Thursday, July 29, 2010

A little New York football preview for NFL fans

What an interesting offseason it has been for both New York teams.

For one, the Giants have finally filled the void Antonio Pierce left behind. The move strengthens their ever-thin linebacker unit who was the Giants backbone during their run to the Super Bowl in 2007.

With the addition of Keith Bulluck, a Titan’s vet who blew out his knee last season, the defensive unit who failed the Giants quest for the postseason last year is one step closer to regaining their 2007 “defense first” mentality.

Bulluck’s 108 tackles in 2009, despite his knee injury, signals the competitor he is. And the Giants signed him for next to nothing for the quality, pro-bowl type linebacker out of Tennessee. His one year, $2.5 million contract is hardly a hit on the Giants salary.

Bulluck has done nothing but express his excitement and eagerness to take the field for the G-Men and wants to show what he can accomplish on the ‘big stage’ in New York.

Most Giant fans were flabbergasted over their team’s first round selection in Pierre-Paul after learning that Antonio Pierce would not be returning for the 2010 season. With the addition of Bulluck, Giants fan can now breathe momentarily, pending on the rehab of the veterans knee.

Although it seems that the Jets have come away with arguably one of the strongest offseasons ever, the Giants aren’t too far behind them in thd ‘need’ category.

While the Jets signed future Hall of Famer’s in Ladanian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, the Giants secured SS Antrell Rolle, from Arizona, and now Bulluck out of Tennessee. Both signings provide the Giants the help they needed to gain back that 2007 swagger; the same swagger that put Tom Brady out of his misery in the Super Bowl.

(I forgot to mention that the Jets drafted Kyle Wilson and also signed Antonio Cromartie, Brodney Pool, and some guy Santonio Holmes? I heard he’s pretty good too…)

However, one problem that both New York teams need to assess is their needy players. Along with Nick Mangold and David Harris looking for new contracts, Darrelle Revis (who is threatening to hold out) is looking to become the highest paid defensive back in NFL history, deservingly so. Steve Smith is also looking for bigger bucks in New York and he deserves a raise too. The guy doesn’t drop a ball on third down, and he is a HUGE part of the reason the Giants receiving corps hasn’t taken too much heat since Plax shot himself.

Contract situations are also looming over both NY teams heads, and especially with no CBA deal intact for next year, there is no guarantee for football or for the players looking to be paid what’s owed to them.

One thing for certain is that the Jets are going to be interesting to watch this year, but New York is still the land of the Giants.

What quarterback is going to look up and like seeing Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Jason Taylor, Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, Kyle Wilson, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard and Darrelle Revis on the same team?

Definitely not Eli Manning…

…Kidding Giants fans, hope you’re still enjoying ’07.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer session students: still waiting for those federal aid checks? Get in line…

If you're one of the thousands of students in New York State who are waiting for those aid checks to come in from the NYS budget, I feel for you.

I was told that in the second week of June that my e-Refund account at UAlbany would transfer my Federal Pell Grant and TAP award for the 2010 Summer Session directly into my bank account.

Sadly, one month and hundreds of dollars spent from hard-earned savings and credit card transactions on gas driving to Saratoga every day for my internship later, I STILL have yet to receive my aid, all thanks to our blind-in-every-way governor who has yet to enact a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Thank you governor Paterson (and yes I didn't capitalize the 'G' in governor on purpose and I won't allow Word to fix it for me) for your help! Who knows what you do in that office of yours but because of you and your inability to get anything accomplished for this state, let alone the students and businesses that make YOU money, I've been confined to eating tuna fish and drinking tap water due to the lack of production from YOU and the rest of our NYS trustees.

You have gotten on my nerve for the last time and I figured it's time I do something about it.

I have been up UAlbany's behind from the first week in July, much like the rest of the UAlbany summer session students awaiting their payment, and all I get from the Student Financial Services center at the university is a big "check your UAlbany mail for updates," after all I have been is patient and understanding.

