Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Amir Khan blames Freddie Roach's Parkinson's disease for leaving trainer

Amir "King" Kahn seems to have a lot of excuses after he loses a fight.  If it's not the referee and judges like his loss to Lamont Peterson in December, it's the pre-fight taunts from Danny Garcia's trainer Angel Garcia — whom he attributed the fourth-round knockout in July.

During Tuesday's press conference at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to promote his upcoming Showtime fight against Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7 KO's) on Dec. 15, Khan took his blame game to a place where nobody should go.

Instead of pinning the loss on himself, Khan (26-3, 18 KOs) said the reason he replaced Freddie Roach with trainer Virgil Hunter after the Garcia loss was because Roach's Parkinson's disease was affecting his ability to coach.

"Freddie's illness, it's very hard to see him as he's getting older.  I believe that he's getting worse, and I wish him all the best.  Freddie is still, with the Parkinson's disease, doing a great job working the mitts and working with fighters day in and day out.  I just believe that I need someone who is going to work me that bit harder and get the best out of me."



The 25-year-old British boxer has never faulted his glass jaw or defensive lapses and might just be miffed that Roach — one of the world's most sought after trainers — didn't stop working with Manny Pacquiao or any of the other boxers he trains to spend all of his time with Khan. That's fine.  But don't diss the man because he is ill.

"Freddie, with the Parkinson's disease, he was struggling with instructions and couldn't move."

Still, it was Khan who went to Roach fully knowing that the successful trainer has battled Parkinson's for years.  You aren't named Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America five times if the only thing you can do is work the mitts.

Khan has a chance to redeem himself with Hunter in his corner, but a loss to Molina — in the 12-round 140 lb. bout — could end his career as a a big time draw.

The skilled Khan had every right to switch trainers but laying blame on Roach's illness is just a low blow.



New York City Marathon could become obstacle course

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the ING New York City Marathon will be taking place this Sunday. The biggest challenge for participants might not be the actual 26.2-mile run — but the logistical obstacles facing the runners who are lucky enough to even make it to New York — since the storm has passed.

The mayor of battered New York, Michael Bloomberg, and marathon organizers both say the race is on — but with the possibility of a few changes from past races.

"It will go on as normal," said Bloomberg Tuesday. "As of now."

Forget the flooded, garbage strewn and tree-littered streets which runners may sporadically encounter during the five borough course.  Organizers are dealing with the logistical nightmare of flying 20,000 runners from around the world into already backed up New York airports and coming up with a way to transport the 47,000 runners to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge starting line with limited mass transit and  road access.

With the restoration of scheduled flights to local airports starting again and the New York City transit system hoping to have service suitably restored by Saturday — runners will have a fat man's chance of starting and finishing the famed race.

If runners have to dodge giant puddles, tree limbs and garbage,  this year's race could resemble some sort of urban steeplechase more than just a long distance run.



"The marathon has always been a special day for New Yorkers as a symbol of the vitality and resiliency of this city," said New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg in a statement.  "We will keep all options open with regard to making any accommodation and adjustments necessary to race day and race weekend events."



Getting out of town runners into New York, with three full days before the start on Sunday, is doable but getting the runners to Staten Island Sunday morning could take a lot more skillful planning.

Nearly half of the entrants take the Staten Island Ferry and the others mostly take buses through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.  Both have been closed due to the flooding.  Normally city municipal departments lend a hand in clearing roads and help in getting runners to their destinations with police escorts but, under the circumstances, city workers have more pressing needs.

"The city is rightfully focused on assessment, restoration and recovery," said Wittenberg.

Runners who can't make it to New York have until Saturday instead of Wednesday to withdraw from the race.  They won't get a refund and will have to pay to keep their reserved spot in 2013.

Any runner who has hit the wall should be able to deal with a few pre-race nuisances and — even while coping with their own post-storm miseries — New Yorkers will still be out in force to cheer them on — maybe not as many as in the past.

Nets-Knicks 'subway rivalry' tip-off game will go on as scheduled despite no trains

It's been 55 years since Brooklyn had its own professional team to call its own and it's going to take more than Hurricane Sandy to delay the regular season debut of the Brooklyn Nets in the new Barclays Center.

After a couple of days of mulling over its options, the NBA announced last night that Thursday's season opener against the New York Knicks will go on as scheduled, despite the havoc wreaked across  New York City by the storm Monday night.

The league considered postponing the much anticipated match-up after New York's subway system was left in ruins and roads and tunnels were flooded and covered in debris.  Mass transportation has been suspended indefinitely and may take another three or four days before service is completely restored, said MTA officials.



The $1 billion Barclays Center was spared any wind or water damage but there is no subway service to the area because of flooded tunnels.  The arena cancelled concerts by Journey and Smashing Pumpkins on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The question remains whether or not it was wise to hold the game while the city picks up after the intense storm.  Barclays Center officials sold the idea of the venue to fans on the premise of convenient subway access to the arena but — with power outages scattered around the city and all 11 subway lines and the Long Island Railroad linking the arena closed — getting to the Barclays Center will be a trek.

The Knicks practiced Tuesday in Westchester after taking Monday off due to the storm. The Nets' New Jersey practice facility was without power both Monday and Tuesday and the players didn't work out.  The team will practice at the Barclays Center on Wednesday.



While water from Sandy may have overrun the streets surrounding Brooklyn and the Barclays Center, it remains to be seen if it's Knicks or Nets fans who flood the stands inside.

Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak under fire for Michael Jackson Halloween costume

Some people are calling Tyler Bozak Bad and not in a good way.  The Toronto Maple Leafs center is getting a lot of heat after posting a picture of his Halloween costume — as the late pop singer Michael Jackson — on Instagram late Tuesday night.

Critics immediately jumped on Bozak for dressing in blackface and — after realizing it might not have been such a good idea — he pulled the crotch-grabbing pose shortly after tweeting the photo.

