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Sabathia stifles Tigers, gives dominant start to improve to 3-0 on season

April 30th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Yankees ace CC Sabathia has proven time and time again that he is one of the most dependable pitchers in the game of baseball.

In today’s game, he needed to deliver and succeeded.

The bullpen has been dominant so far this season, but the same can’t be said about the starting rotation, which is ranked near the bottom of the league in ERA.

Sabathia steadied New York’s rocky rotation with eight sharp innings, Alex Rodriguez passed Willie Mays for eighth on the career RBIs list and the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Sunday despite leaving an astonishing 14 men on base in the first six innings.

“It just feels good to go out there and give those guys a rest,” Sabathia said of a bullpen that had thrown 73 1/3 innings entering the game, third most in the AL.

Curtis Granderson homered in the fourth inning — barely. He had to stop between second and third to look back after center fielder Austin Jackson nearly made a spectacular catch above the wall in right-center.

Granderson also walked with the bases loaded to force in the game’s first run in the second, one of a career-high seven walks by Detroit starter Max Scherzer (1-3).

The Yankees walked nine times and left 15 on base overall, but won the three-game series. Detroit has lost eight of 10.

Andruw Jones homered in the eighth. He pinch ran for Nick Swisher in the third after the right fielder left with a tight left hamstring following a walk.

Swisher has a low grade strain and will be out several days. Giradi says it’s not serious enough for a trip to the disabled list.

With New York’s bullpen taxed by Freddy Garcia’s horrid 1 2/3 innings start on Saturday, Manager Girardi said before the game, “I would love to get a good seven or eight strong innings out of CC.”

Sabathia (3-0) came through. He gave up a double in the first then retired 10 in a row before Prince Fielder, his former teammate at Milwaukee, hit his first home run in the Bronx and third this year overall with two outs in the fourth.

The big lefty had little trouble with the Tigers — all except for Fielder and his nemesis Miguel Cabrera, who hit a long RBI double in the sixth inning to close it to 3-2. Cabrera is 10 for 19 against Sabathia.

Sabathia struggled early to a 5.27 ERA on a staff with a 6.37 ERA, 29th in majors, entering Sunday. Garcia was dropped from the rotation before Sunday’s game and rookie David Phelps will get a start before the expected return of Andy Pettitte in mid-May.

But Sabathia was sharp this time, yielding four hits and striking out eight. He walked two.

“When you have your ace on the mound and you talk about trying to win all the series and you’re tied 1-1 you feel pretty good going into that day,” Girardi said.

Let’s hope the rest of the rotation get going as well.



NY Jets draft pick Quinton Coples expected to be starting force on defense

April 30th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Going into Thursday night’s NFL draft , the Jets knew they had some major holes to fill on offense and defense in order to compete again.

So, they drafted a bunch of guys to help them out.

The new-look Jets will include a pair of new starters with speed, something they lacked last season.  Not long after the Jets wrapped up the draft, Rex Ryan proclaimed that first-round defensive end Quinton Coples and second-round wide receiver Stephen Hill will crack his starting lineup.

“You had a vision for those players,” Ryan said on Saturday. “That’s why you took them. . . . There’s so many different roles. . . . There’s so many things they can start on — there’s sub team, there’s this team. . . . They’re going to play significantly. Is it 100% all 16 games? It really depends.”

Coples, the 6’6,” 284-pound 16th overall pick out of North Carolina is arguably the fastest defensive lineman in the draft, and the Jets took him over other pass-rushers such as Melvin Ingram out of South Carolina.


The Jets were high on Ingram, but took Coples due to his size and speed that Ingram does not possess.  Coples was initially slated as a top-10 pick after his junior year, but his stock dropped due to an inconsistent senior season that was plagued by a scandal-filled football program at North Carolina.

“They got great value,” Coples said, to silence his doubters.  “I always play with a chip on my shoulder.  There’s always room to get better, there’s always room to improve, and that’s how I take it. That’s how I live life.”

Coples’ job will be to get to the quarterback and stuff the run.

He consistently does an excellent job of taking on offensive line run blocks with good base and aggressive hand use. His technique, combined with his natural strength, allows him to jolt run blockers and drive them back to disrupt running plays in the backfield.

He flashes quick hand use to shed and defeat run blocks. This enables him to make tackles on runs directly at him. He also shows solid ability to take on double-team run blocks. Then with his strength, he is able to split double-teams to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. When he performs at a high level, he has the excellent speed to chase down ballcarriers in pursuit.

