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According to Carp

Rick Carpiniello's world of sports

Archive for September, 2007

Willie’s back?

September
30

Omar Minaya, the general manager of one of the greatest regular-season collapses in baseball history, was standing against a wall this afternoon following the Mets’ elimination, saying he didn’t believe a major overhaul was needed, that any changes have to make sense.

And he gave Willie Randolph a vote of confidence.

“I look at the body of work Willie has done here, not one year,� Minaya said. “I look at the body of work Willie has done in three years. Willie has done a good job and I will tell that to manegement.�

He tipped his cap to the Phillies, and even suggested that writers vote for Jimmy Rollins as the NL’s MVP.

It was Rollins who said the Phillies were the team to beat, which caused an uproar around here. The Phillies started 4-12. The Mets closed 5-12.

I asked him about the emotions of this weekend.

“It was a roller coaster,� Minaya said after Game 162, after the historic collapse — a seven-game lead with 17 to play; a two-and-a-half game lead heading into the seven-game closing homestand — was complete.

“On Friday, you lose that game and you’re behind for the first time and then you come in here Saturday and you get that window. That’s all I kept saying: ‘Give us a window. If we can get a window and play home,’ I though we can do it. Then you go to the first inning and those things and it’s just really a roller coaster.�

Today would have been the low point no matter how the Mets lost — unless the Washington Nationals beat the Phillies and gave them an underserved mulligan.

It would have been rock bottom regardless of which way the Mets were eliminated.
But they found a way that was a few layers below rock bottom.

Glavine, as previously stated, was horrible. And even Jose Reyes got booed, after finishing the season 5-for-41 without a stolen base the last 15 games, and failing to run out a grounder Friday then running half-speed on his final groundout today.

Guess Mets fans no longer feel they wouldn’t trade him for Derek Jeter, huh?

Posted by Carp on Sunday, September 30th, 2007 at 7:16 pm |
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Glavine goodbye

September
30

How about that third of an inning by Tom Glavine?

Seven runs in on five hits, two walks, a hit batter (pitcher Dontrelle Willis, with the bases loaded) and booed off the mound in a worst-case scenario for the Mets.

If this is his last game as a Met, and it probably is, will he be remembered the way Kevin Brown is in the Bronx?

Too bad, for a good guy who saved his worst for last.

Posted by Carp on Sunday, September 30th, 2007 at 1:35 pm |
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Rye 27, Harrison 7

September
29

Somebody please tell me again why adults, administrators, decided in 2004 that it was OK if Rye and Harrison didn’t play football against each other.

Once again, today was proof that this really is THE GAME in this area if not the state. Rye won 27-7, scoring four touchdowns from the middle of the third quarter on, after being down 7-0.

Once again, the crowd was huge — no idea if it was 7,000 or 8,000 or more, but all the bleachers were full and people circled the entire field four, five, six deep. Probably more people at this game than most schools draw for their entire schedule.

And it was possibly the final game at Harrison’s Eugene Feeley Field, with the team set to move into its new digs, the artificial turf field at the high school up the street — although it remains to be seen if that field can handle a large crowd (doubtful) and all the cars (it can’t).

For Rye, which turned the game around when it got two big bounces on one play — a Rye punt that rolled all the way to the Harrison 10, first grazing the leg of a Huskies player before being covered by the Garnets — it marks another major milestone in an incredible five-year streak.

The Garnets, for the first time ever, have beaten Harrison five straight times. That includes the 2003 playoff semifinal, and it includes the dreadful 2004 season when it was decided they wouldn’t play the Huskies because of some dumb playoff-seeding system.

They have won 42 consecutive games against Section 1 teams. They are 50-3 with three trips to the state championship game, four Section 1 championships, one state title, and losses only to Chenango Forks (twice in the championship game) and to Albany Academy (in last year’s state semifinal) in four-plus seasons.

And it isn’t as if Rye is beating the Huskies when they’re down. Harrison won the last two Section 1 Class A titles, and was a one-point loser in the championship game the year before that.

Guess that means they can finally stop verbally stomping that Dino Garr can’t beat Harrison.

Posted by Carp on Saturday, September 29th, 2007 at 7:14 pm |
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Amazin’ Mets

September
28

This is incredible. Amazin’.

