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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Brady's dilemma and disgust with the Mets

Here's my final take on Tom Brady and Deflategate:

If Brady wasn't as guilty of football tampering, then why did he destroy his phone the day before he was set to testify in front of the special NFL investigator? Brady's excuse was that he said he destroys his phones periodically. But in this case, he just happened to destroy the phone on the day he's supposed to meet with Ted Wells?

Not buying it. He wanted to destroy any evidence of texts that linked him with the two equipment managers involved in the case, one of whom referred to himself as the "Deflatinator."

See, here's the problem. For the last 15 years, the New England Patriots _ or Cheatalots, as I like to call them _ have done whatever they wanted to do, because they feel like they can get away with anything and that they're above the law.

You name it, they've done it. Videotaped other team's practices, circumvented the salary cap to get top players, videotaped other teams on the sidelines to pick up signals and signs, killing off a team's walkie-talkie service during games, you name it. The Cheatalots cheat a lot because they can.

Or so it seemed. See, this time, the pretty boy quarterback with the supermodel wife cheated and got caught. And instead of just coming forward and admitting he was cheating and got caught, he did what all cheaters do _ denied it.

Just like all the steroid users in baseball. They didn't do anything wrong. They used someone else's syringe, like their cousin's or their personal trainers. They never did performance enhancement drugs. Shame on anyone who even thought that.

Until the evidence became so clear, like in the cases of Roger Clemens (who is still in denial mode), Barry Bonds and most recently Alex Rodriguez, that they had no other choice but accept the fate handed to them.

No one is even insinuating that steroid use and deflating footballs are on the same level. Not even close.

But the denial is the same. Brady first tried to play stupid when confronted about the deflated footballs, saying that he didn't know anything about it. Then, when the two equipment guys stepped forward and told NFL investigators that of course Brady knew, then he changed his tune a little.

And then he had the audacity to go to his hearing, first with Wells, and later with Commissioner Roger Goodell, that he didn't do anything wrong, when he was handed evidence of the contrary.

For good measure, Brady said he destroyed the cell phone with the text messages on it. Gee, now there's some coincidence.

There's no question that the other NFL owners pressured Goodell (whom they pay an astonishing $45 million a year) to handle the Brady case with utmost importance and severity, because frankly, the rest of the NFL is sick and tired of the Cheatalots getting away with everything. I can't say they get away with murder, because Aaron Hernandez is proof that even a Cheatalot can't get away with murder. It might work for Viola Davis and her students on that silly ABC show, but it doesn't work in real life.

Goodell had no recourse but to throw the book at Brady and he did. Four games for deflating footballs? That's pretty hefty.

But Brady isn't getting four games simply for taking the air out of balls during games. Hell, if he fessed up to it when he was first accused, he would have received a $25,000 fine and a slap on the back of his hand, saying, "Naughty, naughty, Pretty Boy."

The reason why Brady is getting slammed is the audacity he showed by not cooperating with the investigation, then trying to destroy evidence. And if you're not guilty, as Brady still is in denial mode over, then why go to those lengths? Why not cooperate and prove your innocence?

Goodell had to do something drastic with Brady, because frankly, the other owners who pay his ridiculously gaudy salary wouldn't have stood for it any other way. Brady should take his four-game suspension and fine and slink off into the sunset. He should come back rested and tanned in October, ready to take on the world.

But to continue to deny that this all took place is silly and frankly tarnishing Brady's legacy as an all-time great. Right now, he's known as an all-time cheat, four Super Bowls or not. No one ever accused Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana of cheating. Their legacies are intact and in good standing. Brady will forever be known as the cheater who got caught deflating footballs.

Brady should take his suspension like a man, because unlike what he professes, he knows he did something wrong.

Now, as for the complete clusterf**k known as the New York Mets, can anyone explain to me what actually happened Wednesday night?

Right after the first pitch was thrown, reputable sportswriters like Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record and Joel Sherman of the New York Post were reporting that the Mets had indeed traded injured pitcher Zach Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for All-Star centerfielder Carlos Gomez.

Soon after, the flood gates opened. My phone pinged with updates about the trade more than pictures of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair went viral. Seriously, I received about 30 different notifications from Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, you name it. The trade was done. It was official.

