Jon Fazio's Sports and Thoughts Blog

Holy. Moly. I type this before your eyes in disbelief. Not because of the time (I should really be sleeping right now), but because of the ability to post on this blog again. I don’t even know where to begin with this. I’m definitely not writing a Today in Sports tonight, but will share my absence since my last post and why I thought this blog was lost until minutes ago.

It’s hard to believe that I started this over 2 and a half years ago! Reading back at my posts from that time tonight surprised me a little bit because of the ability I had to create professional summaries of games and news, if I may say so myself. However, after my last post almost 2 years ago (wow), I sorta got caught up in the professional sports world of radio and then TV to start off my Broadcasting career after graduating college (woohoo!). I was writing for the sports page at my school as well, plus experiencing what would be my last semester of college ever, so there was reasons for ignoring this blog.

As soon as I graduated college, I hit the real world hard landing a job with MLB Productions as an in-game logger and freelancing with Westwood One Radio Sports (Now known as Dial Global) in the fall-spring on an as-needed basis (which is still true to this day). Since the logger job ended once the MLB season ended that year, I had time to think about posting here, but something happened…

For some reason, I wasn’t able to log in here with my email and password. I tried many times with different passwords and emails, but it didn’t work. Now, you could say, “Well, why didn’t you create a new blog or go to another site to blog?” To be honest, I liked this specific account because it had my history of blog posts. That was important to me because I can go back and see how I’ve progressed over time and critique my own work. So for that reason and not being able to sign in, I gave up. It turns out that the email I used was a school email and that was deleted by the time I tried to log in. Also, as a side note (which will come handy at the end of this post): I upgraded my cell phone to an iPhone around this time.

As time passed, I started to think about this blog again and decided to look it up on my Twitter, since I have it displayed on my home page. To my surprise, it opened up and revealed all of my posts. So I knew that it still existed and could still be accessed, but had no idea what the email/password combo was. Again I tried, again I failed. What was it? If my school email is gone, how could it still live? Once again, I ignored it and went about my life.

I started working for the MLB Network last March, which if you readers know, was my dream job back when I started this. I got lucky getting in with Productions and because of my willingness to learn there and some hard work, I was chosen to freelance with the Network and begin my quest of becoming a producer (which is still true to this day, even though I have changed from writing to producing since I last posted). I was working about 5 days a week from late March to early November. But once the offseason began, my role was/is cut shorter and am only needed a day or 2 a week, if that (it varies week-to-week). Which brings me to now…

I could not sleep at all for some odd reason and decided to surf around my iPhone. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn… Tumblr? I had the app since I had the phone, yet never did anything with it (obviously). I look at my page, skim through my posts and decide: screw it, I’m gonna try to log in again. Open it up, try my old-school AOL email and normal password and BOOM! I’m signed in. Total disbelief. It’s 5 a.m. Goodnight. See you around soon.

Today in Sports

     A lot has happened to me in the past months since I had posted last. I started to get my feet wet in the professional world of covering sports for TV and radio.

     I interned at MSG Varsity in my fall semester and got to travel across Northern New Jersey to cover high school football. I basically wrote down important plays (mostly TD scores) and would sometimes shoot the second half of the football game just to get a feel for operating a camera on a tripod. I gained a lot of information on how to be a successful employer for Varsity, and even made a reel at the end of my internship. All in all, it was a great experience and wouldn’t mind starting there after graduation (if they would hire me that is).

     Right now I am currently at Westwood One Radio Sports in New York City. I’ve already been there a month and I’m really enjoying it so far. Granted it isn’t TV, I am learning what it takes to be a producer and play-by-play analyst and how to do it the right way (it isn’t easy) for radio. I’m going to be cutting highlights for the Super Bowl this Sunday as well as the March Madness tournament in March, so I’ll be getting plenty of experience by the time I get out. Definately looking forward to it. But right now, let’s get to sports!

     NFL: Everybody should know that the Super Bowl is this Sunday, but everybody might not know who is in it. For those living under a rock, it’s the Steelers vs. Packers. Packers are the home team in this game and they have impressed the NFL with their playoff run within the past month. They are the only sixth seed team in history to play in the Super Bowl since the expansion of the Wild Card round in 1990. The Steelers, meanwhile, has had plenty of experience in the big game. This is their seventh apperance in the Super Bowl, third in the past six years, and have won six times, which is the most by any football team in history.

