Despite Second Super Bowl Win, Eli Manning is Still Not In Derek Jeter’s NYC Status

February 9, 2012

This is a response to Mike Silva’s piece on Saturday in which he raves about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and how if he helped the Giants win Super Bowl 46, could supplant Derek Jeter as New York’s sports darling and “catapult him to the top of New York sports.”

This is not a hit piece on Elisha, either. I have the utmost respect for Manning, who has endured the typical criticism of an impatient (and terrible) New York fan base who demands a championship every season.

And even though Eli helped lead the Giants to victory in Super Bowl 46 (his second Super Bowl win), neither he nor anybody else can supplant Jeter as New York’s sports hero. Jeter is at the top because the amount of World Series titles he has won (five, one more than Babe Ruth helped the Yankees win), and also the way he lives his life off the field – no scandals, is very charitable, clean living by being a homebody and avoiding the spectacle which is the press.

Eli is the same type of person. Two titles, married and like his brother Peyton, is pretty much a homebody living a quiet and very successful, scandal-free life.

Funny how Silva says that Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be

Silva starts his piece out by saying Jeter was in the “right place/right time” when he entered the major leagues, and then mentions later in his piece that “Jeter had the Yellow Brick Road paved for his glory; Manning has laid the bricks himself.”

That is factually incorrect as Jeter is one of the hardest working players in the game. Joe Torre once said of Jeter, “I trusted him more than any other player I had managed. I trusted him to be prepared mentally and physically every day, and to prioritize winning above all else. I trusted him to say the right thing, when talking to a teammate or the media. I trusted his instincts and his calm under the greatest pressure.”

The Yankees became a dynasty team with help from Jeter and his various high leverage exploits. His 704 career postseason plate appearances produced a slash line of .307/.374/.465 with 20 home runs. Does Mike forget Jeter’s leadoff home run off Bobby Jones in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series and then homered off Al Leiter in the 6th inning to tie the Game 5 clincher? Jeter was MVP of that 2000 World Series. Does Mike remember the game winning home run in the 2001 World Series, where Jeter received the Mr. November moniker?

Remember the flip play during the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A’s? Jeter was in the correct position to back up an overthrow because he remembered they worked on that play in spring training – eight years earlier! A player who puts the time in the practice a play which might never occur is the epitome of a dedicated, hard worker.

Jeter also was approached by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman a few years ago to discuss ways to improve his range on defense. Jeter worked diligently all off season to get quicker, then had one of his best defensive seasons of his career.

And with five World Series rings and as a first ballot Hall of Famer, Jeter looks like he has laid the bricks himself, too. No player wins titles by himself. Even though Eli plays the most important position in all of pro sports, he would not have won the Super Bowl four years ago without a great catch by David Tyree, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line or that great pressure defense. He would not have won his second Super Bowl with some great catches by his wide receivers, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line and that great pressure defense.

Of course, Jeter never won a title by himself either or might not have even been the best player on his team. But with the exception of Mariano Rivera, all those other players will have to buy a ticket to get into Cooperstown. So many factors go into winning a baseball World Series title, but Jeter was a big part in each of the five World Series titles the Yankees have won.

Throughout his piece, Mike says that Eli is just being himself and that Jeter is pretty much a phony. Mike actually stated, “I don’t even know if Jeter knows who or what he is.”

Let me answer that for you, Mike. Jeter is the ultimate team player who works hard to win. He stays out of the spotlight and doesn’t promote himself or get into any trouble. He lives a nice, clean life, and does things the correct way. His humble upbringing began as a kid when he signed contracts with his parents on what type of person he should be. And he continues to live his life in that very same clean manner his parents demanded of him.

Maybe if more kids were brought up that way, and went on and lived the same clean lives Jeter has, this country would be in much better shape than it currently resides.

