Category Archives: Sports

Playoff Miscellany

So the Giants beat the Cowboys this weekend. Inexplicably, in Dallas’ final drive of the game, they ran 7 plays from scrimmage and exactly ZERO went to Terrell Owens. How is that possible? Even if T.O. was double covered, and even if he was supposedly suffering the effects of a high ankle sprain, you still have to give your playmaker a chance to win the game, especially on the very last desperation play. Instead, on 4th down with just seconds remaining, Romo threw an interception on a pass intended for Terry Glenn, a player who missed almost the entire season due to injury and who almost caused another turnover earlier in the game when he fell down while making a cut in his route. How does throwing to him in that situation make any sense? Romo might as well have called for 60 Stretch Farlaaahhhhh.

Shockingly, T.O. stood up for his quarterback after the game and didn’t make issue of the play calling or decision making, saying it was a team loss. I wish I could have seen Donovan McNabb’s reaction to that press conference! And speaking of indirect disses, looking ahead, if the Giants can somehow beat Brett Favre in Lambeau to make it to the Super Bowl, that would basically complete their giving the collective finger to Tiki Barber. Ouch. I wonder who he’s rooting for in that game.

The Goose Is In!!!

No this isn’t another entry about food, it’s about my favorite baseball player of all time, Goose Gossage, finally getting elected into the Hall of Fame. About damn time people! This week was also the first time I read a sports column that agreed with my assesment as to Gossage’s place among relievers when Jayson Stark at espn.com wrote: “Goose Gossage was the most dominating closer ever. Ever.” Amen to that, brother. He goes on to compare Goose’s stats to Mariano Rivera’s: “ERA? Gossage 2.21, Rivera 2.35. Strikeouts? Goose 8.54 whiffs per 9 innings, Rivera 8.09. Unhittability? Gossage 6.59 hits per 9 innings, Rivera 7.17. ” Whenever I used to declare Gossage as the most dominating closer of all-time, people would roll their eyes as if I were just some old coot waxing nostalgic. I would even start doubting myself at times, wondering if sentimentality was clouding my memory. But seeing those numbers, along with old games on Yankees Classics, completely validates my position. Gossage was the best, the most intimidating, the most reliable, simply the most awe inspiring closer I have ever seen. He was my favorite player because his performance embodied what I loved most about sports- that every once in a while you will get to witness skill and talent come together at a level you just can’t believe. You see complete and utter domination of highly skilled opponents. It’s why we love Tiger Woods. It’s why I used to stay up past midnight to watch Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV teams of the early 90’s. And it’s why I love seeing this year’s New England Patriots routinely dismantle other teams. That’s the level at which Rich Gossage operated and that’s why his induction into the Hall of Fame is long overdue. Congratulations Goose!

Anti-Role Models In Sports

Wow, this past week has seen some particularly shameful stuff from the world of sports. First on Tuesday, there was Bobby Petrino quitting as coach of the Falcons to go and coach the Arkansas Razorbacks. Mind you, this was the very next day after losing a Monday Night Football game. And this was after Arkansas asked for and was denied the request of speaking with Petrino about a possible job offer. This sordid mess was so wrong in so many ways. How cowardly as a head coach, getting paid NFL head coach money, to quit on his team that way. Yes we know the team was in dire straits and going nowhere, and we know the players hated him as a coach. But hey, why did they hate him? He made his bed, and he should have laid in it by sticking it out to the end of the season. In a sport that is all about manning up and being strong, Bobby Petrino was weak and selfish.

Then on Thursday came the infamous Mitchell report, incriminating a number of baseball players as having used performance enhancing substances. The biggest name in the report was Roger Clemens. Through his lawyer, he issued an immediate denial in the hours following the release of the report. As much as I am a Yankee fan and want to believe the denial, once Andy Pettitte came clean and admitted that the Mitchell report was accurate with regards to his own use of HGH, well, I just can’t see how the Rocket’s denials can hold water. Given Pettitte’s close relationship with Clemens and the fact that they shared the same trainer, there’s no way a guy with a conscience like Pettitte’s would have decided to try HGH without first asking his buddy Roger. Even though HGH wasn’t a banned substance by MLB rules at the time, Pettitte knew he was doing something questionable because of the way he had to obtain it. I understand what he did and have no problem with the wording of his statement which started with “if what I did was an error in judgment…”. While others may pounce on him for that, I support him, because his error in judgment is in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. HGH wasn’t banned by MLB at the time, and he thought it might be able to help his elbow heal so that he could get back to his team sooner. It’s like if somebody decided to crossed the border into Mexico to get Viagara. Is it an error in judgment? Sure I think so, but I can see how others might not see it that way, or certainly not as completely black and white. Clemens on the other hand, if he is denying something that is actually the truth, is just being a stubborn liar. That is wrong in very black and white terms.

Finally, on Sunday, in dead last and trailing by 28 strokes, Rory Sabbatini withdrew before the final round of the Target World Challenge, an invitational event hosted by Tiger Woods to raise money for charity. There were only 16 invitees for this event and Rory decides to pull out, at first citing personal reasons and later changing his story to “shin splints”. Mind you, last place for this event paid $170,000 too. Rory got that money and yet he didn’t even stick around to sign autographs or glad hand with the sponsors. What a dick.