This rookie has a fresh start, and he is “willing to exceed” expectations. “(Offenses) should be worried about me and Muhammad, big (Sione Pouha) in the middle, and everybody else that’s behind us,” Coples said. “I think we can be the No. 1 defense.”




Tyson Chandler may take rest of season off; poised for playoffs

April 22nd, 2012 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

After everything he has done this season for the Knicks, the Defensive Player of the Year candidate finally got a day off Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.

With a playoff spot clinched already for the Knicks, Tyson Chandler took a breather against the Hawks  and could be shut down for the final two games as well.  Even though the Knicks are still trying to nail the sixth seed, Chandler is still getting much-needed rest.

Until Sunday, Chandler had missed only two games and, in a season constantly interrupted by injuries to key players, he’s been one of the most dependable of Knicks. Chandler has even played in pain for long stretches.

But the creaky wrist and balky knee, neither of which are considered anything more than annoying and nagging, have taken their toll, along with his lungs. Chandler is the Knicks’ only true defender, especially on the front line, and so his value becomes a bit heavier for the playoffs, where defense and physical play becomes the standard. Therefore it was an easy call for Mike Woodson.

“He’s not really banged up. Just tired,” Woodson said. “We went through seven (games) in 11 days and he went through some significant minutes in that stretch, which we needed him to. He asked for a break so I’m going to allow that to happen. He’s deserved it.”

The season still holds a bit of intrigue, so any major lineup changes by the Knicks could impact where they finish. They remain tied record-wise, but the Knicks hold the tiebreaker over the Sixers for the seventh seed.  This head-to-head with the Sixers for the 7th and 8th seeds could determine whether they get the Heat or Bulls in the first round. Debate if you will about which would be the more favorable matchup, but the Knicks, according to Woodson, will play with the intention of winning out the season.

That said, the decision about whether rest for Chandler carries more weight than playoff positioning has been made.

“For him, it is (more important),” said Woodson, “because he’s going to log some big (playoff) minutes for us.”

Jared Jeffries will be shut down for the remaining two games, too. He’s dealing with knee issues he says are a result of “10 years in the league” but expects to be ready for next weekend.

“It wasn’t like I was playing a lot of minutes, anyway,” he said. “I was just holding it down until Amare (Stoudemire) got back.”


Down 9 runs, Yanks stun Red Sox 15-9

April 22nd, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I’ll be honest.  By the 5th inning this game was over.  With the Red Sox up 9-0 after 5 innings it was painful to watch.  By that point, Yankees starter Freddy Garcia had pitched just 1.2 innings and gave up seven hits and five earned runs.  The bullpen then surrendered another four earned runs, increasing the Red Sox lead.

Then Mark Teixera homered for the Yankees, making it 9-1.  I didn’t make much of it, but it apparently started the Yankees run.

“You’re down 9-0 and Tex hits what looks like an innocent home run. Then we come back with back-to-back seven-run innings,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after New York rallied to beat Boston 15-9. “I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of that.”

Nick Swisher hit a grand slam in the seventh to help the Yankees erase a 9-0 deficit, then added a two-run double in the eighth to give them the lead. The comeback matched the franchise’s largest deficit overcome in a win, done five times.

Teixeira had six RBIs, homering from both sides of the plate for the 13th time in his career.

“That was pretty cool,” Teixeira said. “I’ve played a lot of games, and that may be the most fun regular-season game I’ve ever been a part of.”

Teixeira homered twice, the second a three-run shot in the seven-run seventh that cut the deficit to 9-8. Swisher, who also had six RBIs, hit a two-run double off the center field wall in the eighth to make it 10-8.

The Yankees added five more as Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine used three pitchers — including closer Alfredo Aceves (0-1), who allowed five runs and failed to record an out — to get out of the inning.

Rafael Soriano (2-0) pitched one inning of scoreless relief.

It was Boston’s second consecutive loss to the rival Yankees, each of them heart-breaking in its own way. Friday’s 6-2 loss cast a pall over the feel-good 100th anniversary celebration, but the sequel on Saturday exposed the bullpen and had the hometown fans booing Valentine just 14 games into his Red Sox career.

Valentine tipped his capped to the fans as they booed him when he walked back from making a pitching change in the eighth.

“I’ve been booed in a couple of countries, a few different stadiums. I don’t want to be booed,” said Valentine, who was asked if he had any regrets about leaving broadcasting to take the Red Sox job. “If they said it was only going to be for the good days, I probably wouldn’t have come. The challenges are great.”

Swisher put the Yankees up 10-9 with a drive off the center field wall. There was still nobody out in the inning when Teixeira added a two-run double; Russell Martin added a two-run, two-out double and Derek Jeter was given an RBI single that made it 15-9 when shortstop Aviles slipped and fell on his rear end as he went to throw to first.

