Tuesday, September 30, 2008
WHAT?!? The Mets didn't make it to the playoffs!??! Are you *$&#&@! kidding me?! Don't even try to tell me they blew another lead late in the season. WHAT!!?! The Brewers?!! They haven't been to the playoffs since 1982!!!
Maybe we can work a deal. Maybe we can just let the Mets play one playoff game. One game with everything on the line, if they win, they get in....I'm sure we can work something out...
Ah, just screw it. What's the point anyway? They're probably just going to lose it anyway. They had their chance on Sunday, and what did they do? They lost. They had their chances in 2007, and what did they do? Lost. It's just pathetic. *sniff*
All right. There's always next year. I kind of like the way the Twins have played this year - maybe I'll root for them tonight and then into October. And then come April the Mets will be playing in a beautiful new ballpark. Springtime in Citi Field...I kind of like the sound of that....I think I'll go outside and breathe in some of this pleasant autumn weather. Maybe I'll write that nice boy David Wright a fan letter and ask him to just relax next year and not push himself too hard.
(Thanks to wikipedia for helping me out here.)
Monday, September 29, 2008
BEST GAME OF WEEK 4: Washington 26, Dallas 24. Not just a big win for Washington, upsetting the best team in the NFC in Dallas, but an entertaining game.
BEST PERFORMANCE OF WEEK 4: How about the Jets' own Brett Favre? He threw 6 touchdown passes and moved the Jets up and down the field with ease. Larry Johnson was also very impressive for Kansas City, rushing for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns.
WORST PERFORMANCE WEEK 4: The Cardinals' defense allowed the Jets to go up and down the field with way too much ease - 56 points allowed is a disgrace. Kurt Warner and the offense were putrid in the first half, turning the ball over a lot, allowing the Jets to have great field position. The Jets' defense wasn't much better - 35 points in a half is just as bad.
BEST GAME IN WEEK 5: I like a bunch of games on the Week 5 schedule: The Colts in Houston, Seattle at the Giants, Washington goes to Philly coming off the Dallas win, and after that disaster versus the Jets the Cardinals host the Bills, which should be interesting. I also think San Diego and Miami is intriguing, based on how both teams have been playing (the Chargers not looking too impressive, the Dolphins coming off their bye week following the big win in New England). But I don't think any of them beat the Sunday night game - Pittsburgh at Jacksonville. Not just a playoff rematch, but a tough matchup whenever they meet.
BEST PERFORMANCE PREDICTED IN WEEK 5: I have nothing to back this up, but I like Matt Forte going against the Lions in Detroit. I'm going to say 145 yards and 2 TD's.
-Last Week: I gave you Jake Delhomme for 265 yards and 4 TD's in a 38-13 win. I was close enough, I think - he went for 294 yards, 2 TD, and the Panthers won 24-9.
MY TWO BASEBALL CENTS
I can't completely ignore baseball.
-Looks right now like the Twins and White Sox will be playing for the Central title Tuesday night. I think the Twins might be my post-season team this year.
-I guess it would have been nice to be at the final game at Shea, but how crappy must it have been to sit through that ceremony after such a devastating loss?
-More evidence of what a good friend the Southern Bureau is - this e-mail sent to me today: "Whatever you do, don't read the Post online today. They're brutal towards the Mets." I didn't. (Didn't really intend to.)
-I don't know whether to be sad or angry. I don't know who to direct my anger towards. This was not a good feeling last year. Still isn't this year.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So it looks like I will not get to see the pre-game Shea ceremonies...but as long as it clears up in time for the game I'll deal with that - my parents are recording it for me. (Incidentally, I just called my mom, and she says if they played yesterday, the weather today should also allow them to play. Funny how the weather hasn't wreaked havoc on the games like I thought - just my ability to watch them.)
Speaking of watching the games - I have to start out with huge, huge thanks to the Southern Bureau. Not only has he been the biggest fan of 200 Miles From the Citi from its inception, but yesterday he did the nicest thing ever.
No sooner had I finished loading up the crappy ol' GameCast to virtually 'watch' the Mets-Marlins game than I got a text message from S.B. asking if I wanted his MLB.TV password to watch the game on-line. I did. (And I might need it again today.) I was able to watch every pitch of Johan Santana's masterpiece thanks to the Southern Bureau. And here we are today.
11:30am - This is so eerily similar to last year. I just read through last year's posting - my Sunday routine hasn't changed much - Sunday is still laundry and garbage day here. I did the laundry yesterday to make sure I had nothing in my way today. And last week, I put out the garbage Sunday night at around 6pm. It had no sooner gotten dark then by 8:30pm there was a raccoon in my driveway feasting on the trash. So there's no chance I'm even setting foot outside after dusk tonight. The garbage will be done tomorrow morning before I go to work. And speaking of work, I did as much as I could last night - something tells me not much will get done today.
I will not be having Riley's Roast Beef this year - that was unlucky last year...plus, I don't think they're open on Sundays anymore. We have some burritos from Whole Foods that I just ran out to get.
Also on the list of things that haven't changed since last year - I suspect The Wife is rooting against the Mets so that she doesn't have to put up with this anymore. Because there's one big difference - instead of neglecting my parental duties with one child this year, now there are two.
And let me tell you this story about our 2-year-old...she woke up about 5am today, and came into bed with us. After tossing and turning a little bit she sat straight up and said, "Watch baseball?" I turned on the TV to watch ESPNEWS and catch some highlights. Little did she know she'll be getting her fill of baseball today.
Weather update from Mom via Instant Message - "a little drizzly" in Queens.
11:45am - If I believed in conspiracy theories, I'd believe the Cubs were manipulating this weekend to avoid the Mets. (Yesterday's Cubs win probably makes this point moot, but I'll continue anyway.) If I were the Cubs, I think I'd rather face the Dodgers...wouldn't you? Maybe that's what Carlos Zambrano was thinking when he said he'd rather throw a side session against the Brewers today instead of pitching in the game (maybe he can pinch-hit and help the Mets that way). His replacement, though, is named Angel - hopefully that signals divine intervention for the Mets, not Milwaukee.
Incidentally, the Cubs were 5-2 versus LA this year - not having matched up since late May and early June (read: before the Manny Ramirez trade). The Mets gave them fits just earlier this week.
It's also a bit of a relief that there won't be a 3-way tie (thanks to Philadelphia clinching the East last night), and the only tiebreaker, if necessary, will be Mets-Brewers Monday at Shea. The 3-way tie would have dragged into Tuesday. It would have been nice, had the Mets won the division and the Phillies gotten the wild card, for the Mets to have L.A. in the first round, but at this point, I'll take a playoff appearance through the path of least resistance.
11:47am - I'm wondering if I should have written this bottom-up, instead of top-down?
