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Jan 14, 2005



I know it's an exercise in futility to question the Las Vegas

oddsmakers. For me, exhibit A was the 2004 World Series. I questioned

 how the Red Sox could be 1-2 over the Cardinals. As it developed,

 the Sox would have been a bargain at 1-20.

That said, turn the page to Pittsburgh -9 and Philly -9 for this

weekend's NFL playoff action.

When the Jets played at Pittsburgh the first time, the Steelers were -5.

The game was 3-3 going to the fourth quarter, and the Steelers won

 (and covered) only because of a trick play -- the Bus option toss. QB

Pennington played that game with a sore shoulder. He's healthy now.

I made this game six. I'm sure coach Cowher would sign right now

 for a field goal win.

When the Vikings played at Philly back in September on Monday

 night, Philly was -3. Philly won the game thanks to some offensive

 holding calls on the Vikes. The star of the game was Owens. Last I

 looked, no Owens this time. I made this game four.

I'll let the two other playoff games slide to Friday. But I have some

 thoughts on those lines too.

Don't ever forget this is a numbers game. When the Jets played

 at San Diego the first month, the Jets were -3 1/2. Last Saturday,

 with the rosters virtually the same, the Bolts were -6 1/2. The

 whole world liked the Jets at -3 l/2. The whole world like the

Bolts at -6 1/2.

Go figure.

Speaking of the Jets, they completed a most astonishing

 New York/New Jersey triple last Saturday night:

Within two hours:

1) The Nets, down 19 mid-fourth quarter, rallied to cover the

number (seven) against Orlando.

2) The Mets got Beltran.

3) The Jets beat the Bolts.

The Nets. The Mets. The Jets.

You can't fool mother nature.

Changing gears...the reader needs no reminder that my

 favorite whipping boys are the announcers.

You need to know why?

If you listened closely the last couple of weeks, you heard

 some beauties:

1) With Boston College up 37-24 on North Carolina with 21

 seconds to play, and with possession, the announcer said: "

 looks like Boston College will hang on to win."

2) With Minnesota up 31-17 on Green Bay with 1:15 to play, and

with possession, Joe Buck said " APPEARS that the Vikings will win."

3) A minute earlier, the Vikings, up 31-17, were fourth and inches

at the Packer 20. Troy Aikman implored: "...they have to kick

a field goal to make it a three-possession game!."

4) Last Friday, Joe Theisman was asked on sports-talk radio which

 side he liked in the Seattle-St. Louis game, a game he would

 cover. Replied Jersey Joe: "I like Seattle...because they're home."

As I wrote two weeks back in this space...if life were only so simple.

The biggest story in New York today is Randy Johnson. Yesterday,

Yankee security had to save the Big Unit from himself.

My take is centered on these two security guys, whose job was to

 escort Johnson from the hotel to the hospital for his physical, and

 protect him from his adoring public.

How embarrassing is it for two grown men in this day and age to

be assigned the job of baby-sitting a baseball player, especially

 a 6-10 baseball player?

Speaking of embarrassment, how embarrassing will it be when

 1) Ghostzapper gets Horse of the Year over Smarty Jones, and

 2) Declan's Moon gets 2-year-old champion over Afleet Alex?

When they announced the finalists the other day for the various

categories, conspicuously missing were John Servis and Stew

Elliott. If the trainer and jockey were snubbed, what chance

does Smarty have to be Horse of the Year?

Regretfully, my colleagues are to blame. Most of the writers who

 cover racing on a full or part-time basis were furious at the

Chapmans for taking the money, and they decided payback was

 to snub Team Smarty in the Eclipse Awards. And since, two-thirds

of the folks who vote for the year-end awards are writers, Smarty

 has no chance.

In fact, if Birdstone had hit the board in the Breeders' Cup

 Classic, the writers would gladly have handed him the 3-year-old


And as for Declan's Moon, that's a complete joke altogether.

The horse went four-for-four, but never left southern California.

 He ducked the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and in the Hollywood

 Fururity, he got a dream trip to beat Giacomo, an allowance

 horse, by a diminishing length.

Declan's Moon doesn't make the cut as far as I'm concerned. The

 best 2-year-olds were 1) Afleet Alex, 2) Rockport Harbor, and 3) Galloping Grocer.

For what it's worth, Vegas agrees with me. Rockport Harbor and

Afleet Alex are 1-2 in the Kentucky Derby Future Books. Obviously

 the road to the Derby runs through Hot Springs, Ark. Both colts

 are on the grounds at Oaklawn Park, and are being pointed for

 the Southwest, the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby -- the three

races won by Smarty Jones in 2004.

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