Thursday, August 7, 2008

Around the Internets

"Jet Favre" Reaction Roundup

The first stop for a lot of Jets fans this morning was Brian Bassett's indispensable shop. He's got the level-headed fan's view (if there really is such a thing) on the trade.

Oh, and Sports Illustrated also had some "experts" offer up analysis on the trade.

Against the cacophony of Favre hype, someone goes out on a limb and contends that Chad Pennington is a better QB than Favre for the Jets system. This is essentially the same line of thought that convinced me Chad should have started over Kellen Clemens.

And, the hilarious gents over at KSK have looked into their crystal balls to see the Jets future as it is revealed by pun-laden NY tabloid headlines.

The Top Ten Favre Plays (so far)

Favre's Been Mike'd Up. A Lot.

You Can't Do That On Television

THAT Being Knicks Basketball

Alongside the 2008-2009 NBA schedules, which were released yesterday, the NBA's national television broadcasts were also announced. After scouring the listings it is pretty clear that D'Antoni or no D'Antoni the Association or the TV network execs involved are not trying to shine any bright lights on this Knickerbocker bunch. The Knicks have been completely left off the national broadcast schedule for next season. Apparently, you cannot play Knicks basketball on national television. The Knicks aren't scheduled to be TNT next season. And, they aren't turning up on the ESPN/ABC calendar either.

Knicks Fan A: How come the Knicks can't do that on television?

Knicks Fan B: I don't know.

Perhaps it was the memory of last season's wood-shedding by Boston that was beamed by TNT to homes across the country that is responsible for this omission. Although, I have to say that the performances delivered by Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley that night are some of the best I've ever heard in broadcasting. Still, it is possible that such ineptitude violated some sort of FCC regulation about athletics that I'm not aware of. That's totally possible.

Thursday's Starting Five

1. Bubba Franks. Yesterday he was the 30-year old, third-string tight end on the New York Jets that you barely heard about through training camp. Today he is the roster's strongest connection to new starting quarterback Brett Favre. The two played together in Green Bay for 8 seasons. Franks hauled in 32 touchdowns during that time, including an eye-popping 9 in 2001. Not only do I think that Franks' presence helped get this trade done but I also think there is no one more excited in Green and White. After all, Favre is Franks' QB, he has never caught a regular season pass from Chad Pennington and can't be too bothered by his unceremonious exit.

2. Fernando Tatis. I must admit that I was not a happy Metropolitan fan when the then-back-up outfielder was kept on the roster leaving Spring Training at the expense of young second baseman Ruben Gotay. I was not happy at all. And the struggles of Luis Castillo only served to reinforce my feelings in the early weeks of the season. However, Tatis' choice of the Superman theme as his primary batting music started to win me over when he began appearing regularly in games after Moises Alou went down with incontinence or osteoporosis or ED or whatever old-people ailments he has. Fast-forward several weeks and Tatis is a full-blown sensation. He had the entire Shea crowd (which wasn't exactly a sell-out) on our feet on Tuesday night chanting TA-TIS, TA-TIS after clubbing his second home run of the night in a Mets one-run victory over the Padres. I don't know where such performances came from. Well, actually they seem to have come straight out of 1999 when hit 34 home runs and racked up 100+ RBI. Of course, his precipitous fall off the baseball map and his power-surge occurring so close to Mark McGwire's ginormous biceps led most everyone to assume that season was a steroid powered aberration. Perhaps not. Or, maybe he's just back on whatever stuff Carlos Delgado has been taking lately.

3. The Minnesota Vikings. I have to believe that the entire front office in Minnesota let out a huge sigh of relief when word hit that the Jets had won the Favre-off with Tampa Bay. It was over. In their own way, the Vikings were also being held hostage by this story. After all, this was the destination everyone knew Favre would opt for IF he were released by the Vikings. And, until the Jets/Pack trade was consumated it was still possible that the only way to resolve the stand-off would have been for Green Bay to release the gunslinger. The PR hit of effectively forcing him not to play would eventually have become too great if a trade couldn't have been found. So, the Vikings and their young QB Tavaris Jackson were stuck. The Favre-to-Vikes possibility was too well known for them to do anything but take him if the chance arose. So they were also waiting with baited breath as this fiasco drew on and on. And on. Now, they are not only free from the Favre-gamble but they should be able to get the perfect back-up plan to the shaky Jackson: former Jets QB Chad Pennington. He's made multiple trips to the playoffs, won playoff games and is as good a leader as you're ever going to find in the League. Moreover, he excelled in the exact sort of offense that Vikings run. Instead of Curtis Martin in the backfield it'll be Adrian Peterson (aka The Purple Jesus). Chad's play-action game will work brilliantly off that running game and his biggest weakness, middling arm strength, will be compensated for by all those home games in the dome in Minnesota.

