Friday, December 30, 2011

As Gang Green Turns: The Party Is Over for Rex and His Men

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: The Party Is Over for Rex and His Men on Blogcritics.

It really matters very little what happens against Miami next week; the party is over for head coach Rex Ryan and his minions. His kingdom is fractured, and if he hasn't fallen off the wall yet it's only because he's holding on for dear life. My advice is "Let go, Rex." It'll makes things easier in the long run, and then all your horses and men can scatter to the far corners after next week's game instead of worrying about putting you back together again.

Ryan is his own worst enemy. He is reminiscent of Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character in spirit and in person. While Rex never seems at a loss for words or embarrassed by what comes out of his mouth, Kramden often recognized that his got him into lots of trouble, hence the famous "I've got a BIG mouth" line from The Honeymooners. We can only wish Ryan had such awareness.

The Jets were playing what could ostensibly be called a mini-Super Bowl against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. It had the aura of it building up the week before, with Rex shooting his mouth off, saying the Jets were a better team, and the rest of his blather. Compared to Ryan, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin comes off like a Harvard professor. All week the buzz in New York was that Coughlin needed the win against the Jets or would lose his job. Perhaps the talk should have been about Ryan losing his, and after that debacle on Christmas Eve against the Giants, it seems reasonable to me to indeed bring that possibility into discussion.

Ryan has made nothing but promises (empty ones it seems for the most part) for the last three years. He is supposed to be a master of defense, but the team seems shaky in that department, especially this year. To make matters worse, the offense is sputtering like a Model-T Ford of late. Sanchez is always under the gun, seemingly without more than a few seconds before he has to throw the ball. When he does throw, the competition licks its lips because chances are pretty good for an interception.

I don't need to see next week's game (I predict the Jets will lose 21-14 by the way) to say that I think Rex's big mouth has taken a toll on this team. He needs to either learn to shut up and take some notes from guys like Coughlin, or maybe it is time for him to go. As for Sanchez, it has been a three year experiment that seems to have fizzled: no smoke and mirrors are going to make him a better QB. He is looking more and more like a back-up quarterback to me, but I am sure he will not want that and will go elsewhere.

Yes, we Jets fans are bitter after that loss on December 24. It ruined our Christmas worse than a stocking full of coal. We have to blame Ryan and Sanchez, and even a partridge in a pear tree would do nothing to make us feel better. So please, Jets fans, don't start thinking about if the Bengals lose or if this team or that wins, because it is over.

Deflate the blow-up Jets player on your lawn, throw all those green cups and plates into a bag, and hang up your Jets jerseys and hats in a dark closet. Tom Coughlin and the Giants taught us all a terrible lesson on Saturday, but Ryan may be the only one who learned nothing from it.

There will be no playoffs this year and a long time before next season. Hopefully, Ryan will take some classes on public speaking, start rethinking his offense and defense, and maybe owner Woody Johnson will do what needs to be done and offer as much money as possible to a new QB who can really lead this team. Can anyone say "Peyton Manning" without picturing him wearing a green uniform? Now THAT would be a great belated Christmas present for Jets fans.

Photo Credits: Gleason -; Ryan - Daily News

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bobby Valentine Hates the Yankees - Join the Club

Article first published as Bobby Valentine Hates the Yankees - Join the Club on Blogcritics.

Bobby Valentine, the new manager of the Boston Red Sox, is already making headlines with his "I hate the Yankees" quotation. As if the winter meetings in Dallas haven't been exciting enough, you can always count on Bobby V to get things interesting. If Reggie Jackson was the straw that stirred the drink, consider Valentine to be the ladle that pours out the gravy.

Like him or not, Valentine is someone who has an energy that makes things happen. When he was manager of the Mets you could always count on him for some kind of quip or reaction that would make over the top seem low. Once, when he had been thrown out of the game by an umpire, he sat in the corner of the dugout wearing a disguise (sunglasses and a mustache) and was caught by the cameras. It is an unforgettable moment and I can still laugh about it.

Of course, there is a serious side to Valentine, and this was never more evident than after September 11, 2001. Valentine honored the families of the victims and handled himself well as the Mets played the first professional sports game held in the city after the attacks. Whatever else people think about him, at that time he and his players gave New York just what it needed most. It too is unforgettable and I will always respect Valentine for the way he spoke and acted at that time.

Now, of course, he wears a different uniform and manages the Boston Red Sox. People calling into the sports shows on talk radio here in New York were getting crazy today. It was kind of like "How dare Valentine say that about our Yankees?"

