The Penn State Offense, Summarized

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 1:59 pm by

Because I need something to complain about today (though I suppose I could just be grateful I can’t watch).

1st and 10 at ILL 25 Austin Scott rush for 6 yards to the Illin 19.

2nd and 4 at ILL 19 Austin Scott rush for a loss of 6 yards to the Illin 25.

Timeout PENN ST, clock 09:59.

3rd and 10 at ILL 25 Anthony Morelli pass intercepted by Vontae Davis at the Illin 18, returned for no gain to the Illin 18.

The Nittany Lions trail lost to Illinois, 27-20 in the fourth quarter.

’64 Phillies To Mets : We Feel Your Pain

Posted in Baseball at 11:55 am by

Gene Mauch’s 1964 Philadelphia Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead in the National League with 12 to play. They proceeded to lose 10 straight and were passed by eventual World Series victors St. Louis.  If none of that sounds familiar, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi — the “fuckin’ retard” of Brett Myers fame — tracks down a few members of that doomed ballclub, looking for quotes about the ’07 New York Mets. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

“I feel sorry for them; they’ve been in first place the whole year,” Tony Gonzalez, a starting outfielder on the ’64 Phils, said yesterday from his home in Miami. “And there’s a chance they won’t even get the wild card.”

I was through it in ’64 and wouldn’t want it to happen to anybody else,” he said. “No matter what you do, you keep falling down. The Mets scored nine runs the other day and still lost. Their bullpen was the best in the league earlier in the year, and now they can’t get anybody out. The same funny things happened to us in ’64. . . .

“[Johnny] Callison hit three homers in a game, and we still lost. Chico Ruiz and Willie Davis stole home to beat us. In another game, Felipe Alou strikes out and reaches first on a passed ball with two outs, and then Hank Aaron hits a homer into the upper deck and beats us. I think ’64 was worse than what’s happening with the Mets because of the way we lost.”

Ray Culp, whose sore elbow kept him from pitching during the Phillies’ late-season ’64 collapse, said he “absolutely can sympathize” with the Mets, “because if they let it slip away, they’ll have some bad memories.”

“That,” said Culp, a real estate investor in Austin, Texas, “is not my most pleasant year to remember.”

Even if the Mets continue to falter, the image of the ’64 Phillies never will be erased, said Jack Baldschun, who had 21 saves for the ’64 Phillies. “I’ve always said if we had won the pennant, we wouldn’t have gotten as much press as we did for losing it.”

Dennis Bennett, who went 12-14 for the ’64 Phils, wasn’t as sympathetic to the Mets’ woes.

“I don’t feel sorry for them,” said Bennett, who owns a cocktail lounge/restaurant in Oregon. “I feel happy for the Phillies. I signed with the Phillies, so a piece of me is still with them.”

Taylor : There’s More To Sven Than A Zipper Problem

Posted in Football at 11:31 am by

(“no, I don’t think ‘sorry’ really covers it”)

In light of this afternoon’s 3-1 home win over Newcastle, the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor is in a contrite mood towards Manchester City’s Sven-Goran Erikkson, a manager he previous characterized as “nothing more a hopeless charlatan, lining his pockets, chasing blondes and chuckling at our expense while making himself super-rich without doing anything to justify his bloated salary.”

Yes, City have been a bit lucky at times this season – and against Manchester United they surely pulled off one of the flukiest wins of all time – but who could genuinely have imagined Eriksson would have guided them to the Champions League places heading into October? And who seriously could have imagined his cosmopolitan selection of new signings would have gelled so quickly to give City their best start to a top-flight season for 30 years?

The questions are posed because it is no exaggeration to say that, for spells against Newcastle, City’s slick, first-time, pass-and-go football was as fluid as it has been since this stadium was built. Elano, in particular, was majestic, the outstanding player by a country mile, but perhaps it is time, too, to recognise some of the unsung players. Most of the praise this season has been reserved for Micah Richards and Michael Johnson, but what of the impact Dietmar Hamann has had since being restored to the team? Or what of the way Vedran Corluka and Javier Garrido have slipped seamlessly into the defence? Not one of Eriksson’s signings has let him down and he must relish the fact Elano cost roughly a third of the money Manchester United forked out for Anderson, his Brazil team-mate.

For those of us who watched Eriksson from close quarters when he was England manager and wondered how on earth this bumbling little fellow had ever got such a lofty position, that deserves an apology.

The 7-4 scoreline in favor of Portsmouth over Reading is not a typographical error. And while Marcus Hahnemann took it on the chin at Fratton Park, there was a far more flattering result for fellow U.S. keeper Kasey Keller, who presided over Fulham’s 0-0 home draw with Chelsea.