11:55am - Still nothing on the satellite. Interesting note via mets.com - Brian Gorman will be an umpire in today's game - the last regular season game at Shea. His father, Tom, was an umpire who called the first game at Shea. Pretty cool symmetry there.
12:10pm - Incidentally, if the Mets were in the position the Brewers are in, facing a September call-up with a 7.04 ERA, they would be shut out on two hits. I have a feeling the Brewers won't be. As it is, the Mets are facing Scott Olsen - they've had his number this year - in 4 starts he's 0-3 against the Mets with a 6.95 ERA.
Oliver Perez, going on short rest, pitches against the Marlins. It's probably the biggest game he's pitched for the Mets since the 2006 NLCS, when he was great. Let's hope he's still a big game pitcher. For the record, he's 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 5 starts versus the Marlins this year.
**I haven't mentioned this yet - please feel free to weigh in with your comments by e-mail or in the comments below throughout the day.
12:45pm - Similar to last year - looks like I might have to watch this game on the Marlins feed. I can't stand the announcers on Fox Sports Florida...but it's better than nothing. I don't get DirecTV, though - why do I not get SNY or TBS, but get Fox Sports Florida? Luckily, too, there will probably be a rain delay - so more time for SNY to tune in. (Also, mom says "weather not good - raining a bit heavier now." It definitely won't be a rain out - could be a long day of waiting.)
The delay will also mean closer start times between the Mets and Brewers games - Chicago-Milwaukee's first pitch is 2pm.
1:05pm - Jets punted on their first possession. SNY is in and out - briefly I caught a look at some of the VIP's arriving for today's game. Ralph Kiner, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Buddy Harrelson, Rusty Staub, Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Orosco, and Hall of Famer Gary Carter. I'm thrilled Carter was there - I was afraid there might have been some hard feelings with that whole Willie Randolph thing. Rain delay to start the game, by the way.
1:30pm - End of 1st quarter for the Jets - no score. The Jets have had a huge sack to knock the Cardinals out of scoring position, recovered a fumble, and blocked a field goal. Unfortunately, due to a Brett Favre interception, they haven't scored either. But they're on the doorstep - 2nd and goal from the 2 (or 1) - Thomas Jones has already been stuffed there once.
Still not sure what's going to happen with the Mets - I'll check back after this Jets possession, I guess.
1:35pm - Favre to Laveranues Coles - a double-whammy against me in fantasy football, but I'll take it. This, after FOX came back from commercial after an apparent TD pass, called back due to a holding penalty.
Still no Mets - I only have the Florida channel right now (Sun Sports, by the way, not Fox Sports Florida) - and they're showing fishing. My dad tells me it's sunnier now, though.
1:42pm - Jets just returned an interception for a TD - 14-0. And the Mets are about to start. Oh boy.
I have a wonderful wife, by the way - this is hard to do with two kids...she's changing a diaper right now that I should be changing...and she argues with my earlier point - saying she is actually rooting FOR the Mets so that she doesn't have to put up with me being miserable.
2pm - OK, now the Mets are starting for real. And Favre just threw another TD to Coles. 21-0. Much better than last year so far (when the Jets lost to the 0-3 Bills).
2:03pm - A 1-2-3 inning for Perez. That's how you show up for an important start. Oliver Perez 1, Tom Glavine 0.
2:15pm - 1-2-3 for Sabathia, too. The Mets got nothing in the bottom half of the 1st. I think it's really important for the Mets to take a lead before the Brewers do - both teams are scoreboard-watching, the Mets are tight enough at the plate as it is - they don't need to see Milwaukee up before they're up.
2 minute warning for the Jets - they just forced another Kurt Warner fumble. What a disaster the Cardinals are today.
2:30pm - Don't have to worry about the Jets this week - after another Coles TD and Warner turnover, it's 34-0 at halftime.
Oliver Perez has had two good innings - the Mets need to score some runs.
2:50pm - Sun Sports' roving reporter just interviewed Gary Carter. He was pretty low-key, but not without hyperbole - when asked about Shea Stadium, Carter said, "It's one of the greatest stadiums of all time, because of the fans." Uh, thanks Gary, but come on, really. I love Shea as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to go that far. (For my Shea Memories, click here.)
Also, no mention by the Florida guys of Carter's minor league championship. Guess they don't read the blog.
Jets just gave up a touchdown, so it's 34-7. No score through 3 for the Mets. And the Cubs have a 1-0 lead in Milwaukee - the run scored on a very close almost-double-play by the Brewers (the right call was made, though).
2:55pm - 4 great innings by Perez. You may have heard the Cubs might not go more than two innings with any pitcher today. They're keeping to that - Chad Gaudin started the third, and retired the side without difficulty. Mets need some runs.
3:10pm - The Jets are now ahead 34-15. I don't really think they're going to blow their lead, but I hope the defense stops letting Arizona march right down the field.
Whole Foods has crappy chips - they break the minute they touch the dip.
If the Mets don't get on the board soon I'm going to be really upset. I can't stand that they make everything so difficult.
3:21pm - A double and a bloop single have the Marlins up 1-0. I'm nervous. I also just switched back to SNY - I wonder if that was bad luck. Maybe I'll try out TBS.
3:26pm - Oliver Perez's day is done. He leaves with the bases loaded (an intentional walk to load the bases after runners on first and second tagged up) and one out - Joe Smith is on.
Brewers still trail the Cubs 1-0 through five. The Cubs aren't exactly trotting out a Murderer's Row of relievers...the Mets need to get on the board....but first keep the Marlins from adding more.
3:34pm - A bases-loaded walk by Joe Smith and two outs later, the Mets dodged a pretty big bullet. 2-0 Marlins, going into the bottom of the sixth. 1-0 Cubs, going into the bottom of the sixth. The Mets have a pinch-hitter, then the top of the lineup coming up - they need to get runs NOW.
3:42pm - I love Carlos Beltran. And until Wednesday night (or Thursday) I love each of these relievers the Cubs keep trotting out. 2-2!
And Anquan Boldin just scored against the Jets - good for my fantasy team, matching some of the points Coles has put up.
3:50pm - OK. New life, heading to the 7th tied at 2. But now I echo the Southern Bureau's sentiment - uh-oh on the bullpen being in the game now.
Sabathia looks strong - he's through seven, having just given up that 1 run. His third start in nine days. Jeez.
Beltran's homer came when I was watching TBS. Not two minutes later, I lost reception and had to resort back to Sun Sports....a Marlins conspiracy, no doubt.
4:01pm - The Jets defense looks horrible. I'll worry about that in two weeks though, after the bye week. The Mets defense looks great - Endy Chavez made an awesome running catch to end the seventh inning. The Brewers have the bases loaded...uh-oh.
4:06pm - Wuertz just walked in a run, so the Brewers tied it up 1-1. Is it just me, or does it seem like this year there have been tons of bases loaded walks? Drives me nuts - just throw a friggin' strike.
