Feb 05

Some Reflections On 49ers And Ravens, Before The Mets

One of the true beauties of sport is the ability to generate conversation and debate. Before we dive head first into baseball let’s take one more swipe at the Super Bowl, which will go down in history as one of the most compelling in history.

What I root most for in watching games – regardless of sport – are interesting story lines and close games. Yesterday’s game hit on both counts.

As I wrote yesterday, I didn’t have a dog in the fight, but leaned toward San Francisco because of my Cleveland roots. I didn’t waiver, but found myself happy for Joe Flacco because of the heat he’s taken, some of it from his own team.

Timing is everything, and Flacco couldn’t have picked a better time to become an unrestricted free agent. What are the odds? Check them out at  CasinoDino.com.

While Flacco is easy to root for, Jim Harbaugh is the opposite.

Harbaugh went from hard to root for to almost impossible to root for because of his whining. After saying he wanted to handle things with class, he proceeded to rip the officiating. Although he was right on that last non-call – it was holding – be gracious and congratulate your brother. Not a lot of warmth in that post-game handshake.

Brother John said he thought his brother is the best coach in the NFL and would be honored to work for him. He also said he loved him. Jim said no such thing. I wonder if Jim will truly be happy for John?

That was a horrible non-call, and I can’t stand that term. “That was a good non-call,’’ said Phil Simms, who praised the officials for “not making a call late in the game.’’ I normally like Simms, but he’s as off-target on this one like a Mark Sanchez pass. Huh? If it is holding, it is holding whether on the first play of the game or the last. What is it? Then call it. I bet he wouldn’t have been that forgiving had he been throwing the ball.

That wasn’t the only bad call in the game. As a matter of fact, two Ravens were caught holding on that play. They were also holding on the kickoff return. And, how does Cary Williams not get thrown out of the game for shoving a ref? He later went on to make several key plays, including tipping a pass in the end zone.

There were numerous other blown calls that cost both teams. It isn’t like the 49ers got screwed; both teams were affected. Like, how about a late hit on Flacco wasn’t called?

I heard a lot about the officials “letting them play,’’ which is garbage. Your job as an official is to call the game, not arbitrarily decide how the game should be played. It is like an umpire’s “personal’’ strike zone. Rules are rules, so enforce them.

That being said, I don’t want to hear how the officials cost the 49ers the game. They had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher, yet still lost the game. I wonder how many times that has happened. The bottom line is when you score 31 points, you should win the game. The 49ers defense and special teams were horrid, and Jim Harbaugh was outcoached by his brother, John Harbaugh.

Outclassed, too?

Jim Harbaugh inexplicably abandoned the running game at the end, despite Frank Gore’s success in the game and on that drive. Harbaugh, as a former quarterback, should know timeouts are more precious than five yards.

Colin Kaepernick burned a timeout earlier rather than take a penalty, and as the clock ticked down on that final drive, Harbaugh screamed for a timeout rather than take the penalty, despite the five yards possibly helping the receivers maneuver easier around the end zone.

As far as Kaepernick is concerned, he came alive in the second half, but clearly was unnerved early in the game. As Kaepernick struggled, I was somewhat surprised – considering the score – not much was made by Simms on going to Alex Smith. Bill Cowher mentioned it at halftime, but Simms threw an incompletion there.

And, about that safety at the end of the game, there was blatant holding there, but I’m not totally buying it meant nothing because a penalty in the end zone still results in a safety. However, had the penalty been called it there might have been more time on the clock for maybe one more play.

And, who wouldn’t have wanted one more play from a game like last night’s?

Jan 31

The Parallels Between Jose Reyes And Darelle Revis

When I hear of the Jets’ dilemma with Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, I can’t but help think of the similarities with the Mets and Jose Reyes.

Both are supremely talented athletes who excel at their positions, but have apparently outgrown their team’s financial structure.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

REVIS: Reminds me of Reyes.

Make no mistake, the Mets had the resources to bring back Reyes and the Jets have the funds to renegotiate an extension for Revis.

The Mets let Reyes walk because they didn’t want to spend the money and tie up their budget in future seasons for a player with an injury history. No, they haven’t been able to fully replace Reyes, especially on the offensive side, but they have more financial flexibility than they have in recent years.

The Mets also let Reyes depart because he wasn’t the missing piece. Even with Reyes, the Mets had – and still have – numerous holes.

Reyes, a player whose living depends upon his legs, was frequently injured during his last seasons with the Mets, including going on the disabled list twice in his final summer.

By all accounts, Reyes was a positive in the clubhouse, much like Revis is in the locker with the Jets.

For the third time in his career, Revis wants to renegotiate his contract, which has prompted some NFL executives to suggest he’ll never be happy, and quite frankly, this must wear on Jets management.

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Dec 13

Talk Of Mets Dealing Niese Absurd

Anybody who believes the Mets are serious about trading Jon Niese is either: a) nuts, b) misinformed, c) clueless, or d) all of the above.

I’ve heard reports the Mets will trade either R.A. Dickey or Niese in their effort to acquire a power-hitting outfielder.

NIESE: Not going anywhere. (AP)

They seem almost desperate in their attempts to trade Dickey, but Niese isn’t going anywhere for a multitude of reasons.

Although Niese’s career high is 13 victories, he’s more potential than production at age 26. He’s young, left-handed, throws hard, has had success on the major league level, but most importantly, is inexpensive considering the market.

