Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I wasn't going to write anything today, but there are two things: First of all - Vinny Testaverde...are you kidding me?

At least the Arizona Cardinals have shown they read the site - they signed Rohan Davey Tuesday.

Secondly, this e-mail was too good not to post:

"Dear JohnnyJets,

So it looks like I might finally get my big shot this Sunday and I was writing to ask if you could hype me up a little bit, or at least stop writing that the Ravens are "salivating at the thought of facing" me.

A lot of the players and coaches read the site (Heimerdinger hates you, by the way), and I thought that if you were on my side it would both help settle my nerves and build a little support in the lockerroom.

How about some crazy prediction, like that I'll have a 370 yard, 4 TD performance. Or maybe you could say I'll be like the Jets' Tom Brady. I'll leave the specifics up to you since you're the writer and I'm the NFL quarterback.

Brooks B."

I find it hard to believe this is the real Brooks Bollinger - first of all, the "sender" section of the e-mail has the real person's first initial and full last name - you may want to change that. Secondly, there's no way Heimerdinger hates me.

People keep trying to make me believe this is the Jets' Tom Brady situation. It's not. The Patriots lost a fading older quarterback in 2001. They replaced him with a young up-and-coming backup (no one knew that at the time, but at least Brady was young). The Jets lost their up-and-comer and replaced him with a faded oldest quarterback.

Brooks, you might win your first NFL start. The Ravens are in a bad spot at quarterback as well...and your defense might carry you. Especially if Jamal Lewis' legs keep doing an impression of Chad Pennington's arm (ouch...I think it might be too early to make those jokes...I just upset myself). But the only 370's you'll be recording are the ones you get when you're spun around and sacked. (I do know a circle is 360 degrees - he'll get spun one full rotation and another ten degrees.) Maybe you'll accumulate 370 yards and four TD's on the season. Those are the best encouraging words I can do.

Good luck, Brooks. Remember, if you see Ray Lewis coming at you, tuck the ball away and run for your life. Just try to run forward, and not backwards.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I don't feel much like rhyming about the Jets' loss to Jacksonville.

I suppose the game was a great one to watch. A 26-20 overtime game, with the Jets forcing overtime in the game's final minutes. Unfortunately, the Jets lost it, and they probably lost their chance at doing anything this season in the process.

I hate negativity. That's why I can't stand a lot of Jets fans. It's all negative. I try my best to be positive constantly. I try to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt. At least the coaches not named Paul Hackett. But when you're a Jets fan, there's always a part of you that's constantly focusing on the negative. Despite all of my positive thoughts about Chad Pennington's arm, part of me believed it wasn't right. I would rather look at the 7-for-7 on the final drive (where the Jets passed) versus Miami than the fact that his throws were wobbly. I'd rather not think about what would happen if Pennington took another shot to the shoulder.

Well, Pennington took another shot to the shoulder, and there's no denying it now - he can't throw the football. And despite how much he says they need to cut his arm off for him to not play, he can't play. The Jets can't let him go out there - they're only going to cost themselves games. And I think - and this is total speculation - that Pennington's career could be in serious jeopardy...let alone his season.

Now, the Jets actually did something smart before the season. And that was sign Jay Fiedler, just in case Pennington's arm didn't recover in time. Well, now Fiedler could possibly miss the rest of the season with a serious shoulder injury. Only the Jets would sign a capable backup as a plan B, (although I don't believe Fiedler is capable of winning a playoff game), only to see that quarterback suffer the same fate as the starter.

So next week in Baltimore the Jets face the prospect of starting Brooks Bollinger. Positive thougts - Bollinger looked the best of the three quarterbacks the day I saw the Jets in training camp....negative - it had to be the worst day of practice of the summer. The Ravens' defense has got to be salivating at the thought of facing Bollinger. He played last season a little bit in the game against Arizona...and Arizona's defense gave him a hard time. Baltimore's defense has been struggling...this is the time for them to right the ship.

Now quarterback names are being thrown about - and the name Quincy Carter has even come up. I'm not positive, but didn't Carter bail on the Jets at the end of last season? Weren't there rumors that he was back on a drug suspension at the end of the year after the Jets took a chance on him? I hope they don't turn to him again.

I'm going to throw something out here that I kept forgetting to mention at the beginning of the year. I never understood why a team like the Bears, when they lost Rex Grossman, didn't take a chance on Rohan Davey when he was cut by New England. He's played well in NFL Europe, and I'm going to suggest the Jets take a chance on him. They're obviously not sold on Bollinger, if they're so anxious to look for help, and Davey has been on the World Champs for the past few years. And at the very least, he's got the arm that Mike Heimerdinger can take advantage of in his system. Come to think of it, he's a bit like Steve McNair - in build, size, and running ability. Who knows? Maybe there are other issues with Davey...but the Jets are in a desperate situation.

I had to take a day before I wrote about the Jets' situation. I needed to stew a bit. I'm not going to even get into the punt returning problems Justin Miller had. Or the offensive line problems that resulted in Pennington and Fiedler getting roughed up in the first place. It's tough, rooting for the Jets. You hate to say, "Same ol' Jets", because it looked like they were turning a corner, but it looks like we're dealing with the same ol' Jets.
WRIGHT WATCH update: On Sunday, David Wright hit his 42nd double of the season. With just 7 games remaining, Wright is 3 doubles away from breaking the Mets' team record (2 doubles from tying the record). He also hit his 23rd homer of the season (#37 career) on Sunday.

With the win on Sunday over the Nationals, the Mets are 78-77, and out of last place in the NL East (and they'd be in first place in the West).

With the Mets starting a series in Philadelphia, look for Wright to be in the hunt for the doubles record against the Colorado Rockies' pitchers at Shea on the season's final weekend. He might even be setting a new record by then...if his doubles don't go out of the park at Citizen's Bank Park.

Friday, September 23, 2005


A bad loss to the Chiefs in Week One,
And you thought things couldn’t get worse.
Well, now just look what I’ve done –
This week’s Jets pick is in verse.

They bounced back in last week’s game,
Beating Miami by ten.
This week expect more of the same,
The Jets will triumph again.

Some have the line at No Line,
Some have New York minus-3.
Leftwich’s status – not fine.
He has a bad arm, leg, and knee.

Curtis Martin is better,
His status received an upgrade.
He really is a go-getter…
And Blaylock’s there should he fade.

Chad Pennington’s treasured arm
Has shown recent signs it’s alive.
Once he starts getting warm,
Like in last week’s game’s final drive.

The defense is a major force –
For the Jags it won’t be an easy day.
But their D’s tough too, of course,
The offenses will not find their way.

There’s one weak spot to be found-
And it helps the Jets and their Curtis.
The Jaguars give up lots of ground –
“The running backs can really hurt us.”