This is the type of baseball you expect from the Yankees, especially in games against their biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees now improved to 9-3 in their past 12 games since they were swept in the season-opening series by the Tampa Bay Rays.



Jeter, Nova lead Yanks past Angels on Sunday Night Baseball

April 16th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Ivan Nova’s winning streak as a pitcher has been impressive the past two seasons, as it is now up to 14 in a row after last night’s win over the Angels.

The 11-5 victory was a fairly easy for Nova and the Yankees, as the offense was on point last night thanks to Derek Jeter’s three-run homer to extend his fast start.  The 37-year-old captain is 15 for 41 (.366) with six extra-base hits.

Raul Ibanez added a titanic homer and Jeter also doubled during a four-run rally to help the Yankees take two of three in an early series between high-priced teams expected to challenge for the American League pennant.  The Angels are far from an easy team, but the Yankees are showing that their bats are still among the best in the league.

The Yankees spoiled the season debut of Jerome Williams (0-1), chased in the third inning, while sending Albert Pujols and the Angels to their sixth defeat in eight games.

Fighting a cold and fever (damn, allergies), Nova (2-0) struck out eight over six innings. Often the beneficiary of big run support, the 25-year-old right-hander hasn’t lost in the regular season since the Angels beat him 3-2 on June 3.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Nova’s winning streak ties Hall of Famer Whitey Ford and Steve Sundra (1938-39) for the second-longest by a Yankees pitcher since 1920. Roger Clemens won 16 straight in 2001, and became the first pitcher in Major League history to start a season 20-1 (he finished the season 20-3).

The crazy part about this winning streak is that Nova was actually demoted to the minors during his winning streak – where he lost twice for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last July. He finished 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA as a rookie last season.

Nova claims it’s all about winning each start, with the winning streak coming secondary.

”I’m not worried about a winning streak. I just want to take the ball every five days,” Nova said. ”I don’t pay attention to that stuff.”

The Yankees have now won 5 of 6 games since starting the season 0-3.  Of course it’s early, but it’s great to see the Yankees play excellent baseball early on.

Freddy Garcia gets the start tonight against former Yankee bust Carl Pavano, as the Yankees begin a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins.


After three awesome seasons, Kenny Powers has decided to hang up the cleats

April 16th, 2012 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

That’s right Eastbound & Down fans, Kenny “F*ckin” Powers has decided to end his illustrious, or should I say disturbed baseball career for good this time.

If you don’t know who Kenny Powers is, you must not know the game of baseball and shouldn’t be reading this article.  Powers has been one of the most controversial pitchers in the game of baseball for years, and even more than Babe Ruth at his time.

Only kidding.

Of course, Kenny Powers is just a fictional character on the HBO hit series “Eastbound & Down” played by actor Danny McBride.  Powers is a former professional baseball pitcher, who after an up and down career in the major leagues is forced to return to his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina, desperate for a return to the big leagues.

Powers is an out of shape, bad-tempered drunk who thinks he’s better than he really is, and thinks he is still a celebrity in not just his hometown, but the nation as well.  McBride is stellar in his role as Powers, as the show has taken some crazy and outrageously hysterical turns during the three seasons it has aired.

Tonight was the series finale, as the crude show has finally come to an end.

So let us do a brief review.

In Season One, Powers is hired as a middle-school gym coach in his hometown.  That basically says it all right there.  In Season Two, Powers ends up in Mexico, and goes from outlaw-gangster to star pitcher in the Mexican leagues.  Season three leads him back to the minors in Myrtle Beach, where he becomes the “leader” of the minor league team The Mermen, which is his best shot back to the majors.

Plenty of crazy shit happens within each season, as some things are impossible, or too disturbing to explain.  From the outrageous outbursts of Powers, to the random elements added to the show and its supporting cast (including Will Ferrell), the show’s creativeness will surely be missed.

But there is really only so much Kenny Powers you can take in three years, as each of the past two seasons did not seem to duplicate the first season’s success.  I believe that any Eastbound & Down fan would agree; nothing comes even close to the epic first season.

Since I can’t even describe what went on in each season, it’s appropriate to show a true “Best of Kenny Powers and Eastbound & Down.”

As Kenny Powers would say, Eastbound & Down, “YOU’RE F*CKIN OUT!!!!”



Yankees lose opener, stunned by Rays in 9th

April 7th, 2012 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

No one can be trusted or counted on more than Mariano Rivera to close out a game in the 9th inning.  That’s why he is the best closer the game has ever seen.