I realize Colombian soccer isn’t under the jurisdiction of the NFL, but can’t Roger Goodell fine Leider Preciado, just for the fun of it?

The Hooded Casanova Is Sued…

Posted in Gridiron, The Law at 10:19 am by

…and for once, it has nothing to do with Bon Jovi tickets and a busted marriage. From the AP’s Dennis Waszak Jr. :

-A New York Jets season-ticket holder filed a class-action lawsuit Friday against the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick for “deceiving customers.”

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., by Carl Mayer (above) of Princeton Township, N.J., stems from the Patriots being caught illegally videotaping signals from Jets coaches in New England’s 38-14 season-opening win Sept. 9.

“They violated the integrity of the game,” Mayer’s attorney, Bruce Afran, told The Associated Press. “This is a way of punishing Belichick and the Patriots.”

Mayer is seeking more than $184 million in damages for Jets ticket holders.

The lawsuit maintained that because other teams found illegal videotaping by the defendants, Jets ticket holders should be compensated for all games played in Giants Stadium between the Jets and Patriots since Belichick became head coach in 2000.

The two calculated that because customers paid $61.6 million to watch eight “fraudulent” games, they’re entitled to triple that amount — or $184.8 million — in compensation under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

Mayer and Afran, who consider themselves public interest lawyers, have been thorns in the side of New Jersey politicians for years, filing lawsuits and demanding investigations to advance their grievances. They are well known in the state but generally have had little success in their causes.

Both have lost bids for elected offices, and Mayer once served as a presidential campaign adviser to Ralph Nader.

The 2007 New York Mets : On The Brink Of History

Posted in Baseball at 2:14 am by

Marlins 7, Mets 4

I’ll say this much for Oliver Perez — he lasted longer in a must-win game than Steve Traschel. But that’s about it. Proving as capable of handling a high pressure spot as, well, Tom Glavine on Monday night, Perez grooved one to Jeremy Hermida in the first inning, went plunk-crazy in the 3rd (shortly after allowing Byung-Hyun Kim’s 4th base hit of the entire year) and was victimized by a ground ball Jose Reyes should’ve kept in the infield in the fourth.

Speaking of whom, just a year removed from an MVP caliber campaign, Reyes’ miserable 2nd half cannot end soon enough. The shortstop was 1-5 on Friday night, his 9th inning single being just his 4th hit in his last 34 at bats. I would hate to think Reyes’ regression can be blamed on Rickey Henderson’s supervision, but I’ll try to look on the bright side. Maybe Jose’s gotten better at cards.

I’m equally loathe to second guess the manager each time something goes wrong, but I’m still not convinced the urgency of the situation has been impressed upon Willie Randolph. Trailing by 3 runs in the last of the 8th with none out and Carlos Delgado on first, Randolph chose to let Paul Lo Duca hit, despite Captain Red Ass’s noticeable limp. (Ramon Castro would catch the top of the 9th). Boogie Shoes hit a weak fly to center, typically tossing his helmet a moment later.

Why, pray tell, are Marlon Anderson, Carlos Gomez, Lastings Milledge or Castro on the roster if they can’t be called upon to pinch-hit for a player in tremendous pain? Tom McCarthy opined the Mets wouldn’t worry about Lo Duca failing to beat out a ball on the infield “because he wouldn’t do that anyway”. Good to know, then, there’s no apparent relation between hitting and healthy legs.

Newsday’s David Lennon
— quick to point out that Omar Minaya let Brian Bannister and Heath Bell get away — spills the beans on a Flushing whispering campaign.

Common sense dictates that Randolph keeps his job. That the Mets don’t eat the $4.25 million they owe him through 2009. That, in a meltdown as complete as this, you can’t possibly target one person as the scapegoat.

Nevertheless, one person inside the Mets’ loop, asked about Randolph’s future, opined: “I think it all depends who gets in the Wilpons’ ear at the end of the season, and how ugly it ends.”

It’s an open secret, by now, that Mets vice president of development Tony Bernazard — brought into the organization by Minaya — is no fan of Randolph. Bernazard doesn’t seem to care who knows.

As to the “ugly” factor: Was last night ugly enough? Why wasn’t anyone warming up in the bullpen as Oliver Perez melted down in the third inning, hitting Cody Ross and Mike Jacobs on back-to-back pitches — after hitting Dan Uggla earlier in the inning — to force in a pair of runs?