Mike is fond of saying that despite being the Yankees Captain, Jeter isn’t a real leader because he is not a locker room presence. It was always Jorge Posada and now CC Sabathia who are more vocal leaders. But one former Yankee noticed Jeter did hold sway in the clubhouse. Former Yankee (one season – 2003) Chris Hammond said of Jeter, “It’s his leadership more than anything. Whenever there’s a problem in the clubhouse – there are a lot of little problems on the Yankees – Derek is the first one to step in and say, ‘What’s the problem? We’ve got to cut this out.’ I really looked up to him. Playing in New York is a pressure job. It’s hard being the captain of the Yankees. But he has never stumbled.”

That sound like a guy who has tremendous respect in the clubhouse and did not need to be as vocal to get his point across.

Derek Jeter and Eli Manning do not promote themselves. Mike constantly talks about the “Jeter brand” as to implicate Jeter has a itinerary to manage his every move, with a full-time public relations department running his life. What Mike does not realize is that most players who have been built up by the media is usually the result of the players play on the field, and not the player own self-promotion. The media builds people up, and when the players reach a zenith, very often that same media desperately tries to bring that player down.

Derek Jeter is the perfect example of that media ploy. There is nothing terrible in his past, no skeletons in the closet. Silva then has to make an issue of Jeter not going to the 2011 All-Star game or Jeter being “greedy and out of touch” regarding his last contract negotiation.

What athlete DOESN’T want to make the most money they can? Is that really out of touch or greedy? Not in any world. When the Yankees signed Jeter to his most recent deal, it was just as much for what he did for the Yankees over his prior seasons as much as what he was going to give them over the next three seasons.

Speaking of greedy, did Mike conveniently forget that Elisha and his father (also name Elisha) told the San Diego Chargers prior to draft day in 2004 to NOT draft him because he would never play for them? Both Elisha’s forced that draft day trade to the New York Giants.

I believe that is greedier and out of touch than anything Jeter has done to the New York Yankees. And like I said earlier, this is not a hit piece on Eli. I am just stating facts.

Regarding players and perceptions, Mike likes to live on the negative. When I went out to the 2010 AFL to scout many of the games top prospects, I texted Mike that I had a conversation with 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper*. Mike’s reply asked, “Was he a jerk?” Once Mike has a negative thought process on players, he continues his negativity throughout the player’s career, especially if these players are Yankees.

*By the way, Bryce was definitely not a jerk, he was honest and forthright, and Bryce’s father, who I sat and talked with for an hour out in Arizona, was very pleasant and engaging.

Mike says, “In a lot of ways Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be.” What does Jeter pretend to be? A consistent player who is at the top of his sport, living a clean life with no drama? It is interesting that Eli “the savior” was almost run out of town in his first year. After becoming the starting quarterback, Eli struggled early then received a phone call telling him to keep his head up, keep playing hard, doing what he always has done, and things will work out.

That phone call was from Derek Jeter.

Maybe Eli can pretend to be the way Jeter really is. In fact, that article states how Eli wanted to emulate Jeter. Mike conveniently left this factoid out on his latest Jeter hit piece.

Mike then goes on to call Jeter a phony and says that Jeter’s Q-rating has taken a hit. According to this article from last season (around the time of his 3,000th hit), Jeter is the most marketable person in sports. Both Jeter and Elisha have been involved with several corporate sponsorships. The way Silva views corporations in general, I am surprised he didn’t mention that as another Jeter negative.

The fourth paragraph in Mike’s piece begins with “Even with his faults, Jeter…” Again, what faults is Mike referring? The fact that Jeter works hard at his game? That Jeter is not the demonstrative personality who gives great quotes or is constantly in the public eye? I truly find it difficult to even find one fault on this guy.

Not every player (or person) has the personality of Babe Ruth (whose birthday was yesterday), very outgoing and gregarious, loving all the attention adorned upon him. Ruth was virtually bigger than life. Those Yankee heroes of the past all had different personalities. While Ruth was the life of every party, Lou Gehrig was the total opposite with quiet consistency; Joe DiMaggio liked the nightlife of the Big Apple, but was always protected by his “friends” at his Toots Shor’s hangout, and vigorously protected his private life; Mickey Mantle was always partying and getting into trouble, while Yogi Berra was the married homebody.