So it’s with the Jets I will stick,
A defensive struggle it’ll be.
And for this week’s big pick -
It’ll be Jets, thirteen to three.

OK. Now I'll be normal again. For some reason I just felt like doing that - I was inspired, I guess.

So last week I was the best against the spread - 10-5-1. The wife was 8-7-1, and Dave from Brighton went 6-9-1. Overall, Dave's record is the same (he had nothing for Week One), the wife is 18-13-1, one game in front of me at 17-14-1.

This week, the wife picks the Jets, and Dave also does...we're using No Line on that game.

Across the NFL:

The Rams are home to the Titans. I think this is the first home game for Saint Louis - after losing at San Francisco and then winning in Arizona. Tough luck for Tennessee. After beating the Ravens in Tennessee last week, I think they're going to get smoked. I take the Rams giving six-and-a-half. (Wife picks TEN, Dave takes ST.L.)

Philadelphia hosts Oakland. Wow. Tough early sked for Oakland. At New England, home to KC, now at Philly. I take Philly, giving seven-and-a-half. (Dave and wife take PHI)

Cincinnati is in Chicago, favored by three. Chicago is good defense, Cincinnati is good offense. I think Cincy's offense is better. I take CIN -3. (Dave takes CHI +3, wife takes CIN)

Minnesota hosts New Orleans. For some reason, I wrote down that I'll take New Orleans. Maybe the dome will benefit them...I don't know. Maybe I think they'll only lose by three, getting three-and-a-half. (Dave takes NO, wife takes MIN giving the points).

Carolina is three point favorites at Miami. After beating the Patriots, they can't lose to Miami. This is a typical let-down game, but the Panthers already had their let-down in Week One. I take Car - 3. (Dave and wife also take CAR)

Indy is giving 13-and-a-half to Cleveland. I picked Indy minus the points, but I'll be interested to see how Peyton Manning does against Romeo Crennel. Interesting matchup here. We'll see if it's Crennel who has Manning's number or Belichick. (Dave takes Indy, wife takes Cle).

No line on Buffalo and Atlanta, because of Mike Vick's uncertain status. I think he'll play. And win. I take Atlanta. (Dave takes BUF, wife takes ATL).

The Packers have to win eventually, don't they? They host the Bucs, and are home 'dogs. They can't lose as a home 'dog. I think they win outright. I take Green Bay, plus three-and-a-half. (Dave and wife also take GB)

Seattle hosts Arizona, giving six. I don't know why, but I'm taking Arizona. I guess I figure they're going to win eventually, and the NFC West will be all messed up, and to get to that point, they're going to have to beat Seattle, and that will probably happen this week. So I take Ari, +6. (Dave takes Sea, and so does the wife)

Pittsburgh hosts New England, and is giving 3. It looks like two losses in a row for the Pats. I don't buy Roethlisberger, but the Steelers can play smashmouth like the Panthers did last week. Regular season, anyway. Steelers, -3. (Dave and the wife, both Pats fans, take NE and the points)

Dallas is favored by six-and-a-half in San Francisco. I think the Cowboys win by a touchdown. I take Dallas. (Dave takes Dallas, wife takes SF)

Sunday night, it's Chargers-Giants. I have to say, the Giants have looked good in their first two games. Eli Manning hasn't impressed the heck out of me, but he's playing smart. I also think the Chargers are overrated (or were, anyway, before they started 0-2). So I'm taking the Giants, getting five-and-a-half, although the Chargers will probably sneak by and win this game. (Dave takes SD, wife takes NYG)

Monday night, it's Denver-KC, in Denver. Kansas City, the way they've been playing, should kill Denver. They're actually getting three. Easy pick. KC, plus-3. (Same for Dave and the wife).

Enjoy Week Three!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mark it down: 7:38pm on Wednesday, September 21, 2005. That's the first moment I heard anyone affiliated with the Mets or Mets' telecasts mention the fact that David Wright is near a Mets record. It was at that moment that MSG flashed a graphic showing David Wright with 41 doubles - 3 away from Bernard Gilkey's team-record.

I don't want to brag, but....it's been a good two months (actually, a little more) for the Wright Watch on johnnymets.blogspot.com, and we've been watching for doubles ever since. So you knew that Wright was only 4 doubles away (well, maybe you didn't realize it was four - because late Tuesday night, in the 12th inning, Wright hit number 41, then scored the game-winning run to beat the Marlins on a Mike Jacobs single) from breaking the record. Wright needs 4 more doubles in the team's final 11 games to beat the record - and he's not quite done in game number 151 - this one might go extra's too.

Just wanted to give that update. I love the fact that the Mets can pretty much eliminate the Marlins from the post-season. I love Dontrelle Willis, but the rest of the Marlins strike me as a bunch of punks who don't appreciate what they had two years ago when they won the World Series. I don't like rooting for them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

In case anyone still checks this site, a new posting for you.

The Mets are 73-76, so they're going to finish with a better record than last year. David Wright is at 40 doubles with 13 games left to play. He needs five to break the team record.

As for the rest of the Majors, there are some very interesting races shaping up, which are well worth watching, despite the lack of Mets involvement.

First of all, I think I said a long time ago here that the White Sox wouldn't go far in the playoffs. At the time, it was a "when" they make the playoffs...but since the Indians don't lose anymore, that's become a big "IF" they make the playoffs. The Indians have cut the White Sox' Central Division lead to 3-and-a-half, and as I write this they are beating Chicago in the first of six remaining head-to-head games. The Indians could pass and then eliminate Chicago all by themselves - and they still have three games against the Royals mixed in. Chicago can't beat anyone. We're seeing one of the biggest collapses by anyone ever.

The Red Sox and Yankees are at it again. The White Sox collapse could overshadow the fact that the Red Sox have fallen apart lately, and the Yankees are within a game-and-a-half of first place in the East. The Sox are losing at the moment to Tampa and the Yankees are tied with the Orioles - and these teams have three head-to-head games to close out the season - so watch out for those. At the very least, they are going to mean something, when the Sox could have been setting up their post-season pitching rotation the way things were going coming into September. An interesting note here is that this is the reverse of what we've seen for so many years - the Yankees are putting pressure on the Sox. The Sox are usually the ones a game and a half out at this point in the season...this time they actually control their own destiny.

The A's and Angels are within two games of each other out West, and the AL Wild Card will come down to the loser in the East or Central, it looks like. And the way it looks right now, the White Sox will fall out of everything, so it looks like both East teams may end up in the playoffs.

In the NL, the West is the Padres', the Central is the Cardinals', and the East is most likely the Braves' (five game lead there). But the Wild Card is still a toss-up between the Marlins, Astros, Phillies, and Nationals (four back). It does look like, though, what people have been saying all along is going to come true - that the Astros will benefit from the teams in the NL East beating each other up. Look for Houston to come through in the end.

