Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Late Christmas present

Hey gang:
Who said you can't make news outside of football during Super Bowl week.
The Mets pulled off quite the coup (assuming they get him signed) by trading for Johan Santana.
A GREAT job by Omar Minaya to get the deal done.
In the past 24 hours since the deal was done, I've read a lot of blogs from arrogant Mets fans calling the Yankees losers for not acquiring Santana and blogs from equally-arrogant Yankee fans saying the Mets have to thank the Yanks for essentially pulling out of the deal.
It's pretty nuts how we fans react to things at times.
Should the Yankees be happy Santana didn't go the Boston Red Sox as was heavily rumored a month ago? Absolutely.
Should the Mets be happy they get the best pitcher in baseball for four prospects? Duh!
It sounds to me like a win-win situation all around.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Super bore

Hey guys:
I've heard people say the four or five days around the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is the most quiet period in sports.
I'm here to tell you this past week with the two-week layoff before the Super Bowl nearly put me to sleep.
How's Tom Brady's foot?
What social function will some Giants players appear at next?
Who cares?
It was actually a refreshing sight to see the Patriots and Giants arrive in Arizona the past couple of days because I know the big game is near.
I have no dog in this fight so to speak, but this past week has been about as dead a sports week as you can get. Throw in the fact that local high school events were scarce and it's enough to make one ... ZZZZZZZZZ!!!
I'm sorry. I lost my train of thought.
Can't wait until Sunday.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shout out to Giants and Pats fans

Hey guys:
I know we've been running the brief in the paper as well as posting it on line, but as a quick reminder to all you Giants and Patriots fans, if you have a cool story to tell, going to the big game, whatever, give us a call here at the Freeman (845) 331-5000 from 4 to 8 p.m. and let us know.
You can either speak to me, or if I'm not in, give your information to Assistant Sports Editor Dave Hines.
We're looking for cool features to run next week, leading up the Super Bowl. So, give us a call and tell us your story.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Easy pickings

Well gang:
In the immortal words of Alex P. Keaton (from the 1980s and and early 90s sitcom 'Family Ties,') "I don't want to toot my own horn, but ... beep, beep."
Through 10 playoff games, I'm 9 of 10 with my predictions.
Ninety percent.
I wish I were that good a student in school.
It's been a pretty crazy postseason so far as we now wait two LOOOONG weeks for Super Bowl XLII, but in the end -- as much as it might pain some to say -- the Giants and Patriots deserve to be making the trip to Arizona.
The one thing I will say that has made me laugh since the Giants' win over the Packers is the large number of Giants fans (and you know who you are) who had been killing Eli Manning pretty much all season are now singing his praises.
That said, consider this post a PRELIMINARY Super Bowl prediction. I will give my final pick the day before the big game.
I see the Pats winning big.
Here's why:
For the next two weeks, the focus will be on the magical run the Giants have had in the playoffs; the maturation of Manning; how New York was so close to beating the Patriots in the final game of the regular season; and how Big Blue has the momentum and karma heading into the game.
Even in their pursuit of perfection, the heavily-favored Patriots will be a sub-plot in the national media.
Say what you want about Bill Belichick -- the man can coach. He has to be licking his chops at all of this as he prepares the Patriots. He will have that team -- which IS more talented than the Giants -- primed for the game.
I don't think the game will be close, maybe 38-17 or something like that.
But it's a long two weeks until the big game. A lot can happen, And one thing this postseason has shown us is you can't predict football -- unless you're me of course. :0)
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Title game picks

Ok folks:
I know you've all been waiting patiently for my AFC and NFC Championship predictions since I am 7 for 8 in the playoffs so far (by the way, since when did Peyton Manning lose his ability to win a big game anyway?) so here they are.

Chargers at Patriots
I have said from the middle of the season, this is the Patriots time to make history.
Unbeaten, New England will have an easy time getting by the banged-up Chargers and earning a berth in the Super Bowl. Like him or hate him (that's for you Dave and sis) Brady is the best quarterback in the league.
Despite the allegations that Randy Moss committed battery against a woman in Florida (which, as an aside, if he's ever charged and found to be guilty of hitting a woman, Moss should be thrown behind bars for 20 years) that Patriots will not be distracted.
I am still no believer in Norv Turner as a head coach, even after San Diego's big win in Indianapolis last week. Who knows how effective LaDainian Tomlinson or Antonio Gates will be playing at less than 100 percent. Who knows how much Phillip Rivers will play.
Regardless, New England is too good, too deep, too well-coached and too motivated to slip up with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
Call it another Pats blowout ...
Patriots 34, Chargers 14