Jeter appears to be a combination of Gehrig and DiMaggio, with a smattering of Mickey thrown in. He lives a bachelor’s life in the city during the season, and that hotbed of glitter, St. Petersburg, in the off season. He does go out, but avoids the popular places and the paparazzi, who primarily try to get the negative story on celebrities. Like DiMaggio, Jeter is very private about his personal life. He seems to have a few close (and trusted) friends and avoids the hangers-on, you know those types of acquaintances who helped bring down the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

Jeter stays clean and hasn’t done drugs and drank to excess like Gooden and Strawberry, or even like Keith Hernandez did during his playing days. And imagine if Jeter was known to have been drinking beer in the clubhouse like Hernandez was during Game 6 of a World Series?

Yet, despite any real negatives in his professional or personal life, Mike continuously rips Jeter, like he has a grudge against The Captain. He also has grudges against Joba Chamberlain, Brian Cashman, and to a lesser extent, Jesus Montero. Mike never passes up the opportunity to attack the New York Yankees, and especially these four individuals.

I don’t believe it is actually a grudge, but an intense jealousy of how good the Yankees have been, how good they currently are and how much better they will always be over their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets.

Over the years, Mike has been great to deal with. He has helped finance some of my baseball excursions (spring training and the Arizona Fall League), helped with credentials (Winter Meetings) and consistently has me on his radio show.

But Mike appears to have a vendetta against players who are popular players, and other who have been hyped by aggressive media.

Derek Jeter has always been No. 1 on his hit list.

No one is perfect, not even Derek Jeter. All people have their issues and faults, but when media members like Mike Silva have to constantly create things in his mind to denigrate one of the most upstanding and professional sports figures in the entire sports industry, his own faults come to the forefront.

That is jealousy and envy.

There is a possibility that Jeter is very protective of his quotes, career and his life because of the 24/7/365 nature of today’s society with everyone having a camera phone, ready to get the “scoop” on a celebrity behaving badly. But the Derek Jeter you see in today’s society is likely the Derek Jeter you would have seen during Ruth’s playing days.

And that is the Jeter who Jeter knows and really is.


New York Giants Can’t Stop the Run, and It Cost Them a Playoff Spot

December 27, 2009

As a complete sports fan, one of things I do is listen to sports radio. It makes the hour-plus work commute a little easier, as I frequently call in and make salient points, often giving the radio host something else to think about.

Always think “out of the box” and do not always go with the popular thought.

Most hosts do not research or prepare for their shows, and it is often revealed in their lack of knowledge about certain topics.

What the hosts usually do is generalize on their thoughts, never giving specifics to how or why something happened.

During football season it is mostly, “This QB is terrible/stinks.” “The offense can’t score.” “The defense has to step up.”

I love that last one. What does step up really mean? I loved it when the hosts were on the New York Yankees’ Mark Teixeira in April during his early-season slump.

“Teixeira has to step up and start hitting. He needs to earn his money.”

First, a sports player earns his money by playing well BEFORE he signs the big contract. Sports contracts are like the disclaimer for investment companies: Past performance is not indicative or a guarantee of future results.

That prior year’s on-field play gets them the next big contract. And second, talk show hosts expect players to come through every single time, and when they don’t, they are told “they need to step up.”

If a player plays hard, the talent will eventually take over, and success will come. A player can’t magically “step up” his game like flipping on a light switch.

Well, Mark Messier can, but that’s about it.

Anyway, the biggest thing sports talk hosts do (especially in football) is base what will happen in the future by what they have seen lately. 

What a football team does the prior week will determine their thoughts on what they believe will happen the next week.

For example, based upon the Giants losing 45-31 to the Philadelphia Eagles a week earlier, most New York area hosts on 660 WFAN and ESPN 1050 thought the New York (football) Giants would have a close game versus their rival Washington Redskins.

Then, after the Giants thoroughly beat up a ragged Redskins team, everybody thought the Giants (with playoff chances within their grasp) would easily beat the Carolina Panthers.

Didn’t these same fans and media pundits also see the Panthers thoroughly dismantle the Minnesota Vikings that same prior week? Actually it was only two nights earlier.