The answer became clear in Randolph’s postgame session. The man who boasts of having seen everything explained, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Philadelphia’s 6-0 victory over the suddenly mortal Nationals moved the hosts into sole possession of first place with two games to play. Cole Hamels (8 IP, 6 hits, a season-high 13 K’s) provided the sort of dominant, poised performance the Mets have been crying out for. It took 160 games, but it turns out J-Ro was right. The Phillies are the team to beat. And even if the Mets manage to get off the mat later this afternoon against Chris Sneddon, they’re counting on some help from Washington to stay alive over the next two days. It’s a desperate scenario, one a nearly tearful David Wright described as “pathetic”. As for this sickened observer, I’d like to think a 7 game lead with 17 to play was margin enough, even without Heath Bell in the bullpen, but apparently not. We’re watching history in the making, and unless something remarkable happens over the next 48 hours, these Mets will join the ’64 Phillies and ’78 Red Sox amongst history’s biggest (regular season) chokers.


Cubs Clinch 2007 NL Central; Steve Bartmann In House Arrest for October

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 10:35 pm by

As predicted in this space, the only thing stopping the Cubs from going over that cliff the Trib mentioned today was a roadblock called the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers’ season ended with their magic number dropping from 1 with the Cubs win over the Reds (6-0) and the Padre win over the Brewers (6-3). According to ESPN, the Brewers spent 133 days of the 2007 season in first place, essentially seat filling for the Cubs. There are those who cite history as against the Cubs winning the World Series, usually backed up by evidence of a mystical Greek goat and incontrovertible numbers proving that when Billy Corgan sings at Wrigley the Cubs lose. While the Corgan theory holds sway in my house, I also point out that history is definitely against the Cubs ever making the playoffs. So, Cubs 1; History 0. In fact, via CSTB technology, I have preserved the Cubs’ victory for readers of this blog, suitable for printing and framing (pictured).

With The Mets Trailing, 4-3, Let The Finger Pointing Commence

Posted in Baseball at 7:06 pm by

On paper, I’m perfectly happy with a match-up between the Mets’ Oliver Perez and Florida’s Byung-Hung Kim. That’s assuming, however, the former’s control problems don’t resurface and and two Fish runs aren’t tallied on bases-loaded HBP’s. The Marlins lead, 4-1, in the last of the 3rd at Shea, and while the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman wrote this morning, “it’s still early to talk about firings, though, no matter how dark things seem” please note it’s been several hours since the newspaper was published.

I don’t believe that bad performance is generally contagious in baseball. It’s far too much of an individual sport, and unlike, say, basketball, it’s usually not even clear how the contagion would spread. In this case, though, it’s obvious that something has gone horribly wrong with all these pitchers at one time.

There are three likely causes here. The first is that the Mets’ bullpen just isn’t all that good. Wagner and Heilman are elite pitchers, but the rest of the Mets’ pen simply consists of marginally skilled relievers. The choices made by manager Willie Randolph ” sending the execrable Mota in to face the heart of the Phillies’ lineup, for instance, or letting Florida’s Miguel Cabrera hit against soft-tossing lefties ” haven’t helped at all, but he does have to send someone to the mound. The real culprit may just be lack of talent.

The second explanation is that when everyone is collapsing, it has tangible effects. Mets’ relievers have simply looked nervous on the hill lately ” and who can blame them? When there’s a fresh goat every night, no one wants to wear the horns, and when you start thinking about failure, you’re more likely to fail. Heilman has been throwing harder than usual lately, and locating the ball far less well. That’s exactly the kind of muscling up that every pitcher knows isn’t a good idea, and he hasn’t been alone in doing it.

This brings us to the third explanation. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has received hardly any blame at all for this collapse, but he really should. Pitcher performance is ultimately his responsibility, in bad times as in good, and the Mets haven’t gotten the job done. More to the point, when pitchers are trying to blow the ball by hitters despite knowing that’s counterproductive, a coach whose forte is supposedly the mental aspect of the sport needs to come in for special blame. Peterson has been generally excellent since coming to New York, but if the Mets miss the playoffs, he’ll be the member of the team’s management most deserving of being fired.

(UPDATE : Marlins 4, Mets 3. Carlos Beltran hit a 2-run HR off Kim, a pitcher well experienced in lending a sense of hope to New Yorkers during their low moments).

Assuming their club isn’t swept this weekend, the following PDF might be of some passing interest to Mets fans.

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a sports columist for a major tabloid but thought a lack of wit, insight or any sort of unique point of view might stand in your way, buck up — it didn’t stop Mike Vaccaro.

Finally, Metsradamus has obtained an early preview of the Mets 2007 season highlights DVD.