Giants at Packers
After kind of listening to the New York media this past week pretty much anointing Eli Manning as the best quarterback in the NFL not named Brady (by the way, what a difference three weeks makes, huh?) you have to figure the "other" Manning won't let something like sub-zero temperatures keep him from a big game.
Look for Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer to have big games against a decent Packers' pass defense, but running back Brandon Jacobs will use his size to wear down Green Bay's front seven.
Brett Favre has had a magical season, but there's only so much magic in a nearly 40-year-old arm. Running back Ryan Grant won't provide much help against a Big Blue front seven that has turned its season around the past month.
I think the game will be interesting for about a half before the Giants pull away in the end.
Giants 31, Packers 13
It should make for interesting rematch in the Super Bowl.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bowling me over

Hey folks:
Is it just me, or has it been almost freakishly crazy to see all of the 300s area bowlers have been rolling in local leagues and tournaments the past couple of years?
When I started here a long, long time ago, it seemed as though rolling a 300 was something special. If there were a dozen 300s were reported to us the entire season, that was saying something.
I come from a family of pretty decent bowlers (except for my dad) and the closest any of us ever came to what-was-then an elusive perfecto, was the day I bowled a 279 with my family in Philadelphia more than 10 years ago. (By the way, I remember coming back in my next game and rolling something in the neighborhood of a 140 -- woo hoo, a 279 followed by a 140!)
Back then, a 300 was saved for the guys on the PBA Tour.
Nowadays, whether it's Hoe Bowl or Mid-City in Kingston; Bowlers Club in Saugerties; or Hoe Bowl in Catskill, its seems like we get multiple perfectos being rolled each week.
Is it something being done with the lanes?
Or is it simply the quality of the bowler has increased with the popularity of the sport?
In any case, I think it kind of stinks that bowling a 300 just doesn't have the same juice as it once did.
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hooping it up

Hey folks:
Don't look now, but there are four Kingston-area basketball teams that are finding their groove as we head into the thick of the season.
While Coleman Catholic has been dominant in girls basketball and steady in boys play, Kingston's teams -- which had struggled to begin their respective seasons -- have hit their stride.
Expectations are high for Coleman's girls, which fell just short of winning the Section 9, Class D title last year. They haven't disappointed thus far with an unbeaten record in both MHAL and overall play. If things continue at this rate, expect Coleman to represent the section in state play this year.
Coleman's boys, meanwhile, continue to excel, sitting atop the standings in Division IV and are on pace to defend their Class D title.
Expectations were equally high for Kingston's girls, which advanced to the state final four last year. And after a 1-6 start, the Tigers are beginning to resemble a team many expected to battle for a Class AA title this season.
After three straight wins, Kingston faces its toughest challenge of the season on Tuesday when the Tigers travel to play Amsterdam, the top-ranked Class AA team in the state.
For a while it looked as though Kingston's boys would set a rather dubious school record after losing its first eight games of the season. The Tigers, however, have responded with three straight wins and berth in sectionals which seemed like an impossibility last month appears possible now.
While the Tigers are not expected to win a sectional title in boys, the other three Kingston-area teams have legitimate shots to go far in the postseason.
Three out of four wouldn't be bad.
Until next time, take care an God bless.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Well gang:
Coming off my perfect 4-for-4 week in NFL playoff predictions, I have nowhere else to go but down.
That said, here's a quick breakdown of each game and my final score.
Seahawks at Packers:
This has undoubtedly been a magical season for Green Bay and future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. But the Packers are much more than a legendary quarterback and a group of young, unknown receivers and rushers.
This team can actually play defense, a fact the Seahawks will be made aware of in this first game of the divisional round.
The Seahawks had an impressive fourth quarter against the Redskins last week, but all Seattle did was prove Washington was a bit of a fraud as a playoff team.
PACKERS 28-17.
Jaguars at Patriots
Despite New England's undefeated record, I believe this will be the tightest and most entertaining game of this round.
Jacksonville plays the type of smashmouth football that could give New England fits for most of the game. The Eagles and Ravens played that style and both teams had fourth-quarter leads. The Jags like to rush the passer and run the ball and David Garrard doesn't make many mistakes in running that offense.
In the end, however, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and the Pats will find a way to grind out another later-season close win in the chase at an historic unbeaten season.
Chargers at Colts
I've never been a huge Norv Turner fan and the Chargers head coach will have to find a way to stop a potent Colts offense that should get Marvin Harrison back this week.
After a rough start, San Diego finished the season strong and pulled away from Tennessee last week to earn its shot at the champs. But the Bolts will most likely be without Antonio Gates, which will make it easier for the Indianapolis defense to key on LaDanian Tomlinson, so I think scoring will be a problem for San Diego.
Indianapolis has the offense, enough defense -- led by safety Bob Sanders -- and home field advantage.
COLTS 28-14.
Giants at Cowboys
This game will be the biggest blowout of the weekend.
The Giants are on fire right now. After playing the Patriots tough in the final week of the regular season, Big Blue kept that roll going last week in Tampa. Eli Manning is finally emerging as the No. 1 pick in the draft Giants fans have been waiting to see.
Not having Jeremy Shockey will hurt New York some since he has owned Cowboys safety Roy Williams in previous years, but expect Plaxico Burress to torch that overrated Dallas secondary and the Giants running attack to wear down Dallas inside.
The Cowboys, who were the best team in the NFC the first 13 weeks of the season, were a shell of themselves the final three weeks of the regular season and limped -- literally, when you're talking about Terrell Owens -- into the playoffs.
T.O. should play, but who knows how effective he will be at 75, 80 percent. New York can then key on Jason Whitten, control Marion Barber and contain Tony Romo in the pocket, where the Dallas quarterback is least effective.
This one will be over early.
GIANTS 38-6.
Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis and New York are the picks this week.
I went 4-for-4 last week, so I can't be wrong?
Can I?
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rocket, roids and reality