4. Kellen Clemens. At first glance it might not seem like a banner day at the Clemens household but hold up a tick. Think about it. Kellen wasn't ready to take this team over. Or, at least, he hadn't shown in a tangible way that he was ready to take over the Jets from Pennington. He's been throwing picks at an alarming rate (especially when compared to Chad) in camp and was altogether lackluster when he played last season. Another season losing out on the No. 1 QB spot on the depth chart to Chad, whom the organization and the local media have clearly been looking to replace, and it would seem like he would officially cede the QB-of-the-future tag to Eric Ainge, whom the Jets drafted out of Tennessee. However, with Favre as an unimpeachable first-line player there is no controversy for Clemens and it's no failure to be a clipboard holder. He now has an entire extra season and offseason (and perhaps two of each if Favre plays two years) to get his act together and prove he is a legit NFL quarterback. This Favre-trade just gave Clemens his future back by taking all the pressure off the present.

5. Jeff Karstens. In two starts since being traded from the Yankees to the Pirates as part of the "Xavier Nady Deal," which looks like it might later be referred to as the "Jeff Karstens Deal," the right-hander has pitched 15 shutout innings. He went 6 in his Bucs debut against the division-leading Cubs and held them scoreless. In his second outing he out dueled eventual Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and twirled 7.2 perfect innings against the D-backs. He was five outs from pitching a perfect game! After Chris Young broke up the perfecto, Karstens settle for a complete-game, two-hit shutout. Meanwhile, the Yankees just placed pitcher Joba Chamberlain on the Disabled List with a shoulder injury. As they scramble to find starters I wonder if they're regretting shipping off this young fellow.

The Hudson Riverboat Gambler

Brett Favre is a New York Jet
I fell asleep watching the 11:30 episode of The Simpsons on Fox last night. The television played as I slept and no doubt random bits of syndicated sitcoms and infomercials crept into my dreams as the night slipped towards day. I slept soundly, however, through all of that. Until 5 am when one of the hosts Fox's morning news show uttered the words "Favre is coming to Gang Green."

With those words I was up with start. Or at least I thought I was. Was I dreaming? Was I having a nightmare? Had this Brett Favre debacle really "concluded" with his private jet jetting from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Long Island? Or was he headed straight for Cleveland to start tonight's preseason game against the Browns? Hoping to establish the reality of the words I thought I heard from the television I groggily moved over to my desk and the computer. And, there it was. An email from the NY Jets trying to sell me a Brett Favre jersey. Then I knew it was real. No dream, no matter how bizarre or how lifelike, would be able to conceive of the money-grubbing ways of the modern professional sports club. IF the Favre jersey was on sale then the deal was real. I guess it should have been more shocking that they weren't advertising half-price No. 10 shirts in the same email.

And that's the second-part of this deal. Chad Pennington is likely gone. In that regard, this is a sad day for Jets fans. Even if some of them are too trusting of television announcers (who lament Chad's lack of arm strength with the same rote fervor that they celebrate everything about Favre) to fully realize how much his leadership and smart play have meant to this team since he was drafted by Bill Parcells. But, we can talk about Chad's legacy in green later. This morning the story is all about the three-time NFL MVP and sure-fire Hall of Famer who the Jets received from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a conditional draft pick. I believe that right now the pick is fourth rounder but becomes a first rounder if No. 4 takes more than 80% of the team's snaps. Or something like that. It seems the Jets bested the Tampa Bay Bucs in this contest by allowing that the conditional pick to slide all the way down the first round if certain performance incentives were met.

So how do I feel about this? Two weeks ago I said that if the Jets weren't going to give the keys to Chad Pennington then I would rather see the guy who led his team to the NFC championship game line up under center than Kellen Clemons. Two weeks ago I was ready for Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum to go for it. The offseason infusion of veteran talent, especially on the offensive line, makes this team in win-now mode more than last year's 4-12 record would indicate. And, two years ago they were in the playoffs. Under Pennington. Of course, the last two weeks have been the sports-news equivalent of water boarding as we've all felt that we were literally drowning in stories and opinion about Favre and the Packers. My opinion of the gunslinger surely suffered a bit over that time. But not nearly as much as my opinion of the folks who run the Packers. Not only did they refuse to play the guy who brought them to the brink of last year's Super Bowl but they did so in such a way as to heap unbelievable pressure on the untested player they have tapped to succeed him. Anyway, the fact that I've already spent these wee hours of the morning scouring Craigslist for Jets tickets means that I must be on board with this move. And, at the very least, it should be pretty interesting to hear NYC work itself into a fervor about this over the next few days.

OK, back to sleep. And, at this point, I hope Favre is still here when I wake up.