Except there was Flores still playing shortstop for the Mets. The crowd at CitiField knew Flores was traded, because they gave him a much deserved standing ovation for what appeared to be his last at-bat, one where he grounded out to short. It had to be the first time a baseball player received a standing ovation for a ground out.

Flores then was visibly upset as he went back out onto the field. The 23-year-old kid has spent his entire baseball life with the Mets, going back to when he was a 16-year-old kid in the Dominican Republic. He was upset that he was being traded.

Mets manager Terry Collins then talked to Flores before the bottom of the ninth inning, and off Flores went to the clubhouse, apparently to be forever replaced by the legendary Ruben Tejada.

And then, after the game, Collins said that he knew nothing of a trade. It seemed ridiculous that every person in the building knew of the trade except the manager of the team. A few minutes later, Mets GM Sandy Alderson appeared in front of the media to say that there was no trade and that any trade was off.

Say what? What in God's name happened?

Now, as a member of the media, I can tell you this: Klapisch and Sherman are impeccable. So is Jon Heyman, who reported the trade a few minutes after Klap and Sherman. Their reputations as reporters are stellar.

Could they be wrong? It happens. But that would be if just one reported the trade. All three? Highly unlikely.

Someone in the Mets' front office leaked the trade before it was official and it went viral. But I'm risking my own reputation by saying that trade definitely happened, because there's no way all three would have missed it. No way in hell.

What did take place is that the Mets look once again like a second-rate organization and left their young shortstop out on the field to have an emotional breakdown for the entire world to see on television. There were already jokes this morning involving Flores and Tom Hanks' memorable line from "A League of Our Own," when he uttered "There's no crying in baseball."

If there was a trade in place, Flores should have been in the clubhouse, far away from the bright lights. He should not have been paraded out there for the world to see him emote like that. And for Collins and Alderson to boldly state that they knew nothing of a trade and that no trade existed, that's just a complete crock.

Of course there was some trade. Who pulled the trade back remains to be seen? But I'll stake my entire 34-year career on the fact that there was some agreement between the two clubs, that agreement was leaked to the media and then that agreement was pulled back in the late stages of the game.

And the one victim of it all? Wilmer Flores. Sure, professional baseball is a business. We all understand that. But there's no way he should have been left out there to fry. Shame on the Mets. Once again. They really know how to screw up everything, don't they?

You can read more of my work at, and from time to time at

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Where are the 'real' All-Stars?

Last night was the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Pardon me if I didn't care.

Now, there was a time when the MLB All-Star Game meant everything to me. I can sense sentimentality taking over me right now. Here goes: "When I was a kid..."

I remember hearing those words so many times when I was growing up, hearing my beloved father, my much older brother or whomever wanted to tell me a story would always preface their saga with "When I was a kid."

When they were kids, the world was peaceful, the streets were clean, newspapers and ice cream cost a nickel, pop songs were about love and puppies and sunshine and lollipops and everything was wonderful.

When my brother was a kid, there were three baseball teams in New York and each team had an All-Star sure-fire Hall of Famer in center field. The Giants had Mays, the Yankees had Mantle and 'dem Bums of Brooklyn had Duke Snider. Must have been a tremendous time to grow up as a baseball fan.

So now, as a 54-year-old middle-aged man, I now get to utter the same words. "When I was a kid..." Sounds a little silly to me, but it's true.

Because when I was a kid, the All-Star Game truly meant something. It was indeed the Mid-Summer Classic, because all of the participants were indeed classic.

We're talking 1969, in the nation's capital, the 100th anniversary of baseball. On the National League roster, there were people like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Pitchers like Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton, also all Hall of Famers. Pete Rose was also on the National League roster

On the American League side, there were Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Brooks Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski. Unfortunately for the AL, there were no Hall of Fame pitchers on the staff, maybe the reason why the National League won the game that year, 9-3.

I remember the game was initially rained out the night before and played the following afternoon. I was so excited that the game was played during the day, so I could watch every last pitch. When I was a kid...

That is some array of all-time talent. There were 18 Hall of Famers in that game. Mind you, with only the chance to watch the Yankees and the Mets on local television and the Game of the Week on NBC on Saturday afternoons, this was the only chance I got to see a lot of those all-time greats in action. So truly, it was an exciting event.

