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30 January, 2011

The Twitter Rumble Contest

  The rules. Winner gets followed on Twitter by me for the month of February.
The person whose wrestler is in the ring the longest amount of time gets 
to be Follower of the Day each day this week. (I'm not pretending that any
of this is important, but it's all I have to offer.) I'll also see if I can get
Simmons to give both guys shoutouts on Twitter as well.  
apparently there are 6 unnamed entrants to the Rumble, so those
wild card spots will go in order of appearance in the ring. 
1st one is "wild card #1", etc.

29 January, 2011

The Madoff Mess

Sting sang it, Richard Bach wrote it, most of us have lived it:
If you love someone, set them free.
Fred Wilpon loves the Mets. They are his family business, his
passion and in some ways his life's work. I get that.
I appreciate that. But Fred Wilpon must set the Mets, and
their fans, free.
  He bought into the team in 1980. He bought half of the
team in '86. He bought all of it in 2002.
He brought us a championship, he helped build us a brand new
stadium. He has cultivated this relationship.
He has put his heart into it from day one. His passion for the
team is understood in everything he says about the ball club.
But like many relationships, there comes a time where how you
feel can blind you from seeing the reality of the situation.
  When Mr. Wilpon bought into the team in 1980 the Mets
were 67-95, finished 9th out of 12 teams in attendance and
were mired in a 7-year stretch of not winning 70 or more
games. Those days were so dark that when the Mets
came back after the strike in '81 a fan held up a sign
that said it all, "The Tragic is Back."
  In 2010 the Mets won 79 games, but it felt more like 67.
They finished 8th out of 16 teams in attendance. Not good
in the 2nd year of a new park. Not nearly good enough in
New York City, not at all. It feels like the Mets are headed
toward another run of dark days. Like it or not, the Wilpon's
financial situation is clearly affecting the team now.
A family that prides itself on being sole owners does not
suddenly decide to ask for "strategic partners" if things are good.
It is clear that in an off-season of Chris Young,
Willie Harris and Taylor Tankersley signings, the Wilpon
finances are affecting the Mets finances, despite their public
denials. This certainly can't be what Sandy Alderson and
his new front office signed up for.
  From afar, it seems as if Fred Wilpon is in denial.
He's telling himself everything will be ok. He's telling himself
time will heal this wound if they can just stay together.
  The Mets are a mess. In part because of their finances,
in part because the Wilpons have not made good decisions
with the operations of the club. The Wilpons care so much
about the team they can't keep from meddling in the day-to-day
baseball stuff.  I have had more than one person close to the
situation tell me the GM's and managers are constantly in
meetings with ownership being told what to say and how
to say it. The Mets seem to be more concerned about
winning the PR game than the games themselves.
Perhaps they are too blind to see winning the games usually
helps you with the PR.
Love can blind you like that. It's hard to see how the Wilpons
come out of this better off without selling a majority of the club.
  If they want a reason for optimism, they should look no further
than Sting himself. Set Them Free was on Sting's first solo album.
He loved being part of The Police. At the time it was his
passion, a successful culmination of his life's work.
But he knew for his own good, it was time to move on.
He did and he flourished.
It's time for the Wilpons to move one.
New ownership has a better chance to save the Mets
than the Wilpons do. Someone not facing a multi-million
dollar lawsuit would be nice.
The Wilpon/Mets relationship is not in a good place right now.
Neither is in position to grow and prosper. Not only is that a
shame, as a fan, it's downright depressing.
So, Mr. Wilpon, if you love the Mets, set them free.
Free, free, set them free.
 

