Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This post from the Borowitz Report is too funny for words! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Sportsbusters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


WITH CC AND AJ in the bag, the Yankees are hardly sweating on whether AP accepts their offer of a one-year deal worth $10 million.

The AP I’m referring to is Andy Pettitte, who is hardly endearing himself to Yanks fans by humming and haaing over whether to re-sign for “the only team I want to play for.”

Now one well-informed baseball scribe is reporting that the reason for Pettitte’s prevarication is that another team is willing to give him a three-year, $36 million deal.

Even allowing for the fact that despite the recession, baseball clubs are still handing out long-term contracts like confetti, this story beggar’s belief.

True, Philadelphia have rewarded 46-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer with a new, two-year contract. But then Moyer did play a leading role in helping the Phillies win the World Series this year.

Veteran pitcher wants better offer

For all his past achievements in pinstripes, Pettitte couldn’t even help the Yankees reach the playoffs last season. Reportedly troubled throughout the year by a nagging shoulder injury, he went 14-14 with an ERA of 4.54.

At 36 years old, Pettitte was said to be contemplating following Mike Mussina into retirement.

Now we are being led to believe by his representatives that he is actually considering pitching for another three years – and that someone is prepared to pay him $12 million a year to do so.

It’s the right time of year for fairy tales. Could this be another tall story leaked in the hope that the moneybags Yankees will increase their offer?

That’s quite possible, given that the agents representing CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett waited patiently in the wings until the price was right.

What general manager Brian Cashman should do now is call Pettitte’s bluff by telling him it’s now or never to accept the Yanks’ offer.

Monday, December 15, 2008


CHRISTMAS is a time for giving…and it seems the presents are being handed out early in the National Football League.

Buffalo Bills quarterback JP Losman gifted the New York Jets victory at the Meadowlands and quite possibly saved coach Eric Mangini from Santa’s sack.

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher’s puzzling decision not to allow Rob Bironas to attempt a 49-yard field goal in the last two minutes in Houston resulted in his team’s second defeat of the season. Bironas, remember, kicked one from 60 yards in 2006.

And the officials in Baltimore overturned the ruling on the field that Santonio Holmes had caught Ben Roethlisberger just outside the end zone when TV replays failed to provide any conclusive evidence that the ball had in fact broken the plane of the goal line.

Such is the margin between victory and defeat, success and failure, in the NFL.

So what have we learned from week 15? That some teams are not as good as we thought they were – and that some are even worse than we could imagine. Take a bow the Detroit Lions, St Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.

Just as winning is a habit, so is losing. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised that the Chiefs managed to blow yet another lead – this time a 21-3 advantage over the struggling San Diego Chargers in the third quarter.

Giants lose their aura of invincibility

“I’m still in utter shock right now,” said linebacker Rocky Boiman. “How we can come so close and still somehow let it slip away. It doesn’t seem possible.”

Anything is possible for Herm Edwards’
hapless Chiefs, who have lost 21 of their last 23 games.

The Jets, who looked like world-beaters when they were winning in Tennessee and New England, have been made to look distinctly average by the 49ers and Bills.

And, without Plaxico Burress and Brandon Jacobs, the previously invincible New York Giants were left battered and bruised by the Dallas Cowboys.

For the second week running, the Giants offense was awful, leading to Eli Manning being sacked no fewer than six times.

Two weeks ago, a second successive Super Bowl looked a distinct possibility. Now the momentum has shifted to teams such as Pittsburgh, Dallas and the Carolina Panthers – the Giants’ next opponents on Sunday.

That word momentum holds the key to success in most sports. And now that the Giants have lost it, they’re not going to find it easy to get it back.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


AS USUAL, the Yankees upstaged the Mets by agreeing a deal with CC Sabathia less than 24 hours after their cross-town rivals had signed Francisco Rodriguez.

While the Yanks have the cash to splash on Sabathia, the Mets have made a more modest outlay on K-Rod and JJ Putz.

The Yanks are not finished yet. But when this winter’s wheeling and dealing is finally done, it may well turn out that Mets general manager Omar Minaya is the overall winner of The Price is Right.

Let’s to be honest, you don’t have to be the shrewdest businessman in the world to close a deal with the top free agent when you’re willing to outbid your competitors by more than $60 million.

Such was the Yankees’ desperation to sign a genuine No. 1 pitcher that no one was going to stand in their way – not even CC’s wife, Amber.

In comparison to the $161 million, seven-year deal handed to Sabathia, K-Rod is a steal at $37 million for three years.

He may not be the best closer in baseball – I’d put Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon ahead of him – but neither of them had anywhere close to 62 saves last season.

But while Rodriguez was a straightforward money signing, Minaya had to get creative to acquire the services of JJ Putz in a three-team, 12-player trade involving the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians.