But Friday afternoon Rivera blew a rare save opportunity in the 9th inning, giving up the game-deciding single to Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who lifted the Tampa Bay Rays to a thrilling 7-6 season-opening victory over the New York Yankees.

It was Pena’s day alright, who is usually a Yankee killer.  He finished the day 3 for 5 with five RBIs in his first game back as a Ray, after having a one-season stint with the Cubs last season.  He also hit a grand slam off Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia in the first inning.

Rivera had been 60 of 61 in save chances against the Rays.  But afterDesmond Jennings opened the ninth with a single against baseball’s career saves leader, Ben Zobrist tripled home the tying run.

The 42-year-old Yankees closer intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases and struck out Sean Rodriguez. Pena, who was 0 for 11 lifetime against Rivera, won it by driving a 1-2 pitch off the base of the wall in left-center field for his fifth RBI of the game.

Blown saves are rare to come by with Rivera, who knows he can move on from the opening day loss.

“My fault. I felt good. I don’t make excuses,” said Rivera, whose other blown save against the Rays came in 2005. “I just left the ball up,” he said.

It’s a crazy thought that Rivera is now in his 18th season, who prior to this blown save, had converted 27 straight against the Rays.

“When you see him blow one, it’s shocking. It’s going to happen. It happened. It’s baseball,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He got a couple pitches up. He got one up to Jennings, and he got one up to Zobrist. That kind of led to the inning.”

Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia ended up pitching six innings and giving up five runs, four of them from the first inning on Pena’s grand slam.

Sabathia was not sharp in his season debut, who also gave up three walks and seven strikeouts, while throwing 104 pitches.

After the first inning nightmare, Sabathia settled down as the Yankees took a 6-4 lead after newly-acquired outfielder Raul Ibanez hit a three-run homerun in his Yankee debut.

From there, the Yankees took a 6-5 lead into the ninth, and then Pena ended up winning it for the Rays.

Rivera and the Yankees have been there plenty of times before, as it’s a long season.

Only 161 games to go.  It feels great th it’s baseball season!


Isiah Thomas fired from coaching job at FIU…may return to Knicks?

April 7th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

There’s just no way this can happen.

I can’t even imagine this happening again.  Could it be?  No way.

Could Isiah Thomas make yet another return to the organization he singlehandedly ruined from 2003-2008?

Unfortunately, it’s possible.  It’s actually very possible.


To even have a thought of this guy entering Madison Square Garden once again, or the whole city of New York for the matter, gets me worried and sick my stomach.

So let’s review what has happened.  It’s been less than 24 hours since Thomas was fired by FIU, and the media is already blowing up this story about a possible return to the Knicks.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News believes Thomas, the Knicks former president and coach, will inevitably return in some role.  Another reporter, Marc Berman of the New York Post, thinks Thomas won’t be back at Madison Square Garden in any official capacity.

So who knows, but this much is clear.  No one is arguing or making a point to bring him back.

For someone who ruined the Knicks throughout the 2000s, why would it make sense for the Knicks to bring him back under some capacity?  The answer is because of his strong ties and friendship with owner James Dolan.

Supposedly, Thomas has served as an unofficial consultant to Dolan for three years after he was fired in 2008. Dolan himself admitted as much when his attempt to hire Thomas fell through in 2010.

“Although I’m disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent,” the Knicks’ owner said in a statement released after Thomas rescinded his contract with the team. “He’s a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team.”

Thomas later told ESPN in November 2010 that he thought about running the Knicks again, “every day of the week.”

I’m starting to cringe right now and hopefully all of this will blow over.  We are looking pretty good as a team right now and in the thick of the playoff race.  There is tremendous talent on this team, as the Knicks are on their way up to becoming a great team in the Eastern Conference.

As a die-hard Knicks fan, this move better not [expletive] happen, and I speak for every Knicks fan.


Jeremy Lin out for the season: in comes…Stephon Marbury?!?!

April 2nd, 2012 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

On ESPN last week, it was reported that Jeremy Lin targeted a Tuesday return to the Knicks lineup after missing the previous few games with knee soreness.  The Knicks were still playing well without him, but still needed the spark he usually provides at the point guard position.

But then last night, prior to the Knicks game against the Cavaliers, I get a text message from my Dad revealing some negative news: “Lin done for the season :(”

Yes, that is a frown face that was added to the text message, the same thing that I felt when hearing the news.  I also thought, “this sucks!”

The guy who salvaged the Knicks’ season is now done for the season, and out six weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee.  He’s going to have surgery and the only possible return for him this season is if the Knicks somehow make the second round of the playoffs.