28 January, 2011

Friday 1/28 links

Jewell of Denial No More
http://tinyurl.com/643cdph


Sofia Vergara and her "talent"


Is Mets partial sale a precursor?
http://tinyurl.com/6jkgvos

What's next for Carlton Cuse
http://nyti.ms/gDVUhD


Worst halftime dunk ever (1:20 mark)
http://tinyurl.com/6kgnyrj

Diddy sued for $1 trillion
http://huff.to/gdVpZy

26 January, 2011

Links for 1/26

Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal on Cello
http://tinyurl.com/6fnx4s4

Can Jeter become Capt. Clutch again?
http://es.pn/e7jjVv

'86 Mets 4-part series coming in March
http://tinyurl.com/5r34n4e

MLB '11 goes beyond the game
http://es.pn/eIY0r4

A Bronco blogger gets a call from the Commish
http://tinyurl.com/626hbw6

25 January, 2011

Links from today

Flying to the Super Bowl? Here's a way to save money
http://tinyurl.com/5rkcs2z

Troy Aikman on how he handled the Cutler controversy
http://tinyurl.com/6gf6emy

VW's Fun Theory. Some cool stuff.
thefuntheory.com

Giants GM says Eli must fix himself
http://tinyurl.com/68m3tcw

Kobe defends the Lakers defense
http://tinyurl.com/5ul7872

Justin Morneau making good progress
http://tinyurl.com/63ofunb

UConn's Caroline Doty gets in on the trick shots
http://tinyurl.com/6g8q82e

Charles Woodson's message for the President
http://tinyurl.com/4ptumx2

Pirates new ticket strategy
http://tinyurl.com/6de46x5



24 January, 2011

Cutler Convicted

Downey: "What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!"
Dawson: "Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for
the people who couldn't fight for themselves. 
We were supposed to fight for Willie."
  Those were the words spoken at the conclusion of the trial 
scene in a A Few Good Men. They seem pretty appropriate 
when thinking about Jay Cutler and how his public trial played 
out yesterday in the NFC Title game.
Cutler: "What did I do wrong? I got hurt and couldn't go back 
in. The doctors told me so. I did nothing wrong."
NFL players: "Yeah, you did. You were supposed to fight to get
back on the field. You were supposed to go back on that field
and fight for the chance to go to the Super Bowl." 
  From the moment Jay Cutler came into the league, and probably
before that, he has had the look of a guy who is nonplussed about
everything. He's got the cannon arm, an apparent gift from the football 
gods. But the air about him is that he cares very little about that gift or
the outcome of the games he plays. It may not be true. It probably isn't. 
But that's the look, the vibe that he gives off. So in the court of public
opinion it isn't hard to try and convict the guy in a 140-character
closing argument, as so many did yesterday via Twitter. In the end, 
it seemed like all the players agree. They weren't questioning the 
injury, they were questioning the effort he did or didn't make to
get back on the field. The very best thing Cutler could have done 
would have been to be seen on camera in an animated discussion 
with Love Smith, giving the appearance that he wanted to play.
Instead, he sat on the bench, stood on the sidelines, rode the bike a bit 
(showing range of motion) and gave off the vibe he always does, it is what is. 
  When you play for the Chicago Bears, and you are playing in 
the NFC title game, against the Green Bay Packers, and you are
playing in a place called SOLDIER FIELD, the expectation is you 
go down dying, not sitting on the bench. 
  As many Bronco fans noted, this is a guy who pouted his way out 
of town when he acted like his name being discussed in trade talks 
was an assault on his family. The people I've spoken with, who
have spoken with NFL players, suggest that Cutler isn't well liked
around the league. So if you are not liked and are perceived to be
a non-caring whiner, it's not surprising that people lined up to take
shots at the guy. The same guy, Bears fans fairly pointed out 
yesterday,  who stood in the pocket and took shots of a different kind
all season long, got back up and played on. There is a poll on 
ESPN.Com asking "which is the least likeable person, Cutler, 
Michael Vick or Ben Roethlisberger. And with over 50,000 
votes, Cutler is "winning" with over 45%. If that's not an 
indictment on your perception, I don't know what is. 
  Jay Cutler may not be able to handle the truth, but perception
is reality. And as long as he has been in the league the
perception has been that winning and losing don't matter. 
Yesterday the perception was he didn't fight for Willie. He 
didn't care care enough about getting to the Super Bowl. 
It may not be fair, but it is what it is. 