K-Rod and JJ to pack powerful one-two punch

Putz, who will be 32 in February, was among the best closers in baseball in 2007 with 40 saves and the lowest ERA (1.38) among Major League relievers.

He was troubled by injuries last season but still managed 15 saves an ERA of 3.88.

If Putz stays healthy in 2009, the Mets are going to have the best eighth and ninth inning combination in the National League.

Compare that to this year when the bullpen blew an amazing 29 saves and gave up 61 home runs from the seventh inning on.

But for their ninth inning profligacy, the Mets would have finished the regular season five games ahead of the Philadelphia in the NL East…and we all know what the Phillies went on to accomplish.

All Minaya gave up to acquire a man with 101 saves in 308 games were Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith and Endy Chavez. 

Of those three, only Smith could be considered a major loss. Heilman was a disaster this year in key situations and while Chavez made some spectacular catches in the outfield, he was a lightweight with the bat.

On paper, the Yanks have more cracks to fill in than the Mets. But they may live to regret the folly of handing out long-terms deals to seasoned players.

Judging by his physique, Sabathia is going to be a hungry player. But whether that hunger is for success or merely fast food remains to be seen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


SHOULD YANKEES FANS be elated, relieved or concerned now that it appears CC Sabathia will be wearing pinstripes next year?

Elated because above anything else, the Yanks need an ace pitcher who can compete with the Josh Becketts of this world.

Relieved because for the last three weeks it seemed that Sabathia didn’t want to come to New York for all the tea in China.

Concerned because giving any pitcher a seven-year deal is a major risk, let alone one of CC’s build and age (28).

His ability is not in doubt; he has a career ERA of 3.66. But he’s already pitched 1,659 innings so has plenty of miles on the clock.

After their gamble backfired on giving youth a chance rather than pursuing Johan Santana last winter, the Yanks were not going to make the same mistake twice.

That’s why general manager Brian Cashman has used every trick in the book to persuade CC that New York City can be his kind of town.

Opt-out clause seals deal with Yanks

Mind you, reports suggest that the $161 million, seven-year deal includes an opt-out clause after three years, just in case life in the Big Apple doesn’t suit the father-of-two from California.

Sabathia had a close relationship with the fans in Cleveland, so much so that he took out a full-page ad in the local newspaper thanking them for their support after leaving for Milwaukee.

He will soon discover that there are no in-betweens with the fans in New York. They idolize you when you’re playing well, but turn on you pretty quickly when you’re out of form. A-Rod can tell CC all about that.

There have been some concerns expressed about Sabathia’s weight, but he has been a willing workhorse throughout his career and was able to pitch successfully on short rest for the Brewers at the end of last season.

Another worry is his record in the postseason – one win against three losses in five games. He went 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA against the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 American League Championship Series.

But after being eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 1993 this year, the Yanks priority is actually getting there next year. Playing in the same division as the Red Sox and emerging Tampa Bay Rays, that’s going to be no easy task.

It’s also why Cashman and the Yanks will continue to pursue the other free agent pitchers, notably AJ Burnett and Derek Lowe.

Add one of those two to Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and probably Andy Pettitte and you should have a pretty decent starting rotation, especially with Phil Hughes waiting in the wings. 

Being greedy, I would like to have seen the Yanks leading the race to sign Mark Teixeira as they need a first baseman who can hit and he’s a perfect fit.

As well as their well-chronicled pitching problems last season, we shouldn’t forget that the Yanks fell well short of their projected runs total too.

Teixeira would go a long way to solving that problem but, sadly, that’s one deal that doesn’t look like happening.

Baseball’s hot stove is sizzling now and with the Mets capture of K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez), New York fans are going to be treated to seeing two of the best three closers currently playing the game.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


NEW YORK baseball fans will no doubt be glad to hear that even if they can’t afford to go to the city’s two new ballparks next season, they will still be making a significant contribution to the clubs’ welfare.

The Associated Press reports that the Yankees and Mets are asking New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city for an additional $450 million in public bonds to finance the building of their new stadiums.

The news comes at a time when the Yankees have made an offer of $140 million to one player, CC Sabathia. The Mets are already committed to paying Johan Santana $137.5 million over the next six years.

In the Yankees’ application, the club is asking for another $259m in tax-exempt bonds and $111m in taxable bonds. This is on top of the $965m in bonds already granted for the $1.3 billion new Yankee Stadium.

The Mets are requesting an additional $83m, on top of the $615m already approved for their $800m Citi Field.

The reason? Rising costs, which are far greater than predicted in 2006, notably to replace the parkland on which the new Yankee Stadium is being built and construction of the Metro-North rail station nearby.

City officials claim they will still make a net profit on the bonds and that the new ballparks have generated thousands of construction jobs.

Taxpayers taken for another $450 million

But they’re certainly providing critics of the deal with plenty of ammunition to fire back that the cost to taxpayers far outweighs the economic benefits.