     It should be a great matchup Sunday and both teams have a great backround to win this game, but as I predicted in the school newspaper, I’m going with the Packers to edge the Steelers by a final score of 28-27. The equalizer? Lookout for a late comeback from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense in this game.

     NBA: Both the Nets and the Knicks had an off night tonight. The Knicks are coming off a bad loss at home to the Mavericks Thursday night, losing 9 of their last 13. Granted, I never thought the Knicks would be over .500 at this point of the season, so this is definitely an improvement than in year’s past (10 years to be exact). Their next game is Friday night at Philadelphia where they take on the 76ers. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m on MSG.

     The Nets are also coming off of a loss to the 76ers and it’s pretty much the same story for them. They have also improved from last year, but I don’t see the team making the playoffs this season. But they are showing potential that they could become contenders in seasons to come. Their next game will be at Detroit where they take on the Pistons. That game starts at 7:30 on the YES Network.

     NHL: Cross-town rivals met each other tonight at the Garden as the Devils played against the Rangers. The Devils entered the Garden in last place throughout the whole league as the Rangers were trying to end a two-game losing streak. Kinda surprising because the Devils were steeped in success for the past two decades and now have one of the worst records in the NHL.

     The Devils jumped out to an early 1-0 lead that silenced the fans at Madison Square Garden. Ilya Kovalchuk picked up a drop pass from Dainius Zubrus and fired a wrist shot from the right wing that beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled late in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots.

     Zubrus made it 2-0 midway through the second period with the first of two goals Lundqvist would like back. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder pushed the Rangers defense back with a strong rush before feeding Zubrus above the right circle. His long slap shot squeezed through Lundqvist and barely trickled over the goal line.

     Brian Rolston increased the lead to 3-0 with a shot from near the blue line that Lundqvist thought he was going to stop with his blocker but didn’t. Martin Biron came on in relief and made six saves, including a rocket of a one-timer by Kovalchuk just seconds after coming off the bench.

     That save was the start of a furious comeback by the Rangers. Ryan Callahan beat Brodeur from an awful angle with 3:35 left in the second period to make it 3-1. Vaclav Prospal, playing in his first game this season after recovering from right knee surgery during the offseason, made it 3-2 when his cross-ice pass through the slot hit Tallinder’s stick during a 5-on-3 power play and bounced through Brodeur just 2:21 into the third period.

     But it would not be enough for the Rangers, as they would not score again and lose 3-2. The Rangers will carry a three-game losing streak to Montreal on Saturday, while the Devils host the Florida Panthers on Friday at 7:00 p.m. on MSG Plus.

     MLB: And in a shocking move, the Yankees and Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement on Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte phoned Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to inform him of his decision, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney.

     Pettitte, who will turn 39 on June 15, has wrestled with thoughts of retirement for the past several seasons. But after the devastating loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, there was reason to believe that this was going to happen especially because they failed to sign Cliff Lee, who has now signed with the Phillies over the offseason.

     Pettitte compiled a 240-138 record and 3.88 ERA in 13 seasons with the Yankees and three with the Houston Astros. He is a three-time All Star, a two-time 20-game winner and a member of five Yankees world championship teams. He appeared in two other World Series with the Yankees as well and another with the Astros. He’s won more games, 19, than any pitcher in postseason history. But is he worthy for the Hall of Fame? That remains to be seen, but let the debate begin. My thoughts? First instinct says no. But, looking back at his career and what he did for the team in his history, he has a good chance to win some votes and be entered in. We’ll just have to wait for at least five years.

     Well, there you have it. My first real post since early August. Send me feedback and let me know what you think! More posts to come soon.

Today in Sports (Pre-inspirational post)

(Dusts off cobwebbs) Does this thing still work? Hello Tumblr world! It’s been a looooooong time since I’ve posted on here (since summer, which didn’t really seem that long ago…) and after looking at my old posts, I was inspired to start writing again. Now, I won’t be posting sports stuff tonight. I actually have to finish writing an article for my school paper this week. But, I will be back on here writing again occasionally. I put too much pressure on myself by saying I would post every day, so I’m just gonna post here and there. As always, feel free to read and give feedback. I enjoy it. Stay tuned!