Finally, here are the match-ups I want, considering I look for teams who have never before faced each other in the World Series:

The Angels versus anyone. Or the Astros versus anyone.

The Red Sox versus Houston or Florida or San Diego.

The Yankees versus Houston.

The Braves versus the A's.

The Indians can't play the Braves or the Marlins...maybe not the Cardinals. They can play San Diego.

I think that covers everyone. To make it easier, I will be rooting against the Cardinals and Yankees - they've played too many teams. But the races will be good - enjoy them. And keep your eye on the Wright Watch.
Nothing from the mailbag - so we'll focus on the new Jets news from Monday.

The Jets got banged up in Sunday's win over the Dolphins. Curtis Martin is going to have an MRI on his knee. So far this year, he's had absolutely no room to run, and my dad made the point that he looks like the Curtis Martin of two years ago so far more than the Curtis Martin of last year (and as a point of reference, he says last year's Martin looked like the regular Curtis Martin...in other words, great). I still say the Curtis Martin of two years ago was pretty darn good...but the point is well taken. He hasn't looked like he's had much of a burst. And apparently he suffered the knee injury in the first quarter on Sunday. There was one play where he took a hit along the sideline, and it took him a good 10-15 seconds after the play to get up. You never see that from him. Still, he doesn't say he's hurt. That's the problem - even if Curtis Martin were seriously injured, he would never say it. Hopefully the MRI turns out well. Derrick Blaylock would be OK as a short-term solution, but the Jets need Curtis Martin for the season.

No matter who's playing running back, there's going to be some injured guys as their lead blocker. Both Jerald Sowell and B.J. Askew were hurt in the game. Both sprained ankles. Heimerdinger loves using Sowell - I wonder if this would hurt the Jets. Also, Erik Coleman apparently broke his thumb - the Jets can't afford to lose many guys in the secondary.

If you want a quick recap that pretty much sums up the Patriots-Panthers game on Sunday, check out the "Orange Couch" on wect.com - my friend Kevin was there, and he wrote about it. I feel the same way about the Pats - they still have to be considered the team to beat. But what I like about them losing is it's a situation they rarely face...and it's always a question mark as to how they're going to bounce back. And for them, it doesn't get easier - at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Could the Patriots lose two in a row?

Next week, as I mentioned yesterday, the Jets have Jacksonville. That's why I said before Derrick Blaylock could be a very good short-term solution - the Jets will be able to run on the Jaguars, and Blaylock can run as well as Martin could in that situation. After that, though, the Jets need Martin back. This could be a rough couple of weeks for the Jets - they're already beat up a bit, and after the Jaguars, they play the Ravens. Then Tampa. Then Buffalo. Really, it's a very tough schedule all year for the Jets.

I like having two staggered NFL games on a Monday night. I will be in bed before the late game is over, but I should make it through the first one.

Good news - I heard from Dave in Brighton - he's back from California, and safe. The bad news - he didn't make picks for Week One. Disappointment from the entire johnnyjets.blogspot.com staff. We'll have to do winning percentage at the end - although me and the wife will be going head-to-head wins-wise.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Jets 17, Dolphins 7 (NYJ: 1-1; MIA: 1-1)

Week One is a distant memory. The Jets are tied for first place.

A couple of weeks ago, leading up to the season opener, I think I wrote something to the effect of: the Jets will need their defense to carry them early in the year, while the offense works out its bugs. Clearly they needed a stronger effort from the defense last week against Kansas City, but the offense was a lost cause. Sunday's game against the Dolphins was more of what I think we can expect from the Jets in coming weeks - great defense, effective-enough offense, and hopefully by the end of the year the offense is even better. The Jets are going to be good this year - everything is going to be OK - but they aren't going to blow teams out, and the wins probably aren't going to be pretty - they'll be typical Jets wins...but the point is, they will get plenty of wins.

The Jets got a lot of help Sunday too. First of all, they beat the Dolphins, so they're 1-0 in the division. That's big. They can't lose division games in the first place - let alone to Miami. They'll have a tough enough time with Buffalo and New England. But both of those teams dropped to 1-1 with losses on Sunday - the Bills lost to the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, and the Patriots lost to the Panthers in Carolina. I didn't see the Bills' win in Week One, but by all accounts they looked good. They didn't look good in Tampa. And the Patriots looked very vulnerable - a look that we haven't seen in a while. There are chinks in their armor...good news for the Jets.

The Jets' game against the Dolphins started ominously - the first snap from Kevin Mawae to Chad Pennington was dropped. Fortunately, it was negated by an offsides, and I'm sticking with the story that Pennington rushed the snap because he saw the Dolphins jump. But things quickly got better - the Jets drove 80 yards on 9 plays, scoring on a beautiful fade pass from Pennington to Laveranues Coles. The pass was even better because Pennington had a blitz coming at him - it looked like 8 Dolphins rushing - and he made the great play. 7-0, Jets.

The only bad thing about the first drive was that on Pennington's first successful snap from center, the crowd cheered, and they did the same on the first shotgun snap. That's slightly embarrassing.

The Dolphins' first drive was just as effective - they drove right down the field on the Jets, but the Jets tightened up and stopped Miami inside the 5-yard line. Olindo Mare lined up for a 20-yard field goal, and a bad snap resulted in a missed field goal. That's why I feel it would have been important for Herman Edwards to have challenged last week's touchdown by Priest Holmes - it clearly would have been overturned, and the Jets play strong inside the 10-yard line. They could have forced a field goal (or a missed field goal), and who knows what would have happened. But I should forget about Week One.

The defense played a great game - holding the Dolphins scoreless until the fourth quarter. They got much better pressure on the quarterback (granted, it was Gus Frerotte), but they played very well. Mike Nugent had his first field goal - a 41-yarder with about a minute left in the first half, and special teams played pretty well overall. Ben Graham had a good game - and one of his punts - out of his own end zone - kept carrying, and was actually dropped by Wes Welker, pushing the Dolphins back to inside their own 40.

The other good news was right after the Dolphins touchdown the Jets put together their own very good drive - a drive which ended on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jerald Sowell, making it 17-7 Jets. Pennington was 7-for-7, for 74 yards on the drive. A good sign. The pass to Sowell came off a great play action fake.

Pennington can't come out of the gate throwing bombs (and when I say bombs, I'm talking Pennington bombs). I think it takes him a few short passes to warm up in the game, before he can start unloading. Pennington is never goint to rifle the ball...what we saw on Sunday was typical Pennington - well-placed passes - some look floaty, but they're effective. If the Jets are going to win games, that's how they're going to win them. He's going to underthrow some receivers, but the more comfortable he gets, the less we'll see of that.

