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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stick a fork in the Mets

Most Mets fans probably knew that this day would eventually come sometime during the 2012 season. Some probably even thought that the day would arrive even before the season began. I was one of those. I thought it was a useless and hopeless situation from the day spring training opened in February, to idiot lying owner Freddie Coupon waving money around, saying that "I have fives," flashing green pictures of Lincoln around Port St. Lucie.

But then Mets fans were treated to their annual tease. The Mets won the first four games of the season, had a spectacular April, followed by a competitive May into a steady June.

We were treated to the incredible exploits of knuckleball sensation R.A. Dickey. We were amazed at the play of David Wright, who bounced back to the status of an elite player in MLB. Hey, we finally even got a no-hitter from Johan Santana after more than 8,000 games in the history of the franchise.

We had young players to get excited about, like Kirk Niewenhuis and Ruben Tejada, guys who gave us hope for the future. We saw the development of Jonathon Niese and believed that maybe he could be the next Jon Matlack.

For three months, while the Mets maintained their position over .500 and remained in contention for either the NL East title or a possible wild card berth, we all collectively drank the Mets' Kool-Aid. We believed that they were a decent club, a possible contender, even though deep down inside, we looked at the roster, looked out at the field, gazed out at the bullpen and said, "How in the world is this team winning?"

Then, the All-Star break came and the Mets finally looked in the mirror and realized that they were simply weren't good. They were staying above water miraculously and they finally fell into the water and sunk.

Because the Mets are now dead in the water. They've lost 13 of their last 15 games. They are 4-15 in July. The solid starting pitching they had in the first three months is now matching the horrendous work of the bullpen. The hitting, other than Wright and David Murphy, has disappeared. Malcontent Lucas Duda, who was expected to produce like Carlos Beltran (dream on) but became more like Mike Vail, was sent pouting off to Buffalo.

They've become what they were expected to be _ a less-than-average team with a bunch of holes throughout.

So the first few months were what the Mets are best at doing _ a big tease. A bigger tease than Darla Hood was on the "Little Rascals" when she would shake and shimmy for Spanky, Alfalfa and Butch, show them all a little shoulder and produce nothing.

They've teased us every year since 2006. They won the division that year and then lost in the NLCS. In 2007 and 2008, they were the biggest chokers known to man, worse than Greg Norman and Jan Vande Velde combined. Over the last three years, more of the same. They'd provide a little glimpse of hope, then collapse like a house of cards in a stiff wind.

Only this year, the collapse came earlier. We all were led to believe that they could stay in the race until September, especially with all their great starting pitching.

That's all gone. They're under .500 now and playing lousy baseball. Stick a fork in them. They're done, like the last hamburger left on the grill for five hours after the barbecue is long over. The only hope comes from young Matt Harvey. The rest of the team and the season is nothing more than a facade.

Incredibly, I've learned from a very good and respected baseball writer than the Mets' problems with the Bernie Madoff situation are not gone like what we've been led to believe. That Freddie Coupon has instructed stooge Sandy Alderson not to spend a dime in salary for improvements to the team, that they have to dance with the horrendous bullpen that brought them.

So in essence, Alderson has learned to lie as bad as Freddie Coupon, because he said all along that the Mets were buyers, when in fact, they did absolutely nothing to improve the worst bullpen in the game. Lie, lie, lie. It's the Mets' way now.

That's a shame. I'd give Coupon, Coupon, Jr. and the rest of the liars more credit if they just admitted they sucked and were doing nothing to improve the team, rather than try to pull off this charade that they've been doing all season.

They want people to come to CitiField to see REO Speedwagon, Daughtry and the Sugar Hill Express and the Trammps (just kidding about the last two), not to see a competitive baseball team.

They had a chance to do something when the season was still within reach, when the Mets were living out the facade and actually staying in the race. They did nothing. The Mets collapsed and now it's over.

So what do we have left? A chance to maybe see Zach Wheeler before the season is over? Or more starts from the immortal Jeremy Hefner or Hugh Hefner or Hugh Jackman or Baby Huey?

But the Coupons truly believe that Met fans will continue to come, even though it's a seriously inferior product? Dream on, Freddie the Liar. Your team stinks. We don't want no stinkin' team.

