok, so maybe the Raiders are not great, but we can at least say they are not the worst of the worst.

PACKERS: Favre got to do his first "Lambeau leap". Enjoy it Brett. You won't be playing against Arizona every week.

DOLPHINS: Bye week.

LIONS: There were a lot of bad teams with bye weeks this week. Detroit was just one of them.

CARDINALS: You smell something burning? That is just the hot seat under Dennis Green. On a side note, Matt Leinart is starting to look like what he is: a rookie quarterback. 14 completions in 35 attempts against Green Bay is NOT impressive.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Barber Bowl = Swirling Winds Bowl [J. Mark English]

The New York Giants took care of business against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the score of 17-3.

I went to the game, and let me tell you, the wind became the key component of the game. The Giants have been built in such a way that they can handle the elements and it showed today.

Lets begin with Jeff Feagles. He was able to locate the ball inside the ten yard line numerous times. The Bucs in the first half rarely had good field position. Before their last drive of the half, the Bucs were limited to only five rushing yards on seven carries. Pretty pathetic. Thanks to Feagles, and the Giants defense, the Bucs could go nowhere.

Also credit goes out to David Tyree who made sure Feagles punts stayed inside the ten yard line. He is so consistent at getting down field before anyone else and giving the opposing team an enormous disadvantage in field position.

Plaxico Burress hauled in some incredible passes including one for a spectactular touchdown. Its refreshing to see him playing well, and not mouthing off afterwards. Could it be he's maturing? If he can continue to let his talent speak for himself, then this team can go very far.

Overall this team is starting to hit a groove. And as Carl Banks said on WFAN after the game, they haven't peaked yet. If thats true, then we could be in store for a fun season.

As to the team being able to handle the elements, it harkens back to the Parcell days. Bill Parcells never wanted skill position players from southern states. He wanted players who were used to the cold, and the wind. This gave the team an advantage on days like this. The Bucs did not have a prayer in this type of weather. Great job by the Giants front office in putting in place the right personel to handle these type of games.

Next week the Jints play the lowly Houston Texans. Clearly this is a trap game. The following week the will have the Bears (who may still be undefeated), and this might mean the Texans are overlooked. Hopefully the Giants will not let that happen.

Red Aurebach: Dies at 89 [J. Mark English]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

St. Louis Cardinals Sit Atop the Baseball World [J. Mark English]

From Redbirds Fun:

THAT'S A WINNER!! A WORLD SERIES WINNER!!! St. Louis has just knocked off the Detroit Tigers to take home the 2006 World Series Championship.

Unfortunately for us, it came at the expense of the lack of defense from Tiger pitchers.

The Cardinals got lucky with some botched key plays by the Tigers. In the second inning, David Eckstein drove in Yadier Molina on a bad throw from Brandon Inge to first.

The Cardinals led 1-0 before Chris Duncan made an error on a routine flyball which led to a Sean Casey HR and the Tigers took the lead, 2-1.

In the fourth inning, Verlander botched a play and Molina scored again when Weaver reached on a fielder's choice. Eckstein grounded out and So Taguchi scored. The Cardinals took the lead again, 3-2.

Duncan was removed in the seventh as a result of a bad play in the sixth.

In the seventh inning with two on, Pujols flied out. Edmonds, in what could have been his final at bat as a Cardinal, flied out. Rolen hit a two-out hit to shallow right field and Eckstein comes home easily. That hit may have given Rolen the rights to series MVP as he is batting .421 during the series.

The Tigers handed it to the Cardinals by way of errors, eight alone in the series so far after the two tonight. For the first time since 1979, pitchers had made at least one error a game.

In January, if I was asked, I never would have though the crowd would be chanting: "WEAVER! WEAVER! WEAVER!" He's an unlikely postseason hero. Here it is, in Game 5 of the World Series, Weaver is the starter and going deep into the 8th inning, striking out 9 batters. Jered Weaver was on hand, in Cardinals gear, rooting for his older brother. I tip my cap and salute Jeff Weaver on his amazing performance in the month of October!

Adam Wainwright gets the save and Brandon Inge is the final out.

For 1985. 1987. 1996. 2000. 2001. 2002. 2004. 2005. More importantly, for Jack Buck and Darryl Kile, who we lost en route to clinching the division in 2002.

Some highlights from Edmonds: "I think we shocked the world." On La Russa's management: "With these idiots we've got."

The World Series MVP is David Eckstein!

Well Cardinal fans, you have every reason to smile. Congrats.

Talk about an unlikely team. Jeff Weaver was a Yankee discard just two years ago. Now he has just pitched the game of his life on the way to winning a world championship.

Scott Rolen who was hated and despised by the Phillies, now gets the last laugh.

Tony La Russa, brought in to replace Joe Torre in 1996, has finally given the Cardinals what Torre did four times for the Yankees.

But the real winner here is baseball. The age of free agency, and increased spending has helped baseball become much more competitive.

Think about this. The Yankees despite their payroll have not won a World Series since 2000. Since then, not one team has won a World Series back to back. In 2001 it was the Arizona Cardinals, 2002 the Anaheim Angels, 2003 the Florida Marlins, 2004 the Boston Red Sox, 2005 the Chicago White Sox, and now in 2006 the St. Louis Cardinals.

These are teams from places all over the country. This is keeping baseball alive and well, and breathing new life into the idea that baseball is truly the national past time.

Finally, this must be so sweet for the Cardinal fans that had to watch the Red Sox celebrate on their own field just two years ago. After the game St. Louis had one hell of a firework display. Very impressive. Can't wait for the Mets to have a chance to do the same thing next year.