I truly expected the Mets to pull out of this thing, even after last night, when their debacle and Philadelphia’s win left the teams dead even with three games left.

I still do, for some reason, although I don’t know why.

But tonight, this is amazin’. I don’t recall a team ever looking so tight, so nervous. OK, maybe the Red Sox in 1978 … but the Sox pulled out of that and won their last eight or nine games to force the playoff game. Maybe the Yankees in Games 6 and 7 of the ’04 ALCS.

And I’m not one who believes, generally, that poor play equates to lack of try or lack of emotion or anything else intangible. But the Mets tonight, from David Wright’s mindless play on a hopper to third, to Oliver Perez’s three hit batsmen (question: why is a batter only a batsman when he gets hit by a pitch?) look as if their heads are just loaded with doubt and dread and fear.

That’s no way to win. Again, all it’s going to take is one good inning offensively to turn into one victory, and the Mets can still win this thing, or at worst get to Philadelphia for a playoff game Monday.

Ya gotta believe that, don’t you? At this point, maybe not.

PS, it always helps to have Gas Can Kim on the mound for the opponent.

Posted by Carp on Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 8:12 pm |
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Miracle League

September
26

Hi. Just got back from vacation on the Cape and finished up a column on The Miracle League for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow.

For those unfamiliar, this is a league popping up all over the country for disabled kids. It’s not Special Olympics or anything like that. This is a baseball league for kids who really can’t do much, who need “buddies” — volunteers assigned to each kid, to help them swing the bat and help them get around the bases whether in a wheelchair or with a walker or any other device.

They play on a rubber field paid for entirely by Westchester County — believed to be the first government to get involved in Miracle League; most are privately funded, some by major-league baseball teams.

The column is about how Steve Madey, who has worked his entire life with the disabled, and who was the commissioner of the Westchester-Rockland Wood Bat league (and is a high school/college umpire) learned about the Miracle League in Atlanta. He approached a player in his league, Marty Rogowsky, who is the majority leader in the Westchester legislature. They took it to the County Parks Department and Joe Stout and Peter Neglia. They took it to County Executive Andrew Spano. Within a four-minute video presentation, Spano gave it a thumbs-up

Within nine months, the $525,000 field in Hartsdale was completed.

Now they all tell about how tears well up in their eyes when they go to games. I spoke to them, and to some of the board members, and to some parents, and it truly is a wonderful thing, this league.

To see the field, check out the Web site mlwny.org. We will also have video on RNN, and on LoHud.com. To help, contact Madey at smadey@optonline.net. The next big fund raiser is a Nov. 3 black-tie dinner at the Rye Town Hilton, a reasonable $250 a plate.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 8:31 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Numbers game

September
13

It was like old times for me, being back at the opening of Rangers training camp today at their practice facility in Greenburgh — although in the old days they used to train at places like Glens Falls and Burlington.

I wrote a column for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow about the idea that these Rangers have a legit championship shot, and that hasn’t happened very often since 1994, or since 1940 for that matter. And also that Jaromir Jagr is running out of chances, and that since he is much healthier this year than last, he could be the reason for the Rangers’ improvement more than any other player.

Anyway, Chris Drury won a coin flip for uniform No. 23, which both he and Scott Gomez — the team’s two marquee free-agent signings this summer — wore for their respective teams last year.

Drury won the flip, of course, some of us said, because Drury wins everything — Little League World Series, Stanley Cup, Hobey Baker, all that stuff.

So what number is Gomez wearing?

“Ninety-nine,” he said.

“It was that or 11.”

Gomez said he grew up wearing No. 11 and No. 19 as a kid, and the Devils assigned him No. 23. He told Drury he could have it, being the older of the two, which prompted Drury to suggest the coin flip (reportedly flipped by Glen Sather).

“I don’t think it would be that smart to (try to) get 11,” Gomez said.

He also said that he spoke with Brian Leetch and joked about the availability of No. 2, which is going to the rafters next to No. 11 on Jan. 24, and that Leetch laughed.

Blair Betts agreed to give up his No. 19 to Gomez, who donated $10,000 to Betts’ favorite charity.

So why 19? Because Gomez’s dad was a San Diego sports fan, and Gomez always admired Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Famer and one of the best hitters ever. He later admired No. 19s Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic.