Today in Sports (Pre-Game Notes)

I may not get a chance to post tonight, so I’ll preview the Mets and Yankees tonight.

MLB: The Yankees come into Texas with a one-and-a-half game lead in the AL East over the Tampa Bay Rays as they take on the AL West-leading Rangers for a short two game series. This is the second series these two teams have met this year, with the Yankees sweeping a three-game set back in April. Both teams rank in the top five in the AL in runs and ERA. A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA) gets the start in Tuesday night’s game for the Yankees after being a late scratch in Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox due to back stiffness. He will face Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson (10-5, 3.30 ERA), who has converted from a reliever to starter this year. Many speculate that come October, these two teams will face each other in the postseason. First pitch is at 8:05 p.m. and can be seen on My9.

After a few post All-Star-break hiccups, Ubaldo Jimenez (17-2, 2.61 ERA) seems to be back on track with the Colorado Rockies. He has the opportunity to continue his winning ways against the New York Mets at Citi Field, who have been struggling since the All-Star break. The Mets send out Mike Pelfrey (10-6, 4.16 ERA), who has been battling arm-speed issues in his recent outings. Pitching coach Dan Warthen has been working with Pelfrey to fix this problem during a bullpen session and looks to get Pelfrey back to his early-season form. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

Today in Sports

MLB: Missed it by that much. The drive Marcus Thames hit to right-center field in the bottom of the seventh inning was one foot away from tying the game at 2 at that point. But instead, it bounced on top of the padding on the wall and came back into play for a double. It was one of many missed opportunities the Bombers had Monday afternoon as they went on to lose the game 2-1 and tie the series with Boston. The Yankees couldn’t produce hits to score runs, leaving eleven men on base and were hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. A large part of that was contributed from Red Sox’s starter Jon Lester, who took a no-hitter one out into the fifth inning and keeping the Yankees offense from scoring runs. He fell into trouble in the seventh inning after giving up the double to Thames and walking Austin Kearns to load the bases with no outs. But after striking out Curtis Granderson and handing the ball over to Daniel Bard, he was off the hook after Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher both struck out swinging. The Yankees pulled within one in the eighth inning after Mark Teixeira launched a solo home run into the right field seats for his 26th home run of the season. But that’s all the Bombers could muster off of Boston’s bullpen. Ryan Kalish started things for the Red Sox in the second inning, who singled, stole second and advanced on Posada’s throwing error before scoring on Bill Hall’s RBI single. After a single and a walk, J.D. Drew connected on a run-scoring groundout to bring Hall home. That was all the Red Sox needed to win this game. Hughes pitched well once again, retiring ten straight batters until Victor Martinez broke up the string with a fifth-inning double. Hughes completed six innings, scattering six hits while walking one and striking out three as he lost for the fourth time in eight starts. One minor milestone worth noting was that Jeter tied Mel Ott on the all-time hits list with 2,786 after a single in the fifth inning. He is now tied with Ott for 38th all-time. The Yankees now travel to Texas to take on the Rangers in a short two-game series. A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA) will get the start after he was a late scratch in Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox and will face C.J. Wilson (10-5, 3.30 ERA). First pitch is at 8:05 p.m. on My9.

NBA: NBA commissioner David Stern announced Monday that the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets will play each other overseas in the O2 Arena in London for two games in March during the upcoming regular season. This will be the first time that a regular season game will be played in Europe. This is the same arena that has hosted preseason games over the last several years. Stern says he doesn’t know if this will be an annual occurrence yet, but it all depends on how well it is received in London and how the people there will react to it.