Onwards to Hot Stove now. We'll miss you baseball. Baseball is a game the starts in the spring, when there is new hope of life. It dies in the fall when all the trees are in decay and we descend into winter. Baseball can revive your heart, but also break it, but oh how I love it. So long baseball, see you in the spring.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Video: Twenty Years Ago Today, the New York Mets Won the World Series [J. Mark English]

Cardinals One Away from Championship [J. Mark English]

Matthew Leach, MLB.com -

They waited out yet another rain delay. They waited out an early deficit and some shaky command by starting pitcher Jeff Suppan. They waited, and waited, and waited, for David Eckstein to get sorted out.
Now, the Cardinals may only have to wait 24 hours for their first world championship in 24 years.
St. Louis stands on the cusp of the 10th title in franchise history thanks to a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series on Thursday night. Eckstein's four hits included three critical doubles as the Redbirds capitalized on the continuing defensive struggles of the American League champions.
Eckstein keyed the Cardinals offensively all night as they rallied from a 3-0 deficit, then bounced back after giving up their first lead of the game. St. Louis now holds a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with a chance to close it out at Busch Stadium on Friday.
"We're just taking every opportunity that they give us," said Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. "They make some errors, we take advantage."
The Cards' unlikely eighth-inning rally began with a walk to Yadier Molina and the score tied at 4. Aaron Miles barely beat out a potential double-play ball, then took second on Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya's wild pitch -- on the same play where Juan Encarnacion struck out. Eckstein hit a looping liner into the gap in left-center field. The ball hit left fielder Craig Monroe's glove, but he couldn't corral it.
"I was hoping it was going to find a little bit of dirt, grass out there," Eckstein said. "But the ball was kind of straightening out, and it kept going. ... It just barely got out of the reach of his own glove, hit off the tip."
That made a winner of Adam Wainwright, who took a blown save when he permitted Brandon Inge's game-tying double half an inning earlier. It was the first blown save for Wainwright since he was installed as St. Louis' closer following a season-ending injury to Jason Isringhausen in September....
Suppan survived long enough to hand it off to the St. Louis bullpen's kiddie corps, and as usual the youngsters held it down. Right-hander Josh Kinney and southpaw Tyler Johnson both gave scoreless turns, and though Wainwright allowed an inherited runner to score, there was no faulting his effort.
With the other side held down, the chance was right there. The Cards took it. Now the biggest prize in baseball is staring right at them, in their own house.
"The thing is that you can't give up," Pujols said. "You play 162 games to get where we are right now, and you can't give up. There's no tomorrow. You need to play hard for nine innings, and it doesn't matter what the scoreboard says."
But within a day, the scoreboard may say that Pujols and the Cardinals are world champions.
Comment -
Well, who would have thunk'd it? The Cardinals are now poised to win the whole darn thing. As Met fan, the idea of the Cardinals winning the World Series is a double edge sword. On the one hand, given that the National League has been maligned this whole season as a second rate league, to see a team from that league win would cancel out all doubts about the National League being inferior.
On the other hand, if the Cardinals could do this, then certainly the Mets could have as well. And since the Mets were oh so close to getting past the Cardinals, it makes this World Series bitter sweet.
But tip your hat to the Cardinals. This team just a few weeks ago looked dead in the water. They nearly collapsed at the end of the season. With something like ten games left they almost blew an 8.5 game lead to the Astros. On the last day of the season they lost, and if the Astros had won, then the Cardinals would have been knocked out of the playoffs.
For them to bounce back the way they have, and to be in a position to win the championship is truly a credit to their character.
But if a team that has won 83 games wins the Series...does anyone doubt anymore that the playoffs are nothing but a crapshoot?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Barbers: Can You Tell them Apart? [J. Mark English]

More Sibling Affairs [J. Mark English]

In keeping with the spirit of brothers involved with sports, Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated wrote a great piece this week about the Staals, which have four boys in the NHL.
At the end he tells us the families with the most amount of siblings per sport. (The Giants have at least three players I can think of with brothers on other teams - Chad Morton & Johnny Morton, Peyton Manning & Eli Manning, Tiki Barber & Rhonde Barber).

BROTHERS: (oldest to youngest): Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich, Ron
REIGN: 1976-77 through 2000-01 These Alberta natives, all forwards, played 4,994 regular-season games, scored 1,320 goals and had 1,615 assists. Duane (four) and Brent account for the Sutters' six Stanley Cups. All the brothers battled in a 1992 playoff series between the Blues and the Blackhawks: Brian was head coach of the Blues, for whom Rich and Ron played. Brent played for Chicago, which employed Darryl as associate coach and Duane as a scout. Chicago won the series 4-2.


BROTHERS: Wil, Caldwell, Major, Charles
REIGN: 1976 through '98The Joneses of Albany State (Ga.) were defensive-minded rebounders and (including their stints in the ABA) combined to average 6.7 rebounds and 1.26 blocks over 3,124 games in the pros. Caldwell, who twice made the NBA's All-Defensive team, played with Major on the Rockets from 1982 to '84 and with Charles as a Bull in '84-85.


BROTHERS: Ross, Jim, Joey, Keith
REIGN: 1978 through '92 Ross, a defensive lineman who spent most of his career with the Bengals, and Joey, a six-time Pro Bowl defensive back, mainly with the Vikings, were the family stars. Keeping the legacy alive is Ross's son, Steelers tackle Max Starks; they're the only father-son combination to start in the Super Bowl.


BROTHERS: Vince, Joe, Dom
REIGN: 1936 through '53 Hall of Famer Joe is a baseball immortal, but Dom was a seven-time All-Star for the Red Sox who led the AL in stolen bases in 1950, and Vince was an All-Star twice with the Pirates. Joe had his 56-game hitting streak in '41; Dom had a 34-game streak in '49 end when he was robbed by a great catch in center -- by his brother Joe. -- David Sabino

Catching Up with the Barber Twins [John Branch]