Hey folks:
Let me start off by saying I believe Roger Clemens did steroids. I have no proof of this and plenty of doubt, but in the end, I believe he is guilty.
That said, I found the past couple of days -- actually the past month or so since the Mitchell Report came out -- very interesting in terms of the public perception of Roger Clemens. The overwhelming majority of the media reports and subsequent reader feedback suggest we at large are not willing to believe the Rocket.
Obviously, this is not a court of law we're dealing with here, but a court of public of public opinion, so we can all make our own assumptions. But here's what gets me.
When the Mitchell Report first came out, Clemens' attorney issued a denial and we said we needed one from Clemens. I'm not exactly sure of the time frame here, but I believe it was a few days or so later Clemens issued his own statement of denial.
Not good enough, we said. We don't want him to hide behind written statements, we want to see the Rocket. A few days later, he issues a video on his website. Once again, not good enough. We want him to have to answer questions.
A couple of weeks later he speaks to Mike Wallace on '60 Minutes.' I know it was a controlled interview in the Rocket's house, but all things considered there weren't too many things I would have thought to ask Clemens that Wallace didn't.
Once again, not good enough for us. All along, the prevailing sentiment among the public at large has been: "If it were me I would have sued the guy."
Well, the Rocket sued the guy.
Now -- WAIT FOR IT -- once again, not good enough for us because 1) he waited several weeks to file and 2) his only reason for filing was to avoid having to testify before Congress next week because he can say he has a pending legal action.
Clemens holds a press conference and says he's going to Congress and will answer all questions.
From most of what I've read to this point, once again not enough.
We point to the recorded phone conversation as proof the Rocket had to be doing it because his former trainer never recanted what he told the Mitchell investigators. I believe both guys were recording the call hoping to trap the other into saying something incriminating.
That said, if Brian McNamaee did not know he was being recorded, or wasn't recording the phone conversation himself, my question is what was the bigger thing to come out of it:
1) The nearly two dozen times that McNamee asked Clemens what he wanted him to do and Clemens never directly answered with "Stop lying" or something to that effect.
2) The few times when Clemens responded by saying "I just want somebody to tell the truth" or when he said words to the effect of "I know I didn't do steroids" that McNamee never said something like "I am telling the truth" or "Roger, you know you did steroids."
Listen, I still don't know what to believe here, but what fascinates me is we (the media and public) have shown little room to give Clemens the benefit of the doubt even though he has in essence done everything we have asked to fight the allegations of one man.
Just my thought. What do you think?
Until next time, take care and God bless.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Hello again

Well gang:
A belated Happy New Year to you all.
Although it has been a while since I last blogged, I see some things don't seem to change when it comes to the pro sports landscape.
The Giants are still looking for some respect as they head into Sunday's playoff game, while Roger Clemens is still looking for someone to believe he did not take steroids.
The latest in the latter saga has Congress calling for the Rocket, as well as his former personal trainer Brian McNamee, to testify later this month. Andy Pettitte has been called in as well. My hope is that they seat Clemens and McNamee next to each other during questioning, so the two of them can argue who is lying under oath.
That would make for some good TV, don't you think?
As far as the Giants, I was surprised by how well they played the Patriots last week. In fact, many people could argue the Giants should have won the game. I think they carry that momentum into Tampa Bay and beat the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Flat out, the Giants are a better team and Eli Manning is poised to have a big playoff game.
As for the other three wild-card games this weekend, look for the Seahawks to end the Redskins' magical run, while the Jaguars continue theirs in Pittsburgh today. The Chargers will roll on Sunday to round out the weekend winners.
Take it to the bank, Seattle, New York, Jacksonville and San Diego all advance this weekend.
On second thought, have you read my predictions before? I wouldn't go betting the house on them.
Until next time, take care and God bless.