New Year’s over-under polls

Busy morning here, unburying myself after some time off. Here are some over-unders.

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Other sports stuff

I don’t hate the Yankees the way most Mets fans do. Because I’m typically drawn to the underdog and the Yankees are never that, I rarely root for them, but I don’t surround myself with the type of Yankees fans who make it difficult to like Yankees fans. I owe a lot of that to the two Yankees fans with whom I most frequently chat online these days, Tom Boorstein and Alex Belth, both of whom are generally reasonable and not at all entitled.

That said, I am partial to Alex Rodriguez in part because he’s great and hilarious and in part because of the way the worst Yankee fans seem to hate him so much despite how great and hilarious he is.

My favorite Yankee ever, though, is easily Rickey Henderson. And I know Rickey spent way more time with the A’s and later played for the Mets, but he was a Yankee when I first became conscious of baseball. Henderson was, in fact, the man on the first baseball card I ever got for myself, at card show at the Holiday Inn in Rockville Centre before the 1987 season. There was a lottery at the show, where for a couple of bucks you could pick from a pile of envelopes featuring nine cards apiece, each envelope containing a different team’s starting lineup. My brother got the Brewers. I got the Yankees, with Rickey in front. (I also took home the grand prize from that same lottery, by the way: A coveted Kevin Seitzer rookie card.) I suspect I would have ultimately liked Rickey anyway, because Rickey.

I rarely watch them. I’ve got nothing against college football and if I’m someplace where people are watching, I’ll tune in and enjoy all the particulars of football at that level that don’t exist in the NFL. I’ve always loved offensive strategy in football, dating back to afternoons spent drawing up formations and plays with my friend Bill in perhaps the nerdiest jock activity ever. So I like watching the replays of successful plays and trying to figure out how everything worked and why it worked, identifying who made key blocks, and which players who probably aren’t getting credit for the play on the broadcast that will definitely get credit for the play in the team’s film review.

But I’ve never had any rooting interest in a college football team, and since I spend so many of my waking hours watching baseball, the NFL and college basketball, I rarely feel the desire to take on new sports at this point. I’ve watched a lot more NBA this season than I have in the past, but I still prefer the college game even if the players are clearly nowhere near as good.

Pretty sure it’s the media. Sad thing is, I’m not even kidding. And that’s not to diminish Tebow’s desire or anything.

Ben! Don’t let Ben’s humble egg-avatar fool you, he’s as triumphant a guitar shredder as you’re ever going to play in a band with for several years, provided you are me. No joke: One time I went to see him play at Carnegie Hall only to be turned away because it was sold out.

Also, that’s awesome. I claim no exclusive dominion over fake mustaches, and Blake Griffin wears his well. I’d ask for context, but I think I prefer to dream on it.

Oof

There are really no more words.

Mark Sanchez, Derrick Morgan, Will Witherspoon

If Greg McElroy doesn’t start next week, I’m probably not going to watch. ULTIMATUM!

Meh, I’ll watch anyway. I want to see how the Jets manage to win these last two to get to 8-8, plus it’s great for LOLs. I can’t remember there ever being a team I’ve rooted for that I’ve disliked so much.

Hold on, I just want to revisit this

One week later:

Oh, the Jets.

There’s also this:

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Food stuff and randos

Via email, Carl writes:

Ted, I just ate a sandwich where the bread was too hard and all the softer stuff inside the sandwich squeezed out to  the sides every time I took a bite. It kinda ruined the sandwich for me. Do you know of any ways to stop this from happening so an otherwise good sandwich doesn’t lose its sandwichy goodness?

I’d have to see the bread to know if this will work, but you can try “scooping it out,” the common carb-cutting technique. If the crust is strong enough to hold up, pulling out some of the bready middle should create open spaces to contain the sandwich stuff, allowing it to essentially replace the part of the roll you’ve removed rather than trying to crush it between two sides of a roll.

Also, I don’t know what you’ve got inside the sandwich, but maybe try piling all the ingredients on one half, topping it with cheese, and toasting it in a toaster oven for a minute to let the cheese melt and act to bind the rest of the sandwich stuff.

What about pheasant stuffed with squab stuffed with quail? Squab is a massively underrated meat, for what it’s worth. Really good stuff.

