Monday, September 21, 2009

More leftovers from the Bills home opener

A couple of other tidbits from the Bills victory Sunday:
  • It was nice to see safety Donte Whitner finally make a big play with that 76-yard interception return for a touchdown. Those are the types of plays you expect from a guy who was drafted eighth overall, and it's been a long-time coming (he's in his fourth season.) He needs to make more plays like that to justify his high selection.
  • The Bills All-Time Team ceremony at halftime was nice, but it would have been a lot better had Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and Steve Tasker taken part. Tasker was out of town working an NFL game as an announcer for CBS, and Kelly reportedly was on vacation. And Bruce? Who knows?
  • Some people are already wondering if there is going to be a running back controversy when Marshawn Lynch returns from his suspension following Sunday's game against New Orleans. I really don't think there is going to be a problem. You can alternate him and Fred Jackson and have two fresh backs with complementary skills. Jackson had a surperb all-around game yesterday, generating 188 yards on 34 touches. But he's not built to carry that kind of load every week. Divide the chores up, and you'll have even better results. And I can see times when Bills offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt gets creative and has both backs out there at the same time.
  • Speaking of being creative, I liked the Bills throwing a lateral on a kickoff (netted them an additional 16 yards) and using T.O. on a reverse (good for 14 yards). Who would have thought we'd see such razzle-dazzle from the ultra-conservative Dick Jauron?

Don't look now, but there could be a pennant race in the AL East after all. The Yankees lead Boston by five games as we head into the final weeks of the season and are in Anaheim for a 3-game set against the Angels, who have won 16 of their last 19 games against the Bronx Bombers in SoCal. Then, New York returns east to play the Red Sox in a 3-game series that could make things very interesting.


The Yankees have totally mishandled Joba Chamberlain with these foolish pitch-count restrictions they've placed on him. I said all along that he should have stayed in the bullpen, where he could have been used as a set-up guy while being groomed to succeed Mariano Rivera down the road. Someone in the Yankees organization - be it the Steinbrenner boys, Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi - insisted he become a starter, but apparently not the kind of starter who can give you at least five or six good innings. In his first three starts after the All-Star break, Joba went 3-0 with a 0.83 earned run average, while yielding just 8 hits in 21 2-3s innings. Since the imposition of even more restrictive pitch counts, he's gone 1-4 with an 8.25 ERA, 50 hits and 21 walks in 36 innings.


SOME PERSONAL NOTES: It was great seeing my friend Erik Brady, the gifted sportswriter from USA Today in the press box at the Ralph Sunday. Erik is a Buffalo native who returns to his hometown every chance he gets. He's also a fantastic person, whose loyalty to his roots reminds me of another Buffalonian, the late Tim Russert . . . While on the subject of newspaper buddies, please keep former Rochester Times-Union scribe Gene Duffey in your thoughts and prayers. Gene is recuperating from cardiac arrest at a hospital in Houston. Like Erik, Gene is a wonderful, kind-hearted person . . . In regards to the aforementioned topic of pitch counts, we have no such restrictions in the 19th century base ball league I play in at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford. I went eight innings and change the other day in our 29-27 victory against the Knickerbockers at Silver Base Ball Park, and although no one charted my pitches, I'm sure I delivered well over 300. Despite that workload (easily six games worth for Joba, who's 32 years my junior), I experienced no arm or shoulder pain the next day. To be fair, I deliver the ball underhand at about 25 mph, while Chamberlain fires it in overhand at 90-plus mph. And, if you wondering, why the game was so high-scoring, I should point out that we don't wear gloves, the sun got in our eyes and the ball doesn't always wind up where we want it to. But it sure is a heck of a lot of fun.

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