As I mentioned earlier, I call in to radio shows to discuss sports (and sometimes politics on other stations), and have spoken with nearly every single talk host on both WAFN and ESPN.

I am both informed and thoroughly research my thoughts and ideas with facts to back up my points.

Last Monday I was on my way north to work, when I called in to WFAN to the host Adam “The Bull” Gerstenhaber.

The Giants were to play the Redskins on Monday Night Football, and most of the calls* from Giant fans were from those worried about their team winning that night’s game. That mainly was the result of the Giants defense (and special teams) giving up 45 points the prior week to the Philadelphia Eagles.

* Most sports hosts also only take phone calls. A 10-minute spiel at the beginning of the show and then calls for the next three hours. Even at the top of the next hour, they start with phone calls! Nothing imaginative or different from the last host or the next host. Tell me what you think, Mr. Host. Tell me something different I really have to think about.

When I finally got on with the Bull, first I reported to him the possibility of two games in Week 17 being replayed the following week in the first game of the playoffs.

Then I said I had no worries about the Giants winning that night, as their defense would stuff the Redskins all night since the Skins can’t run the ball.

Without a running game, I reasoned the Giants could focus exclusively on QB Jason Campbell, and would force the young gun into mistakes.

Then, I countered that the Giants would then lose at home to the Panthers, who own a more polished ground game and solid defense, a defense which shut down the vaunted Minnesota Vikings’ offense a day earlier.

The Giants have not stopped a good running attack all year, and I saw no departure in this against Carolina.

Also, Carolina lost their starting quarterback, Jake Delhomme, a week earlier, and was replaced by young QB Matt Moore**. I said that Moore, despite his youth, was a pretty good signal caller. He threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns against the Vikings.

The Panthers used Moore very well against the Vikes that Sunday night, mixing in a variety of short passes off of roll outs and short drops, alleviating the young QB of many on-field decisions.

Then when the Vikings moved up their safeties to help stop the run and cut off the short passing lanes, the Panthers opened up the deep pass effectively.

** Moore is a pretty good quarterback, signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2007 draft. He played very well in the final game of the preseason against the Vikings, then was one of the final cuts. The Cowboys thought he would pass through waivers and they could sign him to the practice squad. Interestingly, the Cowboys only kept two QBs on the roster all season, Tony Romo and backup Brad Johnson. I still contend that Moore at the time was better than Johnson. Due to a late season injury to Delhomme, Moore started the final three games in 2007. Ironically, his first ever game action was against his former team, the Cowboys.

I said to The Bull the Panthers would do the same to the Giants that they did to the Vikings. They would run the ball with Jonathan Stewart (part of their two-headed monster, DeAngelo Williams, is out with an injury), mixing early with the short passing game, then go deep later on. The team’s strengths and weakness’ matchups heavily favored the Panthers.

The key, however, was the Panther coach, John Fox.

Although in the midst of a terrible season for the 2008 playoff team, the former Giants defensive coordinator has a Bill Parcells type mentality. Even though he never coached under the legendary Giants head coach, Fox coaches the same way.

He will continue to pound the run (especially with the young QB) if the game was tight or even if his team was behind two scores, and would force the Giants to stop the ground game.

Something the Giants defense cannot do.

Despite their record, the Panthers still were playing tough football and have not given up on their season, similar to how the Panthers responded in 2004, when they started 1-7 before finishing off 7-9. This was also after they won the NFC South the prior season.

It reinforces the No. 1 DelGrippo Rule in sports. It doesn’t matter who you play during a season, it matters when you play them.

Since an Oct. 25 loss at Buffalo, the Panthers have played good, tough football, even when they lost games.

So the Giants whipped the punchless Redskins last Monday night and everybody on New York sports radio were already talking on how the Giants would head into the final week with a good chance to make the playoffs.

After they beat Carolina in their final home game in Giants Stadium, all they had to do was beat Minnesota (another good running team) and watch Dallas or Green Bay lose their tough Week 17 game.