Alternately, what about pork stuffed with lamb stuffed with beef? Obviously the cow is the biggest of these animals, but I figure you’re not going to want the beef on the outside because you’d have to dry it out to get the pork cooked. But pork on the outside means maybe you can cook the lamb and beef to medium rare, with the added benefit of the delicious pork fat seeping into the interior meats. Actually, I can’t believe I’ve never considered this before. Somebody get John Madden on the phone. We’re past due for the Porlambeef.

The Jets in a baseball game against the Mets, definitely. Who’s your offensive line, if you’re the Mets? Just based on size alone, and picking from the Mets’ whole 40-man roster, you’d probably have to go with Lucas Duda and Robert Carson at the tackles, Jeurys Familia and Anthony Recker at guards and Frank Francisco at center. Those guys would get trounced by the Jets’ defensive line. No matter how good Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in the backfield, the Mets aren’t getting a single play off against the Jets’ D. Also, the Jets have way more dudes, and for the Mets to field a full football team with everyone playing only one way, they’re going to have to field some guys who will be absolutely torn apart by NFL players.

The Jets’ ace in the hole, also, is that Jeremy Kerley can supposedly throw fastballs in the mid 90s. And every guy in their receiving corps and defensive backfield is probably fast enough and coordinated enough to lay down an occasional bunt hit then steal some bases, and cover a lot of territory defensively. The Mets would obviously still kick the crap out of them in baseball, but I think it’d be a closer game.

Not this week, sorry. I was kind of hoping no one would notice. On average, I wind up eating probably three or four sandwiches for every one that gets reviewed, and I’m planning a vacation for January and trying to be healthy and save money until then. I’m not intentionally avoiding sandwiches or anything, I just haven’t been eating sandwiches with the frequency I typically need to find a sandwich worthy of review. If I happen upon one, I’ll write it up here. More on the vacation certainly to follow, but I expect it will provide much fodder for food porn here.

It’s cool that there’s going to be some sort of professional sport on Hempstead Turnpike once the Islanders leave, but unless the Cosmos bring back Pele they’re not going to recapture the magic of having Pele on your soccer team.

I’m for it. Heartily. One of the best perks at my last job was that the soda machines had cans of Yoo-hoo for 50 cents. This office has free soda, but no Yoo-hoo. It’s good because it’s both a beverage and a dessert.

I don’t know. Wikipedia says it doesn’t even necessarily have meat in it anymore, which is about the most flagrant type of false-advertising. You can’t name a food item for another, more established type of food item when it has no relationship to that thing.

“Hey have you tried lingonbacon?”
“No, but it sounds amazing.”
“Sorry, it’s a vegetable, and it sucks.”

Mark Sanchez to start against Jaguars

It’s true. It’s not what most Jets fans are looking for, but so be it. The start against the Jaguars’ woeful defense gives Sanchez an opportunity to quiet the doubters. We get to see if the Sanchize is somehow more motivated by the threat of Greg McElroy starting than he is by the 300-pound men trying to smash into him as hard as they can on every play.

If it fails, Sanchez can just return to lifeguarding.

Here's what Mark Sanchez looks like.

Up came McElroy

Y’all know I like Mark Sanchez about as much as anybody outside his immediate family, what with his handsomeness and his sideline hot-dogs and his fondness for Taco Bell and everything. And I hardly think Sanchez is responsible for all or even most of what’s gone wrong for the Jets this season. Every aspect of their offense has failed: running, passing, blocking, catching.

Here's what Greg McElroy looks like. But even for this Sanchez apologist, it was impossible to watch the fourth quarter of yesterday’s Jets win over the Cardinals and not think Greg McElroy is the team’s best option at quarterback right now. It’s a tiny sample, but he threw a demonstrably better ball than Sanchez, appeared to make better decisions and panicked less frequently. Even if it was only a small burst, the offense functioned better with McElroy at the helm.