Today in Sports

MLB: Dustin Moseley was brought in to start a day early for the Yankees against the Red Sox due to an injury from A.J. Burnett. Burnett was scratched due to lower back soreness during a workout, so Joe Girardi bumped up Moseley hoping that it wouldn’t be an issue. The move turned out to be better than expected as Moseley hurled six and a third innings and allowed only two runs as he went on to defeat the Red Sox 7-2 on Sunday night. The 28-year-old Moseley retired eleven of the first twelve Red Sox batters he faced, carrying a lead courtesy of another New York eruption against Josh Beckett, who surrendered seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Moseley set the tone for his performance on the first batter of the game, springing off the mound to field a Jacoby Ellsbury bouncer to the third-base side and whipping a strike across his body to first base. Bill Hall’s fifth-inning home run was the only run-scoring hit off Moseley, who was also charged with a run in the seventh when Mike Lowell added a pinch-hit RBI single off Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees battered Beckett for a season-high eleven hits in four and two-third innings, including Mark Teixeira's 25th home run, a solo shot that sparked New York's five-run fifth inning. Since last August 23, Beckett is 0-3 with a 10.41 ERA in his last five starts against the Yankees. Lance Berkman turned around some of the Yankee Stadium boos in the second inning with a double to right, scoring as Brett Gardner legged out an infield single that forced an errant throw from Hall at second base. Derek Jeter added a sharp single to center field to bring home Gardner with the Yankees’ second run, tipping his helmet as he was saluted for his 2,874th career hit, which surpassed Babe Ruth for sole possession of 39th place on Baseball’s all-time hits list. Alex Rodriguez, who missed Saturday’s game after being struck in the left shin with a batted ball during batting practice, stole his 300th career base in the sixth inning. The steal made A-Rod just the 10th player in history to accumulate at least 1,500 runs scored, 2,500 hits, 200 homers and 300 steals, joining Barry Bonds and Willie Mays as the only ones to hit at least 600 homers. Still, the evening felt as though it belonged to Moseley, who has come back from career-threatening hip surgery last August and may have been, for one night, both the most anonymous Yankee and the most important. The Yankees look to take the series Monday afternoon as Phil Hughes (13-4, 3.96 ERA) takes on Jon Lester (11-7, 3.07 ERA) in the last game of the four-game series at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is at 2:05 p.m. on YES.

Well, that’s it Mets fans. After Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Phillies, I firmly believe that there is no way they can make the playoffs. You can write yourself a note or a Word document on your computer stating that and just in case I’m wrong, you have something that you can prove I was wrong. They simply needed to win both series on this road trip in order to keep up in the division. But after losing both series to the Braves and Phillies, I think there is no recovery from it. Beltran was mostly to blame for this loss as he struck out three times in the game, two of which could have been critical rallies for the Mets, and miss-fielding a couple of balls in center field. In the second inning, Jason Werth hit a fly ball to center field. As Beltran drifted back twisting and turning his body to try and catch the ball, he ran into the wall and the ball barely cleared the fence for a home run. It was a play the Beltran of old would have made. In the next inning, Beltran unsuccessfully fielded a ball from Werth that led to an RBI double. Then to top it all off, Beltran struck out three consecutive times, finishing the day going 0-4. He finished 3-for-22 against the Phillies and Braves to drop his average to .195. He has six extra-base hits in 77 at-bats. Certainly, Beltran is not the only reason the Mets lost on Sunday. Dickey allowed a season-high six runs in a season-low three innings. David Wright struck out three times, finishing 2-for-23 on the team’s critical six-game road trip. But Beltran’s mistakes stood out in light of his recent struggles. The Mets have to play him, because he’ll never regain his form if they don’t. And by the time he does regain that form, it will already be too late for the Mets to make the postseason. The Mets have an off day on Monday as they prepare to face the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field on Tuesday night in the first of a three-game series. Mike Pelfrey (10-6, 4.16 ERA) will start for the Mets as he takes on NL future Cy Young award winner Ubaldo Jimenez (17-2, 2.61 ERA) of the Rockies. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.

Today in Sports

MLB: Javier Vazquez was ready to prove to the Yankees that he was ready to start against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. Vazquez was going into the game with pretty good numbers, going 3-0 in his last five starts and averaging over six innings pitched with a 3.34 ERA in that span. But his velocity seemed to dip, serving up a pair of homers and fell victim to a dropped popup from Francisco Cervelli that led to three unearned runs as the Yanks were defeated by the Red Sox by a final of 6-3. David Ortiz started things off for the Sox when he belted a solo home run to straight-away center field in the first inning. The Yankees answered back in the bottom-half of the inning when Mark Teixeira connected for a two-run home run to give them a 2-1 lead. Then in the top of the second inning, a crucial play would end up setting a big inning for Boston and ultimately the win. With a runner at second base and one out, Vazquez got Mike Lowell to hit a high popup to the first-base side of the mound, and as Vazquez came over to field it, catcher Francisco Cervelli called him off. The ball struck Cervelli’s glove and glanced away for an error, the first committed behind Vazquez in 2010, which set up a big inning. Vazquez struck out the next batter but walked Number nine hitter Jed Lowrie before issuing a bases-loaded walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, forcing in the second Boston run. Shortstop Marco Scutaro then cashed in on that error, lacing a two-run double into the left field corner. That inning would later on come back to haunt the Yankees as they couldn’t recover. After the game, Joe Girardi acknowledged that the team had noticed Vazquez’s velocity had dipped. Girardi said it was something the Yankees would have to look at. Vazquez said he’d noticed as well, but said he is not injured or fatigued. The Yankees fall to 5-4 against Boston this season, but the Rays lost to the Blue Jays 2-1 in Toronto so the Yankees are still in first by a half-game. The Red Sox are now five games back in the AL East. The series continues Saturday afternoon as Yankees’ ace CC Sabathia (13-5, 3.19 ERA) faces John Lackey (10-6, 4.48 ERA) of the Red Sox. First pitch is set at 4:10 p.m. on FOX.