The low-scoring Bozak defended himself after the controversy and stood up for his actions in another tweet.

"That's a tribute to one of my favorite artists," he posted.  "For anyone saying it's racist is crazy!"


 Bozak's controversial photo follows a recent trend of NHL players donning blackface on Halloween.  Adam Burish and Patrick Kane partied as Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen in 2009 and Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres and his wife dressed as Jay-Z and Beyonce last year.

Torres' costume created such a media backlash, the Coyotes organization found it necessary to defend their player with a statement calling the accusations of racism "ridiculous."

The Maple Leafs have not yet commented on the Bozak situation.

A lot of people right now are probably thinking the young Canadian just didn't realize that wearing blackface was offensive and insensitive to some but, it has been reported that Bozak previously dressed up as a Jamaican bobsledder two years ago.

Old Bozie might want to switch to whiteface and go as Bozo next year.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nets-Knicks opener in jeopardy because of Sandy

The Brooklyn Nets regular season debut in their spanking new arena is in jeopardy because of superstorm Sandy which wreaked destruction on most of the eastern seaboard.

The Nets were set to host the New York Knicks in their new cross-city rivalry on Thursday at the Barclays Center but the league is considering postponing the game while New York City picks up the pieces of the devastating storm.

"Tonight's games will be played," Tim Frank, the NBA's vice-president of communications, told the New York Times.  "We are still assessing the situation with regards to the rest of the week."

Right now, the post-storm situation suggests it would be sensible to put Hello Brooklyn on hold.





As of Tuesday morning, parts of Brooklyn — along with sections of every other borough — have been flooded while huge sections of the city still remain without power.  All New York City tunnels have been closed and service on all subway and LIRR train lines have been suspended.  The extent of the water damage from flooding to rail lines is still up for debate but it seems unlikely the lines will be up and running normally in two days.

"Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region," Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joeseph Lhota said on Tuesday.



The highly-anticipated matchup drove ticket prices to playoff-like levels but Bloomberg Businessweek reported that prices are dropping because of Frankenstorm.

The next Nets home game will be Saturday against the Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks opening season game Friday at Madison Square Garden against the Miami Heat is also looking at postponement.


Girardi reached out to A-Rod after playoffs says source

There are a lot of things swirling around Yankee Stadium these days that aren't being caused by Frankenstorm  better known as Sandy to the more genteel — and these issues will be hanging around long after the storm leaves town.

Joe Girardi, who said he would contact Alex Rodriguez in the wake of his controversial postseason benching, has called the New York Yankees third baseman to talk, reports The New York Post — possibly putting this Category 3 squall to rest for now.

"Joe knows Alex is sensitive and needed to have a conversation," a source told The Post.  "He couldn't go into the winter not knowing what was going on and wanted to clear his head.  Now both of them are ready to go."



In a press conference last week, the Yankees manager said he would need to speak to Rodriguez before spring training after the $114 million slugger struggled through a horrendous postseason.

Girardi had no comment about the reported hour-long call to A-Rod on Monday but has said he is concerned about any of his players' mental state after a managerial move.

"I'm always worried about whatever move I make, how it affects the club or affects the player," Girardi admitted last week at Yankee Stadium.  "Sure, [there's a possibility] I might have to deal with it more that I expected, but I may not have to deal with it at all.  As we move forward, I'll get a temperature on it and keep track of it and see how it's going."

Al Roker couldn't have said it better.

Rodriguez joined a long list of key players who had dismal postseasons but have been reached out and touched by the Yankees organization.

Yesterday, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson got more than phone calls from the Yankees.  Both postseason flops had their $15 million options picked up by the team.

The plight of a downgraded Nick Swisher is not so clear.  But it is likely the "sensitive" outfielder has worn out his welcome and will be playing for another team next season.

Expect a lot of Yankees updates this winter.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Rex Ryan says he will find role for Tebow but Sanchez still starting

Rex Ryan had his first golden opportunity to to make a quarterback change Sunday when the New York Jets trailed the Miami Dolphins at halftime, 20-0, and the slow rumblings of "Tebow Tebow" were starting to fill MetLife Stadium while the team hit the locker room.  But Ryan didn't bite.

Now, if there was ever a better time to make the move of replacing Mark Sanchez with Tim Tebow, it's during a bye week after getting trounced, 30-9, dropping the Jets to last place in the AFC East with a 3-4 record. Still, Ryan is adamant that that scenario is still out of the question.

Ryan insisted that Sanchez will remain the starter while moving ahead on a season that is slowly slipping away.

"Offensively, the problems aren't one man," Ryan said Monday.  "If it were one man, that would be easy to do.  But it's not one person.  Sometimes, we're accurate with the football (and) we drop some passes.  Sometimes, the pass might not have been as accurate as we wanted it to be.  Then there's times when our protection let us down."

It sounds like Sanchez will still be behind the center after the two weeks pass.

video


Meanwhile, Ryan says he will look at changes in the depth chart at every position except quarterback — meaning Tebow remain the backup QB.

"I think we'll take a hard look at how we're using him, what we're asking him to do," said Ryan.  "Are there other things we can do with him?  We will definitely look at that."

Tebow played just five snaps in Sunday's embarrassing loss  and ran the ball once.  He was used as a wide receiver as more of a decoy, according to Ryan.  Asked if Tebow was growing frustrated with his limited role on the Jets, Ryan said he doesn't know but would understand if that were the case.

"I think you have to ask Tim," said Ryan. "Any competitor wants to be out there playing, it wouldn't be shocking if that's how he felt.  As a football team we're frustrated.  We're getting closer and closer, we thought we were getting better as a football team but we took a step back yesterday."



Asked if he would take suggestions from his staff where Tebow could fit if he isn't taking snaps behind the center, Ryan sounded open minded.