John Branch, New York Times -

Dawn had not arrived, but Tiki and Ronde Barber, twin stars of the N.F.L., had been at the Fox News studios in Midtown Manhattan for hours. Ronde — the one in the crisp suit without the perfectly placed pocket square — stood outside the green room.
A woman approached, gave a kiss and began talking to him as if they were old friends.
“I’m Ronde,” he said, politely interrupting. He had never seen her before.
“No, you’re not,” she said. “You’re Tiki.”
Tiki and Ronde. All famous pairs have an order to their names, and that is theirs, though Ronde is seven minutes older. The two were indistinguishable for much of their lives, and even at 31, they sometimes confuse even themselves.
On air at “Fox & Friends,” Tiki halted last week as he said something about the two of them on the morning news program that he is a co-host for on Tuesdays. Ronde had joined him as a co-host that day.
“Did you hear that?” he asked. “I almost said, ‘Tiki and I.’ That is really weird.”
They slept in the same bedroom growing up in Roanoke, Va., and again for two years at the University of Virginia. They shared an apartment after that. Rarely was one Barber without the other. Even girlfriends looked to their earrings to tell them apart: a hoop for Tiki, a round stud for Ronde.
But they are, by comparison, much different now, so different that they can no longer imagine living the other’s life.
The random selection of the N.F.L. draft spun them in opposite directions in 1997: Tiki to New York City, Ronde to Tampa, Fla. They unwittingly became a social experiment about the effects of nature versus nurture.
In this case, nurture won.
“The hard thing to imagine is what if Tiki landed in Tampa and I landed in New York?” Ronde said. “We have similar personalities. Would I be doing all the things he does? Would he be living a life like mine? That’s what I always think about.”
He shrugged, as if giving up on an impossible riddle.
“It boggles,” he said.
Tiki became a Pro Bowl running back for the Giants and leads the N.F.L. in rushing this season. He lives with his wife, Ginny, and their two young sons in an Upper East Side condominium, a home shared with Ginny’s parents. Tiki is an emerging media personality and a friend of many New York power brokers. He plans to retire at season’s end to pursue business opportunities. He is often seen at charity events or on television, wearing an Italian suit.
Ronde became a Pro Bowl defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns on Sunday in a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He lives with his wife, Claudia, and their two young daughters in a 7,100-square-foot house that sits by a lake, a home shared with a room-sized golf simulator, a home theater and six cars. Ronde does some radio and television work and plans to play several more seasons. He often can be found on a golf course or on a fishing boat. For him, the first name in style is Tommy Bahama.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Carlos Delgado Honored with Roberto Clemente Award [J. Mark English]

Your Daily Fix 10.24.06 [J. Mark English]

  • Love, hugs and smiles as the MLB players and owners announce a five year labor deal: Major League Baseball had hoped the new Basic Agreement could be finished Friday and announced before the World Series began. Hence Rob Manfred and the Players Association worked all Friday to try to get it done. They finally announced the deal Tuesday at Busch Stadium, just a few days later than planned.

    There is little that is earth-shattering about the deal except that it was accomplished so discreetly, without threats or cries of poverty, press conferences or games missed. That's because the baseball business is awash in cash. - Peter Gammons

  • Over there: The NFL will be playing two games out of the country starting next year.
  • ESPN breaks ratings records with last nights Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and the Giants. Comment - Great...good from them. But I mean maybe its because they are promo whores when it comes to prepping a regular season game. I think they had 12 ESPN personalities at the game last night. Plus, after a fantastic fun by Brandon Jacobs, I wanted to see a replay. But I couldn't see it because they were plugging "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC with Emmitt Smith. I mean give me a break. I want to see football!!
  • Charlie Weis doesn't understand Notre Dame's slip in the polls.
  • Expect Dennis Green to be fired should the Arizona Cardinals lose this weekend, following their worst start in nine years.
  • John Donovan with five keys to Game 3 of the World Series. Not that I'll be watching...yes, I'm still bitter. Lets go Knicks! (Pre-season basketball rocks.)
  • Tony La Russa questions what was on Kenny Rogers hand: "Didn't look like dirt."
  • Robert Cheruiyot leaves hospital, all smiles, after spill before finish of the Chicago Marathon.
  • Wes Goldstein with his NHL rankings. Here come the Thrashers!
  • Tom Cowlishaw: Bledsoe or Romo? Parcells must decide.

American Legends on ABC 7 Tonight @ Five [J. Mark English]

American Legends the store will be featured tonight on ABC News channel 7 out of New York City. Store co-owner, Donna Rubin, will be discussing the flap over the Yankees Christmas toy which has Santa Clause in an airplane. The toy seems insensitive due to the recent death of Cory Lidle. In fairness to the Yankees, the toy was made before the accident.

New York Giants: Horse of a Different Color [J. Mark English]

From the Wizard of Oz:

Dorothy: Oh, Thank you so much! We've been gone such a long time and we feel so messy... What kind of a horse is that? I've never seen a horse like that before!

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates
: And never will again, I fancy. There's only one of him and he's it. He's the Horse of a Different Color, you've heard tell about.

And what a different color they were! The Giants dominated the Cowboys. They pushed them around. Ran through them, passed over them, shoved them aside when they needed yards, and completely manhandled them.

Wow. Its been sometime since the Giants have been so consistent. Especially on the road, and on Monday Night Football, and in Dallas of all places.

Plaxico - your athletism amazes the passive football fan.

Eli - I had no idea you had an arm with such strength.

Shockey - your actually scoring touchdowns and catching the ball again.

Barber - your playing like an MVP on your way out the door.

Strahan - congrats on sack 131.5 and 132.5. Lawrence Taylor would be proud.

Arrington - thanks for one great play before losing you for the rest of the season.

Tyree - way to stop that ball at the inch yard line.

Fred Robbins - can you play in the secondary now? Thats three interceptions!

Madison - finally adjusting to the NFC now are we?

Jacobs - you'll have big shoes to fill, but keep running like that buddy and your shoes may wind up taking us to a whole new level.

Offensive line - all you guys did was pave a way for a 747 to plow through.

Tom Couglin - way to out coach Bill Parcells. And thanks for giving me a chance to forget about baseball.

Its early, but the Giants are now alone atop the NFC East. They have three home games in a row. Lets see where this ride takes them. I can't wait to strap myself in and enjoy the "come what may".

Ranking the NFL [EdMcGon]

With the Raiders win over the Cardinals, I no longer have an "ugly" category. Of course, the Raiders are still "bad", in the literal sense.

BEARS: A bye week always helps keep you at the top of the list.

PANTHERS: Losing a close game to the Bengals is not necessarily a bad sign.

SAINTS: Bye week.

BRONCOS: No change here. They should beat Cleveland, and they did.

COLTS: Sure they are undefeated. But can they go into Denver and win this week?

BENGALS: This team may be ready for the next level after their win over the Panthers. We shall see in the next four weeks, with games against the Falcons, Ravens, Chargers, and Saints.

CHARGERS: Their loss to the Chiefs tells me more about K.C. than San Diego. However, there may be rough times ahead as they lose two of their star linebackers for awhile.