In sports, anything is possible, but a with a possible first round matchup against the #1 seed Chicago Bulls, all I have to say is “yikes.”  But for the first time in a while, I trust the Knicks and know they can get the job done.  They have been decent this season (finally over .500), but have to get better and stronger for the postseason.  They currently sit in the 8th and final playoff spot.

For the rest of the season, the Knicks will be using veteran Baron Davis, a solid fill-in for Lin, Mike Bibby, and Toney Douglas in a three-man rotation.  This will be tough, but because of the depth of the lineup, it may work.

Now all of a sudden, there are reports that Stephon Marbury, of all people, may make a return to the NBA.  Marbury, may I remind you, was one of the main reasons of why the Knicks were are a horrible team prior to the past couple of seasons.  He was there during the Isiah Thomas era, where losing was a part of life for Knicks basketball, and a frustrating part of mine.

Marbury proved to be an extreme head case, who only cared about scoring instead of passing off the ball, and proved to be extremely selfish who didn’t care much about winning at all.  Don’t get me wrong, Marbury definitely has talent, but as a Knicks fan, it would be tough to accept him back in a Knicks uniform again.

Right now, Marbury is playing in China after a successful NBA career, and is being treated like a God there.  When The Post emailed Marbury last night asking what he would do if the Knicks gave him a call now that former adversary Mike D’Antoni is gone, Marbury responded, “NOTHING.’’

So the Knicks chances are slim in getting Marbury back considering he has the spotlight and all of the attention in China, but who knows.  Maybe getting Marbury back as a serviceable veteran during the playoff push wouldn’t be such a bad idea, but at the same time, maybe it is.  I sure as hell don’t miss the crap he pulled in New York during his tenure as a Knick, so it maybe better to go with what we have and build on that.


For former NFL bust Ryan Leaf, it has not been a good week, or 10 years

April 2nd, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Back in the 1998 NFL Draft it was a toss-up between the first two picks.  Do you pick the strong-armed, mentally tough Peyton Manning out of the University of Tennessee, or the one with the stronger arm and more potential in Ryan Leaf out of Washington State University.

Wait, what?  Ryan Leaf?  That’s got to be a joke, right?

No, that is not a joke.  When you hear “more potential than Peyton Manning” it’s got to make you chuckle.  But back in ’98, that was the truth.  The differences in potential between the two seemed so small that most scouts and observers expected it would not greatly matter whether a team selected Manning or Leaf.

So the Colts made the smart move by drafting Manning, and the Chargers selected Leaf.  From the second he was drafted, it went all downhill from there.

The Chargers high hopes for Leaf were soon doomed by poor performances and horrible relationships with teammates, coaches, and the media.  This led to three awful years with the Chargers and his release in 2001.  After being bounced around from the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Seahawks, Leaf retired in 2002 with a failed football career.

The former #2 NFL draft pick finished his career with 14 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions with a 50.0 quarterback rating.

Since his career ended, he’s had a lot of legal issues.

In 2008, he was part of the West Texas A&M University football coaching staff, where he was then fired for allegedly asking one of his players for a pill to help him deal with pain in his wrist from past injuries.

In May 2009, Leaf was indicted on burglary and controlled substance charges in Texas. He was undergoing drug rehab in British Columbia at the time of the indictment and was arrested by customs agents as he returned to the United States.

In April 2010, Leaf pled guilty in Amarillo, Texas, to seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of delivery of a simulated controlled substance, all felonies.  He was then sentenced to 10 years probation and fined $20,000.

And just recently, Police in Montana arrested Ryan Leaf after a month-long investigation that culminated with the former NFL quarterback breaking into an acquaintance’s home to steal prescription pain medication.  Leaf was arrested Friday in his hometown of Great Falls and charged with burglary, possession of a dangerous drug and theft.

So this is how the scenario went.  Task force members on Friday told Leaf’s probation officer to call in the ex-quarterback. They searched Leaf and his truck, finding two prescription bottles in a pocket of a golf bag, which was embroidered with Leaf’s name, so it was easy to charge him.  One unlabeled bottle had 28 pills that turned out to be oxycodone, a schedule 2 narcotic for which Leaf doesn’t have a prescription. The other was empty, but its label said it was oxycodone prescribed for another person.

Once again, Leaf keeps digging himself a deeper and deeper hole.  It’s really been a sad story for Leaf, who was a potential NFL superstar and let his ego and stubbornness get a hold of him and his career.  You almost got to feel bad for the guy.  A big question for him is where does he goes from here, because for a lot of people, this latest arrest comes as no surprise to this once potential star quarterback.