Now, turn the clock to 2015. There was an All-Star game in Cincinnati, but how many of these players are truly worthy of the status that comes with being an All-Star?

On the National League side alone, there were 15 players making their first All-Star appearance. There were names like Nolan Arenado, J.J. Pollock (sounds like some obscure actor), Joe Panik (sounds like an attack in a subway), Yasmani Grandal (what the hell is that?), DJ LeMahieu (say what?) and Mark Melancon (maybe he's a rock star with Cougar as his fake moniker, like Mark Cougar Melancon).

Yes, those are actual members of the National League All-Star team.

On the NL roster, there were three players who are borderline potential Hall of Famers in Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutcheon and Bryce Harper. That's about it.

It doesn't get any better on the AL side. There were 15 first-time All-Stars, names like Kelvin Herrera, Dallas Keuchel, Darren O'Day (isn't he the guy who sang the 70s song "Undercover Angel?"), Brad Boxberger (say what what?), Hector Santiago (can't make fun of him too much, because he's from nearby Newark), Brock Holt (tell me that's not a porn name), Brian Dozier (who?), Stephen Vogt (who who?), Jose Iglesias (who who who?), Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain (Adam raised a Cain, for you Springsteen fanatics). OK, enough already.

And as sure-fire Hall of Famers, there were Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and King Felix Hernandez, as well as the best player in the game, Mike Trout, who won the game's MVP.

Now, where's the array of Hall of Famers that I saw _ hate to say it _  when I was a kid? The answer: They weren't in Cincinnati.

Sure, I might be a tad old school and I might be getting old, but I was led to believe that the All-Star Game was set aside for the All-Stars. And in my opinion, Alex Rodriguez and Big Papi David Ortiz are All-Stars every single time they step foot on a field. It was a disgrace that those two were not on the AL roster.

And to have 30 players making their All-Star Game debut tells me one thing: Either we're putting too many young players on the All-Star rosters on purpose or there's a changing of the guard.

I'd much rather watch highlights of the 1969 All-Star Game then watch the current game. How can there be an All-Star Game with so many players I've never heard of? All-Stars? Hardly.


So Dez Bryant played hardball with Jerry Jones and won, getting a five-year contract for $70 million right under the deadline for signing long-term agreements. After losing Demarco Murray to free agency earlier this year, Jones couldn't afford to let his other big-time headache walk into free agency as well, so Bryant's threat of sitting out games this season worked to his advantage.

Bad news with that is that other big-time NFL malcontents like Bryant are going to pull the same crap in the future to secure gigantic contracts. And that's just wrong.


You can read more of my stuff at, and This Sunday will be an interesting feature in the Hudson Reporter about the Washington Park Little League team of Jersey City, which just won the District 7 Little League crown for the first time since 1969. Yes, the same year as the aforementioned All-Star Game.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The absurdity in sports

Remember Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word?"

In that song, Sir Elton warbles "and it's getting more and more absurd," with a definite fine English accent on absurd, making it sound like he's saying OB-ZURD.

Anyway, there were two instances of OB-ZURD-ITY over the last 48 hours that have really caused the big man's blood pressure to rise and boil.

First moment of absurdity came when the New York Giants' talented defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul brought a van load of fireworks from Virginia to Florida to celebrate the Fourth of July. When we say van load, we mean van load, like UHaul load, of fireworks. There were pictures of the loaded van on Twitter. In the van with Pierre-Paul was his wife and six-month-old son. Yes, a baby with all those fireworks. Absurd.

Anyway, Pierre-Paul did absurd thing No. 2. He apparently lit some of the fireworks with his own hand and was severely maimed by the explosives. No one knows the extent of his injuries. At first, it was thought that JPP lost digits as a cause of the accident, but apparently he has suffered severe flesh burns that will require several skin graft operations. Absurd.

Now, what's the first question that comes to mind? Right, we all know it. What in the hell was he thinking?

What does he need that much fireworks? Why is he handling them? Why is he handling them with his baby there? How can he do such a thing when he has yet to sign his contract for the 2015 season, one that was scheduled for him to make $14.8 million? He was offered a franchise tag tender for the season and has yet to sign it, because he's looking for a longer deal with more guaranteed money.