"I think we'll take a hard look at how we're using him," Ryan told reporters.  "Is there other things we can do with him?  I think you're absolutely right we'll be doing that."

The Jets have a tough road game against the Seattle Seahawks after the bye week and the hostile fans at CenturyLink Field might be a lot louder than the stunned crowd back at home seemed to be.

With two weeks to mull it over, is there any chance that Ryan could swallow his pride and make the switch?

"I think Mark's our guy.  I don't think there's any doubt about that," said Ryan after the game.  "I'm confident in Mark.

"That's my opinion and that's the one that matters."

Giants fans celebrate World Series title with fire

San Francisco Giants fans took to the streets to celebrate their team's World Series win over the Detroit Tigers with a giant party near City Hall Sunday night.

However, as it has become all too common with victory parties, joyous mayhem turned into scattered riots after small bands of fans started to rampage in the San Francisco streets.  They lit things on fire, overturned cars and injured several people.

Call it panda-monium or whatever, it's hard to understand why fans destroy their own city when the home team wins.



More than 10,000 people gathered Sunday night to watch the game on Jumbotrons set up around the city's Civic Center.  After the Giants swept the Tigers for the world championship, people emptied into the streets to celebrate until the early morning.  Car horns blared as fireworks filled the skies said witnesses.



Several fires were set, windows were broken and people jumped on cars and buses on Market Street and near AT&T Stadium where the team plays.

Police reported that isolated groups of rioters roamed the city but had been scattered by authorities by daylight.

The victory parade has been scheduled for Wed. Oct. 31 — coincidentally, Halloween day.  Think things will be crazy?

Reggie Bush gets last word after Cromartie calls him a 'punk'

Hurricane Sandy wasn't the only blast of wind swirling around New Jersey this weekend.  While New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie was basically a lot less blustery than his teammates,  who talked trash all week leading up to the game against the Miami Dolphins, it was Cromartie who created a post-game storm by calling Reggie Bush a "punk."

You think after being completely dominated in a 30-9 blowout at the hands of the Dolphins, Cromartie would pipe down.  But the outspoken Jet had a few choice words for his pregame target.

"At the end of the day, we know his true colors," said Cromartie.

Cromartie was specifically looking back at a play early in the game when Bush ran down the sideline and shoved the cornerback with a legal stiff-arm to the face for a 19-yard gain.  Their momentum carried both players out of bounds.  Cromartie hopped up and pushed Bush and then went in for a head butt.

The Dolphins running back walked away but both players continued jawing with each other.

After the game, Bush had the last — and definitive — word via Twitter.

"Great team win!  Dominated in all phases today! Enough said," Bush tweeted.

video

Cromartie's shove resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that led to a Dolphins' field goal.  To add injury to insult, Cromartie revealed later that he had dislocated his pinkie finger on the  play.



The hot-tempered Jet defended his actions.

"I didn't lose my composure.  I just called him a punk.  That's exactly what he is," said Cromartie.  "I didn't head butt him.  I pushed him first before I head butted him."

Say what?

Just what the Meadowlands needs right now — more wind.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deron Williams says Knicks' Felton is upgrade from Lin

If anyone knows about Linsanity, it's Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams.

After all, it was a game against the New York Knicks last Feb. 4 when Jeremy Lin finally broke out and started one of the craziest and most fun phenomenons in New York sports history.

Williams was the man Lin outplayed that night and the rest is sports history or — depending on who you talk to — sports overkill.

On Saturday, five days before the Nets point guard faces the Knicks again, Williams is giving props to the opposing guard who not named Lin anymore— Raymond Felton.

"I would say Raymond Felton is a better point guard than Jeremy Lin, in my opinion.  He's proven," Williams said before cutting last year's sensation some slack.  "Well. I can't go out and say that.  Jeremy Lin, he had a a heck of a run, he had All-Star-type numbers when he was starting.  But we'll see how he does this year.  But going off of [his] track record. I'm gonna go with Raymond Felton."



Williams wouldn't go all in and say the Knicks are a better team without Lin as the starting point guard, but would put his money on Felton rather than Lin if he had a choice.

"He looks good.  He looks in shape this year," Williams said of Felton.  The Knicks guard admitted being out of shape last season after the NBA lockout but still averaged 17 points and nine assists in 54 games with with New York last season.

"Ray probably had his best year that half season he was there," said Williams.  "I guess he likes the bright lights."

Williams and Felton have a history together that dates back to when they both came out of high school in 2002.

North Carolina recruited Felton over Williams and the Nets guard has never forgotten the slight.  He still uses it as motivation on the court.

Funny how bad memories are the ones that seem to Lin-ger.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

One-handed boxer set to make pro fight debut

Looking at boxer Michael Constantino getting taped up before a bout, it's easy for opposing trainers to detect that this is one fighter who can't throw the right hand.  Why?  Because the 33-year-old New York City native doesn't have one — literally.

Constantino's was born with a right arm that is intact down to the wrist but, after that, his "fist" tapers to a nub.

The Queens native — who probably has had the chance to tell people I could beat you with one hand behind my back more times than he'll admit — will be making his pro debut Saturday in a pay-per-view event in Brooklyn after a ten fights as an amateur.

There is no record of a one-handed pro in the history of New York boxing but that won't stop Constantino from trying to make a two-fisted statement in the ring.



"There's definitely a lot of pressure on me to perform well," said Constantino.  "I want to win and show people that if you put your faith in God that anything is possible."

The single-handed light heavyweight is no gimmicky attraction and has proved his mettle by making the Golden Gloves (video) quarterfinals in 2002 and even knocked out one opponent earning him a "Fighter of the Night" award.

Constantino's right glove hangs about a foot shorter than his left and he usually only uses it to block from his right-handed stance.  His left jab and hook are what keeps him in the game.



You think opponents would be lining up to take advantage of his physical challenge, but that's not the case.