Jon Niese came out after the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead against the Phillies feeling confident that he pitched well and was eager to watch the bullpen come in to continue the game where he left off. But as TMS kicked in during the disasterous eighth inning from the Mets bullpen, Niese did not want to watch any more as the Phillies racked up six runs in the inning to eventually put away the Mets by a final score of 7-5. Bobby Parnell came in relief of Niese and started the collapse, allowing consecutive singles to Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth to open the eighth, before Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz both punched RBI singles up the middle. Jerry Manuel then called on Pedro Feliciano to stop the bleeding, but the Phillies kept pouring on as Ross Gload walked in a run and Jimmy Rollins added an RBI single. Manny Acosta finally ended the flurry, though not before allowing two inherited runners to score. And with that, the Mets found themselves trailing by five, where minutes earlier they had been winning by one.With a chance to pick up a valuable game on the Phillies — one of five teams the Mets trail in the National League Wild Card race — the Mets instead coughed up one of their most critical games of the season to date. With a chance to pick up a valuable game on the Phillies — one of five teams the Mets trail in the National League Wild Card race — the Mets instead coughed up one of their most critical games of the season to date. But he was at 111 pitches after seven and Mets manager Jerry Manuel, trusting Parnell, opted to remove Niese from the game. Bad mistake. And now the Mets payed for it, finding themselves one game under .500 and trailing eight games back of the Braves in the NL East. The Mets try to start winning some games as they send out ace Johan Santana (8-6, 3.20 ERA) to face Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.56 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on SNY.

NBA: Isiah Thomas is back. The New York Knicks have hired Isiah Thomas to be the consultant of the team to scout out players who are about to enter the NBA. Thomas was involved with the free agent signing of A’mare Stoudmire as well as a number of other team operations during the off-season, but never had an official job title with the team during that time. He is still expected to coach the Men’s college basketball team at Florida International University next season. It is getting tougher and tougher for me to watch this team each year since I can remember. And now signing Thomas now puts me another step back to watch the Knicks this upcoming season. All I have to say is the better sign another big free agent before the season starts in order for me to watch this team actually perform.

Today in Sports

Both the Yankees and Mets had off tonight, so I’ll just preview tomorrow’s games. Nothing else has really been happening around the tri-state area on Thursday so I’ll just keep my post short.

MLB: The Boston Red Sox come into town Friday night to begin a four game series in the Bronx to take on the Yankees. Kevin Youkilis is expected to undergo season-ending thumb surgery for the Sox, which is a big blow for them. They are sitting back at five and-a-half games behind the Yankees and can’t afford to lose any more players, since Dustin Pedroia is also on the DL. Javier Vazquez (9-7, 4.61 ERA) will get his first crack at Boston Friday night as he is set to start against Boston’s starter Clay Buchholz (11-5, 2.59 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. on My9.

The Mets travel to Philadelphia and take on the Phillies in a three game series at Citizens Bank Park. This series is a big opportunity for the Mets to cover some ground in the NL East. A lot of people are counting the Mets out already, but if they sweep this series there’s still some time left for them to make a run at the division. But if TMS kicks in, they might not have a cure for them to win the division or even make the playoffs. Jon Niese (7-5, 3.78 ERA) will get the start for the Mets on Friday night as he takes on Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.86 ERA). First pitch is at 7:35 p.m. and can be seen on SNY.