22 January, 2011

Anticipation

Packers fans, I am envious.
Jets, Steelers, Bears, fans. You guys too. I envy all of you.
For my money, this week is the best week in sports if your team
is involved. I've been here 8 times. I know what I'm talking about.
For me, the essence of being a sports fan is loving the sense of
anticipation. We've joked about it all week, but Bart Scott
hit the nail on the head when he proclaimed, "Can't wait!"
Anticipation.
That's why I love baseball. The waiting on the next  pitch and
the time you have to absorb the possibilities.
Football is like that too. The weeks long build up to a huge
cathartic release.
It's the old "the chase is better than the catch" theory.
Even the men who played the game will tell you: losing this
week is worse than losing in the Super Bowl. I think part of that
is because they will have denied themselves the chance to
enjoy the two weeks of "We're in the Super Bowl," experiences.
Same goes for the fans. This week is all about closing the
gap on that dream of being in the Super Bowl... the anticipation.
If your team is playing in the NFC or AFC title game,
It's worth the wait
the following things are in play:
1) Your team is playing well so your
confidence is high. Whether you are the underdog or not,
you can talk yourself into "we're going to the Super Bowl,"
because you've seen enough good things in recent weeks to make you believe it.
2) You've had a week of your friends
congratulating you, allowing you to relive last weeks
game, wishing you luck.
You're the de facto toast of the town in your inner circle.
3) The amount of information about your team is overwhelming. Especially now in the digital age.
Internet articles galore and 72 TV outlets filling your
brain with every morsel about your team you could
ever want to know.
4) The angst. If you are like me, you love the angst. That
internal struggle of allowing yourself to think your team
is going to the Super Bowl versus dreading they might
crash and burn in front of the nation.
Maybe I'm masochistic, but I love that feeling.

  So much of what is great about being a sports fan is feeling.
Sports brings all the emotions we have to the surface. For many
of us, it is the most consistent expression of those feelings at
the highest level we can produce. Day in, day out, week in,
week out, few other sources in our life consistenly bring out
the cavalcade of emotional stars, joy, anger, anticipation, angst,
jubilation and so on, to the level that sports does.
Sure, those feelings are probably exceeded by our families
and work, but not as consistently as does the passion for our teams.
With them its almost a daily release of high octane emotion.
  That's what makes this week so dramatic, so great.
All your hopes and fears are building up inside you and there
is no outlet until Sunday. The cork is shoved into the top of your
emotional bottle and you're just waiting for it to pop.
It's the purest form of nervous energy.
It's like I'm Tuco in Breaking Bad and my team is Walt.
I need that fix.
  So I hope all four of you fan bases have enjoyed the week.
Embrace the angst
I hope you are riding an emotional
roller coaster and by this time tomorrow
you will be so jacked up you could
body slam Andre the Giant.
I implore you to embrace the angst.
Make it your friend and when the games
kick off tomorrow, take your hands,
raise them above your head and shove
the cork out of that bottle top as
hard as you can....
and enjoy.
Can't wait!

21 January, 2011

Chris Young and the Mets

   The Mets signed Chris Young this week to a 1-year,
incentive-filled deal. He can tack $3.4 million on to his
guaranteed $1.1 million if he makes 31 starts and pitches
180 innings.  That might be a stretch for a guy who hasn't
made 31 starts since '06 and has never pitched 180 innings
in a season.
    I'm not completely opposed to the deal as I think he is a
talented guy and a good fit for Citi Field. My biggest concern
is he is just another in a long line of "Ifs" that make up the Mets staff.
  He admitted that he pushed too hard coming out of spring
training last season as he recovered from shoulder surgery.
Hopefully, a year wiser, he can handle his comeback more
intelligently this time around. You wouldn't think making smart
decisions would be an issue for a Princeton guy.
He did tell the A.P. that he feels great.
  "I'm really excited about the way I feel right now," he said.
"I feel healthy. I feel strong. I'm hopeful that it will hold up
and I expect it to."
  The other comment he made to the AP was one that got me 
excited. He was talking about when he came to N.Y. with 
the Padres last year, even though he was on the d.l.
      "Looking up at the stadium, the energy in the park,
I thought to myself this would be a lot of fun to play here." 