"Nobody wanted  to give him an opportunity," said boxer Sadam Ali, who will be promoting and headlining Saturday's  show.  "He's bringing something new to boxing.  That's how I look at it.  It's a beautiful thing to me."

The event's matchmaker, Felipe Gomez, had a difficult time finding someone who would take on the ultra-unorthodox — is he a southpaw with a righty stance or a righty with only a left? — fighter

Rhode Islander Nathan Ortiz (0-2 as a pro) finally said he would answer the opening bell but thought Gomez was kidding at first.

"He thought I was joking when I told him I was fighting someone who had only one hand," said Gomez.  "But he took the fight.  He's 0-2.  I guess he's looking for any advantage he can get."

People who have seen Constantino in the ring say opposing boxers shouldn't drop their left guard too quickly.

"He can fight.  He knows what he's doing, but how can you not see the left-hand coming if you're his opponent," said Bryan Adams, the Golden Gloves director.  "Because he knows how to fight.  He can punch"

Update: Fighter wins in pro debut


Michael Constantino's pro boxing debut ended in odd fashion but the one-handed fighter was left standing in the ring with his good hand held high in victory.




Constantino, who fought at cruiserweight, attracted a lot of attention from fight fans and the New York State Athletic Commission respectively.

The 33-year-old boxer had to go through extra pre-fight physicals and wrap his hands for officials the day before the fight to see how he would be covering his congenially damaged right hand.

The only special attention Constantino ever wanted was from other people who face the world everyday with physical challenges.

"I just wanted to show people that in life, if you ever feel like you're not good enough or you feel down, that anything is possible," he said after the fight.

It sounds like Constantino had two victories in a single fight last night.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mariano Rivera has doubts about returning in '13

The New York Yankees are well aware that the team has to get younger this offseason and there are already signs that change may start with some of the franchise's most historic players voluntarily not coming back.

Yesterday, general manager Brian Cashman said that he doesn't know if baseball's all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera is definitely returning next season.

"He said he doesn't know what he is doing yet," Cashman said, referring to a conversation he had with his 42-year-old closer on Tuesday.  "I asked him what his plans were and he said, 'I haven't decided yet.'  He said he was working his way through about 2013 and he would let me know soon."

Combine that with the similar talks the Yankees are having with 40-year-old Andy Pettitte and the retirement of Jorge Posada last year, and the Core Four could become the One-and-Done with a hobbled Derek Jeter left as the only link to the Yankees glorious 17-year run.



When Rivera suffered his season-ending torn ACL on May 3 in Kansas City, he vowed to return in 2013.  He even gave some thought to getting back this season, but was convinced otherwise.

"I'm coming back," Rivera said the day after he fell in the Kauffman Stadium outfield, clutching his right knee. "Put it down.  Write it down.  Write it down in big letters.  I'm not going down like this.  God willing and given the strength, I'm coming back."

Cashman isn't holding Rivera to his words and will take a wait and see attitude on his future Hall of Fame pitcher.

"He might retire, he might play.  he doesn't know yet." said Cashman.  "I told him when you know where you are at let us know."

Rivera has been working hard to rehab the knee and says he will be healthy enough to pitch again but the Yankees have to be concerned about him coming back from a serious injury at such an advanced age.

Asked if the Yankees want Rivera back in pinstripes, Cashman was adamant. "Yes," he said.

But the GM and free-agent still haven't talked money.  Rivera made $15 million last season and may be using his indecision as leverage in negotiations.

Cashman knows Rivera — the most consistent closer in history — wants to end his career as a Yankee and isn't interested in pitching anywhere else.  The same with Pettitte.  Both legendary Yankee players will be free agents immediately after the final out in the World Series.

"I talked to them because they are unique," said Cashman.  "I don't have to ask [free agents] Russell Martin and Nick Swisher if they are going to play [next season]."

It's hard for the Yankees to get younger when they still cling to so many emotional ties to the past.  It's the old story — youth vs. experience.  But we're talking about a lot of success in those tired bones.

For now, Cashman may hoping to steal one more year from the aging Key Three — Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera. 

Bird poops on TV anchor during live shot outside AT&T Park

It may somehow mean good luck to the San Francisco Giants, but Paul Robins is the one who took it for the team after a bird pooped on the local TV anchor while he and Bethany Crouch were doing a live pre-World Series broadcast outside AT&T Park Thursday.

Yes — and Robins is his real name.

The Sacramento-based KTXL morning show anchor took a direct hit to his shoulder from one of his winged critics as his co-host Crouch, wearing one of those — depending where you're from — ubiquitous (Giants fans) or annoying (Tigers fans) panda hats, laughed hysterically.

"One of my goals in life is to make it on YouTube, and I think I did just that," Robins said of his new found social media fame.  "It's raining bird crap, if I may say that."

Yes you did and I guess you can.




Lucky for Robins,  pandas don't fly.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Brooklyn' hockey T-shirts already on market

It didn't take long for an entrepreneur to cash in on the announcement about professional hockey coming to Brooklyn .

Shortly after the New York Islanders announced their relocation from Long Island to Brooklyn, T-shirts went on sale online for fans who can't wait until 2015 for the team to take up residence in the Barclays Center.



The tees — feature two crossed hockey sticks with the words "Brooklyn NY 2015" on the front are made by Crosstown New York and are getting a good reception from customers.

The shirts have an uncanny resemblance to the old school black and white Brooklyn Nets uniforms making one wonder if Jay-Z has a minority stake in this franchise as well.

The shirts also come in the familiar blue and orange that fans in Nassau and Suffolk counties have grown up and groaned with.

"We sold around two dozen in the first hour," said a rep from Crosstown.  "Mostly to fans from Long Island."

Can't wait to see if the crowd at the first Rangers-Islanders game at Barclays is pro-Potvin or not.

