We Knew This Mets Season Would Be Weird, But We Had No Idea Aliens Would Be Involved

Categories: Jockbeat

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It's a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Seems that the Mets swapped cities with the Toronto Blue Jays and traded up for their Triple-A franchise. Now, if you want to see the Mets' next hot pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, you'll have to fly to Vegas.

But the Mets didn't just acquire a new minor league city, they acquired a history--some might say a mystery. The team's name is the 51s. You may catch reports on radio or TV during Mets games and wonder what the name means. Seems that 51 refers to Area 51, a remote part of Edwards Air Force Base, about 80 miles from Vegas, which is thought by UFO conspiracy theorists to be the place where alien aircraft were stored, their occupants were studied, and even living extraterrestrials were encountered.

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Mike Rice Rutgers Scandal: Is There a Rush to Judgment?

Categories: Jockbeat

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As someone who has covered just about every sports scandal over the last 25 years, I have to say that I think the sports world is overreacting a bit to the Rutgers/Mike Rice episode.

First, if you haven't seen it, I have to warn you that Rice's abuse of his basketball players--pushing them, throwing basketballs at them and using anti-gay slurs--is uglier than Joan Rivers ragging on Angelina Jolie.

There isn't any question that a coach who engages in this kind of behavior should be punished. And that's what Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who saw the tape last Nov. 26, thought. It isn't clear when the recording was made but it seems probably at least five months earlier when allegations of Rice's behavior first surfaced in June. Pernetti claims to have investigated Rice's action twice, once in June and again in November. He ultimately fined Rice $50,000, ordered him to attend anger-management classes, and suspended him for three games.

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"Bullet" Bob Turley, R.I.P.

Categories: Jockbeat

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It seems to be that discussion of the career of Bob Turley, who died Saturday morning at age 82, came and went all too quickly. Turley was very nearly a great pitcher. Between 1955 and 1958 he won 59 games for the Yankees and lost only 20, mostly starting but often, in Casey Stengel's wacky in-and-out pitching system, appearing in 20 games in relief. No one has ever really studied Stengel's unusual method of not using a set rotation and how it might have helped or hurt certain pitchers.

On the whole, I think, it was good for Whitey Ford and saved wear and tear on his arm; I don't think it worked well for Bob Turley who, at 6-2 and 215, was powerfully built and the kind of straight-out fastball pitcher who needed regular work.

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Good News, Yankees Fans: 2014 Is Only a Year Away

Categories: Jockbeat

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Over the last few years, I've tended to skip preseason baseball magazines--too many air-headed predictions made by people without a firm grasp of statistics and economics. Athlon Sports' Baseball Previews, though, is both hip and smart, and always has something surprising to say about every team.

I love their little factoids. No, wait, I won't call this one a factoid because it says something important about a Yankees pitcher, Ivan Nova: He allowed 87 extra base hits, a single-season record for a Yankees pitcher. I've been thinking for two years now that Nova is living on borrowed time, and I'd say that pretty much proves it.

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Oh Dear God -- It's Time for Another Mets Season

Categories: Jockbeat

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It's a drab, uninspiring team from the starting lineup to the rotation to the bullpen, but at least they'll look good. The 2013 Mets have eliminated all traces of black from their uniforms and replaced it with the traditional blue and orange. For home games they'll wear the occasional blue jerseys with an orange "Mets" across the chest, and -- who says the Mets' front office won't spend money for essentials? -- A blue road jersey with "New York" on the front? On top of this -- and this is really where the Wilpons broke the budget -- there will be an alternative cap, blue crown and orange brim, with white Old English "NY."

If they sell enough of those, perhaps the Mets will be able to buy some ballplayers.

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Breaking Down Basketball Clichés: Do They Even Make Sense?

Categories: Jockbeat

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Is it just me, or are both NBA and college basketball announcers filling their air time with full of clichés and misleading statements more than they used to? If you really break them down, do they make any sense?

I jotted down a few over the weekend and tried to answer that question.

Cliché: "He made that shot from downtown" when a player makes a three-pointer

Analysis: No, he didn't, unless you think of the basket, the place everyone's headed, as the suburbs. Shouldn't the saying be reversed--shouldn't the ball be coming from the suburbs, or at the very least the parking lot?

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Mets Name David Wright Captain; Go About Your Business

Categories: Jockbeat

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You know the Mets are hard up for big news stories when the best they can offer a week before Opening Day is that David Wright has been named captain. Exactly how important to the team is it that Wright has become only the fourth captain in Mets history? Think of it his way: the last Mets captain, back in 2004, was John Franco. You all remember John Franco -- he sat in the bullpen and pitched every third day. That's how important it is to have a team captain.

Naturally, the beat writers are taking this news and running with it. It's all they've got to go with. Andy Martino wrote Friday in the Daily News, "In December, Alderson committed eight years and $138 million to Wright and now the organization has made official another honor, as the Daily News reported last weekend would happen before Opening Day."

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Where Would College Basketball Be Without Ned Irish?

Categories: Jockbeat

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Every year, right after St. Patrick's Day, I think about the luck of Ned Irish. It's a great time of year for basketball fans college and pro, with the NIT and NCAA tournaments beginning and the NBA season in full swing. We would have had basketball without Ned Irish, but I wonder what it would look like.

Edward S. "Ned" Irish was born in 1905 and died in 1982, by which time he had already been in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for nearly 16 years. If I had to pick someone to play him in a movie, it would have been James Cagney, who was just six years his elder. Ned was a man of many parts -- part-time basketball writer and part-time basketball promoter.



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March Madness Rankings: Do the Math, People

Categories: Jockbeat

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For some reason--probably because they figure the tournament will settle the issue anyway-- college basketball fans don't pay attention to computer power ratings the way football fans do. The best power ratings around are Jeff Sagarin's at USA Today, and a quick glance at his numbers gives some insight to the four leading questions being batted around after Selection Sunday.

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How Random Are NFL Drug Tests? Is Your Grandmother's House Random Enough For You?

Categories: Jockbeat

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Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins probably thought his most embarrassing moment in sports was losing the 2011 Capital One Bowl to Alabama, 49-7. That was until the NFL made him take a urine test in his grandmother's house.

Naturally, this odd arraingment has inspired a veritable golden shower of potty humor. A testing official had to follow him into the bathroom, prompting an NFL.com writer to ask, "Whose puppy do you have to run over in a past life to end up becoming a specimen verification officer?"

"The answer is Taylor Swift's. You have to run over Taylor Swift's puppy."

I don't get the joke either, but let's move on to the Huffington Post: "Nothing personal. Well, except the joint loo occupation at Grandma's while Cousins did his business."

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