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According to Carp

Rick Carpiniello's world of sports

Archive for December, 2007

Happy New Year

December
31

Sitting here waiting to see if Disney takes us on that usual lame ride for Dick Clark’s midnight celebration — you know the one where they immediately cut to Disney in California where people are celebrating and ringing in 9 p.m. local time.

Anyway, speaking of lame, you can pretty much predict that some people are already waiting to see which cause/effect angle they will take on the Giants and the Buccaneers next Sunday.

If the Giants win, it will be because they didn’t sit out their regulars, because they played hard in their season finale against New England.

If the Giants lose, it will be because they didn’t sit out their regulars, because they played hard in their season finale against New England.

Likewise, in Tampa, the Bucs will win or lose because they did rest their regulars and didn’t play hard in the last game of the season.

Lame. Lame. Lame.

I’m going to be in Tampa next weekend, so check back here for some Giants-Bucs related blogging and such. In the meantime, Happy 2008! Or, in Cali, Happy 9 p.m.

Posted by Carp on Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 11:17 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

Pat ’em down

December
29

So tonight this ridiculous debate ends.

Will the Giants play to win, or will they use this as a bye week to get ready for Tampa and a live playoff game next week? Is a chance at history more important than a first-round wild-card playoff game? Which would be more remembered?

It’s silly, all of it.

There is only one way for the Giants to play tonight against the history-bound Patriots. They must try to win. They must use the chance of beating an undefeated team, of spoiling its perfect season, of being remembered as the team that hung the blemish on New England, as motivation.

And with that, Tom Coughlin needs to keep in mind that he has a playoff game next week. So if Brandon Jacobs or Plaxico Burress hobbles, they sit down. And if New England starts to pull away, Eli Manning and Co. sit down. If they end up getting beat 52-10, so be it.

But if they start out with the mindset that, oh well, we’re going to try to win but not get hurt, then they will lose. If they try to play with the idea that this game doesn’t really matter, it’s a nuisance game, then they will lose big and they will risk injury. Have you ever seen teams playing games that don’t count, with nothing at stake? They usually lose, often big. I’ve seen it at the high school level for several years, since they started giving out these consolation bowl berths to teams that lose in the early rounds of the playoffs. Often the better team gets wiped out, because the game doesn’t mean anything to them.

Competitors can’t play that way. So the Giants need to be pumped up about this, and that has had to have been cultivated throughout the week. If they try to get pumped tonight, it will be too late.

New England will be pumped, and this might be the Patriots’ easiest game of the year on the brain, knowing that there is nothing at stake other than the perfect record. A loss doesn’t send them home. A loss might even make them meaner and more ornery for the playoffs. People say there’s pressure on the Pats and none on the Giants. I disagree. I think this is a no-pressure game for both teams.

So if Coughlin really wants to take a run at New England, tonight is a night for onside kicks, flea-flickers, fake punts, double-reverses, hook-and-ladders. Empty the whole trick-play book. What have you got to lose? Nothing. Plus, it can’t hurt to have Tampa scouting you as you pull rabbits out of your hat, planting seeds for next week.

But if the Giants go into this game thinking, well, we’re going to try to win, but we’re going to try to not get hurt, or we’re not going to use too much energy, or we’re only going to play the starters for a half … well, that’s just asking for 52-10. And 52-10 could happen whether they try or not, because the Patriots have a lot to say about it, and they are one of the best teams ever and the Giants are not.

Posted by Carp on Saturday, December 29th, 2007 at 1:07 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

County Center in December

December
28

A couple of thoughts on the Slam Dunk basketball tournament, which opened today and runs through Saturday.

First of all, you should see the new County Center, with new risers and seats steeped all the way up the stage, and new scoreboards (bought by The Journal News, no less; there goes my raise). The place will be awesome if they ever get a game worth filling it to the walls (4,200 capacity now).

Peekskill is loaded for bear again. The Red Devils beat Cardinal Hayes today, after being down by 14. Don’t know if you were in Glens Falls last March, but Hayes and Peekskill met for the Class A Federation of Champions championship. In that game, Peekskill mounted a big comeback, and with 3.1 seconds left and Hayes up by one Mookie Jones jumped on a loose ball to get a jump call. The possession arrow was going in Peekskill’s direction, or else they were done. Instead, Peekskill took a timeout and Jones hit a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to win the championship.