The bad news from the game was the Dolphins were constantly in the Jets' backfield. There was a lot of pressure on Pennington, and the running game was virtually non-existent. That needs to be fixed.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are up next at the Meadowlands. They played the Colts in Indy, and held Peyton Manning and company to just one touchdown in a 10-3 loss. There was plenty of running room for Edgerrin James, though, so we'll see if Martin has a breakout game next week. It's going to be a tough defensive struggle, I have a feeling, but the Jets should be able to out-defense the Jags. I feel better about the Jets' defense versus Byron Leftwich than I do the Jags' defense against Pennington. But more on that as the week goes on.

One last thing - this Sunday was my first experience with the Sunday Ticket. Outstanding. I needed to develop a rhythm, though, because it was tough figuring out which games to turn to to catch good game action. And Tivo was essential when the Jets were on, because if I missed a Jets play while checking out another game, I could just rewind and see what I missed. I need to improve my channel-changing though. I'll get better at it next week.

Friday, September 16, 2005


OK, maybe a little dramatic...but if the Jets don't win Sunday, I'm pushing the panic button. I'm going to let you in on one of my dirty little secrets: I owned an Anthony Becht jersey. I know, I know, it was a stupid purchase. But I really thought he was going to be the next Mickey Schuler (I know, I know, that's not even a whole heck of a lot, but for a Jets fan, that's the comparison). But really, I thought he was going to be great. I still do think it was the wrong system at the wrong time - and if he was still around, it might have been him having a 100-yard receiving day last Sunday. Instead, he caught one pass for 7 yards in his Tampa Bay debut. But I digress. The point is, I had an Anthony Becht jersey (still do, as a matter of fact). It's my fault he didn't succeed as a Jet.

This is a curse. It's a curse I must live with. It dates back to about 1994. I read a great article in Sports Illustrated about Boomer Esiason and his son Gunnar, and I said, "I want a Boomer Esiason jersey. He will be my favorite Jet." (I was at a crossroads at this point about who my favorite Jet would be - among the candidates was Aaron Glenn.) Well, I buy the Boomer jersey - I remember it like it was yesterday - I went to Modell's on Steinway Street in Astoria, bought the jersey, wore the heck out of it, and was wearing it the night of Dan Marino's fake spike at the Meadowlands, when the Jets blew their big halftime lead, and their chance at first place, and lost every game the rest of the way to finish 6-10 and oh by the way who got burned on that fake spike - oh yes the other candidate for my jersey purchasing Aaron Glenn.

I didn't buy another jersey after Boomer for a little while. But then 1998 came. The Jets had a steal in the draft, I was convinced, when they took Boston College's Glenn Foley in the sixth round. He earned the starting job, and went 0-2, losing to San Francisco in Week One on Garrison Hearst's 96-yard touchdown run in overtime (remember that?). Anyway, after he lost in Week Two, he also hurt his ribs. Of course, we all know Vinny Testaverde took over, played for about 4 more years, and Glenn Foley took about 8 snaps with Seattle before retiring to a bar somewhere...being seen only on the free agent lists in John Madden football games (where I would sometimes sign him as a backup for old time's sake.)

So along comes the 2000 draft, and I say no to Shaun Ellis, no to John Abraham, no to Chad Pennington, I want the tight end's jersey. So I custom ordered from NFL.com an Anthony Becht #88 jersey. He's going to be a star! I convince myself. Well, it looks good for a while. When the Jets make their playoff run in 2001 he's a key part - catching touchdown passes and two-point conversions late in games versus Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Testaverde found him a reliable target. But he never matched those numbers (not even very impressive numbers, anyway) again. He even developed a big case of the dropsies. I think the one that sealed it was an October Monday Night Football game where he dropped a pass that would have given the Jets big yardage, and incurred the wrath of the home fans. Well, sorry, Anthony - little did you know it was probably my fault.

Anyway, after Becht was gone, I said I'm never going to get another Jets jersey. Why put anyone through what I put poor Glenn Foley and Anthony Becht through? Then, I had a better idea. Why not get a sure thing? What's more of a sure thing than Chad Pennington? And I had a string of bad luck with green jerseys - how about a white Chad Pennington jersey!? Foolproof. So for my birthday, good old mom got me a Pennington jersey. Well, we're 0-1. Sorry Chad.

But the jersey jinx is going to end this week. Pennington said it himself this week - "It's just one game. People are going crazy over one game." The Kansas City game was just one game. (One horrid, horrid game.) So it can all be put behind us this weekend. One more aside - I love Mike and Mike in the morning. Mike Greenberg is me on a national stage, basically. On Friday morning, during the segment of their show they call "Stone Cold Lead Pipe Locks", where they pick a couple of NFL games each against the spread, Greenberg says he never picks the Jets because he doesn't want to jinx them, and he sure doesn't want to pick against them (a sentiment I share - I just can't do it. If you want an unbiased pick there are plenty of other places to look. If you want someone to convince you the Jets have a shot at winning on any week, turn to me.). But this week, after last week's debacle, he has to do it, because if they don't win this weekend, he doesn't know what he'll do. So Mike Greenberg is picking the Jets, -6. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Here's my breakdown. I can't believe the Gus Frerotte-led Dolphins beat the Broncos last weekend. I just can't believe it. There's no way they are going to be 2-0. That's first of all. Secondly, this is the Dolphins. The Jets can beat the Dolphins. And they can beat them bad. Thirdly, when all was said and done last week, the Jets had many opportunities, as poorly as they played through two and a half quarters, to get back into that game. The fumbles and dropped passes hurt so much because after Kansas City scored their quick 17 points to go up 17-0, the Jets just couldn't get the ball into the end zone. And they were tantalizingly close. So if the Jets can play that poorly and not get their doors blown off (this is subject to your opinion, but really, that game could have been a lot worse than 27-7), they really are a better team than they showed.

Here are some things that need to happen on Sunday: 1) Kevin Mawae needs to get the ball to Chad Pennington on the snaps cleanly. 2) Chad Pennington needs to field the snaps from Kevin Mawae cleanly. 3) Curtis Martin needs some running room. 4) Chad Pennington needs some time in the pocket. 5) The receivers need to catch the ball. 6) Gus Frerotte needs to hit the turf - often. 7) The Jets need to win.

I think most of the above will happen - especially number 7. Remember, the last time the Jets faced the Dolphins, both Martin and LaMont Jordan ran for more than 100 yards the same night. That might not happen again, but the margin of victory could be similar. I say the Jets cover the six-point spread, and beat the Dolphins, 31-10. (The wife picks the Jets as well.)