Eli Manning doesn't play favorites with receivers anymore

Eli Manning has proven he has complete control of his team and the MVP contender wears two Super Bowl rings to back it up.  But on Wednesday, the New York Giants quarterback admitted that wasn't always the case.

In Manning's early years with the team, it was apparent that the Giants No. 1 draft pick was under a lot of pressure from the media and fans but, yesterday,  he suggested it was the demands and emotional bumps from some of the teammates he was throwing to that stressed him out the most.

Manning has never really opened up about the subject, but he talked about his first couple of seasons when he was throwing to the likes of then-veterans Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress.

Although he did not name names, Manning yesterday got into a discussion about the democratic way he deals with his receivers, telling them, "I'm not going to force it to one guy ... if  you're my first read, it's your job to get open and if you're not, then I'm going on to the next guy," reports The New York Post.



Did his own receivers hurt young Manning's progress more while he was going through growing pains?

"I think early on we probably had receivers in practice you'd try to force them to get balls so they don't get down on you keep them happy and I think you create bad habits doing that," said Manning.  "As I got older and we got younger, we got new guys in it evolved to doing it the correct way, going through the reads, saying you got to earn the right to get open, it's all on the reads to make sure I'm doing the right thing."

There is no shortage of primetime receivers on the Giants this year — Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz — even after losing Mario Manningham.

You never hear any of them going behind Easy E's back.

And, as credit to Manning, they all seem to get their share of shining moments during the season now that he is in control.  Coincidence?  No way.




Sanchez/Longoria breakup blamed on lousy Jets team

It wasn't the other woman — or the other man (Tim Tebow) in this case — that broke up the relationship between Mark Sanchez and actress Eva Longoria but the whole New York Jets team who put the kibosh on the high profile relationship.

Sources connected to the former couple told TMZ that they broke up because Sanchez was impossible for Eva to be around because he was in such a crappy mood over the the Jets' horrible season.

"It's hard to maintain a relationship when one person is upset all the time," said one of the gossip site's sources.



So that whole age difference theory — she's 37, he's 25 — can finally be put to rest.  It sounds like Sanchez's crankiness ended the three-month fling.

The inconsistent Jets (3-4) continue to stumble and were beaten in overtime by the New England Patriots last Sunday.  Sanchez was last seen fumbling the ball in the heartbreaking loss.

It hasn't exactly been a banner week for the Jets quarterback. Besides the critical loss and the publicized breakup, Sanchez was voted the 10th least-liked player in the NFL.

TMZ reports that despite the split, the pair are serious about remaining friends and have nothing but respect for each other.




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eli thanks Redskins' Hall for 'giving' him game-winning TD pass

Eli Manning sounded more than amused in his response to Washington Redskins DeAngelo Hall's claim that the Redskins gave the New York Giants quarterback and the Giants the game-winning  touchdown pass to Victor Cruz in the final minutes of last Sunday's 27-23 victory at MetLife Stadium.

In fact he sounded downright grateful.

"I appreciate him giving it to me ... thank you," was the snide reply by the usually reserved Manning on Wednesday.

Hall tried to cold throw water on Manning's heroics by claiming the 77-yard Cruz catch-and-run touchdown had nothing to do with what the quarterback did but what the Redskins defense didn't do.

"I don't feel like he made that play, Hall said earlier.  "I feel we gave him that play.  We just had one guy set his feet and one guy not do this.  I could have thrown the ball and he would have scored.  It wasn't something where he was a rocket scientist and he figured some thing out.  We just played that as bad as possible."



The Giants QB saw Hall's comments after practice and was uncharacteristically chatty.

"I didn't say it took rocket science to figure it out, either," Manning said.  "You got a guy running open and you hit him.

"I wasn't offended by it.  I never claimed it was some great read or something we planned or figured out.  Hey, Vic ran a good route, he was open, you hit him and that's all I really think about it."

Manning, who hasn't been this glib since his Saturday Night Live monologue, suggested he was more of a football tactician than a NASA scientist.

"It doesn't bother me," Manning added.  "If that's the way they want to put it in their heads that is fine.  The fact is that was a coverage they messed up, that's what you got to do as an offense, you got to take advantage of it, if a team wants to give up some plays or they don't want to play well on a certain day it's our job to play better and make the plays and take advantage of that opportunity."

Still, there is a connection between Manning and rocket science.  After all, the Giants game-winner was scored with a Cruz missile.


Victor Cruz hopes he's headed to Giant payday before end of season

Victor Cruz has had his detractors.  The New York Giants wide out had a breakout season in 2011 — catching 82 passes for a franchise record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns — ending with the walk-on New Jersey native holding up the Lombardi Trophy last February.

Coming into this season, some still thought that defenses would catch up with the fleet-footed Cruz and had already shot his wad with his "career" year.  Critics predicted Cruz's trademark end zone salsa moves would be farther and fewer between in 2012.

Now Cruz wants everyone to know he hopes there's a lot more hip shaking in his Giants future — but it'll come with a bump in pay.

Cruz is pushing the Giants to rework the final year of his NFL minimum $540,000 contract —  although he wants his focus to be on the football field — and pay him what other comparable players get.  The Giants have gotten their money's worth out of Cruz's bargain basement price tag and the sale is almost over.

If you compare Cruz's stats to the to numbers of the NFL's current crop of elite receivers, the Giants deep threat might want to change his celebratory dance to a tango — as in tango and cash.

On Tuesday, Cruz told WFAN during his weekly spot he hopes a deal is struck sooner than later.

"I'm just in a position right now where I'm focused on football," said Cruz.  "I have people, my agents and things like that, to worry about that stuff.  But as a human being, you obviously want to ... you hope you get it done before the season's over."



Cruz has 50 receptions for 627 yards and seven touchdowns through six games.  It puts him on pace to top last year's career year with 114 catches for 1,433 yards and 16 end zone hip shakes.

Compare that with the NFL's other breakaway wideouts and you can see why Cruz is looking at a windfall.