Unfortunately, we got one. We have no catchers. We have an underachieving first baseman. We have no outfielders whatsoever. I'm not drinking the Jordany Valdespin Kool-Aid just yet. We have the worst outfielder in the team's history making $16 million, when all Jason Bay does is strike out and ground out to shortstop. Enough already with Bay. Put him on EBay and see if we can get about nine bucks for him.

We have no other players in the outfield. Andres Torres is completely useless. Punky Brewster has a better arm than Torres.

It's a bad baseball team. Meanwhile, the team in the Bronx is running away with the division. They need a spare outfielder. They go get a Hall of Famer. We have Andres Torres. Need I say more?

To those who continue to show incredible blind allegiance to Joe Paterno, who believe that the formerly iconic Penn State coach did nothing wrong in the Sandusky scandal, take a peek at either the Freeh report or the emails that Paterno received.

The man was not a nice man. He turned his back on his pedophiliac assistant coach, allowed him to maim little boys simply because he didn't want to cause embarrassment to his revered football program.

As soon as Paterno had proof that Sandusky was doing those things to little boys, he should have called the police and had him removed from the campus, instead of welcoming him back like nothing happened.

Paterno wanted to sweep everything under the rug and pretend that nothing happened. He truly thought that it would all eventually just go away. Only problem was it didn't. He then had a chance to come clean before he died and he lied about it, then said "I wish I could have done more" to stop it.

If he truly believed it, he would have blown the whistle on Sandusky when he first received word of his horrific deeds in 1998. Guess what? If Paterno did that, he would have been considered a hero, instead of the villian he's portrayed as now, even in death.

And as for the NCAA's ruling, I'm all for it. The penalty was severe enough. The death penalty would have damaged the kids who are on the current roster. One current player said it best when he said, "We were all watching Barney and the Teletubbies when these things took place." He's right. The current team did nothing wrong. They don't deserve to have football taken away from them.

But the $60 million fine, the elimination of 10 scholarships per year and denying the team the right to play in bowl games for four years is sufficient enough of a penalty.

Now, let's see the NCAA take the $60 million and donate it to a child violence and abuse advocacy group, much like the Big Ten did with Penn State's $11 million revenue from the Big Ten Network. The fines should not go to the already rich NCAA. The fine has to do some good to society.

But to the Paterno allies. The statue had to come down. This is not a man who deserves to be revered and adored. He's a rotten man, even now that he's dead. Rotten to the core, because all he cared about was his own legacy, wins and losses, the image of his so-called pristine program and his place in the college football society. When Paterno turned his back and pretended it all didn't happen on his watch, he truly became an evil man and he's now getting his just rewards.

You can read more of my work at, and The Daily Record has a feature on Boonton's Travis Tripucka trying to make the St. Louis Rams as a long snapper. Check it out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not so Happy Valley anymore

For almost six decades, he was a beacon of football excellence. He was the one coach you wanted your kid to play for. He was the father figure and eventually the grandfather figure of the sport.

Joe Paterno was Penn State football. With the Coke-bottle glasses, the windbreaker and tie and referee shoes, Paterno had an image that was larger than life. He represented everything that was good about college football. He wasn't a blowhard. He wasn't a braggart. He never had a single NCAA violation and never even a hint of impropriety in a sport that has been filled with cheaters, liars and basically bad guys.

Now, even in death, Paterno's image is forever tarnished, even ruined. The findings of an extensive report, compiled by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, brought down all the good, shot down all the victories and the all-time coaching victory record. The 267-page report, which is available online and is downright sickening, took Paterno's 61-year career and flushed it right down the toilet.

It was learned Thursday that Paterno did know about the horrific actions of his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, knew that Sandusky was indeed a distgusting pedophile since 1998 and turned his back on the incidents, hoping it would all just simply go away.

The report finds that Paterno "followed Sandusky's actions closely and failed to take action." It continued to say that Paterno and three of his hierarcy at Penn State also failed to report Sandusky to the authorities.