No picks from Dave yet, but I'm sure he's keeping track. He'll be back by kickoff on Sunday. What follows are my picks, followed by the wife's in parentheses. I am out of the eliminator pool, thanks to the Vikings. I am not going to continue with that, because I now hate eliminator pools.

Baltimore is 3-and-a-half favorites in Tennessee. Come on. The Titans are bad, but the Ravens can't possibly beat them without their starting quarterback....could they? I hope not. TEN +3.5 (same for the wife).

I think the Steelers are better than the Texans, and can beat the Texans by a touchdown, even if the game is in Houston. I take Pit -6 (the wife doesn't like that Roethlisberger is questionable, she takes HOU +6).

The Colts are nine-point favorites over the Jaguars in Indy. I like Jacksonville to keep it close, though the Colts will most likely win. JAX +9 (wife takes IND -9)

Detroit is a one-point favorite in Chicago. I didn't think the Lions could beat the Packers last week - I was wrong. They have to be able to beat the Bears. DET -1 (wife - CHI +1)

Minnesota is looking to bounce back from my elimination in the elimination pool as three-point underdogs in Cincinnati. Despite my anger, I take MIN +3 (same for the wife).

No line on Philly-San Fran because of McNabb's status. The Eagles should be able to beat the 49ers with me at quarterback - and I can't throw a spiral. PHI. (same for the wife)

Tampa Bay is 2-and-a-half point favorites over Buffalo in Tampa. Not sure why. Buffalo played real well last week. I take the Bills + 2.5 as underdogs, despite Anthony Becht's imposing presence. (the wife takes TB - 2.5)

The Patriots are -3 in Carolina. I think the Pats win by 3. This is a push. But because I don't want to pick the Pats, I'll take CAR, +3. (the wife, of course, takes NE - 3)

In Seattle, the Falcons and Seahawks are pick 'em. I don't know why, but I'm picking Atlanta. Probably because I'll be rooting for them - I like Vick. (wife also takes the Falcons)

In Arizona it's a pick 'em between the Cardinals and Rams. I don't know why, after last week's awful loss to the 49ers, but I wrote down the Rams. Why did I do that? Who knows. (wife also takes the Rams)

In Green Bay, the Browns are six-and-a-half point underdogs. Green Bay might win, but 6.5 seems like a lot. I feel like it's a field goal squeaker. (wife takes the Browns too)

In Denver, the Broncos are giving three to San Diego. I don't buy the Chargers. I have said that many times. I feel like last year was a fluke. Antonio Gates is back, but I don't think that makes a difference. DEN -3. (wife also takes Denver)

The Sunday night game is Kansas City at Oakland, with the Chiefs giving one. I take the Chiefs, because of what they did to the Jets last week. KC -1. (The wife also takes KC)

Monday night there are two games - the original is the Cowboys hosting Washington, with the 'Boys giving six. I take Dallas - I think they're going to have a good year. (wife takes Dallas too)

The other Monday nighter is the Saints, playing a home game at the Giants. The Giants are 3-point home/road favorites. I take the Giants -3, even though they always screw me. (the wife takes NO).

Remember, these picks are for entertainment purposes only. Last week, I was 7-9. The wife was 10-6. Next week Dave from Brighton will be on board.

This weekend also marks the first time I get to watch the NFL on the Sunday Ticket in the privacy of my own home. Think of me on Sunday as the happiest person on earth...until the Jets game. When I'll be the most nervous person on earth. And probably hoarse.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Maybe it's the orange couch, but I've gotten an e-mail from another Jets fan and blogger, and it's made me realize that other people could actually be reading what I write, so I better get my act together.

For those of you who want another Jets option (not a total switch, mind you, but another option for Jets news) check out: http://www.thejetsblog.com/

The web site is quite good - it has standings, newspaper article links, a fan confidence rating, and it has links to great Jets sites and other NFL blogs (and hopefully maybe this one in the near future!). But like I said, check out the site, and then come back here for my unique perspective on all things Jets.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that the picks will be posted on Friday, instead of by Friday this week. I'm giving Dave from Brighton another day to try to get his picks in. I haven't heard from him since he went away - I'm hoping everything's OK. It's not like him not to call in with his picks against the spread from a vacation with his girlfriend. So unlike him. I trust he made the picks, though, and he's holding onto them, and he is not cheating, because anyone who knows Dave knows he wouldn't mess with my statistics by doing something stupid like cheating. Plus, he's so compulsive he would never be able to settle on the right number to cover up the cheating - he would probably think 16-0 was too high, as would be 15-1, 14-2, 13-3, 12-4, or 11-5. But then he might think he'd be underselling himself with 0-16, 1-15, 2-14, 3-13, 4-12, or 5-11. And he'd never be able to choose from between 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 wins. Maybe that's why I haven't heard from him yet. He's probably driven himself nuts.

But I'll keep you posted. I'll also make my Jets prediction for the week on Friday.

I'm going to tell you what. Sunday is going to show what the Jets are made of...it really will. I like Herman Edwards a lot. To a fault sometimes. I don't blame him for what has gone on when things go wrong. I give him all the credit when things go right, and I blame others for the stuff that goes wrong. But like I said at the end of last year - the others are all gone. Cottrelll...and now Hackett. Now, if something goes wrong, it's on Herm. And last week, a lot of that was the players' faults. (But the coach goes along with that.) But this is where Herman Edwards is best - psyching up his guys to go out and show that they're not as bad as they played against Kansas City. The Jets can beat Miami, and they SHOULD beat Miami this week. Edwards will be telling the players that, and if he's still effective when he speaks, they will believe him and take it to the Dolphins. If they don't, it's on Edwards, and it's going to be a long season, with a lot of Jets fans calling for Edwards to be next out the door.

Picks tomorrow.

If you're new - thanks for reading! If you're Dave, Kevin, Justin, or my wife, thanks for coming back!
Well, so much for the 9-0 homestand and the push back into the playoffs by the Mets. An 0-3 start to a homestand will do that.

The Nationals completed the 3-game sweep of the Mets Thursday afternoon at Shea with a 6-5, 10-inning win. The game featured a blown save by Braden Looper - who better not be closing games for the Mets when they make a for-real run next season. Royce Ring should be the closer. Or anyone not named Looper.

So the Mets now find themselves at 71-75. I'd like to think they'll finish better than last year's 71-91, but the way they've been playing, I'm not so sure.

The good news from Thursday (besides the grand slam by Cliff Floyd wasted by the blown save...by the way, Floyd will not have the best season ever by a Met, which he was on pace to do, but he's still had a fine season - despite the fact he has only 30 homers after being on pace for 45 earlier in the season) - David Wright hit his 40th double. So:




And you thought there was nothing left to watch for this season.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just wanted to make a new post to welcome all the readers I'm sure to get from North Carolina. Also, I should plug Kevin from Wilmington's blog for both of my regular readers who don't yet know about it - wect.com, click on the "Orange Couch". I'd put a direct link to it, but first of all, how lazy are you that you can't type it in, and second of all, I don't know how.