These people have to be kidding themselves. I have no illusions; Yankees fans hate the Red Sox just as much if not more. They broke the Curse of the Bambino and things haven't been the same ever since in the American League East. Yankees fans know it and everyone else does too.

Beside, unless you are a Yankees fan, you probably hate the Yankees. Valentine was being honest (a rarity in sports these days) and saying what most fans of other teams think: we all hate the Yankees. As a Mets fan I can say I like Bobby V even better today than I did before. That will last until the Mets are facing the Red Sox in the World Series again, and the way the Mets are going, that probably won't be until sometime after 2020.

So this Mets fan wishes Bobby Valentine well in Beantown. I hope the Red Sox and their fans will appreciate the man for his many talents, and forgive him when he says the wrong thing. Like Rex Ryan, that probably will be more often than not, but Valentine is entertaining and knows how to run a baseball team. You can bet Joe Girardi and his players are a little worried about that.

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mets Mess: Loss of Reyes Worse Than Tom Seaver Trade

Article first published as Mets Mess: Loss of Reyes Worse Than Tom Seaver Trade on Blogcritics.

I, no doubt like most fans of the New York Mets, am still not able to process the loss of superstar short stop Jose Reyes to the Miami Marlins. Yes, I know it has occurred, but I am still hoping that something will make me snap out of it and realize this is only a dream.

Actually, it is like some terrible nightmare. In my mind this is right up there with the worst trade in Mets history - Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds, but it is in fact a more insidious and devastating move that will affect this team and its fans for years to come.

The loss of Seaver in a deadline trade in 1977 sent away the player, dubbed The Franchise by New York sports writers, who embodied the heart and soul of the Mets. It didn't matter that the Mets were a losing team when Tom Terrific was pitching. People went to see him, to watch his mastery on the mound, to enjoy his personality and his true connection to fans and team.

Now flash forward to 2011. Reyes may not have been "the franchise," but he surely was the most popular, effervescent, and talented player on the Mets in recent years. Coming off his best year ever, including a .337 average that gave him the National League batting crown, Reyes was (just like Seaver) a reason to come to the ballpark. Watching him hit a triple was like sitting back and listening to Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello. It became an ethereal experience, making for a majestic and surreal moment when all seemed right in the Mets' universe.

Sadly, Reyes takes his wonderful smile, his exuberant spirit, and his many talents to Miami. Yes, there are those who say Reyes is too injury prone. His legs are going to go on him. Whatever the reason the Mets did not make a serious offer, it leaves Mets fans cold. Many of us feel that GM Sandy Alderson should have done whatever it took to get Reyes back to Citi Field. Now he will return with the visiting Marlins on April 14, 2012, and how much do you want to bet that there will not only be a capacity crowd but that they will give him a standing ovation?

Now on talk radio there are the rumbles about trading David Wright because Reyes is gone. Alderson is no doubt fueling these rumors with talk about using the cash that would have gone to Reyes for "rebuilding." Now, don't go get visions of sugarplums and C.J. Wilson dancing in your heads, because it is more than likely that Alderson is settling his brain for a long winter's nap.

Let's face the ugly facts: the Mets are going nowhere in 2012. We can call this the "Season of If" : if Ike Davis can return in top shape, if Johan Santana can return and pitch like he used to do, if Ruben Tejada can be a full-time shortstop, if Mike Pelfrey can ever shake the bats out of his belfry, if Lucas Duda really has thirty homers in that bat, if Angel Pagan can return from last year's disappearing act, if Jason Bay can be the guy he used to be in Boston. The "if" list can go on and on.

In the end this loss of Reyes is worse than the Seaver trade. The loss of Seaver destroyed the team and it took years (seven actually) for the Mets to start to show signs of resurgence (ironically, after Seaver again was lost to the Chicago White Sox and a young pitcher named Dwight Gooden came into the picture). Losing Reyes now is a firm and clear commitment by Mets management to giving up on 2012 before it even commences. At least Seaver was traded during a lost season; this time it is clear the season is already lost!

Now, it has been eleven years and counting since the Mets were in the World Series. Let's say with great confidence that this will the twelfth year without any shot at it. Many more lost years may be on the horizon if Alderson lets Wright go and basically waits for the Phillies players to start needing canes and walkers. With Miami poised to become the new powerhouse in the NL East, there probably will be no joy in Metville for a long time to come.

Photo Credits: reyes -; Seaver -