What happened was that the Panthers ran for 247 yards (5.2 per carry) and crushed the Giants in front of a hostile Giants Stadium crowd. The defense was powerless to stop the running game, and when the game entered the second half, the Panthers continued to run the ball, eating up valuable time.

What sports, hosts, writers, and general fans need to look at is matchups. Rely less on what your eyes tell you from the prior week and more on what teams the entire season have consistently done or have shown they can’t do. Remember to think outside the box.***

The Giants have repeatedly shown they cannot stop the run, and late in the football season, if a defense can not stop the run, they will not win many games, especially in the playoffs.

And unless a miracle happens, the playoffs are something the Giants will be watching on television. The New York area writers and sports radio talk show hosts should have realized this.

***If a Web site owner and/or radio station program director wants an opinionated, well researched, well spoken, part-time or full-time PAID writer or talk show host, I am available. I have many hours of air time under my belt and you will not be disappointed .


Here’s Hoping the Indianapolis Colts Lose in the First Round of the Playoffs

December 27, 2009

Today was New York Football TV watching day. It is rare that I actually watch both the New Jersey Giants and Jets on the same day, but both games were important to the decent to slim playoff chances each team had.

Also, my Dallas Cowboys team did not play until the NBC Sunday night game at 8:20.

The Giants blew their season because they can’t stop the run. The Jets, with help in three early 1:00 PM games, had destiny in their hands. They only had to beat the undefeated 14-0 Indianapolis Colts and win next week at home versus the Cincinnati Bengals.  And with 5:06 left in the 3rd quarter, losing 15-10, the Jets won the game.

That is because the Colts continue with their ridiculous premise of resting their starters late in the season so they don’t get risk injury. Never mind that all their stars, including Peyton Manning, have been unscathed the entire season.

In fact, Manning has started EVERY GAME in his 12 year career. He has NEVER suffered a major injury.

The best part of Manning’s game is his preparation and intelligence. He continually knows where all the defenders are on every play, and on passing plays seems to know where the pressure is coming from. From there, he moves well in the pocket to avoid direct hits. He has been sacked only 10 times this season and 215 times in his career.

I have not witnessed every game the Colts have played, but I have never seen Manning take a huge hit where you think he might be hurt and miss a game.

Back in 1972 (and in prior NFL seasons), the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly divisional rotation, excluding the wild card teams who would always play on the road. Therefore, in their undefeated season of 1972, the AFC Championship game was already predetermined and the Dolphins, despite their perfect record, did not host the AFC title game. That game was played in Pittsburgh.

That means while the Dolphins held the overall best record, they were not playing late in the season for playoff positioning. At the end of the regular season, they did what Herman Edwards stated so eloquently – “You play to win the game!”

And with no playoff positioning to attain, the 1972 Dolphins played the final six regular season games for an opportunity at a perfect season. (I said the last six games because the next best record in the AFC East was the New York Jets at 7-7).

In the last few weeks starting QB Earl Morrall played most of the games, as did running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris plus star wide receiver Paul Warfield. The veteran Morrall was the starter the last nine weeks after Bob Griese broke his ankle in Week 5.

Morrall was only removed from the final few games after the game was well in hand. Reserve QB Jim Del Gaizo came in for mop up duty in Week 12 and Griese, back from his injury, came in late in Week 14. The Dolphins wanted to make history and they achieved their goal, a perfect 17-0 record and the franchises first Super Bowl victory.

The 1972 Dolphins players could have used the baby, sorry I mean safety time off like the 2009 Colts received, even more than the Colts needed. The Colts have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and get a first round bye. The 1972 Dolphins did not have a bye and played the first playoff game the following week.

In the 2007 and 2005 seasons with a first round playoff bye wrapped up, the Colts also rested their players (especially Manning) the final week, essentially giving him TWO consecutive weeks off. They proceeded to lose their first round games. In 2005 the Colts began the season 13-0 before losing versus San Diego. They mailed in the next game as Manning only played a half, and won the final game without Manning playing. The best and most important player in the league therefore had almost three weeks off from competitive football. Last season, Manning sat for most of their final game and lost against the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the playoffs.