  I always want guys who say they look forward to playing
in  N.Y. and don't seem overwhelmed by the experience. 
  His move from Texas to San Diego after the '05 season
produced the results one would want to see: lower ERA, 
lower whip, better k/9 ratio. He's not a big strikeout
guy so Citi Field should provide him support with it's size. 
Pitching in similar Petco Park he has a career .205 batting 
average against, and a respectable .247 baa on balls in play. 
But what the Mets need most of all from Chris Young is for him to 
earn that $3.4 million. In the last two seasons they've only had two
starters make 31 starts and pitch 180 innings, both times by Mike Pelfrey. 
 With Johan Santana out for a few months, with Pelfrey and Niese
still learning their craft, with R.A. Dickey being a knuckleballer and
with Young and Capuano recovering from health issues, the Mets 
staff is one big question mark. It would be nice to see Young 
emerge as a guy the Mets can depend on. 
For a million bucks, it's worth a shot. History says it's a long shot. 
   
     
      
      

     

19 January, 2011

Some links from today

"Poor" is a subjective term in the NFL
http://tinyurl.com/69xnou4

Bears and Packers have been banging heads for a long time 
http://tinyurl.com/64jk2yc

George Halas helped save the Packers
http://tinyurl.com/4a5fktd

Mora not the Broncos new D. coordinator yet
http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_17131935

a writer suggests Orlando should sue if Dwight Howard leaves the Magic
http://tinyurl.com/4e56fmu

The Aztecs are balling and will D you up
http://tinyurl.com/4lp9g4h

Messier and Gretzky making old look good
http://tinyurl.com/4l47mzk

Deerek Jeter's apt. can be yours!
http://tinyurl.com/4jktusu

Is Ohio State an emerging hoops powerhouse?
http://tinyurl.com/4fdf4ol



New Look

We are unveiling a new look here on Gus Stuff.
Thanks so much to Tyler Norton for designing the page.
He put in a lot of time and effort and I think it looks really sharp.
If you need help with graphic design, I highly recommend Tyler.
You can give him a shout out on Twitter @Tyler_Norton
or check out his web site, tylernorton.com
Also thanks to my sister, Anne, who designed the Gus Stuff logo.
Very cool.
We went with Orange and Blue for the Mets and Broncos.
You can check out all of her great work, photography,
graphic arts, album covers she did for the Grateful Dead
and more, on Geckonia.com
I hope you enjoy the new look.

18 January, 2011

Casting The LeBrons

Let's look at the cartoon picture and try and matchup people to the animations.

The girl in the green looks like former Cold Pizza host, Kit Hoover.
The small dude in red jacket could be Lil Bow Wow.
Dude on the end appears to be Conan O'Brien
Who do you think are the rest?

16 January, 2011

Classic '86 Mets videos

The Art of the Hot Foot
http://vimeo.com/4072511

You Belong to the City
http://vimeo.com/4080197

Like a Rock
http://vimeo.com/4072958

Wild Boys
http://vimeo.com/4063280

Get Rich follow up

One man is making an effort to take one of my Get Rich on Me ideas
(see older post) and is hoping to get the publicity train rolling.
Follow him on twitter @Lego_MLB and on facebook.
http://tinyurl.com/4ueo32j

The Bank in Philly

Camden Yards

ok, let's just get them all out of the way

Football is a game of inches, except for the Jets. then it's a game of feet.
They call it Foot-ball for a reason.
A loss today would be the Agony of Da-Feet
The Jets have signed Lou The Toe Groza to be their kicker today
I hope it's a heel of a game.
The teams seem to be arch rivals.
Rex Ryan consulted Toe-ny Dungy about ways to beat the Patriots.
I wonder if all the players got a Jet-icure to get ready for today...
Winning in Foxboro would be an amazing feet for the Jets, I mean toe-totally awesome.
Would be something if Folk nailed another game winner.
You know who is fired up to watch the game today, baseball player Rick Ankle
If the Jets win the Super Bowl this year, they are going to rename the bone in the foot the Jetatarsal.
I wonder if the Jets will be wearing their white or green cuneiforms today.
I got my hands on Rex Ryan's game plan. here it is
36 power toss, X distal phalanges
on two...ready, break!

13 January, 2011

John Fox Reaction

  John Elway's first game as a VP went a lot better than his first game
as a QB. In his first game as a QB he went 1-8 passing for 14 yards
with a pick and was pulled from the game.
In his first big act as a VP he landed an experienced head coach
with good playoff experience and a penchant for having a good defense.
 I have long believed that coaches in the NFL can be boiled
down to these categories:
Things may be looking
up in Denver.