In another game, Port Chester nipped Stepinac (details on LoHud.com tomorrow), but it was easy to surmise two things. One, Port Chester is better than it was in the past few years, playing harder, smarter and more together. From what I understand, the Section 1 Class A championship is going to be very strong this year, and Peekskill should be challenged again.

Two, Stepinac’s Tony Taylor, who almost turned the game in the Crusaders’ favor in the last minute, is easily one of the top three players in the entire area, with Mookie Jones and Kevin Jones (who was in attendance) of Mount Vernon.

And, as White Plains beat St. Peter’s in the nightcap, once again the Tigers’ Rashad James proved he is perhaps the most electrifying, high-flying player in the area, a little guy who plays well above the rim and loves fast break dunks and alley-oops.

There was some news around the arena, too. Jeff Charney, the former Blind Brook and Port Chester coach, was named the coach at Purchase College. That hasn’t been announced by the college yet, but Charney ran his first practice today.

Posted by Carp on Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 12:04 am |
| | 1 Comment »

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Goose time?

December
26

Looks as if Goose Gossage might finally get into the Hall of Fame.

For those interested, ESPN’s Keith Law is tabulating an unofficial, running vote count on his blog at http://www.meadowparty.com/blog/?p=113 .

Gossage has been named on 45 of the 50 ballots (90 percent) Law has been able to uncover so far. Players need to receive 75 percent of the votes for induction. Bert Blyleven remains on the bubble at 70 percent, second most among voters tabbed so far. Andre Dawson and Jim Rice are both at 68 percent, Jack Morris at 50 percent and nobody else over 42 percent.

Players with fewer than five percent of the votes are dropped from next year’s and future ballots. Don Mattingly had received just one vote (2 percent) so far.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 at 5:56 pm |
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Rocket Claus

December
25

First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I hate to sound like Scrooge on a day like this, but I’m sorry, I am not buying Roger Clemens’ video defense any more than I’m buying the idea that my Starbucks giftcard under the tree came from the North Pole, delivered by a fat guy in a red suit who somehow got through my squirrel-proof chimney cap.

The thing is, with guys like Clemens and David Justice and all the other deniers who were outed in the Mitchell Report, they probably will never be proven to have used these drugs more than the investigation revealed. They weren’t tested for some of these drugs, some of these drugs are undetectable by testing, and the results of those tests aren’t available.

But the obvious question everybody raised to Clemens’ denial is this: If Brian McNamee told the truth about Andy Pettitte, why would he lie about Clemens? Why would he lie anyway, when all Sen. Mitchell and the feds asked him to do was cooperate and tell the truth? By the way, I’m not buying Pettitte’s story, either, that he used HGH only twice. The only reason he copped to two times is that McNamee said he used two times. It could have been three or a hundred for all we know. Pettitte’s reps were smart enough to know that it will not likely ever be proven he used more than twice.

Pettitte, though, obviously tossed Clemens under the train.

Now it’s time for Congress and the FBI and all the other investigating bodies to go to work, using the Mitchell report as a starting point, not as an end. If the government is serious about forcing baseball’s (and sports’) hands, there are plenty of leads out there. The report only opened the door slightly, and the Yankees were the unfortunate ones who were front and center. The fact that the two prime sources of information in the report came from the Yankees and Mets clubhouses shows only how deep this thing must really go, once sources are ratted out from other clubhouses.

Anyway, Clemens and Pettitte and Justice and everybody else named had the opportunity to give his side of the story to Mitchell, and declined.

Until the whole thing gets washed a lot cleaner, the only player I will believe never used steroids or HGH or whatever is Frank Thomas, who has long been outspoken against drug use, and who was the only major leaguer to voluntarily participate in the investigation. Big Hurt, you’re going on my Hall of Fame ballot the minute I get it, five years after you retire.