EAGLES: It would be hard to downgrade the Eagles when they lose to a decent Tampa team on a 62 yard field goal at the end.

PATRIOTS: Yawn. Buffalo roadkill.

SEAHAWKS: When they lost to Minnesota, that proved they are not anywhere near the "elite" category.

GIANTS: Beating the Cowboys in Dallas was impressive, but still not meaningful in the rankings.

RAVENS: Bye week.

FALCONS: The Falcons didn't LOOK like the Falcons in their win over the Steelers. Mike Vick looked like a quarterback instead of a running-back-playing-quarterback. But can he keep it up? Highly doubtful.

STEELERS: The Steelers ought to be ashamed for making Mike Vick look like Dan Marino.

CHIEFS: The Chiefs proved they are better than I gave them credit for with their win over the Bolts.

BUCCANEERS: Even though the Bucs are coming off a win over the Eagles, and they have had a tough schedule, it takes more than a 2-4 record to be considered "good".

VIKINGS: Beating the Seahawks proves they are good. Their loss to the Bills proves they are bad. That leaves them squarely in "average".

COWBOYS: The NFC East is a tough division to be average.

JAGUARS: I should have paid more attention to that Redskins loss several weeks ago. Losing to Houston proves the Jags are merely average.

JETS: They lose to good teams (Pats, Colts, and Jags) and beat bad teams (Titans, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions). They are still the definition of average.

RAMS: Bye week.

REDSKINS: They SHOULD lose to the Colts. And probably a lot of other teams too.

BROWNS: Their loss to the Broncos only reinforces the fact they have the most brutal schedule in the NFL.

BILLS: Being roadkill for the Patriots only further proves this is a good spot for them.

TEXANS: Beating the Jags soundly only proved the Jags were over-rated. But it does prove the Texans are getting better.

49ERS: Bye week.

PACKERS: So they are better than Miami. They still suck.

DOLPHINS: You know you have problems when you lose to Green Bay. In Miami.

LIONS: A loss to the Jets was to be expected.

TITANS: Thank God for bye weeks!

RAIDERS: Thank you Arizona for proving there IS a worse team than the Raiders.

CARDINALS: They only beat the 49ers, and lost to the Raiders. Forget the Bears game: THIS is the worst team in the NFL.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Video: Chicago Marathon - Robert Cheruiyot Collapse [J. Mark English]

"I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win, I'm...going down." This is sad, but also a vision to see. Poor Mr. Cheruiyot was about to win the Chicago Marathon and then simply collapses!

Video: Tiki Barber Highlights [J. Mark English]

Last week, Tiki Barber announced that he would be retiring after this seaons. Here is a look back to his magnificent runs from last year.

And its Back: Your Daily Fix 10.23.06

I've been in grief over the past few days, and I've also been to a wedding, so forgive the absence over the past two days. I'm bringing back this feature now that my focus is off of the Mets and back to general sports.

  • Detroit Tigers fight back to win game 2 of the World Series, but what was it that was on Kenny Rogers hand?
  • The 1-6-1 Philadelphia Flyers shake up the organization big time. Say goodbye to Bobby Clarke Flyer fans. Who will you blame now?
  • Philadelphia is also suffering from yesterdays Eagles' loss on a 62 yard field goal from Matt Bryant of all people. (A former kicker for the Giants who only a few years ago was working out of a pawn shop.) If the Giants can somehow beat the Cowboys on the road tonight they'll be in first place in the NFC East. 23 years and counting for the city of brotherly love.
  • San Diego Chargers' Shawne Merriman has been suspended for steroids use. Will football get the same attention that baseball does on this issue?
  • MLB and the players association are back at the table to negotiate a new labor deal. Word is they are about to reach a five year deal.
  • Pat Tillman's brother has come out swinging calling the war in Iraq illegal. Kevin Tillman, who's brother died in Afghanistan (he played for the Arizona Cardinals), has said the following: "Somehow, the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes...Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground."
  • Ohio State remains in the number one slot in the BCS, but Michigan topples USC, taking over the number two spot.
  • Break up the New York Jets? They are 4-3, and play the Browns on the road next week. Its not unlikely that they could be 5-3 heading into their bye, and may position themselves to win possibly ten games this season.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Carlos at the Bat [J. Mark English]

Carlos at the Bat

Play on Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the New York Mets nine that day,
The score stood three to one, with but one inning more to play.

And then when Floyd died at first, and Reyes did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They though, "if only Carlos could but get a whack at that.
We'd put up even money now, with Carlos at the bat."

But Floyd preceded Carlos, as did also Jose Reyes;
and the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake.

So upon that stricken multitude, grim melancholy sat;
for there seemed but little chance of Carlos getting to the bat.

But Valentine let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And Lo Duca, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball.

And when the dust had lifted,
and men saw what had occured,
there was Endy safe at second and Valentine a-hugging third.

Then from fifty five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

it pounded through on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat;
for Carlos, mighty Carlos, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Carlos' manner as he stepped into his palce,
there was pride in Carlos' bearing and a smile lit Carlos' face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt t'was Carlos at the bat.

Millions of eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
One hundred thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
defiance flashed in Carlos' eye, a sneer curled Carlos' lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
and Carlos stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped --
"That ain't my style," said Carlos.

"Strike one!" the umpire said.
From the benches, blue and orange with people, there went up a muffled roar,
like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.

"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand,
and it's like they'd ahve killed him had not Carlos raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity, great Carlos' visage shone,
he stilled the rising tumult, he bade the game go on.

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew,
but Carlos' still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Carlos and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
and they knew that Carlos wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer has fled from Carlos' lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Carlos' blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,

but there is no joy in Flushing --
mighty Carlos has struck out.

New York Mets: Wait Till Next Year [J. Mark English]

"God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."” - Aeschylus

"Wait till next year." Sound familiar? It should to those who can remember what it was like to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan prior to 1955. Or how about Red Sox fans before 2004. And even White Sox fans pre 2005.

Think back to how the New York Yankees lost to the Seattle Mariners in 1995, in game five of the ALDS, in extra innings at the Dome in the city that pours. The Yankees saw the Mariners come from behind and win, leaving them with nothing but despair.