4:08pm - I don't think the Jets are going to lose...but watching them the past couple of weeks is like playing a game of Madden. Ridiculous scores against them.
The Cubs got out of that inning - it's 1-1 heading to the 8th. At this rate it looks like the Mets will be tied going into the 8th as well.
4:17pm - Scott Schoeneweis - are you kidding me? 3-2 Marlins in the 8th. The top of the lineup will be coming up again...hopefully the Mets bullpen doesn't give up more runs, because the Mets can't score too many the way they're playing.
4:23pm - Dan Uggla just got one off Luis Ayala. And now the Brewers just got a 2-run shot. Not good.
4:26pm - The Mets have made things tremendously difficult for themselves. The Brewers are now taking a 3-1 lead into the ninth - they got clutch hits when they needed them. The Mets need to do the same.
On a much more serious note, Anquan Boldin just suffered a really serious injury in the Jets game. He's taken off in an ambulance - bad news.
4:34pm - Well, it's over in Milwaukee. Nothing the Mets can do about that - just have to win and force a game tomorrow.
Marlins pitching change with runners on first and second - clutch double by Reyes, walk by Beltran. Now, with two outs, it's up to Delgado. Otherwise, those bats are all out of the way in the 9th, and I'm not crazy about that scenario.
4:37pm - Delgado flew out. I feel like I'm going to throw up.
4:52pm - Marlins 4, Mets 2. Here comes either the final three outs of the season or a great beginning to the end of Shea Stadium.
5:09pm - Wow. Brutal. And making it worse for me was having to watch the Marlins broadcast. I strongly dislike Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton.
5:10pm - I am so pissed off...but in the end the Mets didn't deserve the playoffs. The Brewers won 5 of their last six games - the Mets lost two out of three to the Marlins. The Brewers got a clutch homer from their star, Ryan Braun, the Mets couldn't get a hit from David Wright in their biggest game (Wright hasn't had a clutch hit in his career). The Mets had no bullpen. They couldn't hold a lead, they couldn't keep a game tied. It happened a bunch throughout the season (just think if the Mets had held five leads - a few Johan Santana starts, and last Sunday against the Braves - they would have won the division by three games and not been in this position on Sunday) - it would have happened again in the post-season. I'd like to think things would have been different in the playoffs....but I doubt it - the Mets would probably have bowed out in the first round.
So there will be no playoffs. The last game at Shea Stadium has been played. The Mets will not open Citi Field as defending champions.....they will just be another team opening another new ballpark.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thank you, Chicago Cubs, for making the Mets' Sunday game mean something. And though this is eerily reminiscent of last season, I have a good feeling about Sunday.
I'll be here all day tomorrow to chronicle it - starting with the Shea ceremonies at 11:30am.
Incidentally, the Jets are on local television here, so I can even go with the dual TV setup that I had last year to keep an eye on them at the same time.
Wow. My second-born, and the Mets back in control of their own destiny in the hunt for a playoff spot - what a momentous ten days.
I don't kow why I am the way I am...but I take these losses too hard. Less hard than I used to - but still way too hard. Especially considering I fully didn't expect the Mets to be even close to the playoffs a few months ago.
Well, enjoy Johan Santana's one-hitter today. (Read the recap here. Just change the relevant names.) Hopefully the Mets get help from the Cubs. If it comes down to tomorrow, I'll live-blog the afternoon away on Sunday - starting with the final ceremonies before the last game at Shea at 11:30am.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I know I've taken him to task before. I've said that he's making superstar money and playing like a regular star. He's put up good numbers, and since I last wrote about him, he's put up great numbers. But I never exactly felt like he was putting up $17 million-a-year numbers.
Now I think he's worth every penny.
It's hard to tell that Beltran cares. He has a very calm demeanor. It's a poker face - it seems like he never gets too up or too down. But he has proven to me that he is a quiet leader on this team...and he's leading by example by coming through in the clutch.
The past week has taken some of the shine off of David Wright's record-setting year (he has 124 RBI on the season, tied with Mike Piazza for the team record). He's been hitting, but not late in games with lots on the line. Beltran has.
And every time Beltran comes up in one of those situations, Gary Cohen mentions the fact that Beltran's prime motivation is his strikeout in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006. And I love that he is so bothered by that strikeout.
The first time it came up was after Beltran's grand slam to beat the Marlins in Miami last month. Cohen told that Beltran wants to get back in the playoffs to make up for that at-bat against Adam Wainwright. Then Cohen mentioned it again in the ninth inning last night before Beltran ripped one off the first baseman's glove to beat the Cubs and keep the Mets one game behind Philadelphia and tied with Milwaukee. (Last year, by the way, the first baseman catches that ball...or Ryan Church gets tagged out at the plate in the 8th...this year is shaping up to be more promising.)
Carlos Beltran shocked a lot of people early this year by saying the Mets would win the division. He's finally starting to back that guarantee up with his play in the clutch. And if I'm the Marlins, I'd keep my mouth shut this weekend. Beltran is looking for motivation everywhere...and he's following through. He might just carry the Mets the next couple of weeks like he did with the Astros when he earned himself that huge payday.
WHETHER THE WEATHER: I haven't been this excited to watch baseball all season. I wake up and can't wait for the night's games. Unfortunately, I might have to wait 24 more hours. There's some nasty weather across the region, and it's going to wreak havoc on the weekend's schedule. The Phillies are hosting the Nationals, the Mets have the Marlins. There might be a doubleheader on Saturday instead of a night game tonight for the Mets. I can't stand the suspense.
I'm also ticked because the Mets have a 1 o'clock game on Saturday. They are totally within their rights to have a weekend game at a reasonable time like 1pm. I'm not mad at them - I'm mad at Major League Baseball. The 1pm start means it won't be on an Extra Innings package because of the FOX blackouts (only the 7pm Saturday starts get picked up by the package). The fact that I can see meaningless games on a weekday night in May but miss one of the most important games of the season on the final weekend shows there's something flawed with that system. I'll have to turn to the trusty old wireless scoreboard or the ESPN GameCast instead.