I like Peyton Manning. He is a superstar player who always tries to perfect his craft. He watches an ungodly amount of film to learn all he can about his opponent, and based upon his overall 117-59 (now 60) record, he learns very well.

He stays out of the public eye off the field and appears to be the all around type guy you would want your son to emulate.

But I really am now rooting for the Indianapolis Colts to lose their first playoff game three weeks from now. You absolutely know now after today’s loss that Manning and his starters will sit most of the game next week, too. I want the Colts to lose to teach them about the shot at history then gave up on.

One of the best parts of sports is the history. While the Dolphins are the only undefeated NFL team since the Super Bowl era began, there have been other teams which have knocked on the door.

As recently as 2008, the New England Patriots played all their starters the last several games of the season and came one miracle play from an undefeated 19-0 season. Their final regular season game against the Giants was a classic game with both teams, knowing what was at stake, going all out.

The 1984 San Francisco 49ers team went 15-1 in the regular season and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs by week 13. Starting QB Joe Montana started every game at the end and was never pulled from a game until the game was out of reach. In Week 16 he started and played the entire game in a 19-16 victory over the Los Angels Rams. They went on to go 18-1 and won the Super Bowl.

A year later, the 1985 Chicago Bears had home field wrapped up by Week 14, and their starters Jim McMahon and Walter Payton both played every game down the stretch, even a 37-17 Week 16 dismantling of the Detroit Lions. They ended up similar to the 49ers at 18-1 and Super Bowl Champions.

But unlike their predecessors the Colts mailed it in today, relinquishing their chance at history to save a few plays from one of their stars getting hurt. With almost 19 minutes left in the game and the lead, Manning would likely have thrown the ball maybe 12-15 more times. That is 12-15 drop backs and possible chances at injury. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

An injury which would never occur. As I mentioned earlier, Manning has been sacked 215 times in his career and has never missed a game. And make no mistake about it, even though other starters like Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark were pulled early, this was about Manning.

Decades after they played the great football teams are looked upon on how many championships they won. The 1960’s Packers won a few NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. The 1970’s Cowboys finally got the monkey off their back and won two Super Bowl titles themselves.

Those Cowboys beat the Dolphins once, then the Fish won their back-to-back Super Bowls. Both those teams lost AFC Championship games and Super Bowls to the great 1970’s Steelers teams, which won four Super Bowls and are considered one of the greatest NFL dynasties.

Then the 1980’s San Francisco 49ers won their run of Super Bowls, the 1990’s Cowboys won their three and this decades New England Patriots won their three.

While the Colts have amassed an amazing amount of regular season wins during the Manning era, they are only 7-8 in playoff games. They have an amazing six one and dones where they lost their first playoff game of a post season.

The Colts have constantly sat their starter, but particularly Manning the last game of the season many times and only once, in 2004, have the Colts won their first game of the playoffs. But that was with no bye in the first round, and it was against the same team (the Denver Broncos) they lost to that final week.

Manning has only reached the AFC Championship game TWICE in his storied career, losing to the Patriots in 2003 before winning the Super Bowl in 2006.

It is no coincidence that in both those seasons, Manning was forced to play that final week of the regular season, then the next week in the playoffs.

But this first year new coach Jim Caldwell (probably under the direction of President Bill Polian) went against what history has dictated to this franchise, that when Peyton plays late in the season, they win in the playoffs.

Now that Peyton was sat to avoid a non-existent injury and the Colts cheated their fans and the NFL at a shot at history, I hope that the Colts lose again.

Three weeks from now in the first round of the playoffs.

Marion Barber is NOT a NFL starting Running Back

December 15, 2009

During yesterday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, the Dallas Cowboys ran the ball all day long, including for big chunks of yardage on two different drives. The first drive was in the second quarter, when the Cowboys ran the ball 14 times on a 15 play drive, culminating in a game deciding goal line stand.