Even worse, recall when just a few years ago, the Boston Red Sox, leading the New York Yankees in game 7, 5-2, with Pedro Martinez on the mound, surrendered the lead. And then in the bottom of the ninth, saw Aaron "frickin'" Boone send the Yankees into ecstacy, leaving the Sox to wonder if the 'curse' could ever be broken.

The Yankees in '96, and the Red Sox in '04 followed both of those tragic losses with a World Series victory, with the claim to be Champions of the World.

For the New York Mets, whom lost tonight in a heart breaking game, the hope is that this is only the beginning.

For the Yankees, 1995 marked the beginning of a dynasty.

The 2006 Mets will give way to a 2007 team with much promise. The pitching staff should be solid. Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Brian Bannister, John Maine lead a cast of young starters. Throw into the mix the return of Tom Glavine, El Duque, and midway through the season, Pedro Martinez. And who knows who they will go after in the off season...Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, or even Dontrelle Willis. There is much hope with this staff.

The bullpen should also continue its success. Aaron Heilman, a healthy Duane Sanchez, Billy Wagner, Mota and so forth will all be returning.

The offense could be solidified with the acquistion of Alphonso Soriano, as well as the young players coming up such as Lastings Milledge.

The pain will reside. But the hope will remain.

For now, lets hope the Detroit Tigers show that they really are the team of destiny for this year. The D in Detroit may stand for Destiny, but the D in New York will stand for Dynasty.

Now my focus shifts to my other team, the New York Giants. They have a big game against Dallas on Monday night. Down with T.O. Down with Parcells. Make Tiki Barber's last season as special as it was for Jerome Bettis last year.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Photos: Fans & Players Getting Set [J. Mark English]

LIRR Closes the Gap to Shea [J. Mark English]

Shea Stadium will be much closer to the LIRR:
On Wednesday, officials of North America's largest commuter railroad announced that the LIRR will reduce the gap at eight stations, including the Shea Stadium stop in Queens.
But perhaps the LIRR really has closed in on the Land of Oz. With the Mets, every playoff game at Shea seems like something out of a land of fantasy...mystical...dreamlike. Bob Elliott of Slam Sports adds more to this way of thinking:
The scoreboard started with a whisper: "There's no place like home," said Judy Garland in a clip from the Wizard of Oz.
"There's no place like home," she repeated and clicked her red slippers.
There's no place like Shea Stadium for the New York Mets, who clicked for a 4-2 win over the red-slippered St. Louis Cardinals to force a Game 7 of the NLCS tonight.
And what happens tonight?
Lefty Oliver Perez gets the ball for the Mets....
Before a pitch was thrown last night, the rickety old structure was rocking with a clip from the movie Hoosiers as the coach inspired his troops. The blaring music was loud enough to wake the sleeping and some of the dead in a Long Island grave yard...
About the only place other than the borough of Queen's where the cheers were louder last night were in Michigan, where the Detroit Tigers sit with their feet up.

Re: NFL Stadiums Threat [J. Mark English]

I'm glad to see in a CBS New poll, 81% of respondants said that this will not affect their plans this weekend in regards to attending games.
After the Giants play Dallas next Monday, they will have three home games in a row. I plan on being at all three, and I know that the Stadium officials, the NFL, and the government will be sure that the enviorment will be safe.
Fear will not overcome fans of the greatest sport in America...well its tied with baseball. Did I mention that I am biased?

FBI Questions Someone in NFL Threat [Breibart.com]

Lara Jakes Jordan -

The FBI interviewed a Milwaukee resident Thursday who officials believe was involved in posting Internet threats about dirty bomb attacks on NFL football stadiums this weekend. The threats appeared to be phony.
The person, described only as a young adult, did not appear to have any ties to terrorist groups, according to a Washington law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
In Milwaukee, FBI spokesman Richard K. Ruminski said the "individual has come forward and provided information about the posting of the threat against the NFL stadiums. The U.S. government still believes this threat is non-credible."
"As this is an ongoing matter, we will not provide any additional information at this time," Ruminski said in a statement.
The threats about radioactive bombs, posted on a Web site a week ago, were not backed up by intelligence indicating such an attack might be imminent, according to the FBI and the Homeland Security Department.
Homeland Security on Wednesday alerted the NFL and authorities in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland, saying they were acting "out of an abundance of caution."
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke on Wednesday said the threat was viewed "with strong skepticism." Still, the agency contacted the National Football League, local authorities and stadium owners. Also notified was the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

NLCS: Stressful Ramblings about the Mets [J. Mark English]

I heard yesterday on WFAN that Willie Randolph is so confident that his team will win this series...and all year long he has been saying "when we go to the WS"...not "if we go..."... that he has handed out the travel itineraries for the trip to Detroit.
Talk about confidence. Think he may need to knock on wood?
I remember when the Giants played the 49ers in the '90 NFC Championship game, Bill Parcells told the team before the game that the 49ers had already booked their hotel rooms in Tampa Bay in anticipation of going to the Super Bowl. And who won? The Giants of course, and their itinerary had already called for flying directly from San Francisco to Tampa Bay.
Be that as it may, having no idea who will win this game, and knowing that no matter what, the Mets will do everything in their power to make it as difficult as possible to win...I can no longer stand the anticipation and the pressure of waiting. I even have the butterflies in my stomach...I'm not even going to be there at the stadium! Why should I care so much?
It just had to mention on the radio today that when the home teams wins game six, the past 11 times, that team went on to win game 7. Way to jinx the Mets. Just like when they kept bringing up the scoreless innings for Glavine heading into game 5.
But boy oh boy, GAME SEVEN... What powerful words those are. What memories will come from tonight? What will happen? Who will be the hero? Who will get that big run? Who will make the memorable mistake that will be remembered for ages?
This is why we love sports. The drama...the real life drama. And the fan, like myself, attaches their identity to a team. For 16 years I have cheered for these Mets. I have suffered through the losing seasons, and suffered even more when the dared to reach the heights in '99, and '00 but came up short.
Some people do not understand how people can be come so attached to a group of players that they do not know, and will never meet. I say to them what the great mountain climber, George Mallory, said to someone who asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. "Because it is there." (He died in his attempt to reach the peak.)
And so because our teams are here, because they play for the city, for the name on the front of the jersey, and not the back, that is why we stick with our teams.
And this is why if the Mets win tonight, I will be in a state of euphoria. If they lose, I will be in a state of despair. Why the polar opposites over a team which I am not a member of? Because the Mets are there, and oh how I love them.
Finally, to quote Al Davis, to the Mets I say - "just win baby".