I’ll throw this in too just because this post needs a little spice. Umpires seem to have had a lot of bad calls this year. Another one can be added to the list Thursday night as the Phillies finished off their series against the Marlins in Florida. In the bottom of the ninth, the Marlins had a runner on second (Hanley Ramirez) with two outs and Gaby Sanchez up at-bat. Sanchez hit a hard grounder down the third base line that seemed to sail over the bag and stayed in fair territory to most likely give the Marlins a walk-off win. But third base umpire Bob Davidson signaled foul and stole a win from the Marlins. The Phillies would later win the game 5-4 in extra innings after Carlos Ruiz hit a solo home run in the tenth inning. Another classic example of why baseball should have instant replay. It’s not fair to the team who deserved to win a game because the umpire blew a call. Hopefully this will change in the future for baseball because I think it will do the sport good to have the right call be made.

Today in Sports

MLB: He did it. Alex Rodriguez has now entered a very exclusive club Wednesday afternoon after slamming his 600th home run in the first inning to break an 0-17 skid. The ball sailed over the netting in Monument Park in straight-away center field off Blue Jays’ starter Shaun Marcum, exactly three years after he hit his 500th home run in the old Yankee Stadium. He becomes the youngest person ever to reach 600 home runs and the seventh person to reach that mark. With the home run out of the way early, the rest of the team focused on getting back to their winning ways after losing three straight and three-out-of-four. And that’s exactly what they did as they went on to win the game 5-1 and avoid the sweep against Toronto. The Rays would lose later on Wednesday night 2-1 against the Twins, which means that both the Rays and Yanks are tied for first. Derek Jeter also broke out in the game after collecting only six hits in 28 at-bats, recorded his first four-hit game of the season and scored three runs. Mark Teixeira continues to rip the ball as he collected three RBI’s in the game. Teixeira doubled to right-center to bring home Jeter in the third, then dunked a single into left-center to drive in Brett Gardner and Jeter in the fifth. That was enough support for Hughes, who earned his 13th win despite suffering from a cold aggravated by 89-degree heat. Hughes was effective if not very efficient, allowing one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He left after throwing 99 pitches. The Yankees have an off-day on Thursday and will prepare for a big weekend series at the Bronx as they take on the Boston Red Sox. Javier Vazquez (9-7, 4.61 ERA) gets the start on Friday night as he faces Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (11-5, 2.59 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. Friday on My9.

It must be tough to be a Mets fan. When Jeff Francoeur hit the home run in the ninth inning Tuesday night, it was a prime example of how a Mets fan would have reason to believe that the team may have some fight in themselves to make the playoffs. But on Wednesday night, fans were completely turned off by that thought and immediately reacted to TMS. Side effects of TMS include anger, depression and disbelief. Committing three of their season-high four errors in one inning and receiving another sub-par start from Mike Pelfrey, the Mets dropped a messy 8-3 game to the Braves at Turner Field Wednesday night. Already trailing by three runs, the Mets kicked away any chance at a comeback when Jose Reyes, Ike Davis and David Wright all committed miscues during a four-batter span in the sixth. First it was Reyes, allowing Melky Cabrera to reach base on his second throwing error of the game. Then, after Omar Infante’s single, it was Davis booting a ball to load the bases. And finally it was Wright, firing wide of second base on Chipper Jones’ potential double-play ball. Pelfrey didn’t do any better, throwing four and two-third innings and allowing five runs in his start. There would be no late rally for the Mets, who netted two runs off Braves starter Kris Medlen, who left due to a right elbow injury in the fifth, and another against Peter Moylan in the seventh. But by that point, the outcome was hardly in doubt. For much of the past month, the Mets have been searching for a turning point, and Wednesday’s game may have been it. Fans can hold onto this stat for re-enforcement: the Mets famously lost a 7 1/2-game divisional lead to the Phillies with 17 games to play in 2007. Now, they trail the Braves by that same 7 1/2-game margin with 54 games to play. The team has a much needed day off as they travel to Philadelphia to play the Phillies in another critical series. Jon Niese (7-5, 3.78 ERA) starts for the Mets and faces Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.86 ERA) of the Phils. First pitch is at 7:35 p.m. on SNY.