Posted by Carp on Tuesday, December 25th, 2007 at 2:29 pm |
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Going to the playoffs again

December
23

Still not sure what to make of the Giants. I don’t think they’re that good. And I think it’s fairly remarkable that Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin will have been to the playoffs three years in a row.

I mean, they looked so awful calling those two premature second-half timeouts, one in the third quarter, when Manning saw something he didn’t like. Then the one early in the fourth, when they came back from the timeout and lost the ball immediately, before it even got to Manning’s hands. They turn it over too much, way too much. And they look like they can’t get the ball to Plaxico Burress.

They were resilient and opportunistic, and they came up with big plays when they needed to have them, and the final score might make you forget all the pockmarks. Plus some of those can be forgiven because of the dreadful conditions.

Anyway, I’m wondering what the Giants do next week, with the Patriots going for 16-0. I mean, you can’t sit all 22 starters. But you definitely don’t want anybody getting dinged up or worse, and the game really doesn’t matter. I’m interested to see how much it matters to the Pats, too. I imagine they’ll try to fly to a nice lead and coast, ideally, resting guys late in the game.

I also wonder what we should make of 16-0 if it happens, or if we need to wait until it gets to 17-0 (Miami’s NFL record) and 18-0 before it truly is a big deal. I wonder what the pressure will be like on the Patriots to enter the playoffs undefeated, and what it will be like as they advance, and what ultimately it will weigh by the Super Bowl, if they get there.

To tell you the truth, they would probably be better off going into the postseason 15-1 and ticked off. But I’m sure they want that 0 at the end of their record and they’re going to try to get it, and if the Giants are in it at the end, they will have Brady throwing to Moss with all the starters in the game.

Posted by Carp on Sunday, December 23rd, 2007 at 9:05 pm |
| | 104 Comments »

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Flying Gaels

December
22

Stopped at Iona today to see the Gaels beat Western Michigan 67-62, their fifth win in the last six games … a streak that was almost unfathomable considering last year’s 2-28 record and this year’s 0-6 start.

Maybe they’ve got something going over there under new coach (former Louisville assistant) Kevin Willard, who, as Mount Vernon senior Dexter Gray said, has one rule: You play defense or you don’t play. The Gaels defended, rebounded, hustled and worked awfully hard, very well, against a team that came in much better than its own 5-6 record. WMU had played two ranked opponents and a very strong mid-major schedule, and Willard said it was the toughest team, easily, that the Gaels had played other than North Carolina.

Iona finally has Gary Springer back for his junior season — he missed all of last year with a preseason knee injury, and the start of this season with an ankle sprain. It has Gray, who sat out after transferring from St. John’s then sat out again with academic problems he has solved. It has Kyle Camper, who was counted on to do big things last year and was injured. There were plenty of times last year when Iona had only seven players in uniform, and when it had four or five walk-ons on the floor at the same time. It had also been stripped bare by the graduation of five senior starters from the MAAC championship team the year before.

So, if coach Jeff Ruland — who was bought out at the end of the season — had done a fabulous job, the Gaels would have been what, 6-24? 8-22?

Now comes Willard, who told the team the day after his introductory press conference that he had studied the rest of the MAAC and that, if the Gaels wanted it badly enough, they could win it this year. It seemed like a pipe dream. But Iona has already beaten Loyola, which was considered one of the top two teams in the league.

The Gaels hit Louisville and then Vanderbilt for a post-Christmas trip, and come home for another MAAC power, Niagara, then go to Loyola for a rematch. This is a stretch that will tell a lot about how real this team is — but don’t judge it by the record (there ain’t much chance of winning in Louisville, is there?). Judge it by how they play, and how it prepares them for the league season.

As for the future, the Gaels got a verbal committment from point guard Trinity Fields of Cardozo High in Queens today. They have already signed Keon Williams of Hackensack High and Kyle Smyth of Don Bosco Prep, and they have three players sitting out this year ready to play in ’08-09: Seton Hall transfer Kashif Pratt (a 6-4 guard out of Rice), Louisville transfer Jonathan Huffman (a seven-footer) and injured Alejo Rodriguez.

I wrote a column about the Gaels and how this season is so different than last season, for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow.