"Jose-O-Lay-O-Lay-O-Lay" [J. Mark English]

From Jayson Stark:

At least Green is coordinated enough to sing the hottest song in Queensthese days -- the old "Jose-O-Lay-O-Lay-O-Lay" song that reverberates around Shea Stadium just about any time Reyes does anything more intricate thanhopping out of the dugout.
Now it's hard to walk more than three feet in any direction at Shea withoutrunning into somebody singing it, for no particular reason.
"I find myself singing it -- a lot," said Floyd. "You know how you go outsometimes, you go places and you hear it all the time? It just gets in yourhead, man. The only thing is, some people sing it wrong. It's not,'Jose-Jo-Say-Jo-Say-Jose,' you know. I just figured that out about a weekago."

NLCS: Another Stressful Night Ahead [J. Mark English]

"Pressure pushing down on me. Pressing down on you no man ask for under pressure... It's the terror of knowing what the world is about. Watching some good friends screaming 'let me out'. Pray tomorrow - gets me higher. Pressure on people - people on streets. Turned away from it all like a blind man... Insanity laughs under pressure cracking. Can't we give ourselves one more chance. The people on the edge of the night...caring about ourselves...this is our last dance, this is our last dance. This is ourselves. Under pressure." - David Bowie/Queens
"Are you ready, are you ready for this? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Are you happy, are you satisfied? How lang can you stand the heat?" - Queens
I think some announcer used to say "and tomorrow we'll do it all over again." Well, tonight, Met fans (myself included) will be hanging on the edge of our seats, watching another nine innings of hair pulling, nail biting, heart pounding, gut wrenching baseball.
"Oh my" as Dick Enberg says. The Mets never make it easy on us. They can never win in an easy way, and for that matter, they never make losing easy either. They really are controlled by the fates of the greek Gods as the piece by David Brooks opined last week.
Tonight Oliver Perez takes the mound against Jeff Suppan. When asked why Perez would be the starter, manager Willie Randolph said "because I like him". Fair enough. He liked John Maine too, and Maine came up huge yesterday. (Anna Benson, are you out there? Maybe you should dump Kris and start hanging around Maine.)
Please forgive the slant, and total attention given to the Mets the past two weeks. Might as well call this site METS LEGENDS, as opposed to American Legends. But at least you get to read the agony, and the zeniths of a Met fan. Tonight he'll be in a bar in Eastchester sitting in the same chair he watched the last three innings in last night. He will have a few Harps, and will be on the edge of my seat, as the bullets reap....and this Met fan will be chanting:

Pick the NFL winners redux [EdMcgon]

Even though I got beaten like a drum, we had fun with our "pick the NFL winners" last week, so let's do it again. (I am surprised Bill Barker hasn't used his bragging rights yet.)

Put your picks in the comments before 1 pm Sunday and I will announce the winner next week. No money, just bragging rights.

Anyway, here are my picks for this week (my pick is in red):

Carolina at Cincinnati: Will the Bengals bounce back after last week's surprise loss to the Bucs? This game is a must-win for both of these teams. I will take the Panthers by a hair.

Detroit at N.Y. Jets: Can the Jets get up for this game after their squeaker over Miami? I say yes, but just barely.

Green Bay at Miami: Don Shula. Vince Lombardi. Larry Csonka. Bart Starr. Dan Marino. Brett Favre. Normally, I would say one out of six ain't bad, but in Favre's case, I will make an exception. Take Miami at home.

Jacksonville at Houston: This one smells like a "trap" game, but I just cannot pick Houston against a better team.

New England at Buffalo: Pats win here by one score.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: A must-win for the Bucs. Only a nice-to-have win for the Eagles. Take the Bucs in their second upset win.

Pittsburgh at Atlanta: This is the game I have been waiting to see for weeks. I want to see how a good 3-4 defense handles Atlanta's option offense. I think Pittsburgh can.

San Diego at Kansas City: I think K.C. was looking past Pittsburgh last week to this game. Unfortunately, it won't do them any good. Take the Bolts.

Denver at Cleveland: The Brownies have had two weeks to prepare for the Broncos. It ain't enough.

Arizona at Oakland: According to the news, this is one of the alleged target sites for a terrorist bombing this weekend. With these two teams, I would call it more of a mercy killing. Regardless, I think Arizona will take out their frustrations from Monday night on the hapless (or is that hopeless?) Raiders.

Minnesota at Seattle: The Sea Birdies should beat almost anyone at home. The Vikes are no exception.

Washington at Indianapolis: A bad secondary vs. Peyton Manning. You do the math.

N.Y. Giants at Dallas: Heads Dallas wins, tails Giants win. It's heads.

Photo: Mets Hold on to Force Game 7 [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mets Lose, 4-2, Backs Against Wall, Coming Home to Shea [J. Mark English]

Well the last time there was a game six at Shea, the unthinkable occured. Bill Buckner anyone?
Mets lost tonight, and should be more then happy to leave the sea of red, and the swirling white. Those fans in St. Louis sure were loud, and a little too nice, and just too perky.
Come back home Mets to New York. Its cold, dark, and damp. And we're waiting for you.
Tom Glavine was not the Glavine of the previous two games, and now the Mets are in a hole, in which the only way out is to win.
Lots of anti-acids will be needed tomorrow. Some stress relievers, and maalox. Whatever it takes.
A moment of inspiration comes to mind...Herb Brooks addressing the U.S. Hockey team in 1980:
After that "miracle game", they still had one more game to win before they could take home the gold. They had to beat Finland. Herb Brooks came into the locker room beforehand, and said, "If you lose this game, you will take it to your f**king grave." Then he turned and walked almost all the way out, before turning around and saying again, "To your f**king grave."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Photos: Tearful Goodbye to Cory Lidle [J. Mark English]

NLCS Game 5: What, Me Nervous? [J. Mark English]

From the Movie Airplane (1980):

[as the plane prepares to take off]
Hanging Lady: Nervous?
Ted Striker: Yes.
Hanging Lady: First time?
Ted Striker: No, I've been nervous lots of times.