Guess why Drury, a Connecticut kid, wears 23. Yup, for Don Mattingly.

Drury noted that both were fabulous hitters, both lefties.

“And both should be in the Hall of Fame,” he said.

Posted by Carp on Thursday, September 13th, 2007 at 10:01 pm |
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Beli-cheat

September
12

So I’m trying to figure out what sherriff Goodell is going to do to the I-Spy coach of the Patriots.

I’ve been reading in other places that the NFL commish should make the Jets and Patriots play over again. And I’m wondering if that’s punishing the Patriots or the Jets.
Granted, without cheating, perhaps the Jets might have gotten to Tom Brady once, and perhaps Thomas Jones might have broken off one run (incidentally, he pretty much embarrassed himself when he finally had that 12-yarder and he celebrated as if he just tied the all-time rushing record). But cheating didn’t have much to do with the linemen of the Pats manhandling their Jets counterparts.

Still, Roger Goodell is punishing wrong-doers, so he has to come down hard on Bill Belichick.

Here are a couple of suggestions for the punishment, in addition to a fine, a suspension and a few forfeited draft picks:

Make him wear a suit and tie during games.

Make him hug Eric Mangini after every Jets-Pats game, with both arms.

Make him spend his non-football hours at home, with his wife.

Make him use the Detroit Lions’ playbook.

Make him hold long press conferences where he actually has to answer the questions honestly.

Anybody got any others?

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 at 8:51 pm |
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Six years ago …

September
11

Pardon me if I’ve told this story before.

I was in a Starbucks a block from Madison Square Garden on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. A young guy came running in, swearing, acting like a maniac, hollering about a plane that had hit the World Trade Center.

Somebody in the shop said he’d heard it was a small plane, and an accident. The guy who had come in screaming said, no, they’re saying it was a terrorist.

I had taken a train into the city that day, was somewhere en route to Grand Central when the first plane struck. I left Starbucks and immediately saw the skyscraper across 34th Street from the Garden being evacuated.

Holy crap! What is going o?. Sirens were deafening. Police cars, fire trucks and amublances were speeding downtown. I went into the Garden and up to the pressroom and turned on a TV. There was the fire high on one of the towers. I didn’t know which one it was, or anything else, other than this was a nightmare.

The Rangers had always trained in Burlington, Vt., in previous years. This year, having missed the playoffs so many years in a row, they were extending an olive branch to their fans. They were going to train in the city and open their scrimmages to the public. The plan was to have some sessions at Chelsea Piers, and the plan was for the team to stay at the World Trade Center Marriott.

Those plans fell through. So the Rangers were at another hotel when the first plane hit, preparing to make the short walk to the Garden for phyiscals.

Then the second plane hit. Then the Pentagon was hit. Then the towers fell, one, then the other. I saw the second tower crumble with my own eyes, and I still have trouble breathing when I see a puff of smoke near a skyline.

Many of the Rangers lost friends and relatives in the attack, as did I, and many of you.

I will never forget the way the Rangers handled themselves, how they went downtown and helped, visited firehouses, visited Ground Zero, and unlike other sports teams in the city, they did so without reporters, without cameras, without photo ops.

I will never forget that the Rangers — one of two teams that actually play their games in Manhattan — played the first pro sports events after the disaster. The first was a preseason game in Detroit, and we were allowed to fly on the team charter for that one since there were almost no commercial flights anywhere. I remember banking out of Westchester Airport and over the city, where you could still see smoke and fires days after the attacks. I remember cursing and crying as we looked out the tiny windows of the jet, and I wasn’t the only one.

I remember the way the Detroit fans cheered the Rangers, a symbolic nod of sympathy for and togetherness with New York.

Until that day six years ago, the most unforgettable thing I’d ever seen was the ticker-tape parade in June of 1994.

Posted by Carp on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007 at 9:55 pm |
| | 5 Comments »

Jets crisis … already

September
9

If the Jets had simply lost, simply been blown out by the Patriots today, and started the season 0-1, there’d be enough hysteria in the Meadowlands and at Hofstra and all over Green-ville.

But that they lost, and were manhandled, and now face an uncertain immediate future for quarterback Chad Pennnington, well, that’s a legit early crisis.