It goes without saying that I am embarrassed to be a Jets fan, and horrified at what might still come the rest of the season after Sunday's performance at Kansas City. I need to work out a code so that when I come back from a weekend away, and I have Tivo-ed the Jets game, and I sit to watch it later that night, someone should stop me. I think this will only apply to games where Chad Pennington fumbles more than 5 times in one half. But Sunday would have applied.

It was just disgusting. And then it comes out that Jonathan Vilma was punched in the face by James Reed on the sideline during the fourth quarter. Great - nothing like a little team disharmony to go with a terrible performance.

The good news - the Dolphins are bad. Even though they won on Sunday, they are bad - and they're coming to the Meadowlands for the Jets' home opener. Get ready for a blowout - the Jets should be able to beat the Dolphins anyway, and their pride is now hurt.

The other bad news from Sunday - Larry Johnson, the Kansas City running back who tore up the Jets - probably shouldn't have played. He turned himself in to police today (Tuesday) for assaulting his girlfriend on Saturday night. He was out with another girl on Saturday, and his girlfriend saw him at that bar. He took her and forcibly tried to get the bouncer to remove her from the bar. The nerve of her to interrupt his date! Anyway, imagine if the police had arrested him during the game - that would have been great. And imagine they couldn't find him - and they're watching the game on Sunday?

The officers are sitting there, watching the game - one of them says to the other, "We got this arrest warrant out for this guy Larry Johnson. No one seems to know who he is."
Game in the background - Announcer says, "And the Chiefs score a touchdown! Larry Johnson!"
Officer 1 to officer 2 - "You don't suppose......"
Officer 2 - "Naaah."

I hope that came across like it was in my head.

I expected a flood of e-mails following the loss. All I got was one:

"From one man who suffered a harrowing defeat last weekend (the University of Evil over my alma mater 17-10) to another: I was curious to read your breakdown of the breakdown, so to speak. And yet, nothing. I fear someone should have taken your belt and shoelaces. Are you faring ok? Still processing oxygen? What is your analysis of what happened and where your beloved Jets go from here?

Love Always,
Don Lagreca"

Sorry. The problem was, I didn't finish watching the game until about 8:30/9:00 Sunday night, because I was away, as I mentioned. By then, I was mad that I had watched the whole thing (it was like watching a train wreck - I was wondering how bad it could have gotten), and that I had missed the end of the 4 o'clock games, and then I needed to cool down so I could actually fall asleep and be effective the next day. Then Monday I was still mad, and I didn't feel like writing about it. So there.

I really think this was just a bad game. I've seen the Jets be horrible before - we all have. There's no way they're going to play every game this poorly. And I need more proof before I lessen my expectations for a great year. I will say I should have been more uncomfortable with the fact that the Jets have high expectations placed upon them this year - that's never a good thing. If the Jets don't blow out Miami (OK, if they don't beat Miami), then I'll start worrying. And the following week will be a good measuring stick, with Jacksonville at home. In the end, as horrible as Sunday was, it was just one loss. It only counts as 0-1 (although it deserves to jump them to 0-10), and the Jets can bounce back next Sunday. I promise to write something up after that game and re-assess.

Another thing that left me angry Sunday was the total disaster that was my picks. I'm already out of the knockout pool...I might keep picking that on this site for fun....now that I've lost my money. But my other picks were brutal too - weird week of football. I'll update the standings between Dave, the wife, and me on Friday.

By the way - clever alias by the man who beat me out in one of my weekly pools - and in case you didn't guess, he's a Michigan alum. And I don't know how he knows about Don LeGreca.

To my new Carolina readers - I'm rooting big-time for your Panthers on Sunday. I'd appreciate e-mails if you'd like to offer predictions or info on the upcoming game with New England.
It's been a little while since I've posted, but since I might be getting some more readers, so I figured I'd better put something interesting to read on here.

For my new North Carolina visitors, I should tell you about myself. I am a huge Mets fan, and I write in this space so I can vent about such things as the Mets being 2-9 in September, right after it looked like they turned a corner and were about to make a post-season push.

For my regular readers - remember when the Mets started their stretch of 17 out of 20 on the road with a 5-2 start? Well, after dropping 2 of the 3 home games in between, the Mets went 2-8, finishing 7-10 in those games. Tonight, Tuesday night, they open up a 3-game homestand against the Nationals, then it's the Braves and Marlins at Shea. This is a long homestand - 9 games. If the Mets go 9-0, maybe I'll come back on here and talk about them going to the playoffs. But they won't, because they have to play the Braves, and they can't beat the Braves.

The Mets' record is 71-72 right now - they're five-and-a-half behind the Marlins for the wild card. They're tied with the Brewers - that should tell you about all you need to know.

You also need to know, especially if you're new to the site, that David Wright hit his 39th double of the year on Sunday - so he is five away from tying the team record for doubles in a season (44). He has 19 games left to get those five doubles - the Wright Watch will be in full force.

One more thing for the many new readers I'm sure to get from all of the Orange Couch readers - you know, me, Dave in Miami, Dave in Brighton (when he gets back from Napa), and Justin in New York - (unless the Orange Couch gets more readers than I do....which I find hard to believe...actually, I just listed more readers than I get, so I guess it does) - I am a teacher, so I can't stay up until the end of the baseball games anymore - and if I do, it's watching from bed. So I can't update the site every day after games. But I'll try.

OK - I gotta go - Sam Shelby just walked in. I bet he wants to talk about gearing the blog towards a southeastern audience. I'll just smile and nod.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

In case you were wondering, the only thing left is the Wright Watch. Wright has 38 doubles, with 23 games left. He needs 7 over those final 23 games to break the team record. As for the playoffs, next year, for sure.


I will be away this weekend, and Dave from Brighton is currently Dave in Northern California, so I am going to post my picks now, on Thursday at 6:30pm, to add legitimacy to the picks contest. I will make sure the wife makes all of her picks before the Patriots kick off tonight, and Dave will be calling in shortly to give me his picks. This game is on the up and up, I hope you trust me on that. After this week, hopefully, all three of our picks will be posted on Friday afternoon - together.

My eliminator pick for the week is: Minnesota over Tampa Bay. (Runner up would be Denver over Miami, but it's Minnesota for me.)

Here are my NFL picks, starting with the Jets. The Jets have one tough schedule this year, and it starts out tough with a who-knows game against the Chiefs. As in "Who knows how Pennington will be? Who knows how the Chiefs will be this year?" I'm banking on "the same as usual" for both. That means a Jets win, but it will be close, because Kansas City is a tough place to play. I'll go 24-21. So Jets +3 is the pick.