Thats how I feel heading into tonight's Met game. VERY NERVOUS. Would everyone please stop mentioning just how many frickin' innings in a row Tom Glavine has done this or that!

Is Jeff Weaver going to throw a perfect game tonight? Would you really be surprised if he did?

With all the scoring on Sunday, are the Mets about to face the prospect of diminishing returns?


So c'mon Mets, please score early and often so that we can move on to the next level of anxiety!

Debacle: Arizona Cardinals Collapse [J. Mark English]

Anyone with a clear understanding of the sport of football would agree that when a team is up 23-3 with barely any time left in the third quarter, the game for the most part is on its way to being over. Then, if you consider that the team losing 23-3, would only have thirty yards in the fourth quarter, and score no offensive touchdowns, any chance of a comeback bid would be considered impossible.
Take into further account that the team losing had six turnovers...no team that has had six turnovers or more on the road has ever won a game...and that was the team down 23-3...then once again, the game should have been signed, sealed, delivered by the fourth quarter.
Finally, the home team's starting running back carries the ball 36 times...if you figure that the back averages only 3 yards per carry, then that would give him 108 yards for the game.
And so now let us take a look at what happened yesterday:
(from the Chicago Bears Website) Trailing the Cardinals 23-3 late in the third quarter Monday night in Arizona, Chicago staged a miraculous comeback, scoring two touchdowns on defense and one on special teams to escape with a stunning 24-23 victory....
The Bears overcame six turnovers by quarterback Rex Grossman, who threw a career-high four interceptions and lost two fumbles while registering a hideous 10.7 passer rating. In the first half, the Cardinals converted four Grossman turnovers into 13 points in building a 20-0 halftime lead....
Rookie defensive end Mark Anderson ignited the comeback, forcing rookie quarterback Matt Leinart to fumble on a blindside sack. Mike Brown scooped up the loose ball and returned it 3 yards for a TD, drawing the Bears to within 23-10 with :02 remaining in the third quarter....
The defense delivered again as Brian Urlacher ripped the ball away from running back Edgerrin James and Charles Tillman returned the fumble 40 yards for a TD, closing the gap to 23-17 with 5:00 left in the final period...
Rookie Devin Hester then produced the play of the game and perhaps the season, returning a punt 83 yards for a touchdown to put the Bears ahead 24-23 with 2:58 to play....
Okay, so now the extraordinary has happened. But the Cardinals get the ball back with plenty of time left, and in great field position at their own 38 yard line. Then they methodically get down the field, and by the time they get near the 24 yard line of the Bears, there is still over a minute left. Anything can happen, but it seems they are set to put themselves into position for an easy field goal.
So what really happens?
Leinart responded by driving the Cardinals to the Bears’ 22, but Neil Rackers missed a 40-yard field goal attempt that may have deflected off Hunter Hillenmeyer’s fingertips and sailed wide left with :47 left...
Wow. Improbable? Well yes, when given the facts that the Bears offense did little, practically nothing to encourage the comeback.
The Chicago Bears may be lucky to be 6-0. But they are where they are. The New York Giants back in 1990 played a game against the then Phoenix Cardinals, in a game that was prophetic of things to come. Early in the game, Phil Simms was knocked out, and Jeff Hostlettler came in and led the Giants to a come back win. trailing 19-10 late in the 4th quater, he brought them within a field goal with a touchdown strike to Stephen Baker. Then with the seconds rolling off of the clock, Matt Bahr hit a game winning kick, propelling the Giants to a 20-19 win (the same score that would hold at the end of Super Bowl XXV), and letting them continue their perfect start.
Games like these come in a Super Bowl season, and perhaps its a further sign that this is the Bears year. We'll see. Anything can happen. Yesterday was living proof.

Video: Dennis Green Loses It [J. Mark English]

Photo: Rain Soaked St. Louis [J. Mark English]

Ranking the NFL [EdMcGon]

The foggy NFL picture is becoming clearer, so it is time to look at where the teams rank:

BEARS: With their schedule, this team could go 16-0. The only tough matchups the rest of the way are at the Giants, at the Patriots, and at the Rams. The way they beat up on the Seahawks three weeks ago (37-6) shows they can play with the big boys. The way they beat the Cardinals last night shows they can find ways to win (and a little luck never hurts).

SEAHAWKS: Even without Shaun Alexander, they manage to win, with their only loss coming to "da Bears".

PANTHERS: This ranking is based strictly on the presence of Steve Smith. With him, they are 4-0, including wins over the Saints and Ravens. Without him, they are 0-2, losing to the Falcons and Vikings.

SAINTS: Aside from a squeaker they lost to the Panthers in Carolina, this Saints team has been dominant. Winning against the Eagles showed they can win the big ones.

BRONCOS: After their week 1 loss to the Rams, the Broncos have rolled through their schedule, including consecutive wins over the Patriots and the Ravens.

COLTS: Until they lose, the Colts have to be considered up there. However, their only decisive victory came against the hapless Texans. In their favor, the Colts did manage to beat the Jaguars in a close game; however, their defense is weak, and their running game is questionable. But as long as Peyton Manning is there, they have a chance.

CHARGERS: San Diego is a borderline "almost elite" team. Their loss to the Ravens almost drops them a notch, but the Chargers take care of the bad teams with ease.

EAGLES: Another borderline "almost elite" team. Losses to the Saints and Giants are holding them down, but they MUST be respected.

PATRIOTS: This team is still hard to peg. They lost to the Broncos, but they also beat the Bengals.

GIANTS: Why aren't the G-Men rated higher? Because they can't beat the "almost elite", having lost to the Colts and Seahawks. Add in some really sloppy play, and this rating may be generous.

RAVENS: Their win against the Chargers showed how good they can be. The last two losses to the Broncos and Panthers showed they are not quite ready for the "almost elite".

JAGUARS: Another hard team to peg, but they are good. I just can't rank them higher after that loss to the Redskins two weeks ago.