Well, not only have I waited on hold for approximately 20 minutes per day listening to the terrible music they have to offer while waiting to connect to an actual member of the Student Services staff, but I'VE BEEN CHECKING MY EMAIL EVERYDAY like they tell me to and I still find nothing new about the progress of the budget.

It's sad when a student, such as myself, is granted such a wonderful opportunity to intern at a daily newspaper in Saratoga Springs, and cannot afford to put gas in his car to make it to work on a Monday after a weekend of sitting inside and scratching my ass because I don't even have enough money to enjoy a decent beer at a local bar.

Imagine telling that to your editor: "Heyyyyyyy, I can't come in because I have no money and can't put gas in my car. Sorry!"

Well I had to do that, and I'm sure that most other interns and students have been put in the same financial situation I was put in. It's not funny and it's not a situation you would want to be put in. Trust me.

Thankfully, my editor Andrew Bernstein of The Saratogian understands where I am coming from and is allowing me to work from home, which I am extremely thankful for and that's why he gets a shout-out in this blog.

He actually thinks I should start some kind of group or petition against the gov' and his inability to get anything done. We'll see…

For now, it's back to tuna fish and trying to cut some beer weight. Sayonara from the 518 (preferably the 631).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cooperstown and cow stomach

I spent this past weekend in the baseball capital of the United States: Cooperstown, N.Y.

It was my first time ever visiting the area and it was an overall great experience.

I met a handful of wonderful people, including one of my best friends parents and another couple of whom they met after vacationing in the area for over 10 years.

I do regret not heading into the MLB Hall of Fame, but me being a broke, unpaid intern with no source of income and $4 in my bank account, I simply could not afford it.

Although I didn't make my way into the Hall of Fame, I did visit DoubleDay Field, where the first ever baseball game was played. I must say, the field was in great shape and just being there in a place with such rich history was indeed special for me. Plus, it was free.

Throughout the rest of my non-baseball Cooperstown experience, I also tasted tripe for the first time. At first I thought was some kind of fish, and I was terribly wrong.

Tripe is actually cow stomach, but hey, it tastes just like chicken. No complaints here.

I also had breakfast for the first time in months, since I'm never up in time for it. You tend to forget how great home-cooked bacon, eggs, and english muffins taste after eating ramen and tuna-fish for an entire month.

As if a delicious breakfast wasn't enough, I also had my fair share of mako shark, buffalo wings, burgers and shrimp scampi for dinner, all things I can absolutely not afford to eat during my time in Albany being a college student.

After such a relaxing and ideal no-work weekend, I'm thinking about revisiting the area ASAP.

And this time I'll make sure to head into the Hall of Fame, what was I thinking?!

Oh well, too late now. Just another excuse to head back to Coop and do it all over again, minus the cow stomach...maybe.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too hot for baseball...let alone anything

I am sweating like Lindsay Lohan in a court room right now.

It's past 9 p.m. here in lovely Saratoga Springs, at East Side Recreational Field, and the temperature has yet to drop under 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I'm sweating so much my wife won't even come near me," said a bystander at today’s U-19 baseball game between the Saratoga Stampede and the Colchester Cannons.

In fact, I have attracted mosquitos and bugs of all kind to feed on my poor, sweat dampened skin.

The feeling I have right now is indescribable.

I don't know how these kids do it. With Saratoga/Albany county's heat wave in effect, ruining our cars, clothes and motivation, I find it mesmerizing that these athletes can still withstand this heat.

I'm not even playing and I have sweat dripping from my forehead down to my nose, then rolling off and eventually succumbing to the wood plank bleachers beneath my feet.

Thank god for the wonderful concession stand lady here at East Side Rec or I'd be doomed.

Me, being a broke, underpaid (actually unpaid) freelance writer/sports reporting intern, has not even the funds to shell out a dollar for a water here in 90 degree heat nor the smarts to fill-up my empty at my desk at work before leaving the office.

Luckily, the lady in a black dress selling everything I desire right now, such as ice cream cones and Gatorade’s, helped me out and handed me a water on the house.

Thank the good God for such nice people.

Time to get back to the game, and back to warding off these mosquitos. More later.