1) Good coaches who win with talented teams.
2) Good coaches who can't win with under-talented teams.
3) Bad coaches who can't win with a team that is good or bad.

  This is not scientific.
I haven't spent hours going through records to verify this.
It's just an opinion I have formed based on conversations
with guys who played in the league and coached
in the league.
Mike Shanahan had talented teams, they won.
John Elway retired and Terrell Davis got hurt,
and suddenly Mike was as generic as the next guy.

  So let's look at Fox's career in Carolina.
2002: 7-9 with a 36-year old Rodney Peete at the helm. Someone
named Lamar Smith as their running back. The defense allowed 302 points,
good for 5th best.
2003: 11-5 with a trip to the Super Bowl. Impressive road playoff wins
at St. Louis and at Philly to get there. Jake Delhomme emerges as a legit
QB, Steve Smith breaks out as a star WR and Stephen Davis runs over
people to the tune of 1,444 yards. The defense gives up 304 yards, good for
10th best.
2004: 7-9. Delhomme still solid but injuries basically take Smith and Davis
off the team for the entire season. Nick Goings is their primary back.
The defense regresses a bit with 339 points, 15th in the league.
2005: 11-5 and a trip to the NFC title game. Impressive playoff road wins
at the Giants and at the Bears. The defense returns to form, allowing
just 259 points. 5th best in the NFL. Steve Smith comes back to have a
huge year, Delhomme has his best season and Foster and Davis make
for a nice running duo.
2006: 8-8. 305 points allowed, good for 8th. Chris Wienke starts 3 games
at QB, with the team going 1-2 in those starts. The offense was healthy
for the most part. This is the first year on Fox's resume that pushes my theory a bit.
2007: 7-9. 86-year old Vinny Testaverde starts more games at QB than
any other Panther. That ain't good.
The offense can't stay on the field so the defense drops to 15th
in the league with 347 points allowed. Julius Peppers goes from a
guy who gets double digit sacks every year to recording just 2.5
2008: 12-4. Delhomme plays every game and turns in a decent season.
Their run game lead by Stewart and Williams churns out 2,437 yards and
a league best 30 TD's. Steve Smith has another monster year.
Julius Peppers bounces back with 14.5 sacks and the D is ranked
12th with 329 points allowed.
2009: 8-8 after starting 0-3 with 12 turnovers in those 3 games.
Delhomme no longer knows how to play QB. Matt Moore comes
in and holds his own. The running game is great with two 1,000 yard backs.
They allow a 9th best 308 points, but the quarterback play kills them.
2010: no need to really re-visit this year. we all know.
  I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the Panthers, but a
brief look at the John Fox era supports my general point.
When his teams are talented, he's in the mix.
A 4-1 record in road playoff games is pretty impressive.
His teams are usually good defensively and have finished
in the top 10 in sacks 5 times.
  This is one of those things that sounds obvious and dumb, but I really feel
it's true. Very few coaches are ever going to win with bad or average teams,
so what do they do when handed a good one? I think John Fox has
succeeded in that situation, so I am excited he is the new Broncos coach.
Now all Fox needs is for John Elway to put a talented team on the field.

My Teams and the Social Media

John Elway tweeted me this week.



John Elway
Meeting with Rick Dennison and Dirk Koetter later today. We’ve got our questions, but what’s the one thing you’d ask?