Pennington’s not Tom Brady, but he’s all the Jets have got.

Pennington sure doesn’t have Brady’s arm, or Brady’s rings, or Brady’s arsenal.
But he is as important to the Jets as Brady is to the Patriots. So it was as painful for Green Nation to watch as it was for Pennington to endure as the quarterback got smoked on a blitz by New England’s Jarvis Green, to watch him stay down for a while, then get up limping and go down again, and get up and go down one more time, like a wounded animal. Finally Pennington hopped off the field on one leg, his right ankle dangling, and with two hands on his facemask he slammed his helmet into the turf at Giants Stadium.

This isn’t a crybaby quarterback we’re talking about. This is a guy tough as they come.

But this is also a guy who has proven injury prone, and whose injuries have cost the Jets and their long-sufferers entire seasons. When he has remained healthy (three seasons), Pennington has gotten the Jets into the playoffs every year.

He came back, limping and heavily taped, to lead a touchdown drive (with a QB sneak on one leg).

That doesn’t mean he’s OK for next week or beyond.

“I have no idea,� Pennington said. “The doctors are taking a look at it. I’m sure I’ll see them frequently this week and we’ll see what happens.

“I’ve never really had a lower leg injury (that’s Mangini-speak) before, so I was just trying to walk it off. I’m not going to lay there, I know that. I’m going to walk off the field and get it looked at and get back in the game, which I was able to do.�
Was that foolish, down 28-7 in the middle of the third quarter against one of the better teams on the planet?

“I have a lot of respect for this game,� Pennington said. “I don’t make my decision on looking into the future. I make my decision on the present and whether or not I can help my team at that time. And I felt like I could help my team, and we were able to go down and score.�

He finally pulled himself out after a 10:28 field-goal drive that put the Pats three scores up, knowing they’d be “pinning their ears back” and coming at him, and that he’d be a “sitting duck.”

We have to wait to find out if he’ll be a sitting or standing QB next week in Baltimore, or beyond.

Posted by Carp on Sunday, September 9th, 2007 at 7:24 pm |
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Fix the FedEx

September
1

I heard on TV today that PGA Tour commish Tim Finchem said that there will be some tinkering done with the FedEx Cup playoffs after year one, that it’s a work in progress.

It’s good that he’s open minded about it. Because it needs work. A lot of work, perhaps.

You know what? They can’t be playoffs if the best performers in the playoffs are eliminated.

Rich Beem, who played so well at Westchester and so far this weekend, needs to finish in the top two this week in Boston, or he’s out. Meanwhile, guys skip a week — Tiger, Ernei Els, K.J. Choi — and remain alive.

If these are going to be playoffs, then everybody ought to start at zero at the end of the season, and everybody should have to compete each week. As it is, Tiger can skip a week and not win a single playoff event and still walk off with the $10 million annuity.

The best players in the playoffs should advance, the worst go home. Anybody who makes the playoffs should be able to win it all. It makes no sense in the comparison to any other sport to have a playoff where some participants have no chance to win, even if they play better than the other participants.

Also, it would help if they used smaller numbers instead of starting at 100,000. Then the math wouldn’t be so daunting. How about this: First week, 130 players, winner gets 130 points, second gets 129, last 1? Second week, 70 players. Winner gets 140 points, second 138, last 1?

Want to weigh it a little more heavily on winning, in other words, reward winners with a more hefty pile of points. No problem there. If the playoffs are going to be tournaments, then it stands to reason that the winner of a tournament ought to take the biggest heist of reward points.

As it is, these aren’t playoffs at all. These are four contrived tournaments set up in a point system that doesn’t necessarily reward players who perform well in the playoffs.

Posted by Carp on Saturday, September 1st, 2007 at 10:22 pm |
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About this blog
Rick Carpiniello is a sports columnist for The Journal News and LoHud.com. His blog will encompass the world of sports, from Pee Wees to the Super Bowl in a style that can be serious, sarcastic or even silly, and on which encourages feedback from its readers on any and all sports-related topics.
About the author
Rick CarpinielloRick Carpiniello For more than 20 years he covered the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League. Carpiniello has been writing columns on everything from local sports to the big leagues since 2002. READ MORE

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