Second year tailback Felix Jones was superb on that drive (5 rushes for 37 yards), but curiously did not get the ball on any of the plays inside the four yard line when the Cowboys had a first and goal. Marion Barber got the call four straight times and was unable to penetrate the Charger defense for the score. A touchdown there and Dallas would have tied the game at 10-10 heading into halftime.

The second drive came in the 3rd quarter, when the Cowboys went 99 yards and finally reached the end zone. All season long, the Cowboys have been real good at piling up yardage, but have not turned many of those drives into scores. That long drive was helped by some nice runs by Barber and Jones.

While Barber had been effective in both of those drives, and had similar numbers to Jones. But what does not show up in the stats was Barber’s inability to consistently elude tacklers at the point of attack, and his lack of speed when he bumps runs outside. 

Most of Barber’s successful runs are up the middle, and if a running hole is there, Barber can get good yardage. But he rarely turns the corner any more, evidenced by the no gain he had in the first drive, when he turned a stalled run outside but was upended near the sidelines by the safety. A season or two ago, Barber used to be able to turn that corner and bull his way for a few more yards.That is not the case anymore.

When Barber was his most effective two and three seasons ago, Julius Jones was the starter, with Barber getting an occasional play or two, many times a screen pass which he gained chunks of yardage. Barber would then come in middle of the third to fourth quarter and with his punishing style of running (and fresh legs) would chew up the tired defenses for big gains. Whether the Cowboys were winning or losing this was the M.O., but Barber was even more effective with a Cowboy lead.Barber was the “closer” and was footballs equivalent to Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. When Barber came into the game as the lead back with the Cowboys ahead, they were almost always assured a victory.But Barber is not a lead back, especially with two seasons on those used to be fresh legs. All those instances of running over defenders getting the extra couple of yards have taken their toll.

The Cowboys have had their share of tremendous running backs. Emmitt Smith, Duane Thomas and Tony Dorsett were three of the best. Many people back in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s used to say Dorsett was “tough enough” as he usually slid out of bounds after gaining yardage, instead of taking on a hit. But because of his style of running, Dorsett was able to last 11 years and gain 12,739 yards, including eight seasons over 1,000.Barber will likely not make it another couple seasons, as those type of backs fizzle out quickly once the legs go and little injuries mount. If the Cowboys want to extend Marion’s usage and get more from him (both in terms of seasons and production), they need to start Felix Jones the next three games. Use 2009’s Jones/Barber tandem similar to how the 2006-07 Jones/Barber tandem was used. Start Jones and close with Barber.

Felix is a much more dynamic rusher and play maker and needs to be used more often. He needs to touch the ball at least 25 times from scrimmage this Saturday night against New Orleans. His speed and game breaking skills are exactly what the Cowboys need to open up a statistically successful, but stagnant scoring offense. He has three runs of 40 yards or more this season, averages 6.2 yards per carry in 2009 and 7.0 yards per carry over his first two seasons!

Mix in a little Tashard Choice also, but Jones and Choice (not Barber) should be given the majority of snaps for the first 40 minutes.

And when Jones begins to make big plays during the course of the game and the Cowboys finally have a late game lead, that is the time for Marion the Barbarian to do his thing.

Minnesota Twins – Vikings Home Field Situation

September 21, 2009

If the Minnesota Twins come back from their current three games deficit to tie the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central division, they must have a single game playoff. That playoff game will be held at the HomerDome in Minnesota.

This is key for two reasons. One, Detroit finds the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to be a horrific place to play, and the Tigers would be at a distinct disadvantage by having to play there.

Two, the night that this game is proposed, Monday, October 5th has already a game scheduled. It is the Monday Night Football Game between the Green Bay Packers at the Minnesota Vikings.

Brett Favre playing against his old team, the Packers, for the first time.

Bu the NFL is being a tad strict as they have said they will not switch home sites and move the game out of Minnesota. The NFL and MLB have butted heads for awhile, primarily over the Sunday night telecasts. ESPN has televised the Sunday night baseball game since 1990, and in 1998 ESPN also garnered the Sunday night football package.