A corollary is that Bilal Powell shared the backfield with McElroy for much of his stint, and Powell appears to be a bit better at the things the Jets need from their running back than Shonn Greene is. I’m no scout, so take all this with multiple grains of salt: You hear broadcasters describe Greene as “a downhill runner” pretty frequently, and I think that’s in part a nice way of saying he takes a long time to reach full speed. When you’re playing the offensive line — and I’ve played a lot of offensive line — you resent those guys, because holes opened on the interior are only going to last a split second. Greene seems to be at his best on slower-developing off-tackle runs on which he can build up speed behind a pulling lineman then use his size to barrel over linebackers and defensive backs. Though smaller, Powell actually seems better suited for quick inside hits and traps, since he looks to accelerate faster. And based on very little evidence, I suspect Powell might be the superior blocker on passing plays.

As a Jets fan, then, I’d rather see them play out their inevitable march to 8-8 with McElroy and Powell getting the bulk of the playing time. I’m not ready to entirely bail on the idea of Mark Sanchez being a capable NFL quarterback, but it looks pretty clear now that he’s not going to emerge as an excellent or even very good NFL quarterback. With McElroy, that possibility still exists, and would be something to dream on and assess for the last month of the season.

Plus, with Sanchez on the sidelines holding the clipboard with his helmet off, Jets fans get to benefit from his handsomeness without suffering through his interceptions. Call me when Greg McElroy looks this good on a boat phone:

http://snyted.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/mark_sanchez_phone_thumb.jpg?w=350&h=469

Fireman Ed quits, blames ‘society in general’

Listen, I went through the Rich Kotite era — we were 4-28 in that era. Any Jets fan knows this isn’t the worst of times; it isn’t close. It’s been about the nastiness. I just think society in general — you’re out in your car there’s no respect at all. I don’t want to put up with that from people taking it out on me anymore.

- “Fireman” Ed Anzalone.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Jets season.

Wait, no. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Jets season:

Jets’ march to 8-8 continues

Even when the Jets were up 13-7 at halftime, it was hard to believe they’d pull out yesterday’s win over the Rams, given the way their offense and special teams were going. But though the game left us with plenty still worth worrying about, funny things happen when a team holds on to the ball after snaps, during sacks, on runs, and when receiving passes. And the Jets proved too much for Brian Schottenheimer’s offense yet again.

Tim Tebow’s lone highlight came on the most predictable fake punt since that one Genesis game where fake punts were by far the best offensive play (does anyone remember what game that was? When the announcer would say, “It’s second down… and I can’t believe it!” even though you faked a punt nearly every play?). But let’s not diminish the value that fake punt added to the fake fake punt they pulled off later, when Tebow deked like he was taking the snap again but it went to the punter who punted it away on an otherwise normal punt. For all we know, that netted the Jets, like, three extra yards.

Mark Sanchez benefited from improved ball security and a defense that kept the Jets ahead, and enjoys a week not looking like the worst quarterback in the NFL. My best guess is that the Sanchize is in truth way better than most Jets fans seem to think he is and still way worse than the Jets seem to think he is, but there’s really no perfect way to isolate individual performances in football and they all exist in small sample sizes anyway.

About that, and for what it’s worth: Sunday’s was the Jets’ 10th game, and their fifth in which they rushed for over 100 yards. Every time the Jets have gained over 100 yards on the ground, Sanchez has completed more than half of his passes. In those five games, he has a 63.1-percent completion rating.

Sanchez has completed less than half his passes in every game in which the Jets have rushed for under 100 yards. In those five games, he has a 43.5-percent completion rating.

There’s not really an obvious to conclusion to draw from that, as there’s a lot of chicken-and-eggery involved. Plus 100 yards is a pretty arbitrary endpoint, not some magical barometer for effective running. It could be that in some of the better offensive performances, the Jets were able to move the ball on the ground because Sanchez was throwing the ball well. In some games — the debacle in Houston stands out — the Jets’ line appeared so thoroughly manhandled by the opponents’ defensive front to render both facets of the offense hapless. But it does seem — and I figure this is true for every team and every quarterback — that the Jets have an easier time passing the ball when they can run the ball and vice versa. Not really rocket science, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re trying to identify specific culprits.

Look at how happy they are now:

You know they’re going to beat the Patriots, right? That’s totally happening. Then they’ll beat the struggling Cardinals too, and just when we’re all sucked back in they’ll lose to the Jaguars and Titans to crush our spirits, then beat the Chargers and Bills in loving tribute to Herm Edwards. Don’t come at me with facts. This is well-researched stuff.