The rest of the board for me:

Oakland will probably lose the opener, but I think they keep it within 7 (I really was going to pick the Pats, if it was 7 points even, but that extra half-point makes me think twice). So Oakland, + 7.5

The Broncos -4 is an easy pick over the Dolphins, even if it is in Miami.

Cincinnati -3.5 over the Browns. I think the last time these two teams met was 70-65 or something.

Houston is one of my upset picks, in Buffalo, getting 5.5. I think Houston wins outright.

The Steelers are giving 7 versus Tennessee. Pitt, -7.

Washington -5.5 over the Bears. I take the Redskins. It's going to be a long year for Chicago.

Same thing for New Orleans, obviously. I almost feel bad about picking Saints games all year. But I'll go Carolina -7.

Minnesota, my eliminator, is six-point favorites over Tampa. I take the Vikings, -6. (Keep in mind, with the eliminator pick, it's just a win or a loss - no spread.)

Jacksonville is a three-point favorite over the Seahawks. I guess I'll take Jacksonville - I like them this year, but this is an iffy game. I take them because they're home.

The Giants are three-point favorites over the Cardinals. I take the Giants, but they'll probably lose. That's the way it goes when I pick the NYG.

The Rams are giving the 49ers 6, in San Fran. They could give them more than that. Saint Louis, -6.

The Packers are 3-point 'dogs in Detroit. Another underdog I think will win outright. Green Bay, +3.

The Cowboys aer 4.5 underdogs in San Diego. I'm not buying into another season like last year's for the Chargers. I take the Cowboys, +4.5.

The Colts are giving three Sunday night against the Ravens. I'll take the Colts, but this one will be close.

Same thing for Monday Night - close game, I'll take the Falcons, at home, +1, against the Eagles.

Again, these are John's picks - Monday or Tuesday I'll post this week's results from John, Dave in Brighton, and the wife, and then next week we'll have everyone's picks.

Enjoy NFL Week 1!! (Oh, and I'm Tivo-ing the Jets Sunday, since I'll be away, so please don't call me to talk about it until Monday night.)

Monday, September 05, 2005

I just want to post a quick note on the Mets 4-2 loss to the Braves on Monday. Same old story, really. Mets can't win in Atlanta. Actually, it looks like they have a shot, and then Chipper Jones kills them, like he does every year. And to make it worse, Carlos Beltran* strikes out as the potential tying run in the ninth inning. If the Mets don't take the next two, I'm pretty much ruling out the post-season, and welcoming in the NFL.

I do want to update the Wright Watch, though. David Wright had a double, as part of a 1-for-3 afternoon. The double is his 37th of the year, he's just 8 away from breaking the team record, with 25 games left.

Pedro* can pretty much save the season Tuesday against John Smoltz.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

When we last left the Jets, it was a heartbreaking scene. Two words I will mention here for the last time, and then try to put them behind me: Doug Brien. That's all I'll say about that.

But 2004 is behind us. The 2005 season is minutes away. And much has changed. The jerk that cost us a chance at the AFC Championship Game is gone (no, not Paul Hackett - though he's gone too - I'm talking about the guy I mentioned above and promised to never mention again). Mike Nugent is the Jets' kicker...and I was just reading some of my postings from last year...and in one, I promised I will never have faith in another kicker...but I will. And Mike Nugent is his name. More changes: LaMont Jordan is an Oakland Raider - off to pursue his fortune as a star, starting running back. Derrick Blaylock will back up Curtis Martin. Santana Moss is gone, traded to Washington for Laveranues Coles, back in the Green. Ty Law is no longer one of the players I dislike - I now love him (truth be told, I never could say I hated Ty Law - and I think my Patriot fan friends will back me up on this. I never loved him, of course, but he was so darn good I couldn't hate him - part of me always respected his ability. Sort of like being a Knicks fan and watching Michael Jordan play back when I cared about the NBA - but I digress.) And much to my dismay, Anthony Becht is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer - and new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will probably make a star out of Doug Jolley and Chris Baker instead of Becht.

Chad Pennington has a new shoulder...and he will hopefully play a full, injury-free season. He looked good in the pre-season...and looked awful in the pre-season. But the bottom line is - it was the pre-season. Next week he takes on the Chiefs in Kansas City, and we'll judge him then. But I will say this. For the first time, an organization didn't sugarcoat an injury. After last season ended, we knew Pennington had a serious problem. He was out of mini-camps, and didn't take the field until training camp. The Jets didn't try to pull the wool over our eyes - they said when he wasn't ready, and they didn't rush him back. He came back for the second pre-season game, and played well. And the coaching staff had him throw deep so we could see that he was back, and healthy, and everything works. I feel confident that Pennington is 100% this season, and hopefully he can avoid all other injuries and have a great season. If he gets hurt, the backup is Jay Fiedler. Capable, yes, and yes, he had a very good pre-season, but most of that wasn't against the number one defenses. I just don't trust Fiedler to go all the way - so Pennington needs to stay healthy.

The other parts of the offense haven't changed much. The offensive line is the same except for Kareem McKenzie - who left via free agency. Adrian Jones takes his spot, and has received good reviews - so with Jones, Jason Fabini, Kevin Mawae, Pete Kendall, and Brandon Moore, Pennington should be well-protected. Curtis Martin is Curtis Martin. He'll have another great year - he doesn't age. He led the league in rushing last year, but was disappointed because he didn't break a lot of long runs. So this off-season, he worked on his speed. I don't want to say he'll be even better this year, but he shouldn't drop off.

The offense should be better because Pennington has his favorite target back. Coles is back, and the two of them look like they were never apart. The only difference now is that Heimerdinger is the coordinator, but Pennington and Coles have a great chemistry. The other receiver is Justin McCareins, and I look for him to have a good year because he is reunited with Heimerdinger - his coordinator when he was putting up good numbers in Tennessee. Wayne Chrebet is also back for another campaign - bothered by concussions in the past, but watch him on third down this year. As I mentioned before, Jolley and Baker are the tight ends, and Pennington didn't seem to use them much until the final pre-season game, but they're supposed to be a bigger factor under Heimerdinger.