See?
Not so long ago, Sandy Alderson chatted with me (and every other
Met fan)... on-line.
He also held a Q+A session with bloggers and answered fans'
questions supplied to him on Twitter.
  Suddenly, my two favorite teams want to know what I think,
and I think that's great.
  I am one of those people who says "we" and "my" when talking
about the teams I root for. I am also one of those people who think
people who say "oh, you play for the Mets now?" need to walk
away before I shove a rosin bag down their throat. For all I have
invested in my teams:  my time, my emotions and my finances,
you better believe they are MY team.
For years I have had opinions about who the coach should be,
how they could treat fans better, who they should take in the draft,
how to improve parking, etc. Now I have a direct outlet to voice my
opinion that actually gets heard.
OK, so John Elway didn't tweet me directly, but he did ask my
opinion and I gave it to him.
  Currently, my two teams stink. They combined for a .466 win
percentage last year. Not awful, but certainly nothing to get enthused about.
I have been fortunate. The Denver Broncos and New York Mets
have won championships in my life time. I never lose appreciation for
that. Granted, it's been a while for both of them, but I know it could
be worse. However, my expectation of both teams is that they be
competitive on a regular basis and give me reason for optimism.
Feeling a Mile High about
the Broncos in '06
  In 2006 things were looking up.
 The Broncos were coming off an AFC title
game appearance, Jay Cutler took over at QB,
Brandon Marshall was looking like an All-World
wideout and Mike Shanahan was, well, Mike Shanahan.
The future was bright.
After a 7-2 start, a 2-5 finish.
Optimism waning a little, but I believed.
The next four seasons gave me a 27-37 record,
Travis Henry, SD 52- Den 21, 6-0 turns into 8-8,
Oak 59- Den 14, Cutler, Marshall,
Shanahan and even McDaniels all gone.
Now optimism lies in the hopes John Elway runs a team as well as
he ran an offense.
  In 2006 the Mets were a Carlos Beltran swing of the bat away from the
World Series. It was only just the beginning. Young stars, power bats,
Johan Santana, Let's Go Mets! Two seasons of terrible September
collapses, missed bases, "Willie come west so we can fire you,"
Luis Castillo dropped pop-up, concussions, Ollie P-U and K.O.-Rod.
Ugh.
Optimism now lies in the hopes that Sandy Alderson still knows what
he's doing and that the 11 years Terry Collins has had between gigs
somehow makes him a better manager.
  So with optimism teetering on the brink and both fan bases worried
that their teams are stuck in the dumps, both teams are acting like a
concerned mother whose son just had a bad breakup; they're reaching
out to let us know that everything is going to be all right.
  When the Broncos interviewed Josh McDaniels the only thing I knew
about him was he looked like he took time off from recess to interview
and that he worked for Bill Belichick. The first time I heard him speak
occurred when he was being introduced as the Broncos coach. Now the
Broncos are putting videos on their website in American Idol fashion
giving us a chance to get to know the coaching candidates.
http://www.denverbroncos.com/news-and-blogs/headcoachingsearch.html
It's a unique look behind the curtain. We actually get to hear what these guys
have to say about wanting to lead our team and if they sound like a coach.
It allows us a chance to get a feel for these guys and help us determine if
they could be "our guy."
  This matters.
I am terribly invested in the Broncos as a fan and want to be emotionally
invested in who the next coach is. This media device the Broncos are using
affords me that opportunity. So when John Elway took to Twitter and asked
me (and anyone else who follows him) my thoughts, I fired off my question
right away. The odds it got used were 4th and long, but I felt like I had a say.
  This matters.
  When Sandy Alderson took the Mets job he immediately made himself
available to the traditional and new-wave media alike. He had special
interview sessions with the bloggers. The Mets used their players to solicit
questions on Twitter that Alderson would address. We, as fans, were now
having direct interaction with our front office.
  This matters.
  Of course there is an inherent danger in all of this. The more teams get
involved with social media the more they can use it to control their message.
The Timberwolves Kevin Love recently came back to Twitter after a long hiatus.
A hiatus he took because, as he said,
"Guys like Freddy Hoiberg would call me up and say, 'Tweet this,' or 'Don't tweet that.' They were always bugging me about Twitter. I said, 'Whatever happened to the First Amendment?'"
  So if teams are trying to use their players to deliver their messages,
you have to wonder about messages that come directly from them.
  I'm not naive enough to think that members of the mainstream media
haven't been used through the years as well, with GM's or owners floating
stories and rumors to reporters to see how they play in public.
I'd like to think that I am sophisticated enough as a fan to decipher each and
every message on its own merits.
  So just as teams are evolving how they interact with their fan bases,
I will learn to read between the lines and take each tweet, chat
and video for what it is.
  For now, here's what I know:  I've spent a life time investing in my teams.
It's nice to finally feel like I'm getting a return on that investment.