Cheap, actually.

Niese, in one of the few smart contract moves we’ve seen from the Mets in recent years, is signed to a five-year, $21.5 million contract. In short, the total value of his deal is less than what the Mets are reportedly willing to pay Dickey.

If Niese were in the NFL or NBA, he’d be holding out this spring. As it is, he’s locked in through 2016 with club options for 2017 and 2018.

In looking at the big picture for the Mets, Niese has more value than Dickey, and assuming he stays healthy and continues to improve, he’ll be here longer than the three years Dickey originally sought. If things progress, the Mets will have won the first Niese contract.

For all their talk about pitching depth, the Mets have issues that seem to be ignored by GM Sandy Alderson that can’t be overshadowed no matter how big a bat they get.

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Dec 10

Adding PEZ To Mets Memorabilia

Of course I have baseball cards. Over 50,000 at last count dating back to 1952. Yes, I might be called an old guy, even though many in the 1950s were purchased well after I was born and picked up at flea markets and garage sales, long before baseball cards became an industry.

I was out yesterday and a sign caught my eye: PEZ Visitor Center. Yes, PEZ, the old fashioned candy created in Austria in the 1920s was what I learned.

On display were hundreds of theme dispensers, ranging from Will and Kate, to Elvis, to Star Wars, to college football, to Peanuts characters and Bugs Bunny. The only PEZ I remembered growing up was a Popeye, which they had on display, but not for sale.

There was Ohio State and Michigan. Mets and Yankees. I didn’t even know they had MLB. There’s one of each, and you can even order them online at  I was thinking of picking up one of each team. Maybe later.

It got me to thinking of all the various types of memorabilia I’ve collected over the years other than the cards. There were Sports Illustrated issues featuring prominent Mets events and players. There was even one of the Tom Seaver trade to Cincinnati. I know, I know, that one stings.

One year the TOPPS company inserted metal coins in the packs. I believe it was 1964. I got a Ron Hunt. Another year they inserted decals.

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Nov 18

Which Team Is More Dysfunctional, The Mets Or Jets?

Getting ready to watch football with the NFL Red Zone, so thankfully I am not tied down to the Jets-Rams.

TV football in New York is absolutely terrible without Red Zone because you’re tied into two teams each week, but I digress.

I was thinking which is the most dysfunctional New York franchise, the Mets or Jets?

The Jets are in the news because the Mets have faded into the woodwork until February.

The biggest disparity between the teams is economic, despite each being in a sport with sound financial footing. Each NFL team – as with each MLB team – has a predetermined foundation in the tens of millions before selling a single ticket. Both have loaded ownerships, but the difference is Woody Johnson is willing to spend while the Wilpons make their decisions against the backdrop of the Madoff scandal.

The fundamental difference is the Jets are willing to spend, evidenced by first pursuing Brett Favre, and then giving loaded contracts to Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Derrelle Revis.

In fairness, the Mets showed a similar desire with Johan Santana and Jason Bay, not to mention Oliver Perez and Francisco Rodriguez, but the last two years have been on an austerity kick.

The most obvious similarity is both share the city with a more successful and stable older brother against whom they’ll never match.

Another common thread is the lack of direction from the top as to where and how to spend.

The Mets’ bullpen has deteriorated along with their outfield and offense. Meanwhile, the Jets’ offensive line is weak, along with their offensive skill players and pass rush.

The bullpen and offensive line are fundamental building blocks in the respective sports, and neither team can compete if things remain the same.

The direction of both teams is like the Washington D.C., roadmap – it goes in all directions.

The Mets failed to build their bullpen after the 2007 collapse, and then moved into Citi Field with the stated goal of building with pitching and defense only to sign Bay.

It has been downhill since, with the real possibility of losing David Wright and R.A. Dickey. If they do, the Mets will begin another rebuilding program, just as the Jets could be after this season if they continue to implode and Johnson fires GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan, which could lead to the trading of Sanchez.

After the collapses of 2007 and 2008, preceded by losing in the 2006 NLCS, the Mets severely overestimated their team and attempted to patch their holes with veterans – Santana, Rodriguez, Bay, etc. – but are now going the farm system route.

Trouble is, there’s little underneath that’s major league ready.

Meanwhile, the Jets thought they’d compete with the Favre signing, but after he left began the Sanchez Era.

With a strong defense and sound running game – you do remember “Ground and Pound’’ don’t you? – to complement Sanchez, the Jets played, but lost, consecutive AFC Championship games. They overestimated themselves in defeat.

How the Ryan tenure began is how NFL teams are usually built. They attempted to open up their defense, but did so at the expense of the running game. In addition, the Jets never complemented their strong secondary with a pass rush.

Then, with their quarterback’s confidence fractured, the Jets inexplicably traded for Tebow for a fourth-round pick and then signed him for three years. Adding Tebow meant adding a quarterback who needed a different offensive system.

As the Mets had a disjointed clubhouse, the Jets had a poisonous locker room, marked by snakes Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. The backbiting continued this week with the verbal torching of Tebow.

Your guess is as good as mine as to determining what the Jets want to do with their inept offense, which has not been helped by their porous defense, which gives up over 150 yards a game on the ground.

Also, both teams play in divisions with rivals they can’t seem to catch in the Phillies and Braves for the Mets and Patriots for the Jets.

That brings us to a final similarity: It could be a long time before the Mets or Jets are relevant again.