It certainly gives some credence to the fact that Sandusky was actually forced into retirement as an assistant coach after they received news of his disgusting actions. But if that's the case, why wasn't he banished forever? How in the world could these people allow Sandusky to continue his predatory stance on the Penn State campus, bringing victims to practices and bowl games, holding his camp, which was basically a breeding ground for his newest prey, right there, right under their noses?

I understand that Paterno is now deceased and cannot answer for his actions. But the release of this report today is so totally damning _ not just to Paterno's lasting legacy, but to the other three school officials who are still around and will eventually have to face the music, either in criminal or civil court.

The liability that the school now has with these victims is unreal. The civil suits will eventually cost the school _ and the state of Pennsylvania, meaning the state's taxpayers _ hundreds of millions of dollars.

And for what? To protect a sick pedophile? Was it done so Paterno could keep his job and keep on winning, pretending that nothing ever happened? How could the remaining three look at themselves in the mirror, knowing they fully well knew something in 1998, allowed it to continue, and then heard horrific stories about Sandusky continuing to prey upon little boys?

It is clearly the sickest story I've ever heard in sports anywhere. I've heard of cases of sexual child abuse, where a coach was found to do something wrong or act in an inappropriate manner and the incident is addressed and handled right away.

But in this case, where it was totally ignored? And ignored by the winningest coach in the history of the sport?
There are some things that have to happen right now. Jay Paterno has to stay off television, defending his father, because he looks like a complete fool now, calling his father "Joe" and saying that his father clearly didn't intentionally do anything wrong. It doesn't work. JoePa's legacy is trash now. Nothing can save it.

Secondly, Matt Millen has completely embarrassed himself, defending JoePa all day on ESPN. Millen cannot continue to defend Paterno's legacy anymore. It's downright sickening. Millen has to read Freeh's report, word for word, and then realize that the approach he's taken is making him look like a clown. The less said, the better.

It's amazing how a legend and an icon can fall so quickly. It happened to Pete Rose. It happened, of course, to O.J. Simpson. Those two are still around to see, hear and feel their disgrace. Sure, we're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but you can't ignore what Paterno did the way that Paterno ignored what Sandusky did. It's never going to go away. Never.

So Dwight Howard isn't going to be a member of the Brooklyn Nets anytime soon. I've never been more disgusted with a story that never happened like this one. This selfish clown, who used to also have a pristine image, has held an entire league hostage _ and the people who make a living from the NBA for that matter _ worse than the Iranians held those Americans hostage in 1979-80.

Howard is certainly not a Superman any more, after he demanded the Orlando Magic to trade him to the Nets and only the Nets. This comes after playing this same charade for the past year, then pulling back the idea that he wanted to get traded in order to play out his contract, then renegging on that idea by demanding a trade again. This is the same guy who demanded that a good basketball man like Stan Van Gundy get fired, then has held five teams, countless team officials, hundreds of sportswriters and mankind in general hostage to meet his whims and demands.

Howard is still with the Magic. As Derrick Coleman once said, "Whoop-de-damn-doo." Who cares right now? But every day, we're totally saturated with the latest Howard rumor going here or there, reading about a five-team deal involving more players than the Octomom has kids, then it all goes away.

Enough of it already. It's beyond the point of annoyance.

As for the ESPYs, if anyone thinks that Tim Tebow's touchdown pass was a better moment than the last day of the baseball regular season last year or that the Miami Heat had a better team effort than that of the New York Giants, please just get Dr. Kevorkian's IV drip ready for me, because I'm ready to cash in the chips.

The show used to be entertaining at least. But it's evident that ESPN is obsessed these days with Tebow and LeBron James to the point where you can't go 15 minutes without hearing one's name or the other.

The voters? No, it was the network.

However, the tributes to Pat Summitt and my man Eric LeGrand were downright heartwrenching and brought tears to my eye. If there's ever been a kid who will beat this paralysis, it's Eric, whose personality has not changed one iota despite his horrific injury. His body may have changed, but his mind, spirit and impeccable smile has not. It was fitting that he received an award that was named after another famous Rutgers alum, Jim Valvano.

God bless Eric and BELIEVE52 for making us all believe and feel better about ourselves and our lives. He's truly an inspiration to everyone on this planet.

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