New England Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker has 54 grabs for 688 yards and two touchdowns this season and will be getting $9.5 million for his services.  The Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson, he of the 27 catches for 586 yards and 5 TD's commands $11 million per.

Where does this put Cruz — who combined with Hakeem Nicks — who gives Giants quarterback Eli Manning two formidable deep threats?  In pretty good company.

"I didn't want to come in and try to prove anybody wrong or prove all the doubters wrong," Cruz added.  "Because I think what I did last year proved a lot of people wrong in itself."

After a Twitter frenzy suggested Cruz should hold out — lest he gets injured — the wideout responded.

"Never happen," said Cruz.  "If I'm going to do that I might as well do it at the beginning of the season, not wait until I'm doing well."

Sounds like Cruz will be shaking his moneymaker for other reasons this season.

"I love this team, I love this organization," he said.  "I want to, God willing, one day retire a Giant."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

High school football team incites brawl by jumping into rival's creek after victory


An upstate New York high school football rivalry took a violent turn after Harrison routed the host team Rye, 21-0, in a tension-filled game last Saturday.

Taunts by the winning team's fans throughout the game escalated into fights after the Harrison High School football players and cheerleaders took a celebratory dunk in a creek that flows next to the Rye football field after the game, infuriating the home team and its fans, according to lohud.com.




Things got worse when Rye supporters leaped into the water to get the jubilant visitors out of their stream.




One person was charged with disorderly conduct and another had minor injuries, but it took police departments from a dozen agencies and neighboring communities to clear the crowd of 6,000, reported lohud.com.



Isn't it the other way around and the winning team usually tells the losers to go jump in a creek.

High school football team incites violence by jumping into rival's creek after victory

A New York high school football rivalry took a violent turn after Harrison routed the host team Rye, 21-0, in a tension-filled game last Saturday.

Taunts by the winning team's fans throughout the game escalated into fights after the Harrison High School football players and cheerleaders took a celebratory dunk in a creek that flows next to the Rye football field, infuriating the home team and its fans, according to lohud.com.

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Things got out of hand as dozens of Rye supporters jumped into the wet fray after losing the grudge match on the gridiron.



One person was charged with disorderly conduct and another had minor injuries, but it took police departments from a dozen agencies and neighboring communities to clear the crowd of 6,000, reported lohud.com.



Didn't it used to be that the winning team usually told the losers to go jump in a creek.

Bubba Watson's golf lessons to Robin Meade pay off

Bubba Watson took credit for news anchor Robin Meade's amazing shot onto the eighth green at yesterday's Grand Slam Pro-Am at Port Royal Golf Course in Southhampton, Bermuda.

Watson looked on as the bubbly HLN morning news host landed the ball just three feet from the cup —earning her the top prize for the closest approach to that hole — after only three lessons from The Masters champion.

I don't know what was more spectacular, the placing of the ball or seeing Meade bounce around in her skimpy black outfit after she thought the ball went into the hole.

Watson called it, the "greatest shot I ever witnessed, the greatest shot I ever coached."

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Meade and her team won the Pro-Am with a total of 54.

The Grand Slam of Golf tees off on Tuesday.  The other pros who will be playing the tropical course are Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley (replacing PGA Champ Rory McIlroy) and Padraig Harrington ( taking over for the injured British Open winner Ernie Els).



Watson said it was nice to see someone of Meade's stature taking up the sport and the pair have become  fast friends via Twitter.

"She played a lot better her third time out on the course," he said.  "Especially when I instructed her real good."

When not spending time on the course or with his wife, Angie, and their son, Caleb, Watson said he and Bradley have been defacing the "fathead" posters of the players which adorn the clubhouse walls.

Rex Ryan fires back at fans who said Jets played 'scared'

Rex Ryan got pretty defensive towards reporters after morning talk radio shows were inundated with fans calling to say that his New York Jets offense played "scared" and way too conservative late in the 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots.

The Jets head coach bristled at even the suggestion that his team was spooked by ghosts of New England past.

"That's not even close ," Ryan said.  "Saying we played scared is somebody who has probably never played the game in his life.  I mean, that's a ridiculous comment because that's certainly not what we do.  Everything we do is to play to win the game."

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Ryan had a lot of reasons to be defiant even though the play calling throughout the game was pretty shaky — despite quarterback Mark Sanchez having an "outstanding" day, according to his coach.

"If you lose, people have the right to any opinion they want, but to say we were scared, that's not even close to being accurate," added Ryan.



The final two minutes of the game drew the most screams from Ryan's critics.  One series in particular had Jets fans saying boo.

After recovering a fumble by Patriots kick returner Devin McCourty, at the Pat's 18 with 2:01 left in regulation of a tie game, the Jets opted on running the ball twice, then attempting a pass on third down. Sanchez's target, Jeremy Kerley slipped and the Jets quarterback took a sack to force a New England timeout.

"When you look at it, we had  some success running the ball in the previous series," explained Ryan.  "We knew we needed a first down.  We were trying to get a first down.  It wasn't like we were trying to burn their timeouts.  We were trying to get a first down to win the game.  To their credit, they made some plays."

After kicking a field goal to take the lead, the Patriots, led by Tom Brady,  marched 54 yards on six plays to tie the game.

Gang Green fans reason that, by not going for the end zone, Ryan showed little trust in the abilities of his starting quarterback.

"I have faith that you can put into Sanchez's hands," said Ryan. "I also have faith that we can put it in our running game."

Ryan pointed to how far the team has come from the 34-0 shellacking by the San Francisco 49ers three weeks ago to coming so close to a win in hostile Gillette Stadium.

"I know we're a better team," he said.  "We're making strides.  It's not by luck or anything else.  It's by design."

I still hear whistling by the graveyard for some reason.