FALCONS: A borderline "good" team. With their only losses to the Saints and the Giants, and some dominant wins over lesser teams, it is hard to be certain which Falcon team is real.

BENGALS: Their loss to the Buccaneers was a head-scratcher. However, they may drop to average, or rise to "almost elite", in the next five weeks, with games against the Panthers, Falcons, Ravens, Chargers, and Saints. That is a brutal schedule.

STEELERS: How can a 2-3 team be called "good"? They lost to the Jags, Bengals, and Chargers. With Pittsburgh seemingly coming out of their funk against K.C., this rating may actually be a little low.

BUCCANEERS: Only one win? But it was against the Bengals. Their losses to the Ravens, Falcons, Panthers, and Saints, tell me they are NOT a one-win team. They might even be good.

COWBOYS: Losses to the Eagles and Jags leave the Cowboys here.

JETS: They lose to good teams (Pats, Colts, and Jags) and beat bad teams (Titans, Bills, and Dolphins). I would call that the definition of average.

RAMS: If you consider the Rams week 1 victory over the Broncos a fluke, then they have to be ranked here. They lost to the 49ers!

VIKINGS: Ignoring the OT win over the "Steve Smith"-less Panthers, the Vikes have beaten the Redskins and Lions. Nothing to get excited about here.

REDSKINS: How do they beat the Jags and lose to the Titans? Parity is a cruel mistress.

CHIEFS: When your only wins are against the 49ers and Cardinals, calling you "average" is kind.

BROWNS: I know. Only one win, and that was against the Raiders. But look who they lost to: Saints, Bengals, Ravens, and Panthers. They may have the most brutal schedule in the NFL.

BILLS: Almost average. Beating the Vikes was a good sign. Losing to the Lions was not.

TEXANS: They have played poorly, but they have had some tough games: Eagles, Colts, Redskins, and Cowboys.

CARDINALS: They almost beat the elite team, and they might even be better than this. But only beating the 49ers doesn't put you high up in the rankings.

49ERS: They are getting better. At least the 49ers are fun to watch now.

DOLPHINS: If Culpepper ever gets healthy, this is a better team. Until then...

PACKERS: Time to retire Brett. Sure they have lost to some good teams. But the way they looked, I am not sure it would have made a difference.

LIONS: If the Lions resurrected Vince Lombardi as their head coach...they would still lose.

TITANS: The Redskins game was a fluke. They are REALLY this bad. However, with a few more wins, they might move up to average.

RAIDERS: Sorry Raider fans. But if you look at this team, you know it is true. I just hope they can sneak in a win somewhere.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Video: Miami - F.I.U Brawl [J. Mark English]

31 players have been suspended from the Miami - F.I.U. brawl this past weekend. In case you missed it, heres the video:

NLCS: Mets - The Monsters Are Out [J. Mark English]

I'll be back in the high life again, all the doors that closed one time will open up again. I'll be back in the high life again, all the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in. And I'll drink and dance with one hand free. Let the world back into me, and I'll be a a sight to see. Back in the high life again. - Steve Winwood
Back in the 2000 NLCS, when the Mets were playing the Cardinals, in game two, Mike Piazza hit an incredible home run that helped give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the series heading back to New York. In his previous playoff games, he had been in a serious slump, causing many to believe he was not capable of stepping up to the occasion in the playoffs. After his home run, one could hear in the dugout, someone saying "the monster is out, the monster is out."
Last night, in the Mets 12-5 victory over the Cardinals, the monster was finally out. The swagger from the regular season was back. And oh, what fun it was to see them gang up on the Cardinals.
From the getgo, there was a feeling last night would take on a different, and positive spin for the Mets when in the first two innings they stretched Cardinals starter, Anthony Reyes, out to over 50 pitches. By the third, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright took adventage and smacked two solo shots out of the park.
By the end of the fourth inning, Reyes was out of the game. Mets starter Oliver Perez, was keeping the Mets in the game. In the fifth, the Mets back roared into the lime light, with Delgado hitting a three run homer, silencing the Cardinals die hard fans for the rest of the night. In the sixth, things began to just get silly as the Mets scored a whopping six runs.
Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran are on fire. Beltran has now hit a total of seven NLCS home runs against the Cardinals. Delgado has four in these playoff series alone.
Tonight will feature a rematch from game one, with Tom Glavine going up against Jeff Weaver. Historically, Glavine has not done well coming off three days rest. With any luck, rain will prevent the game from being played tonight. This would give Glavine a badly needed extra day off, and hopefully he can help the Mets take control of the series.
One thing is for sure, there will be a game six, and the Mets will play at home again.

Early results from "Pick the NFL winners" [EdMcGon]

Time for me to eat a little crow after my awful NFL picks from last week. Whose brain-dead idea was it to start this thing?

Oh yeah, I guess it was me. Never mind.

Buffalo at Detroit: I was wrong. Detroit is every bit as mediocre as Buffalo.

Carolina at Baltimore: Wrong again, but is it my fault Steve McNair got hurt early?

Cincinnati at Tampa Bay: This was a shocker.

Houston at Dallas: No surprises here.

N.Y. Giants at Atlanta: Amazingly, the Giants not only did NOT stop Atlanta's running game, the G-Men put on a running clinic of their own.

Philadelphia at New Orleans: I'm a believer now. The Saints are for real.

Seattle at St. Louis: Seattle proves me wrong in a squeaker.

Tennessee at Washington: Huh? What the heck happened here? Gibbs, time to go back to NASCAR.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh has not looked like the Super Bowl champs all season. Until this game.

Miami at N.Y. Jets: Hey! I got one! (barely, but I'll take it)

San Diego at San Francisco: Note to Robert George: Was I right, or was I right?

Oakland at Denver: Sorry Raider fans. On the bright side, just think of that high draft pick we'll get next year...

Chicago at Arizona: TBD tonight.

In total, I got 4 right. If you need me, I'll be hiding under my desk for the rest of the day.

How all of you did (with your Chicago-Arizona pick):
Bill Barker: 8 (Bears)
RAGS: 7 (Cards)
J. Mark English: 7 (Cards)

UPDATE: After the Bears amazing come-from-behind victory last night, Bill Barker seals the win with an impressive 9 correct. Kudos Mr. Barker!