By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic MagazineThere’s a lot going on so I’ll play the role of Greg Wiley and give you a stream of consciousness.
***There is a great in-depth article by Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record about Tiki Barber and how he is portrayed by Giant fans. You should take a look if you’ve got the chance.
That being said, the Giants are a better team without Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Barber can say that he saved Coughlin’s job after a one-on-one meeting with John Mara after last year’s playoff loss, but Barber was a bad teammate and this team wouldn’t be here with him. Nothing was ever Tiki’s fault. It was all big, bad Tom Coughlin. These athletes are highly paid adult men. They should be able to deal with a stern commander. We don’t need to hear from the peanut gallery.
Shockey going down was a blessing for this team. Every week, not including of course the week they played the Jets, you could count on Shockey complaining about his lack of touches. I think Coughlin loves the quiet approach he gets from Kevin Boss. He makes his statements on the field…not in the press.
Look for Jerry Reese to try and get rid of him this offseason.
***What’s with all the Giants’ trash talk? They are going up against a team that hasn’t lost. Let’s look real far back to Igor Olshansky or Anthony Smith…how did that work out for them? Just keep you mouth closed and play the game.
Now we’ve got Osi Umenyora, among others, labeling the Pats as dirty players; Lawrence Tynes goes on Letterman; Giant players are seen all over the place at MSG; and finally we have a score prediction from Plaxico Burress (figures the one guy with a ring is letting the scene get to this head). This is a little bit of a relapse from the Giants of the last few years. Coughlin should’ve tightened the reigns a little bit to prevent Belichick from getting fired up.
***Big surprise that Tom Brady’s not on the injury list; so much for the ankle injury that carried us through the worst week of the sporting year. Brady has been on every injury report for the last four years and now he’s not? This was definitely Bill Belichick and Tom Brady pulling one over on us.
***I’m not sure what’s more amazing…the fact that the Pats are undefeated (I jumped on the bandwagon on October 16), or that the Giants have won 10 straight games on the road, tying the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. New York is trying to make history since they are the road team in Glendale.
It’s impossible to pick Eli Manning over Tom Brady, right? But didn’t you say the same thing about Brett Favre, Tony Romo…and even Jeff Garcia? Maybe this is Manning’s year.
Nah. The Patriots are too good. They’ll win but they won’t cover. The Pats haven’t covered in months and I don’t think they’ll do it now. Bill Belicheat hoists his fourth Lombardi Trophy as a head coach in a 38-27 victory.
***I think we should give them the trophy and then tell them to keep it next year too. There are four tough games on the docket and three of them are on the road for the 2008 Patriots: San Diego, Seattle, an AFC South team (I wonder if it will be the Colts), and at home against a random AFC North team (can you say Steelers?). Other than that there is nothing. Can anyone derail them next year? 38-0?
***I look for Eli to continue making excellent strides in his progression as a quarterback. I don’t think they’ll lose this game because of him. It’ll be because no defense is better than Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Wes Welker and Randy Moss.
***The over-under on appearances by Chris Hanson has got to be 1½. A better prop bet is will Juwan Howard score more points for the Mavericks against Detroit on Sunday than Chris Hanson punts? Or who will be on the field longer: Hanson or Jordin Sparks, whoever that is. Either way I couldn’t pick either of them out of a room.
Best prop bet has to be: How many times will Joe Buck mention Peyton Manning’s name during the broadcast? Joe Buck must mention full name in order to count. (Courtesy of www.betvega.com/live-odds/2008-nfl-playoffs-prop-bets.html.)
The over/under is 5 (-120 in either direction). This is a tough only because we’ll definitely hear an additional three "Peyton" references. I’d go with the over.
***There is an exclusive club of media members that has covered every Super Bowl and the list keeps getting smaller. There are now just four writers and four photographers that have covered every Super Bowl. Congratulations to a lifetime of excellent work from Jerry Izenberg from the Newark Star-Ledger, Jerry Green from the Detroit News, Edwin Pope from the Miami Herald, and Dave Klein from E-Giants.net. The list of photographers includes Walter Iooss Jr., Tony Tomsic, Mickey Palmer, and John Biever. (Dick Raphael, who covered the first 41 contests, passed away within a few weeks after Super Bowl XLI.) This is a group of living legends that should get togehter every year possible to let people know how the NFL has evolved and progressed.
***Bill Smith is rapidly positioning himself in the horrible sports executive fraternity. He’s not pulling up a chair next to Isiah (yet), but he’s sitting at the kiddie table. Why wait so long to pull the trigger on a subpar deal. Kudos to Omar Minaya and the Mets for getting the best pitcher in baseball in exchange for a weak-hitting center fielder, two back-of-the rotation pitchers and a kid that can barely vote. That’s not a good way to start a job.