Monday, October 22, 2012

Coughlin won't discuss on-field confrontation with Bradshaw

Neither Tom Coughlin nor Ahmad Bradshaw wanted to discuss the heated exchange between the New York Giants head coach and his running back in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Washington  Redskins.

Bradshaw gave the silent treatment to the media in front of his locker after the thrilling 27-23 win and Coughlin spoke, but didn't say anything specific about the on-field incident.

"That's between he and I," Coughlin said after the game.

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Bradshaw was seen yelling at Coughlin as he headed back on the field after a Giants interception but it wasn't the only time the running back was seen barking at others on the same sideline.

The fired-up running back approached teammate Victor Cruz after a 15-yard run and gave the receiver some lip. Cameras also caught Bradshaw slamming his helmet then jawing at position coach Jerald Ingram as well.

Who knows what was eating Bradshaw.  He started in the backfield after nursing a foot injury all week leading up to the game.  It's the same injury which has plagued the running back throughout his six-year career.



It's hard to pinpoint what could have set the moody Bradshaw off.  He has been having one of the best stretches of his career.  After wrecking the Cleveland Browns for 200 yards, he rumbled over the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense for 116 yards last week.

Could it be the pedestrian 43 yards on 12 carries he gained against the Redskins that made him need a Snickers? Bradshaw's tantrums look better suited for the presidential debates.

Apparently there was still some tension after the game — even after the win against a division rival was in the books.

Hopefully, Bradshaw's thorn in his foot doesn't become one in Coughlin's side.




Redskins' Cofield calls Eli the new 'Montana'

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield got a close up view how elite New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had become from the sidelines when they played as teammates for five years.

Since last season, the former Giants starter has had the reverse angle on how good Manning is while watching from the opposite side of the ball wearing the Giants division rival's burgundy and yellow.

Yesterday, Cofield was witness to another fourth-quarter Manning comeback when Easy E hit Victor Cruz on a 77-yard bomb with 1:13 left to give the Giants a wild 27-23 victory over the 'Skins.  Too bad  for Cofield, it was from the losing side's perspective.

After the game, Cofield paid his props and elevated Manning's elite status to another level when he placed him in the same company of the former San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana.

"Eli is like Joe Montana right now," said Cofield.  "When I was here, he was good, showing flashes, he's exceptional right now.  He's got nerves of steel.  To beat this team you are gonna have to bury him, then you have to put the dirt on top of him and then put the cement on top of him and then watch it dry.  Anything short of that they are still in the game."



The unbelievable rally marked the eighth game winning-drive that Manning has led in the last two seasons and the 24th time in the quarterback's career that he's led Big Blue to victory after trailing in the  fourth quarter.



Sunday's win might not be classified as one of Manning's prettiest outings but, like Montana, it's the final result that matters most.  For Manning's career, that could be the Hall of Fame too.


Worst version of 'God Bless America' by woman with giant hat on her head

San Francisco is known for a lot of crazy things.  Banning Happy Meals, trying to limit the sale of goldfish but still allowing Brian Wilson to roam free seem to be the norm.  So having a woman wearing a giant hat with a model of the city on it sing "God Bless America" at Game 6 of the NLCS seemed fitting for the free-spirited fans.

That was until an visibly embarrassed Misa Malone, from the San Francisco musical revue, the "Beach Blanket Babylon." flubbed her way through the words of the song in front of the Candlestick Park crowd.

It takes a lot of guts to get out in front of 60,000 fans on a nationally-televised game but, come on, next time don't forget the words.



Performers from the campy Beach Blanket Babylon — the longest running musical revue in theater history — routinely perform at Giants games so it was no surprise to see the singer in her outrageous attire.



We've all heard of people wearing a city on their sleeve, but wearing it on your head is tough — especially when it weighs more than Tim Lincecum.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cam Newton: 'Something's gonna have to change real fast'

Cam Newton faced the media, after his Carolina Panthers lost a close game to to the Dallas Cowboys, and gave another glum assessment of his and his team's play on the field.

 The Carolina quarterback's post game speeches have become such downers, they should be called depressing conferences.

He looked like a scolded child when he greeted the media after the 36-7 loss to the New York Giants and didn't look much better after Sunday's 19-14 loss.

After the game, Newton at least managed to keep his eyes open and his head held a little higher when he told reporters that everyone on the team "had to do better ... including myself."

It sounds like the second year time bomb is ticking away and he warned the media to bring a suggestion box because he's out of answers on how to turn things around.

"This taste.  This vibe.  I'm not buying it, man.  I don't know what it is," said Newton.  "But something's gonna have to change.  Something's gonna have to change real fast."

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The Cowboys (3-3) rallied after the Panthers (1-5) took a 14-13 lead late into the game but two late Dallas field goals sealed the deal for the visitors.

Newton passed for 233 yards but the offense was sporadic and was held to a frustrating eight three-and-outs.  Newton had a critical first down pass to Greg Olsen called back after Dallas called a dubious time out.



A lot was expected from Newton after a sensational rookie season but it looks like both he and the team  are having a hard time delivering.  Call it a sophomore jinx or just NFL defenses catching up to him.  Either way, the close losses are taking a toll.

Panthers guard Jordan Gross was a little more positive.

"If you want a bright spot, we're a fourth-and-one away from a lot of wins here," he said.

Oh yeah, at least Newton rocks the brown sweater.


Jay-Z's Brooklyn Nets No. 4 'Carter' jersey up for auction

Rapper, producer and Brooklyn Nets minority owner Jay-Z opened the new Barclays Center with eight sold out shows a few weeks ago and, if you were lucky enough to get through the new arena's TSA style security gates, you saw the performer wearing the Brooklyn Nets' new game jerseys.

The singer, whose real name is Shawn Carter, wore a black No. 4 Nets jersey with his surname "Carter" on the back to help promote the team's relocation to Brooklyn from New Jersey.

While the jersey will never see a single NBA foul shot, the Brooklyn native is auctioning off five home and five road limited edition autographed versions of the "Carter 4."