NBA: As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Shaq was in talks with the Celtics to work out a contract to play for the team in the upcoming season. Well the official deal is done as the Celtics gave Shaq a two-year contract worth about $3 million on Wednesday. The team signed him mainly because Kendrick “Big Baby” Perkins wil be out until February due to knee surgery he underwent after they lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

NFL: Whoever fell for Brett Favre officially retiring Tuesday, shame on you! This guy is never going to officially retire (Ok, maybe he will. But you get my point). Favre has released a statement saying that he has not reached a decision yet if he wants to retire or not, but has said that he will as soon as he decides if he’s healthy or not to play a full season. I feel that he will never be “healthy” to be a quarterback in the NFL, but in his mind he will think he is and decide to play for the Vikings. And just in case you were wondering, the Vikings open up the NFL season Thursday night on September 9 to play the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. These two teams met in the NFC Championship game where the Saints beat the Vikings in overtime by a final of 31-28 to get to the Super Bowl in Miami.

Today in Sports

Rumors: I figured I’d make this special section just for today to keep you updated on a couple rumors that are being reported on ESPN and local sports outlets. One rumor is that Shaq is most likely going to sign with the Boston Celtics next season to join the big 3. The sources say that it will be announced late Tuesday night or Wednesday if he decides to play for the Celtics. The Atlanta Hawks were originally rumored to be in talks with Shaq as far as a month ago to have him play there, but as of right now the Celtics seem to be in serious discussion with him to try and land him a contract.

Another big rumor being reported is that former Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is planning to retire from football and move on with his life (sound familiar?). Head coach Brad Childress has yet to hear from Favre about retiring from football. However, multiple players on the Vikings claimed that he sent out text messages and told them that, “This is it.” Neither Favre nor the Vikings claim that these messages were sent out at this time. Both of these rumors should clear up within the next 24 hours, but who knows.

MLB: The Yankees are now looking at something they haven’t seen since June 12… a different division leader. The Tampa Bay Rays have claimed sole possession of first place in the AL East after they defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-4 and got help from the Toronto Blue Jays as they went on to beat the Yanks 8-2 Tuesday night, who now fall a game behind the Rays. It’s been twelve games now since Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career home run after going 0-3 in the game. It is safe to say lately the pressure has gotten to A-Rod after everyone in the stadium is snapping pictures after every pitch during his at-bats hoping to capture his 600th dinger. Here’s another number for you: The Yanks have lost three straight, which matches the longest losing streak of the season for the team. The Yankees got off to a promising start as Mark Teixeira connected for a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead. But after that, Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero settled down and shut down the Yanks. Romero threw a complete game, giving up two runs on only two hits and one walk in his bid for the win. Yankees starter Dustin Moseley couldn’t keep up with Romero, giving up five runs in seven and a third innings in his first losing effort this season. Wednesday’s series finale will be a very interesting day for A-Rod, for it will be three years exactly that he hit his 500th home run at the old Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals. Phil Hughes (12-4, 4.07 ERA) gets the start for the Yankees as he takes on Blue Jays’ starter Shawn Marcum (10-4, 3.24 ERA) in a game where the Yanks look to bounce back and reclaim the AL East. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on YES.

The Mets looked to finally take advantage of gaining ground in the NL East as they took on the division-leading Atlanta Braves Tuesday night. Although it looked like the Mets were heading for defeat once again, Jeff Francoeur changed the script and added his own drama by launching a solo home run in the ninth inning to propel the Mets to a 3-2 victory over the Braves. R.A. Dickey kept the Braves in check on a rainy evening, a knuckleballer’s nightmare, pitching six innings and giving up two runs on five hits while walking four. Braves’ starter Derek Lowe also pitched well, throwing six innings and giving up one run on six hits while striking out three. That run came off of Jose Reyes, who doubled in the third inning to score Luis Castillo from second. Then in the seventh inning after Francoeur drew a walk, Chris Carter came off the bench to pinch-hit for Dickey and hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2. All that to set up late-inning heroics from Francoeur to put the Mets at six and-a-half games behind the Braves. This is exactly what this team needed if they want to make a run for the playoffs this season. Time will tell if this is the spark they needed for them to win often, or just be a footnote in another disappointing season for the Mets. Mike Pelfrey (10-5, 4.10 ERA) takes the hill for the Mets in Wednesday’s series finale and takes on Kris Medlen (6-2, 3.66 ERA) of the Braves. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. and can be seen on SNY.