COUNTING MY CHICKENS: I hate to even mention this and run the risk of putting a jinx on the entire thing...but my dad got his post-season tickets the other day. (He's had a Tuesday & Friday ticket plan the past few years - which I took advantage of once in those two years.) But he has one Division Series game, two NLCS games, and one World Series game. One of the NLCS games falls on Columbus Day (depending on the Mets' seed)...the World Series game is a Saturday night (I think it's Game 3 - a guaranteed game...not 'if necessary', in other words). I could make it down to NYC for those games. I've never been to a World Series game - I'm getting butterflies just thinking about the possibilities...imagine if my final two trips to Shea Stadium were for a Billy Joel concert and a World Series game (and maybe add a third - the LCS game - I would not be able to make any Division Series games). If the Mets don't make it I might cry.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Here's the story right now (record; standings; then games remaining):
Mets: 87-71 - 1.5 back of PHI in East, tied with MIL for WC (1 vs. CHC, 3 vs. FLA)
Phillies: 89-70 - first place in East (3 vs. WSH)
Brewers: 87-71 - tied with Mets for WC (1 vs. PIT, 3 vs. CHC)
When I called for the Mets to go 46-28 the rest of the way (they were 44-44 at the time) in July, I said 90 wins would win the division. (I'll save you the math - so far it's been 43-27 - not bad, but it might not be enough.) It looks like it will take 91...at least, in my mind, the Mets need to get to 91 wins right now to assure themselves of a playoff spot (or at the very least, a one-game playoff with the Brewers or Phillies).
Last night the Mets created a difficult situation for themselves. Instead of playing tonight with a chance to move into a tie with Philadelphia, the Mets need a win to stay a game back (instead of dropping to two back). Like last year, the Phillies close out the season against Washington, so the Mets can't rely on help - they have to win their four remaining games - and Florida won't make it easy. Milwaukee has Pittsburgh for one more tonight, but then they have to deal with the Cubs, who hopefully will play them as tough as they played the Mets.
I hate to make it sound like I'm writing an obituary with four games left, but I want to get this out there - the Mets have had a good season. It's been tremendously frustrating, and the past few days have been microcosmic of that season-long frustration (the Jason Marquis grand slam, the bullpen blowing the game to the Braves on Sunday, the 4-run lead the Mets gave back last night to lose in extra innings, leaving the bases loaded in the ninth, etc.), but overall the Mets are in a position right now that I didn't think they would be in early on.
This year doesn't qualify as a choke job. The Phillies have played very well, and the Mets have battled. Last September colors this September a little differently, but the Mets aren't good enough this year to be considered chokers. They have pretty much no bullpen, and they have themselves in a position where they still control their fate. All they have to do is win.
It starts tonight with Pedro Martinez*, in the type of big game we've been waiting four years to see him pitch in. Hopefully the 2005 version of Pedro* shows up one more time....and then a few more times in the post-season.
JOHAN: I know I called for Johan Santana to go deeper into games, and to throw more pitches. I remember it well. Both times. I keep thinking about it each time he now goes deep and deeper into games. The one thing, though, is that I didn't want him throwing career-high type numbers of pitches (125 the other night) to get through these games. Bottom line: I hope the Mets don't just have one great season from Johan Santana and then six with a damaged arm. I hope he's not pushing himself beyond his capabilities to get the Mets into the playoffs in 2008 - because if he is, that doesn't bode well for the coming years.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Just a heads-up to all those who think Jerry Manuel hasn't been much better in September 2008 than Willie Randolph was in September 2007.
All Gary Carter has done in the minor leagues is manage winners. Here's a brief recap:
Gulf Coast Mets, 2005
37-16 reg. season
St. Lucie Mets, 2006
1st Half: 40-30
2nd Half: 37-32
Post-season: 5-0 (2-0 1st round, 3-0 second), Champions
Orange County Flyers, 2008
1st Half: 28-15
2nd Half: 26-22
Post-season: 6-4 (3-2 1st round, 3-2 second), Champions
Regular Season: 168-115 (.594 winning percentage)
Post-season: 11-6, 2 championships in three years
Again, I know we're not comparing apples to apples with the three levels of minor league baseball, and I know that the minors and the majors are different...but the numbers convince me that Carter can have that kind of success at the big league level.
METS MINOR LEAGUES: Before last season, the Mets were among a number of teams to shuffle their Triple-A affiliates. The Mets ended up with New Orleans, which meant their Triple-A players logged lots of travel time as members of the Pacific Coast League.
Well, in 2009 (and at least 2010), the Mets' Triple-A affiliate will now be the Buffalo Bisons, back in the International League. This will cut down not only on Mets' minor leaguers travel time overall, but travel time to and from the big league team in New York (also useful for rehabbing major leaguers).
WRIGHT WATCH: Just a quick update on David Wright's assault on the all-time doubles record (and Mets single-season record):
2008: 42 (2 behind Bernard Gilkey's team record with 5 games to play)
ALL-TIME LEADER: 792
You look at the season leaders in doubles and it kind of makes you scratch your head: Guys like Dustin Pedroia and Brian Roberts have more than 50 doubles, Lance Berkman and Nate McLouth have 46 to lead the National League - that's a lot of doubles. It seems like a guy like David Wright would have more than just low-40's every year. Especially since Shea isn't exactly a home run hitter's ballpark. Just a thought. Also interesting to think about how Citi Field will play...will some of the David Wright doubles become homers? Will his assault on Tris Speaker take a hit because of the new stadium?
And let's not overlook here the statistical season Wright is having - there has been no late-season slide this year - in fact, he's having his best year all around in 2008.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
There's a positive to this, I guess. If they make it in, they've earned it (unless Milwaukee continues to go backwards, allowing the Mets to back their way in). And they'll have played good baseball, so there's no downtime to re-adjust to meaningful games once the playoff games start. The Mets will end up going right from intense baseball to intense baseball, with no lag time in between.
The downsides, though, are more stark. The Mets - already strapped for pitchers - won't be able to set things up the way they want to...Especially considering that with Johan Santana going against Chicago tonight, he'll be pitching the season finale on Sunday with regular rest, with everything on the line. So he then wouldn't be available until the middle of the first round of the playoffs.
Another downside is the incredible pressure the Mets have put on themselves. To play this way with the Phillies breathing down your neck is understandable, I guess. It's a high-pressure situation. But to do it for the second year in a row ramps up that pressure a huge notch, and then to have to face the best team in the National League, followed by a team in the Marlins who would love nothing better to knock you out for the second year in a row....that's a little much.
Though I'm stressing these downsides, I'm not feeling sympathy for the Mets. They deserve what they get. They put themselves in this situation by playing terrible baseball for a month and a half early in the year, and not making the right moves to improve their situation in the bullpen all year long. So if they don't make the playoffs, I won't be surprised.
If they do make it though, it's a playoff spot well-earned. If they win the division, they did so because they won enough games to do it - not because Philadelphia choked (the Phillies have played too well until this point to consider anything from this point out a choke). If the Mets get the wild card spot, they'll probably have beaten the Cubs to get it, and then will have a chance against the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Mets, the playoffs have begun. It's a six-game series from this point out. The Mets need to take five of six (five of seven before last night) to win the pre-first round.
(I thought what I was writing sounded awfully familiar.......)
Meanwhile, the Jets looked terrible last night against the Chargers on Monday Night Football. I honestly thought the Jets would take one of these two games (home against New England, at San Diego). Now that they've lost both (both games they could have won, with Cassel at QB and if their defense had stopped one play by San Diego last night), they need to go on a tear.