Ten authenticated Carter jerseys with Jay-Z's signature on them will be put up for auction on Wednesday at auctions.NBA.com.  The bidding will end on Oct. 31.  Each jersey will come with the handwritten message "Peace Jay-Z" on the size tag.

Be prepared to shell out rapper sized cash if you plan on imagining yourself playing Beyonce's husband in the mirror. The opening bid on each jersey was $500 and the bidding on one road jersey has already grown to over $1,000.  The smallest bid on any other jersey was $670.

All the proceeds will benefit the Shawn Carter Foundation — which has given more than $1.4 million in scholarships to financially strapped students since 2003.




Man builds replica of Giants Stadium in his garage

New York Giants fans who live for the days when the names L.T., Bavaro, Carson and Simms resounded in the Meadowlands, and still call MetLife Stadium by its given name — Giants Stadium —  might have the next best thing to sitting in the swamp watching Polyester Parcells circa 1986.

A New Jersey man spent two years of his life and over $20,000 of his own money to recreate a shrine to his favorite team by building a scale-model replica of Giants Stadium in his Blairstown garage, reports the Star-Ledger.

Don Martini's labor of love is small enough to fit in his garage but large enough to bring back memories of the old 77,000 seat stadium when it was constructed for the Giants and the New York Jets were just considered pesky intruders.



Martin's creation is 20-feet long and 17-feet wide and no attention to detail has been spared.  The replica includes tiny halogen lights, billboards and tiny TV Jumbotrons in each end zone — one which plays Super Bowl XLII on an endless loop, the other shows the NFC Championship Game victory from that season.

The only things missing might be the sound of Bob Shepard's booming voice and the smell of the backed up toilets in the crowded bathrooms.



The 34-year-old Giants Stadium was demolished in 2010 to make way for the new venue. The old arena was the place where Bruce Springsteen cut his teeth doing stadium shows, high school teams pretended they were pros and might be the legendary grave of Jimmy Hoffa.

While never considered one of architecture's great marvels, the "obsolete" old stadium's demolition  touched a nerve with Martini.

"I'm going to build Giants Stadium," the 75-year-old retired teacher, and avowed builder of things, said to his wife one day.

"You're crazy," she told him.

Martini started working on the project and didn't stop for two years.

His son, Don G., is encouraging his dad to give it to the Giants — maybe for some season tickets.

Team spokesman Pat Hanlon called it "a wonderful tribute to a building that housed many wonderful memories" but he needed to give it more thought before accepting or declining the gift.

Nothing can ever erase the memories of Giants Stadium and it's nice to know there's a place you can still see its tiny reincarnation — minus the Turnpike traffic and Ray Handley years.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yankee fans vote to dump A-Rod, Swish and Grandy in polls

Brian Cashman is going to have his hands full when he starts working the offseason phones this winter.  But, if it were up to New York Yankees fans, he could start by dumping Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson right off the bat and nary a fan would cry — at least around 75% wouldn't.

In two separate New York tabloid polls, The New York Post and the New York Daily News readers unanimously voted to dump all three players after pitiful showings in the 2012 postseason.

A-Rod seemed like a no-brainer and former-fan favorite Swisher's exile was expected but Granderson's — a 40-home run hitter — percentages were closer than he probably deserves.

Take a deep breath New York.  Getting swept in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers is no reason to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge or poison yourself with 32 oz. sugary drinks.



The polls, taken a day after the disaster in Detroit, may have been swayed by seeing the fresh kill all over the news, but the winds of change have swirling around the Yankees for the past couple of post seasons.

The polls were both pretty much in the same ballpark when it came to percentages.

Not surprisingly, a couple of the new guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda, who both played up to snuff, got a lot of love.  As were some old faces like the remaining Core Four triplets Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.  All three were in the mid-80% range. Jeter and Rivera will both be coming back from the most serious injuries of their Hall of Fame careers while the 40-year-old Pettitte is still undecided about making another run with the team.



A couple of other key players still had legions of fans forgiving them for their miserable postseasons.  Both Mark (all glove, no bat) Teixeira and Robinson (29 at-bat hitless streak) Cano were given passes by the voters.

The fans also gave a vote of confidence to two key decision makers.  Manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman were both voted back by sizable percentages.  But that could all change if A-Rod is still wearing pinstripes next season.

The Yankees' ace CC Sabathia probably had the highest "stay" percentages (near 90%) but Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova hovered around the 60's.  Both of them could be trade bait this winter.

Fans were still in love with postseason hero Raul Ibanez but voted for Joba Chamberlain to take his trampoline act on the road.

These percentages may mean nothing in the grand scheme of Cashman's offseason, but here's a number the GM won't soon forget — a .157 team batting average in the ALCS.

Carmelo Anthony: 'I feel bad' for A-Rod

Add Carmelo Anthony to the the list of NBA superstars coming to the defense of embattled New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.  Lord knows the New York fans aren't.

It sounds like the New York Knicks forward is sympathetic towards A-Rod for the way he was benched and booed during the playoffs and, like Kobe Bryant the other day, doesn't think riding the pine suits the $114 million Yankee.


Rodriguez was benched in ALCS Game 3 and didn't start Game 4 but came in as a pinch hitter and went 0-for-2.  The final two at-bats only added to his 3-for-25 futility at the plate during the 2012 postseason.

Asked if he had ever been taken to task and benched by a coach, Anthony replied, "Never.  I can't imagine being benched like that."



Anthony, who was born in Brooklyn but raised in Baltimore, lost some Yankees fans when he started rooting for his hometown Orioles in the ALDS but claims he cheered for the Yankees when they played the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.

"I jumped ship," he joked.

Knicks fans must be hoping that the thoughtful 'Melo will do some more reaching out — especially when his teammate Amar'e Stoudemire in on the floor with him.