Smith could’ve had Phil Hughes or Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, but instead got Deolis Guerra. I understand the PR coup taken by the Minnesota executives by signing Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, but their starting rotation consists of Boof Bonser, Scott Baker, and Kevin Slowey as the only pitchers on the club with at least 10 starts last seaosn. Francisco Liriano will be back but when and at what strength remain to be seen. At this point I’d rather have the Royals rotation.
That being said I’m still not sure the Mets are the best team in the NL. They got the ace they so desperately lacked, but let’s not forget Santana’s struggles last season. They still need a full season out of Pedro and a solid contribution from Duaner Sanchez. The Mets will have to be prepared to find replacement parts because outside of Reyes and Wright this team is old. “El Duque” is going to land on the DL (at least twice), and you can include Moises Alou in that category as well. What is Carlos Delgado going to give the team? What kind of offensive production will they get out of right field and catcher?
I don’t think the Mets have pulled distanced themselves from the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Cubbies. Let’s not anoint them the NL Champs just yet. This is still the same team that choked their season away.
***Top five free agents still available are Barry Bonds, Livan Hernandez, Freddy Garcia, Luis Gonzalez and Sean Casey.
***Andy Pettitte ratting out Roger Clemens would be the straw that broke the came’s back. How could anyone then deny that Clemens is a juicer? Pettitte is now going to go in front of Congress and be forced into corroborating someone’s story. They only thing he can do is say that he doesn’t know what other player’s did. But the blowhards at Congress aren’t going to be interested in that story.
It’s pretty interesting that Brian McNamee’s lawyer keeps making comments about what he expects Pettitte to say to Congress on Monday. He setting himself up for a huge letdown if Pettitte says he doesn’t know anything. I don’t think Andy’s going to be going to Roger’s Christmas party this year.
Much like Jason Giambi, if Andy Pettitte is upfront and tells the truth then the New York fans will forgive him, if they haven't already.
***I was at the event the other night at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, where Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman took part in a lecture series. Some of the more interesting notes include Joba Chamberlain possibly starting the season in the bullpen to limit his innings. The Yanks have an abundance of starters and need help getting the ball to Mariano, unless you all of a sudden trust Kyle Farnsworth and his sidekick LaTroy Hawkins. If Chamberlain starts the season in the bullpen then he will end the season in the bullpen…and that’s what New York should do. Put him where he will be the most effective. There is no way they are going to tinker with moving Chamberlain to the rotation in the middle of the season.
Also, Cashman made reference to the Yanks’ first-half struggles last year and how they were a byproduct of Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon coming to camp out of shape. Interesting that he volunteered that information instead of saying that they were both hurt and tring to recover.
Finally, there were a number of good questions from the audience members, including the one written about regarding Bernie Williams and his music, but my favorite was the season ticket-holder asking why is $125 seats have been bumped up to $250 despite the Yankees not winning the World Series. It was fun to see Cashman squirm a little before saying that that was not his department.
I know that SNY’s Kevin Burkhart is being groomed to be the next Mike Francesa of New York sports, but how did he not ask about the Alex Rodriguez situation?
This will be Cashman’s last year…unless they win the World Series…which they won’t.
***Who would’ve thought that Lawrence Frank would get fired before Isiah Thomas? Seems unrealistic but the Nets are a bad team (despite holding the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference). For some reason the Richard Jefferson-Vince Carter experiment has run its course. (It would’ve been nice to know that before the Nets handed the bank to Vinsanity last season.) The injury to Nenad Krstic was a killer. Now Jason Kidd wants to leave and the Nets, who will have to be real creative to spin this properly. They are still smarting from delaying the groundbreaking of their new arena in Brooklyn, and now it looks as if Kidd won’t be there when it opens.
***One person that will not be sitting with Isiah Thomas, Bill Smith, Matt Millen, Kevin McHale, etc. as one of the worst sports executives is Rod Thorn. He is shrewd talent evaluator and will not give up one of the top point-guards in the game without getting some excellent pieces in return.
Kidd makes his teams better and the Nets won’t give him away for nothing, no matter how much he wants to be with LeBron in Cleveland. I don’t buy the Jerry Stackhouse rumor. I know his contract is expiring but where is he going to fit in with fellow UNC-alum Carter and RJ? Also why would the Blazers want to give a bunch of good, young players when they are finally playing well again?
That’s not enough to score Kidd, who is about to become the third player in NBA history with at least 100 triple-doubles. Thorn will keep Kidd and deal with the repercussions rather that destroying this franchise to appease one player.
***Hillary, who seems to be creating some distance between herself and Barack Obama, is so polarizing that she will wind up giving the election to John McCain. People will not care that she will bring “Wild Bill” with her back to Pennsylvania Avenue. And just when you though there was no way for the Democrats to give away this election…
***Don’t forget to tune in to Johns on Sports this Saturday from 5-7 pm on the new WTBQ-FM 99.1 or at www.wtbq.com. McMullen and I won’t be live from Phoenix, but we’ll be talking like we’re there.