Arizona is looking like a tough draw this year. The Jets have them at home on Sunday - it's a short week for the Jets, but a long road trip for Arizona (they stayed on the East Coast after playing in Washington last week).
All I know is - if the Mets season comes down to Sunday, and the Mets and Jets both lay an egg like last year in the same situation - I don't know if I can handle that happening two years in a row.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I don't know that the Jets will have that same kind of success under Favre. But I do know that a Jets win will bury San Diego at 0-3 in a very tough AFC. And that would be awesome.
Luckily, since the baby was born this weekend, I do not have to worry about waking up for school tomorrow...so I'm up for the entire Monday Night football game. And the Mets-Cubs, of much more immediate importance (the rest of the week will focus on the Mets). Here's my Week 3 recap:
BEST GAME OF WEEK 3: OK - I didn't see all of the football games on Sunday, with the new baby and all. I did see a lot, just not my usual hectic watching of many channels at once (I had guests, and we watched most of the Giants and most of the Mets games. The channel-flipping isn't for everyone.). But the best of Week 3 just might have been Jacksonville beating Indianapolis on a last-second field goal, 23-21. The Colts looked much better Sunday than they had, especially in the second half, and Jacksonville looked impressive marching down to the win. To be honest, there were a lot of close games on Sunday, but none that were great. I think this was the best of those.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN WEEK 3: I think this would have to be the Miami Dolphins. First of all, they said all week they were going to attack the first-time starter, Matt Cassel, then they came out and did it. The Jets' defense sat back and waited for him to beat them. The Dolphins went out and got him. Good for them. But even more than that, they used a creative offensive game plan to put up some points, and then they blew the Patriots out. If the Dolphins had been that creative on offense against the Jets in Week 1, they would have blown the Jets out too. Chad Pennington managed the game well, but it was Ronnie Brown who torched the Patriots' defense, and shares the credit with the Miami defense for the upset win.
WORST PERFORMANCE IN WEEK 3: Again, a lot of close games in Week 3 - and a lot of them shouldn't have been close. But I think the worst performance was the Pittsburgh offense against the Eagles. You have to give the Eagles' defense credit, because they put up some great numbers (2 forced fumbles, one interception, 9 sacks). But Ben Roethlisberger looked like the bad-decision-making Roethlisberger of a couple of years ago instead of the one who put up impressive numbers last year, and Willie Parker ran for just 20 yards. All they managed was 6 points on two field goals. The Steelers should never be the team that scores the lowest amount of points in the NFL in a given week...but they were in Week 3.
BEST GAME IN WEEK 4: Bye weeks start next week, so there's a smaller schedule...and nothing is jumping out at me in a huge way...but I'm thinking I'll keep an eye on Minnesota at Tennessee. The Titans are 3-0. The Vikings are lucky to be 1-2 - the Panthers looked bad on Sunday, and sort of handed the Vikings one. The Vikings were everyone's (except me) favorite dark horse entering the season, and now Gus Frerotte is their quarterback. A win and everyone's back on their bandwagon. The Titans now have Kerry Collins instead of Vince Young, and a 4-0 start would put some distance between them and second place. Tennessee is a tough place to play. I bet the Titans win. Also, the Bills should go to 4-0 in St. Louis.
BEST PERFORMANCE PREDICTED IN WEEK 4: Carolina, as I mentioned above, looked bad against Minnesota. Jake Delhomme was 17-29 for 191 yards. I think he and the Panthers rebound in a blowout of Atlanta, in Carolina. I'll go with 265 yards and four passing touchdowns for Delhomme in a 38-13 win.
-Last Week: I gave you Eli Manning for 320 yards and 3 TD's. I also went extra and gave you the Giants, Bills and Patriots going to 3-0. I should have stayed away from New England...and the Bills and Giants games were much closer than I expected. Manning was good, but his receivers didn't have the days I though they would - he had just 1 touchdown and 289 yards.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Different than last week, I'm going to start with the Jets. That was disappointing. I'm taking nothing away from the Patriots, because their defense played very well, and a win's a win...but that was a game the Jets should have won.
The Patriots came out looking like a team unsure of itself after losing their star...and the Jets gave them time to figure themselves out. They practically administered CPR by marching down the field and promptly missing a chip shot field goal. (Wonder why Jay Feely was available in Week 2 of the NFL season? Wonder no more.)
The kicking game as a whole was awful - so it's only slightly surprising that there is a report right now that the Jets waived punter Ben Graham. Graham gave the Patriots excellent field position all day - another way the Jets handed the game to New England.
And the offense looked lackadaisacal. After that opening drive, they just didn't move the ball (again, credit New England's defense there). Just a frustrating game to watch overall - and the frustration was amplified by the Mets' disturbing loss right around kickoff.
The afternoon definitely took my excitement over the football season down a notch...but only a notch. There was a lot going on elsewhere:
BEST GAME OF WEEK 2: Well, since we're doing this on a Tuesday, we should include the Monday night game, because it definitely was the best. Philadelphia and Dallas scored on each other at will. I didn't stay up for the whole game - I went to sleep shortly after the half - but I had a feeling that when I woke up the score would be drastically different. It was - Dallas came back to win.
One thought on this game, though - after DeSean Jackson pulled that idiotic move, dropping the ball on the one-yard-line to celebrate - Andy Reid should have benched him. What other way is there to discourage that idiocy? I would have benched him, and made him realize how responsible he was for the loss. This is why players get away with so much - there's no discipline. I don't know what went on behind closed doors - but I suspect not enough.
BEST PERFORMANCE WEEK 2: A few to choose from - Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers both lit it up in Denver, but Aaron Rodgers had another great week, throwing for 3 touchdowns and 328 yards (0 interceptions) in a 48-25 win over the Lions. Coming out of the gates like this has probably only put more pressure on him - but he's a good quarterback. He looked good last year when he came on a couple of times in relief of Favre - the Packers didn't miss a step then, and they're not missing one now. I'm thinking, though, that in my pre-season predictions, I undervalued Green Bay.
WORST PERFORMANCE OF WEEK 2: I like Ed Hochuli. He's one of those high-profile referees who doesn't really try to steal the show...he calls a good game usually. He's better known because he's a good ref than for anything else. But he dropped the ball on Sunday. Jay Cutler clearly fumbled in front of him and he missed it. But that's where the story should end.
He did the right thing with the 'inadvertant whistle' ruling. There's not much more that you can do in that situation. The inadvertant whistle ruling is that things can't change drastically because once the whistle blows, some players stop playing, and others saw what should have been called and play through the whistle. I don't know what can change in the offseason if the NFL indeed looks at the rule.