In the current economic climate, when people are losing jobs through no fault of their own, this story is bound to raise eyebrows.

As a fan myself, I know just how much pleasure the Yankees and Mets bring to the community in New York and far beyond.

Baseball remains America’s favorite pastime. It’s also an “industry” that generated a record $6.5 billion in revenue this year alone.

The salaries paid to the top players are obscene, the ticket prices charged so high that the average fan can no longer attend games on a regular basis.

At a time when the U.S. Government is having to bail out the banks and car manufacturers, surely Major League Baseball – and especially the moneybags Mets and Yankees – should be told to pick up the tab.


THE YANKEES are used to getting their man but surely it must be crystal clear by now that CC Sabathia is not in a New York state of mind.

More than three weeks after the Yanks first dangled a $140 million, six-year deal in front of baseball’s most sough-after free agent, the hefty lefty has yet to take the bait.

General manager Brian Cashman is preaching patience and he’s right…imposing a deadline would probably only succeed in driving the ace pitcher away.

“These free agents, especially when they’re the high end, can dictate the pace,” said Cashman.

“Now I’ve had a chance to meet CC he’s a quality guy. Whether he picks us or doesn’t pick us, I think he’s going through this process with genuine, sincere effort to make the best decision for himself and his family, simple as that.

“We’re not being played, we’re not being manipulated, we’re not being used. I just think that he’s making an informed decision.”

Such are the club’s pitching needs that Cashman and Co. can’t sit around forever in the vain hope that Sabathia will eventually agree to take the Yankee dollar.

Ace pitcher prefers LA to New York

As an ardent Yanks fan, of course I want to see CC in pinstripes. But if he can’t share my passion for the Bronx Bombers then I’d rather he go elsewhere.

Reports suggest that after plying his trade in the baseball backwaters of Cleveland and Milwaukee, Sabathia is concerned about the scrutiny he and his family would be subjected to in New York.

The Big Apple brings out the best in some players, but the bright lights and mass media attention are not for everyone.

The Yanks are pulling out all the stops to persuade Sabathia he would fit right in. They have even enlisted the help of Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, who knows all about hero worship in New York.

But despite all this, Sabathia seems desperate for someone else to come up with comparable offer so he can play on the West Coast, preferably in the National League.

So much so that his representatives have even made overtures to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have money to spend now that they have withdrawn their $45 two-year offer to Manny Ramirez.

Cashman no doubt has a backup plan or two if and when Sabathia officially rules out a move to the Yankees.

But after deciding not to pursue Johan Santana last winter, the Yanks are desperate to land the big one this year…and it shows.

Monday, December 8, 2008


TALK of a Subway Super Bowl proved premature. The New York Giants are fallible, after all, while the Jets are proving a real enigma.

Nerveless in New England, titanic in Tennessee, losing big at home to the Broncos was bad enough, but they were 3.5-point favorites in San Francisco and lost by 10.

Even allowing for a questionable holding call, which ruled out a 99-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington and robbed the Jets of a 21-17 fourth-quarter lead, Gang Green was once again in disarray.

A lack of unity, highlighted by the sniping comments aimed at Brett Favre by Laveranues Coles in the San Francisco media leading up to the game, is almost as concerning as the lack of leadership by coach Eric Mangini.

Mangini is clearly no Bill Belichick. He is either unable or unwilling to change his game plan when it isn’t working. And the inability of the Jets defense to apply any real pressure to the quarterback continues to hurt them against supposedly inferior opponents.

The 8-5 Jets are now in a three-way tie for the lead in the AFC East with the Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.

They have the ideal opportunity to bounce back when fast-fading Buffalo come to town this Sunday.

That really is a “must win” game as the Jets – 0-3 on the West Coast – then have to go to Seattle before playing their final game at home to the Dolphins.

It’s all building up to a massive showdown between Favre and the man he usurped at quarterback, Chad Pennington, for a playoff place – and perhaps a divisional title – on Sunday, December 28.

Giants stumble, Jets fall from grace

Defeat for the Giants was not so costly, and perhaps not so surprising, even though they were favored by 7.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This was a much more important game for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles than it was for the Giants. And after the media circus following the Plaxico Burress shooting, they have clearly taken their eye of the ball.

The good news is that the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-13 defeat in Pittsburgh means the Giants have now clinched a playoff berth and the NFC East title.

The bad news is that they have to play in Dallas this weekend and, just as it was for the Eagles, this is a game the Cowboys simply cannot afford to lose.

With their last two games against Carolina (home) and Minnesota (away), there’s going to be no easy ride to the playoffs for Big Blue.

That’s why it is vital that coach Tom Coughlin has a week without off-the-field distractions to enable the Giants to regain their focus.

Eli Manning, normally so good at executing Coughlin’s game plan, was strangely out of sorts, along with most of his teammates.