During a game on September 20, 1998 to be played between the Baltimore Orioles (they were good back then) and New York Yankees, ESPN sought permission from MLB to move the baseball game to ESPN2 so the NFL game could be on ESPN. The station wanted the higher rated football game to be broadcast on ESPN, which had a larger audience then because that channel was in more homes.

MLB refused, and the baseball game was played on ESPN with the NFL game taking a back seat. This was also the first baseball game in 2,632 contests that Cal Ripken, Jr. did not play.

Not until 2000 did MLB give permission for ESPN to switch games, but by then it was too late. The seeds of bitterness have been sown.

Now, if the Twins tie for the division title, why can’t the game be played during the day? First, the ball is impossible to see during the day, evidenced by the lost fly ball this past Saturday which helped the Twins win that game.  During the day, it is worse, as the sun reflects off the teflon outer shell, making the inside dome the same color as the baseball. If a fielder is not used to the ceiling there, it can be major trouble.

Also, the game if played during the day could not even finish. The field crew at the Metrodome needs time to convert the facility from baseball to football. The Twins have already had a 2004 game stopped in the 11th inning because the field needed to be converted for a University of Minnesota football game.

Imagine Justin Verlander on the mound Monday afternoon on October 5th, and forced to stop pitching because of a time limit on the game?

An easier solution might be for the NFL to move the Monday night game to Sunday night, and have the scheduled Sunday night game that weekend between the San Diego Chargers at the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to Monday night.

Night games are basically the same whether they are Sunday night or Monday night. It is just the announcers who are different*.

* Although he missed much of the game in his later years, and wasn’t as sharp as an analyst, I truly miss John Madden in the booth with Al Michaels. Cris Collingsworth doesn’t do it for me. I think it is Madden’s booming voice that I am so used to, and now realize I will not hear again.

But that idea seems too sensible, especially with the bitterness that seems to still exist between the two leagues, brought on initially by MLB.


Why Are Denver Broncos Fans Hating Jay Cutler?

September 1, 2009

The signs were everywhere Sunday night in Denver. Crybaby was the common theme – all heaped upon new Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler.

When Cutler found out that new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniel tried (and failed) to trade for New England Patriots QB Matt Cassel, Cutler threw a fit and wanted out of Denver. He obviously did not want to be at a place where the head coach was not on the same page with this QB.

One of the best Cutler signs said, “There’s no ‘Jay’ in team.” But from the looks of Sunday night’s game, Cutler is every bit the team player.

Cutler got his wish, was traded to Chicago, and the Bears look really good, and the Broncos looked bad, like the mid 1960’s to late 1970’s pre- John Elway Broncos.

Which is quite ironic how the Broncos fans were calling Cutler a cry baby, because the player Bronco fans revere the most. The man who won them two Super Bowls, was himself a crybaby.

Crying over the fact that the Baltimore Colts had taken Elway first overall in the 1983 draft. Elway didn’t want to play for the Colts and told everyone he would never sign. Eventually, the Colts traded his rights to Denver for QB Mark Herrmann, the rights to OL Chris Hinton and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft, which turned out to be OG Ron Solt.

Both sides came away OK with the deal, with the Colts breathing a sigh of relief as they thought they would get nothing for the crybaby Elway.

But the Baltimore area received a more unnerving shock when in March 1984, under the cover of darkness, owner Bob Irsay moved the team to Indianapolis and out of Baltimore.

Something funny about Cutler playing in Denver this pre-season. When Elway cried his way out of Baltimore, he went back to Baltimore as Broncos QB in Game 2 of that 1983 season, and, as one could expect, was roundly booed. The game wasn’t pretty for Elway, but the Broncos won.

In this August 26, 2009 interview (just two days before Cutler was to play in Denver), Elway states that Cutler would probably not be ill received, as he relates his own coming back home party: “It was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had; going back into Baltimore. But I think the difference is they are coming back here in a preseason game whereas we went back there the second game of the regular season,” Elway said. “Plus I think that Broncos fans probably have a little bit more class than the Colts fans did.”

Based upon the Sunday night reaction by the Denver fans, they obviously do not.