And here's something that hasn't been mentioned at all - the whole DeSean Jackson thing was an inadvertant whistle too. The ball was down, the Cowboys could have recovered it, but the Eagles would have still gotten the ball on the 1 because the play was "dead". So where's the anger in Dallas over that inadvertant whistle?
BEST GAME IN WEEK 3: I don't want to sound like a homer, but it's the Jets again. Monday night, Jets-Chargers in San Diego. The Jets' recent success in San Diego was with Chad Pennington at quarterback, so I'm not sure they still have the ability to win there. It's even tougher with the Chargers 0-2, coming off two very very difficult losses (last-second to the Panthers and then the Denver game last week). I'm hoping the Jets can win - but they need to improve on last week's performance. One thing seems for sure - the Jets should be able to put up some points on San Diego - they haven't looked like they can stop anyone.
BEST PERFORMANCE PREDICTED IN WEEK 3: Eli Manning and the Giants will go to 3-0 against Cincinnati. I bet Manning throws for 320 yards, with 3 TD's. Also going to 3-0 - Buffalo hosting Oakland, the Patriots hosting Miami, and either the Packers or Cowboys (OK, one of them has to - they're playing each other).
Last Week - I gave you Adrian Peterson for 150 yards, 2 scores, and a long one - 75 yards, I said. His long was just 29 yards, but he did have 160 yards. Like his teammates, he couldn't find the end zone.
-By the way - enough of the Vikings talk already. They're 0-2, they couldn't score on the Colts, and they let the Colts back into a game they had no business being in. That's not a team that should be favored to win anything.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The bullpen is a disaster, the Mets as a whole are starting to look eerily like last season...but it doesn't matter.
If the Mets make the playoffs, with a good final two weeks, it doesn't matter. I know it won't look good with the way the bullpen has pitched, but if they just make it in, anything can happen.
So there's your bi-weekly Mets analysis. By the next time I do one of these, the Mets had better be a playoff team.
MOST IMPRESSIVE: The Angels have no such worries. Anytime a team clinches this early in the season (I always use the 1986 Mets clinching on September 17 as a benchmark - in recent memory, I can only remember the 1995 Indians, the 1998 Yankees, and the 2001? Seattle Mariners as besting that), you have to give them major props. So major props to the Angels, who just dominated that American League West this year.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Staying out in LA, the fact that the Dodgers didn't just fold up the tents and collapse is a bit of a suprise. And now they're really starting to pull away in the West. They're still just five games over .500, but they're starting to look like a major league baseball team.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: On the flip side, there's the Milwaukee Brewers, who have just faded fast these past few weeks (since playing the Mets, really). I know from big collapses, and this is a big collapse. They were sitting pretty, having made all of the right moves. Now they're tied for the wild card with the Phillies (and if the Mets fall out of first, they'll be in the wild card chase, at least), and they've fired their manager. What a mess.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The Diamondbacks, I've always thought, were the best of the worst in the West. The fact that they have just fallen apart while the Dodgers have gotten hot is a bit of a disappointment. It doesn't look like the West will even be a race anymore.
One note about the Mets' magic number. I started calculating it on Saturday, right about the time the Mets started to have a bad weekend. I won't mention it again until it's about 1, with more than 1 game to play. And then it's only maybe.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Which is why it's hard to get too excited as a Mets and Jets fan with the Jets 1-0 heading into a showdown with New England, and the Mets 3 games up with 17 to play.
But there's a little excitement.
And I haven't been this excited about watching football in general (not just the Jets) in a few years. I couldn't get enough of it this past week - two Monday night games was the perfect topper for me. So I'm looking forward to Week 2...and the OSU-USC game on Saturday night should be a good appetizer.
But what I really wanted to mention here is the baby situation. Still nothing - for about three weeks now they've been telling us this could be the week....and nothing. So, clearly, I am not going to the Jets game on Sunday - Brett Favre's first home game.
And at this rate, the one game I have solid plans to attend - versus the Bengals on Columbus Day weekend - is approaching being in jeopardy. I'll keep you posted on that.
With everything going on - baby, school stuff, preparing school stuff for the days I have to miss when the baby comes - postings will be sporadic. Thanks for checking back.
Monday, September 08, 2008
BEST GAME OF WEEK 1: It might not have been the best game overall, and I certainly didn't watch the whole thing, but I saw the final couple of minutes of the Panthers-Chargers game, and I think it gets the award.
As you saw in my picks, I'm a believer in Carolina this year. I just didn't think they'd come out and win this game, in Week 1, in San Diego, without Steve Smith. But they did. It can only get better for them.
Also, on their final drive, they looked great, but when it got to fourth down, I didn't think they'd get it in the end zone. Just a great pass from Delhomme, a great catch, and a tough loss for the Chargers. No sympathy from me, though...and I'm sure no sympathy from Patriots fans.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF WEEK 1: This disappointment part won't appear every week, but I mentioned Patriots fans, so I had to mention Tom Brady. That's really too bad. I don't wish injury on anyone - let's get that out of the way first. I hope this doesn't come out sounding wrong in writing, but I also don't feel bad for the Patriots or their fans. Brady has seemed invincible for so long that it was incredible to see him limping off the field. I couldn't believe it. And it's really too bad. As I've said many times before, he's hard not to like. I'm sure the Patriots will be fine, and win their share of games without Brady...but they won't win it all. He's just too important to them. And now Patriots fans will get a taste of what it's been like to root for the Jets, with replacement quarterbacks, for much of the past few years.
BEST PERFORMANCE OF WEEK 1: For a team, it's got to be the Falcons, because no one expected what they did. But for an individual player, it's got to be Michael Turner, going for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns as the feature back for those Falcons. Turner was great backing up LaDainian Tomlinson, and you had every reason to believe he was going to put up good numbers for Atlanta. But with their question marks everywhere else, it's fair to have not expected that much that soon. I wonder if they'll keep that up and become that surprise team out of the NFC South that comes out of nowhere to make it deep into the playoffs....
WORST PERFORMANCE OF WEEK 1: The Colts looked pretty sorry Sunday night, huh? I mean, the Bears played pretty well, but the Colts looked like they finally lost that step that you've been expecting them to lose the past couple of years. It could just be rustiness, with Peyton Manning coming back from surgery. But I'm not so sure...that looked like the Colts could be in for a long season.
BEST GAME IN WEEK 2: The Jets-Patriots game was on the schedule for so long looking like a measuring stick game for the Jets - just how good would they be? Now, it's a measuring stick game for Matt Cassel - sure, he beat the Chiefs....but can he win a divisional game?
There are a couple of other games to watch for - next Monday night, with the Eagles against the Cowboys, and Sunday night, where the Browns play the Steelers. The Steelers looked so good, and the Browns looked so bad in Week 1. If the Browns put up another stinker, people will be bailing from that bandwagon in droves.