Well, he can kiss that all goodbye now. I hope the M-80 explosion was worth it, because the Giants withdrew the $60 million offer with about $25 million of it guaranteed off the table today. JPP's agent said that he wasn't going to sign that contract anyway. Oh, yeah, well, it's hard to sign a contract offer that isn't there. It's also hard to sign a contract with your hand all bandaged up and mangled.

JPP's net worth right now is estimated at $4.9 million, according to the website, So he stood to more than triple his net worth this season with the franchise tag. Not to mention the $60 million offer that was on the table. That's all gone now, because the $14.8 million franchise tag is not guaranteed and the Giants can release JPP and not owe him a dime.

Will they do so? No, he's too valuable of a player. He had 12 sacks last season in a comeback year after back surgery. So the Giants want him back. And the doctors told a few news agencies in Florida that the injuries were not career threatening and he should recover.

But if you're the Giants, do you offer him a huge contract now? I mean, this is perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever heard in 34 years of being a sportswriter. We all thought Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg of a nightclub with an illegal gun was stupid. Burress was a MENSA member compared to this ridiculous act. Absurd.

The next bit of absurdity comes courtesy of my favorite baseball team, the New York Mets, who continue to just boggle the mind with the way they make moves _ and subsequently don't make moves.

Today, the team announced that it was recalling Kirk Niewenhuis back to the club from Class AAA Las Vegas.

This is the same Niewenhuis who has been released by two organizations this year _ one of which happens to be the Mets.

In 38 at-bats with the Mets, he hit a robust .079 with three hits. He struck out 17 times and had two RBI. The Mets then cut him loose (actually sold him) to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles or whatever they're called.

In 24 at-bats with the Angels, Niewenhuis hit .136 (hey, an improvement) with three hits and one RBI, earning his release, where he ended up with the Mets' Class AAA franchise and now back with the Mets today.

So he's had six hits in 60 at-bats this season with two teams. That's a batting average of .100. That's not even sniffing the Mendoza line. He's hitting .100. I don't ever recall a position player with a lower batting average.

Plain and simple, as much as the female fans might not want to admit because he is actually eye candy, he cannot play. He can't hit to save his beans. But he's collecting a major league salary again today, courtesy of the punchless Mets. He fits right in, because most of the rest of the Mets can't hit either, especially the combo of Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer, who right now look like Marshall, Will and Holly on the Land of the Lost.


Bringing back Niewenhius (or however he spells his name) proves one thing. That the Wilpons and GM/Stooge Sandy Alderson do not care about the fans. Nope, Freddie Coupon and Coupon, Jr. only care about getting through the season with as little payroll as possible and hopefully they can make money with the team. They already make a boatload with the SNY broadcasts, but that's never filtered to the team, like the Steinbrenners take the YES money and put it towards the Yankees.

Nope, the Coupons think we're all stupid idiots. The logical move would be to bring top prospect Michael Conforto up from Binghamton and see if he could handle major league pitching, like he's done on every single level of baseball he's ever played in. Everyone knows that the kid can simply hit. He's a no-miss prospect.

But he remains in the minors for one reason. Because the Coupons don't want his free agency clock to start ticking. Much like they did with Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Katz, they want to hold Conforto out of major league action to control his free agency status for years to come.

The hell with winning now. We want to keep our players for as long as we can on the cheap. Because that's what the Coupons are. They are cheap. They are misers. They count their money in a dark room together and giggle like school girls. The hell with winning and putting a team on the field that the fans can root for. Nope, let's keep them in the minors for as long as possible.

Everyone is calling for a trade. But in reality, what's out there that the Mets can trade for? And they're not trading any of their incredible pitchers. They have the best young pitching staff in baseball. None of them are going anywhere.

Unless someone wants to take that malcontent Jonathon Niese off our hands for useful player, there will not be a trade this year. So the Mets will continue to parade this band of outmakers like Mayberry, Ceciliani, Tejada, Monell and my mother up to the plate and hope and pray they can squeak out a 2-1 win, thanks to the pitching. It doesn't work.

In fact, it's all just absurd. That's the best way to describe it. JPP and the Mets. Perfectly absurd.