Posted by Carp on Saturday, December 22nd, 2007 at 11:26 pm |
| | 15 Comments »

Smilin’ Isiah

December
20

It’s rather remarkable, isn’t it, that the Knicks’ best performance of the year is a game in which Stephon Marbury doesn’t play, and Eddy Curry plays only 16:25? Isiah Thomas’s two most significant acquisitions sit, and the Knicks blow out the Cavaliers (or more accurately, LeBron James and four other guys).

So I went over to the Knicks practice today, and found out that Marbury is still really struggling with his father’s death and that he won’t make the trip to Charlotte.

But also, I watched intently as Thomas smiled his way through another press briefing. The first question was, “How does it feel to be answering basketball questions again?” And Thomas smiled and said he was thinking the same thing. Then a few minutes went by and somebody asked him out of the blue how he’d characterize his relationship with Garden exec Steve Mills. “So much for the basketball questions,” Thomas cracked, before answering the question, that he thinks the relationship is “good.”

Why is this man smiling? Is he a fool? No sir. He’s a smart guy. Is he delusional? Perhaps? Is he as tough as they come. You bet.

I wrote a column for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow about how this guy is handling being on Isiah Watch, even if I personally don’t believe Jim Dolan is even close to opening the trap door under his GM/coach, not as long as Dolan gets his one win every once in a while and believes Thomas when he tells him that the Knicks are close.

Posted by Carp on Thursday, December 20th, 2007 at 7:40 pm |
| | 104 Comments »

No I in team, but a W and an E in Wrestling.

December
19

This wrestling tournament going on this past week, and through Saturday — the first Section 1 Dual-Meet championship — is about teams and it is about Section 1 taking  a step toward being more competitive on the state level.

In the works for about eight years, the dual-meet tournament gives participating wrestlers three more (minimum) matches than the state allows, because this event doesn’t count against that total.

More, it leads to a sense of team-bonding as wrestling teams go through a unique event — unique for this sport, but quite similar to the bracket-style tournaments in other sports such as basketball. Teams wrestle against other teams, the winner goes on to face the next team.

You don’t get that in other events. Dual meets are one-day affairs and their outcomes don’t really matter except for league titles and such. The tournaments in which most of the wrestlers participate are more about the individuals. Team titles are based on how many points those individuals gain, not on team wins and losses.

I wrote a column about this topic for The Journal News and LoHud.com tomorrow. Got a lot of positive feedback from participating coaches.

The quarterfinals are Thursday: Ossining at John Jay (Cross River), Suffern at New Rochelle, Sleepy Hollow at Fox Lane, North Rockland at Carmel. The winners move on to the semifinals, and then the finals, Saturday at John Jay.

Posted by Carp on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 at 9:22 pm |
| | Comments Off on No I in team, but a W and an E in Wrestling.

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Still stewing over Mitchell Report

December
17

Some things that a lot of people seem to overlook about the Mitchell Report:

Yankees fans want to forgive Andy Pettitte because he came clean. Uh, are we supposed to just believe that weak mea culpa just because Pettitte is, was and always has been a good guy? Sorry. He fessed up to taking HGH twice. But nobody can prove he did it more than that. He might have done it 20 times or 100 or whatever. It is fool-hardy to believe anything anybody says anymore.

This idea that the Yankees were dirty cheats is all fine and good. But this is a very crucial thing to remember: The Mitchell Report suggested a lot of guilt, but it did not suggest any innocence. In other words, just because somebody wasn’t named does NOT mean they are clean, or were clean. It does NOT mean they are innocent. It doesn’t! It just means that Mitchell’s hands-tied investigation couldn’t come up with better or more sources. If he named 80 or so, that means, surely, without doubt, that there are hundreds and hundreds more dirty players. So let’s not praise those who got off.

Also, let’s not be so quick to knock Jose Canseco. I’m not naming names, but you know who Canseco named. Again, by not being in Mitchell’s report does not mean innocence. And let’s always remember that, so far, Canseco has been right on about players and steroids/HGH/etc.

Posted by Carp on Monday, December 17th, 2007 at 10:56 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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