BEST PERFORMANCE PREDICTED WEEK 2: Perhaps this is wishful thinking from a desperate (after one week) fantasy owner, but based on what I saw from Matt Forte on Sunday night, I think Adrian Peterson will slice up the Colts in Week 2. I'm going to say 150 yards, two scores, and at least one long one - maybe a 75-yarder.
A WORD ON THE JETS: I need to comment on the Jets-Dolphins game. That was the most entertaining Jets game I've seen in at least four years. Even the long stretches where nothing was happening were interesting.
Brett Favre is the reason why. He set the tone by going long for Cotchery early on, made a smart play on the fourth down toss up to the goal line that ended up being a Stuckey touchdown, and didn't make any mistakes.
Even the good though, comes with the feeling that there still might be some "Same Ol' Jets" mixed in...The ending of that game was torturous. While it was hard to be terribly disappointed because Chad Pennington looked so good in leading the Dolphins back, the Jets sat on the lead in typical "Take this game and win it" fashion.
Still, they won. And their chances of getting to 2-0 are looking a lot brighter.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Two Mets-Phillies games - one in the afternoon, one at night
The Jets season opener, first game for Brett Favre; against Chad Pennington, no less
A Sunday of NFL
Throw in a NASCAR race in the evening
Lots of golf thrown into one day, due to rain delays
Even championship tennis, if you are so inclined
And then there just might be a baby born today
Imagine if this was your birthday, to boot. Lucky Justin in NYC
Saturday, September 06, 2008
-The Giants will not repeat as Super Bowl champions.
-The Patriots will not win the Super Bowl.
-There's a lot of talk about the Vikings. They won't make the playoffs. You just have to view a team like that as 'in trouble' when you see that they cut someone like Brooks Bollinger and you think...that's not a good move. I guess I don't believe in Tavaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte. And here's a telling remark - I don't believe very much in Bollinger either - that's just how much the Vikings are in rough shape at QB.
-The NFC is weak, so I think this one is me going out on a limb, but I'm not buying into all of this Saints hype either. I don't know why - they seem to have a good team. But I'm saying they won't make the playoffs.
And to answer the Southern Bureau's question, here's my quick breakdown of the Jets schedule (remember, I did write that everything there should be considered with a plus/minus two wins...but I'll stand by 12 wins for the Jets):
Week 1: @ Miami - W
Week 2: vs. NE - W
Week 3: @ SD - L (or a loss in Week 2, win in Week 3 - I think the Jets will one at least one of these games)
Week 4: vs ARI - W
Week 5: (BYE)
Week 6: vs CIN - W
Week 7: @ OAK - W
Week 8: vs KC - W
Week 9: @ BUF - L
Week 10: vs STL - W
Week 11: @NE - L (the Jets split with New England this year - it wouldn't shock me if they lost week 2 and won this one)
Week 12: @TEN - W (tough...but I think the Jets will be the better team)
Week 13: vs DEN - L
Week 14: @SF - W
Week 15: vs BUF - W (probably splitting with Buffalo this year)
Week 16: @SEA - W (another tough but winnable game)
Week 17: vs MIA - W
I know 12 wins is a lot - but that's a schedule that can produce 12 wins. And listen, I'm a Jets fan - I've been disappointed many times before. They don't usually get 12 wins when they should. But maybe this year will be different.
Here's how the recap will look per week once the season is in full swing, probably appearing on Mondays, so the Monday night game won't really factor in:
BEST GAME OF THE WEEK JUST COMPLETED
BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK JUST COMPLETED
WORST PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK JUST COMPLETED
BEST GAME IN THE UPCOMING WEEK
BEST PERFORMANCE PREDICTED IN THE UPCOMING WEEK
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Though I think the win-loss numbers are a bit skewed (let's give them a margin of error of plus/minus two games), I'm pretty happy with the way the standings fell out. I think they're a pretty accurate read on the NFL:
1) The best teams are in the AFC.
2) While I think I overvalued the NFC East, the best teams in the NFC are definitely in that division, and I think it's realistic that the division can produce three playoff teams.
3) Though I think the Seahawks will manage at least 8 wins, the NFC West continues to stink.
4) There are some easy schedules dotting the AFC. The Patriots have one. The Broncos have another, and while I think 14 wins is a stretch, they could make the playoffs. (Remember, this year is an NFC West year for the Jets, which as I wrote about in February, might mean good things for them.) (Another parenthetical thought - based on opponents' record, the Patriots have the easiest schedule in the league. And the Jets' looks significantly harder. But that's based on previous year's records, and they're playing the Patriots twice, while the Pats are playing the Jets twice. That skews the numbers...so I don't think opponents' winning pct. is too accurate. I do think the AFC East as a whole has an easier schedule...mostly because they all face the NFC West, and the likes of Oakland and Kansas City.)
5) Most telling, though I have the Jets at 12 wins and in the playoffs (I didn't do tiebreakers - the biggest difference between me at 15 and me at 30...I just put the Jets in over Jacksonville), the AFC is ridiculously difficult. It's realistic that a couple of teams could have 12 wins and miss the playoffs this year...or at least, 11 or 10 wins...a number that would probably get them in in the NFC.
For the playoffs, I had the Cowboys coming out of the NFC, and the Jets (of course) coming out of the AFC. I'll hold off on the Super Bowl prediction until late January...but you can guess which way I'm leaning right now.
Listen, I'm not good at this, because the way I see it at this point of the season is that everyone's 0-0, and the Jets might as well be the team to win it all. If I don't believe it now, what fun will the season be?
If you want a slightly more objective look, here's my cousin's picks...which are actually very similar to mine. The biggest difference is that I'm not buying into the Saints this year - he clearly likes them. Post your picks in the comments if you care to compare.
NFC EAST Dallas 12-4, Giants 10-6 (Wildcard), Philly 9-7 (I really want to reverse these but after last year's 5-11 prediction for Giants I can't), Wash. 5-11
NFC NORTH Vikings 9-7, Packers 8-8, Bears 7-9, Lions 4-12
NFC SOUTH Saints 13-3, Carolina 10-6 (Wildcard), Tampa 8-8, Atlanta 4-12
NFC WEST Seattle 8-8, Arizona 7-9, St. Louis 5-11, 49ers 4-12 (don't like Martz)
AFC EAST Pats 14-2, Jets 10-6 (Wildcard), Bills 7-9, Miami 4-12
AFC NORTH Browns 9-7, Pitt. 8-8, Bengals 7-9, Balt. 6-10
AFC SOUTH Jacksonville 13-3, Colts 11-5 (Wildcard), Titans 9-7 (I'm worried about them taking Jets spot in playoffs), Houston 6-10
AFC WEST Chargers 14-2, Denver 8-8, KC 4-12, Raiders 3-13
Wildcard round- Giants over Seattle, Carolina over Viks, Jacksonville over Jets, and Indy over Browns
Divisional round- Dallas over Carolina, Saints over Giants, Pats over Indy, Jacksonville over San Diego
AFC/NFC Champs Saints over Dallas and Jacksonville over Pats
SUPERBOWL- Jacksonville over Saints
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
-13-3 loss to Buffalo
-23-20 loss to Washington
-19-16 win over Pittsburgh
-Thanksgiving Day (the worst of the bunch) - 34-3 loss to Dallas
-40-13 win over Miami
-24-18 loss to Cleveland
-20-10 loss to New England (when the Patriots were supposed to score 70, remember?)