And it was a complete mystery as to why, on a freezing cold day, the Giants went away from their usual running game.

Surely they should have learned by now of the threat posed by the Eagles multi-talented running back Brian Westbrook? Far better to let McNabb try to beat you in the air than give Westbrook the freedom of the Meadowlands.

Giants fans can only keep their fingers crossed that this was a one-off. But, as Jets supporters will testify, one bad performance can lead to two.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


BASEBALL’S HOT STOVE is still on simmer, the majority of free agents waiting for CC Sabathia to set the benchmark for salaries.

Sabathia is clearly in no hurry to accept the New York Yankees’ offer of $140 million over the next six years.

And until he does, his fellow pitchers, notably AJ Burnett, Jake Peavy and Derek Lowe – or, more accurately, their agents – don’t know just how high to set the bar for their wage demands.

Sabathia, it would seem, has no great desire to play in pinstripes. The word on the street is that he and his wife, Amber, would rather live on the West Coast – even if that means him playing for the struggling San Francisco Giants, some 30 miles from his home town of Vallejo, California.

In stark contrast, Andy Pettitte has made it plain that New York is the only place he wants to play. Perhaps he should have added the rider…at the right price.

Reports suggest the Yanks have offered the 36-year-old left-hander a one-year deal worth $10 million – $6 million less than he earned this year, when he went 14-14 with an ERA of 4.54.

Pitcher should accept Yanks $10m offer

With Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers waiting in the wings, Pettitte’s agent, Randy Kendricks, clearly believes his client can get more. Which begs the question: is there even one degree of loyalty left in modern-day sports?

Just remember that Pettitte has already left the Yankees once for a better offer. In 2003, he joined the Houston Astros on a $31.5 million, three-year contract.

And let’s not forget either than the Yankees stood by him – and their contractual agreement – almost exactly a year ago after the Mitchell report revealed that he had taken human growth hormone.

Pettitte neglected to inform the Yanks that he had spoken to investigators before signing his new, $16 million contract.

Later, at an emotional news conference, he apologized to the organization and the fans for his mistake. And, before, during and after last season, he has maintained that he wants to finish his career in the Bronx.

If that truly is the case, then Pettitte should accept the Yanks’ offer.

After all, if anyone deserves a “cut price” deal then it’s the Yankees. They’re the club that have set him up for life. Any other move would be nothing short of treason.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


PLAXICO BURRESS didn’t just shoot himself in the foot (sorry, thigh); he blew a big hole in the New York Giants’ plans to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Can the Giants win without Burress? Yes. Are the Giants as good a team without him? No.

Make no mistake, Burress’s likely absence in the coming weeks is going to hurt Big Blue. And, perhaps of even greater concern, is the affect the incident will have on his teammates, two of whom – linebacker Antonio Pierce and, possibly, running back Ahmad Bradshaw – were with him at the Manhattan nightclub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Yes, the Giants are 11-1, despite the fact that Burress has missed several games this season due to a persistent hamstring injury. And, true, they were comfortable winners in Washington without him last Sunday.

But, as the 6ft 5in wide receiver showed in the Giants’ upset win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this year, and in the NFC  Championship game in Green Bay, he is a man for the big occasion. The Giants have other options. But, when he’s healthy, Burress is far and away their best WR.

The world and his wife have had their say on perplexing Plaxico, most notably New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is calling on the authorities to impose the mandatory three-and-a-half-year sentence if and when Burress is convicted of criminal possession of a weapon.

Why was he carrying a firearm and what were he and the other Giants players doing at the nightclub at 1.20am on Saturday, the day before a game?

Star receiver hurts himself and the team

I have both respect and sympathy for those players who have overcome a tough upbringing to make a name for themselves in the Rollerball world of the National Football League.

They must be besieged by family and friends wanting a share of their fortune and fame. And, of course, some of the hangers-on have not been so fortunate in turning their lives around.

Having said that, no one is above the law. Both the Giants and the New York Presbyterian Hospital were unwise to attempt to cover up the incident. It was bound to get out.

Burress has been nothing but trouble for the Giants this season – even after general manager Jerry Reese gave into his demands and renegotiated his contract. Fortunately, most of the financial incentives were based on him actually playing.

Now, he seems sure to be suspended, if not by the Giants then by the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made his reputation on establishing a code of conduct among the teams and players.

The Giants have overcome so much adversity in the last two years: the retirements of Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan, the departure of Jeremy Shockey, the pre-season injury to defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Already the best “team” in the NFL, the Burress affair may make them bond even tighter as a group. But it could also backfire on them when they need to make a big play.

Domenik Hixon is a more than adequate replacement. But he’s three inches shorter than Burress and a lot less experienced.

Burress’s absence leaves Eli Manning with one less option when he’s looking to thread the eye of the needle and find a receiver in the end zone.