I’m not sure which of these stories gets my goat the most, but perhaps the Bobby Petrino thing is the most absurd. After all, he’s going back to the college ranks. College coaches are supposed to be role models for America’s kids. They’re supposed to be teachers of character and leadership. What kind of example are they trying to set down there in Arkansas anyway? With a stand up guy like Bobby Petrino as their guide, don’t be surprised if the next Michael Vick or OJ Simpson comes out of that program.

Nickel and Diming

Five dollars. That’s the amount I’ve determined to be the threshold where discounts, give-aways and other freebies actually feel worthwhile. Case in point, I probably have two or three old Lotto tickets where I’ve won a buck and it just seems not worth the inconvenience of actually taking them to the store to cash them in. If I had five of them that would be a different story. I also shop at CVS regularly and have found their Extra Care card to actually be pretty good. Why? Because every once in a while, I’ll actually get $5 in Extra Care Buck$ and that feels pretty good, because hey, that’s like a few bags of pork rinds right there, you know? And then last night, I had to go buy some laundry detergent- $5.49 for 32 oz. of Arm and Hammer detergent. But because I had an Extra Care card, it was on sale, two for the price of one! That breaks the $5 savings level and therefore I felt pretty happily surprised. Then I went home, checked my mail and found I had received a check out of the blue from my car dealer’s service center. Turns out it is for a “tire tax refund”. How much? $2.50. Psssss.

Speaking of dollars and cents, Joe Torre declined the Yankees offer for 1 year and $5 million yesterday. It’s a shame to lose him, but it’s consistent with the ongoing transformation of the organization. If we were sure we were going to keep A-Rod, Mo, Posada, Moose, Pettitte and Clemens, then Torre would have been worth more to the front office. Cashman is no dummy. Since there’s a good chance a lot of the big-contract veterans will not be around, there’s less of a requirement for the strong figurehead hall-of-fame-manager type. If you’re a team of veteran superstars then you do in fact need a Torre type to command respect and get everyone to buy into the team concept. But the new Yankees are not that type of team anymore. Quietly Cashman has rebuilt and kept us in contention. Most people didn’t realize that by midway through the season this year, the Yanks actually had more home-grown starting players than anyone else in the league. What 2008 will bring is either a transition year where the old will continue to slowly yield to the young, or quite possibly a faster sea change where all of the veterans move on. That’s why they only offered Torre 1-year. No matter what, by 2009, the Cashman transformation should be all but complete.

So who will be the next manager? I believe that depends on which of those two scenarios Cashman wants to pursue. Just as with the Torre negotiations, if he really wants to complete the transition in one quick swipe, he can offer the veteran players deals he knows they will reject. And if he goes that route, then Joe Girardi is the right man for the managerial spot because he’s proven he can be an outstanding manager of developmental players. But if Cash wants to go with the gentler phase-out, then Mattingly is the man because he’s a Yankee legend and that buys him respect from the veterans that Girardi can’t compete with. I don’t know what the timeframes are on player contract negotiations versus the managerial decision, but I’m pretty sure that whichever one gets finalized first will determine how the other(s) will play out.

The Poor Man’s Pebble Beach and Hitting Rock Bottom

Pacific Grove

Friday morning Mat, Ed, Bill and I headed down to Monterey to play a round of golf at Pacific Grove. It’s a little links style muni right on the water and has been called the “poor man’s Pebble Beach”. While the conditions of the course weren’t the greatest with patches of brown and relatively thick fairway grass, the spectacular views and ideal weather (low 70’s and breezy) made for a supremely enjoyable round.

Afterwards we headed back to San Jose where everybody was meeting up for drinks at the Rock Bottom Brewery at the Pruneyard. I invited a few of my California cousins to join us as well. Charlie I had never even met before, Tony I hadn’t seen since high school, and Lily and Nancy I had just seen a couple weeks earlier when they visited NY for Labor Day (and Lily forced me to kill off a whole bottle of Hendricks gin with her in one night, ugh). I only sampled two of Rock Bottom’s beers, the Raccoon Red and the Brown Bear Brown, and thought both were really pleasant with the brown being my favorite because of its more chocolatey finish. When my cousins showed up, I switched to gin and shots of whatever else they bought me. Who knew I had such fun cousins out there. They are totally cool and like to drink and party in a (relatively) healthy way. Even Lily’s boyfriend was chill, not minding my constantly calling him Chaka Khan (there’s no way I could pronounce or remember his actual name, so that was close enough, and I might add, less fobby then calling him char-shu). I hung out with them for a little while before some of them took off to go clubbing at Santana Row while Tony and Charlie stayed with me to work on the remaining pitchers with the wedding party. My old college buddies Sonia and Goose were also on hand, so we all got our drink on.

Afterward things wound down at Rock Bottom we took a drive over to Santana Row to see if we could meet back up with Lily and Nancy at a place called Blowfish, but the line to get in was ridiculously long and the bouncer was clearly a douchebag so we just bailed and headed back to the Pruneyard and played some pool at Campbell Billiards before calling it a night. I must say, that was a pretty full day.