-10-6 loss to Tennessee
-13-10 win over Kansas City
That's not a bad defensive stretch, points-wise.
The Jets were 29th in the league against the run, though, and went about trying to fix that for this year. New to the defense are Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace. I feel like most of the defensive players are guys who can play more than one position. Pace, for instance, is a linebacker who used to be a defensive end. So is linebacker Bryan Thomas. I get the impression there will be a lot of defensive looks and a lot of mixing and matching players in and out.
Kerry Rhodes and Darrelle Revis are exciting young players in the secondary. I like watching them play. And I wonder if this unit isn't finished yet - the Jets were interested in John Lynch before he went to training camp with the Patriots. Now, he's been cut, so I wonder what about him was not enticing to the Patriots, though they did say they'd consider calling him back later in the year. But if the Jets were interested before, wouldn't the fact that he spend training camp with the Patriots make him even more attractive now, if for no other reason than information? Just throwing that out there.
The big difference between the Jets this year and last year is that the offense will be putting up some points. So the defense, I guess, has more room for error. And that's assuming they're as good as last year. If they're better, the team will be improved on both ends of the ball.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
That's Alan Faneca, and his name, along with a couple of other new ones on the offensive side of the ball, would have helped the team improve even if the quarterback wasn't named Brett Favre.
But that is the quarterback's name, so let's break down the Jets offense, as they head into their season opener on Sunday in Miami.
QB: Brett Favre is not as good as his numbers last year indicated. But he's still a great quarterback, and a different type of quarterback than what the Jets have had the past six years. He can throw the ball downfield and at a high velocity - two things that haven't been part of the Jets' gameplan recently. Of course, there's a higher risk factor than there has been as well, since Chad Pennington didn't turn the ball over very much....but in the end this is an upgrade, and it makes certain players better.
RB: One such person is running back Thomas Jones. Jones is coming off an OK season - he did have more than 1,000 yards, but only 2 rushing touchdowns. I think he'll break free more often this year in part because of the downfield threat that Favre brings to the table, but also because of fullback Tony Richardson, who has blocked in front of a number of very good running backs in his career (who probably wouldn't have done as well had he not been there). Jones and backups like Leon Washington will also benefit from a revamped:
Offensive Line: Youngsters Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson have had an up year and a down year. I didn't realize it at the time, but their up year was definitely aided by the veteran presence of Pete Kendall, who then left the Jets in an ugly contract dispute. This year, there's another veteran presence, with the additions of Faneca and Damien Woody alongside those two and Brandon Moore. Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens had no shot last year because there was no stopping the opposition's pass rush. Thomas Jones, as a result of the passing game, had no shot of getting significant yardage. You can realistically expect all of that to change this year because the Jets will have a legitimate offensive line, unless Mangold and Ferguson take a big step backward.
Receivers: Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery, as I've written before, seem very similar to the targets Brett Favre is used to from Green Bay. They can pick up a lot of yards after the catch. What they haven't had much opportunity to do over the years is outrun defenders for bombs, but in the pre-season it seems like Cotchery and Brad Smith have had those opportunities, and done well with them. (Although I can't help but think about how good Santana Moss would look running down Favre rainbows.) The biggest stumbling block for the Jets' receivers might be for Coles to get over the fact that his friend Pennington was released to make room for Favre. Once he realizes the Jets have a chance to win a lot more games this year, I think he'll be fine. Tight end Chris Baker might see his playing time reduced by the emergence of rookie Dustin Keller, but I think the tight end position will be a strength this year as well...or, at the very least, a popular target for Favre.
Monday, September 01, 2008
BIGGEST SURPRISE/DISAPPOINTMENT: I guess it really shouldn't be a surprise, because why should the Mets make anything easy, but the fact that they're only up a game entering September is a bit surprising. (I guess from the Mets' point of view, this could qualify as a disappointment, too. So I've combined them.) I really thought there were times this past couple of months the Phillies would roll over and the Mets would be able to run away with the division. And I think you have to credit the Phillies for that not happening, since they've shown some resilience as well. They had to be crushed after the loss to the Mets last Wednesday, and then they lost the first two to the Cubs in Chicago. They responded by taking the last two of that series, keeping themselves a game out. It'll probably be that close for the rest of the month - and that's really not too surprising.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: Can I go outside the box on this bullpen disaster and suggest that maybe it's the bullpen management? Sure, the arms haven't been reliable, and Aaron Heilman walking in the winning run on Saturday night can make me curse him forever (see: Rogers, Kenny), but there are really no defined roles here, and there haven't been since Jerry Manuel took over. I don't know - things have been so bad all year for the relievers (except for the winning streak in July) that maybe if they were comfortable in where they were appearing it would help. In short, I guess Billy Wagner's injury was bad for everyone. And, being September, it can't hurt to have a few more arms to plug in there thanks to the September call-ups.
MOST IMPRESSIVE: I've written about the Cardinals before, but I don't think I've specifically praised Albert Pujols. Pujols is leading the majors in hitting, at .364. He has been hitting near or above .350 all season, obscured by the fact that Chipper Jones was chasing .400 early in the year. He hit .359 in 2003, so it's not uncharted territory for him, but his power numbers have seemed to take a hit. He's "only" hit 29 homers so far this year.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: With the Twins not expected to do much this year, it probably didn't raise many eyebrows when the schedule was made up. But it might prove to be their downfall. They're in the midst of not just a chase for the wild card, but also a division title, and are finishing up a 14-game road trip, thanks to the Republican National Convention. Then they play 6 at home before hitting the road for 10 more games. That's a tough haul and a tough way to end a season with so much promise. If they indeed persevere and make the playoffs after that kind of finish to September, they've earned it.
LEAST IMPRESSIVE: I guess you can't totally write them off yet, since they took the last two in Arizona, but the Dodgers looked awful during their previous 8 games, all losses, including a sweep by Washington. Again, that National League West is just a disgrace.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Ivan Rodriguez has to be a disappointment for the Yankees. I haven't seen him play much, but I can't imagine his defense (which has to be significantly better than Jorge Posada) makes up for the fact that since the trade he's hitting .203 with 2 HR, 2 RBI, scoring just six times.
Football for the rest of the week, unless something notable comes up in the baseball world.