The defense is much easier to write about, because I don't have to keep writing Heimerdinger. Seriously, though, I think Donnie Henderson's squad is going to be the best in the league. John Abraham is back (still don't know how I feel about this - but he's one of the best at his position, so I guess there are worse things than having him starting on your defense), along with Shaun Ellis, the revitalized DeWayne Robertson, and Lance Legree on the defensive line (although Sione Pouha could definitely make a long-term appearance instead). Jason Ferguson is gone, but the Jets should be OK on the line. The linebackers are a good young bunch. Eric Barton nearly cost the Jets the San Diego game in the playoffs, but that one play overshadowed a pretty good year. Jonathan Vilma was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and I don't expect a sophomore slump. He's a team leader, and he's awesome. Victor Hobson is solid...not great, but a good linebacker. The secondary is outstanding. David Barrett came up huge in the second half of last year. Oliver Celestin had a great camp, a great pre-season, and is the starting strong safety. Erik Coleman is the free safety, and I love watching him play. And Ty Law is a future Hall of Famer - great signing by the Jets - and risk-free. My worry when they signed him was that they, like the Mets, have bad enough luck signing free agents when they're healthy, that if they signed Law, whose health was sort of a question mark, he would probably never play in the NFL again. But he's OK, and will start the season, and he is a risk-free investment. So good move by the Jets.

On special teams, the Jets have punter Ben Graham, an Australian who beat out Micah Knorr for the job. He kicks the ball high and far, and apparently has learned how to be enough of a holder for Mike Nugent to win the job. Nugent will be awesome. I'm glad the Jets drafted him. Hopefully he won't let me down. It looks like Justin McCareins will be returning punts - although it was supposed to be rookie Justin Miller's job. He disappointed in camp. I think Derrick Blaylock will see some time returning kickoffs...but I'm not sure. Maybe Jerricho Cotchery too.

Other changes took place since the end of last football season. ESPNRadio has come to Boston, so I can now listen to Mike & Mike in the Morning on my way to work instead of watching it in the brief time before I leave on ESPNEWS. This means I can watch Mike Greenberg, the huge Jets fan. I love that he can be so unbiased about being a fan. It's refreshing, especially being a Jets fan. So I look forward to Monday mornings listening to him. And finally, I finally have DirecTV for a football season. Hey Peyton - I've got the Sunday Ticket. I've been excited to watch all the college football this weekend. But it's time for the NFL - and for the first time in a long time, as my cousin Eddie put it - the Jets have a legit shot at winning it all. It's a very tough schedule....but I think they can do it. It's so important that they get home field advantage....and I'll be here to chronicle whether or not they can do it. We resume our johnnyjets.blogspot.com schedule - providing school doesn't prevent me from sticking to it:

Monday: Recap of Sunday's game
Tuesday: Mailbag
Wednesday: Recap/Preview of the rest of the AFC East
Thursday: Focus on the Next Opponent
Friday: Preview and Picks

The Picks feature will be different this year. I didn't have a final count of my record (for entertainment purposed only, of course) from last year, but I was right around .500. This year, I will take on my wife, who was one of the best in the country on ESPN.com's Pigskin Pick 'Em last year, along with Dave from Brighton, who wants to be the third wheel on our picking bicycle. He kept track of some of his picks last year, but I don't know what his record was. I don't think it was much better than mine. We'll be using point spreads from USA Today, and we'll start with Thursday night's Patriots-Raiders season opener. I will also include my eliminator pick for the week.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to an exciting NFL season.


Mets 7, Marlins 1 (NYM: 70-66; FLA: 72-64) NL East: 7.5 GB, Wild Card: 2.5 GB

It occurred to me during the Mets' run in Arizona that the Diamondbacks were (are) not a very good team. It occurred to me after the Mets' 1-0 win in San Francisco (their fifth straight) that the offensive explosion a week and a half ago could have been some very bad pitching, as opposed to really good hitting by the Mets. But that all went away with the onset of the important divisional games, and the Mets' dramatic win over the Phillies on Tuesday night. I haven't written since then (and with school starting Tuesday and the football season being right around the corner, I need to take this opportunity to say the postings have the potential to be fewer and farther between...depending on my workload), and since then the Mets have dropped four straight - including an ugly one on Saturday night in Florida.

But all that said, after a big win on Sunday (they're all big wins from here on out), and with all the right teams losing, the Mets are still just two-and-a-half games out of the Wild Card. There are three teams in between the Mets and the Phillies (as well as the division-leading Braves - which is now a seven-and-a-half game deficit), but it's still just two-and-a-half games.

The Mets have to go through Atlanta now, and then they have to go to Saint Louis. Saint Louis is not playing the best ball right now, but they're still a good measuring stick - and Atlanta has been hot. So it's make-or-break time. If the Mets come away with a winning record, we're talking some exciting September baseball. If not, then it's a good thing the Jets start up on Sunday.

Let's talk about Sunday's game. Jae Seo again pitched brilliantly - 1 run, 6 K's in seven innings - and he continues to make me wonder "what if...." about the time Kaz Ishii spent in the majors while Seo was in Norfolk. Cliff Floyd homered - and it was a rifle. He's been hitting the ball hard lately - this homer (his 29th of the season) was a line drive that carried all the way over the center field wall. It makes you wonder what he has in store for the stretch run. David Wright and Carlos Beltran* also contributed - and I just wonder if Beltran* can take this team on his back the way he did the Astros a year ago, to make up for the struggles all season.

It's pretender or contender time. The Mets spend Labor Day in Atlanta to open up their series against the Braves. And the number one contender or pretender, Steve Trachsel, is on the mound for the opener. He wants to start the big games? There's nothing bigger right now. I want to see how he does when there's something on the line - he can show all Mets fans if he can handle it on Monday afternoon.

I never had the chance to give an August roundup - remember, the Mets had lost 13 games a month until August - 11-13 in April, 15-13 in May (to be .500), then 13-13 in June (staying at .500), then 14-13 in July (a game over), then they got hot, going 16-11 in August - the second best record in the National League in the month. They are off to a 1-3 start in September - not good, but they need the hot finish to be able to play more than their two scheduled games in October.

One other note - I mentioned an ugly game on Saturday. I only heard bits of the last inning and post-game show on the radio late Saturday, but it seems Willie Randolph opened himself up to second-guessing by putting in Shingo Takatsu (released by the White Sox, picked up by the Mets) with the bases loaded instead of sticking with Juan Padilla. The Mets also stunk it up in the field though - Ramon Castro apparently made a bad decision, and Victor Diaz lost a fly ball in the lights, leading to a 2-run homer. It seems like it was a disheartening loss...but the fact that the Mets came back with a 7-1 win should be encouraging.

ELTRAN*'S: Beltran* contributed on Sunday with a 2-for-5 day, with 2 RBI. Hopefully a sign of better things to come. For the second half:

44-for-164 (.268 AVG.), 4 HR, 20 RBI, 31 Runs, 12 SB

WRIGHT WATCH: David Wright was also 2-for-5, with 2 RBI - and a double.



Minor League Note: The Norfolk Tides won their division - the regular season ends Sunday....but there will be some post-season. I don't know how this affects end-of-season call-ups. I know, for example, that Royce Ring is still playing with the Tides.