Friday, January 26, 2007

Intentionally Walking Nap Lajoie ("You'll Freeze Ya' Man Parts Off" Edition)

Ball One: Talkin' Baseball

Today's word is "short-sighted," my fellow baseball fans. "Short-sighted," as in: the steroids policy Major League Baseball put in place 8 years ago, the steroid policy Major League Baseball put into place 2 years ago, and even the steroid policy MLB put into place prior to last season; or the recent expansions, adding two teams in Florida, which are now desperately trying to escape Florida, and spending the least amount of money possible to do so, bringing down the level of competition; or the quick fix of making the All-Star game "meaningful" again by giving World Series homefield advantage to the winning league; or, worst of all, this. That's right folks: "short-sighted," as in MLB brokering a deal to make the extra-innings package available EXCLUSIVELY throught DirecTV, while actively seeking to limit the amount of households that can get exposure to their own product. All in the name of 30 million dollars a year, or 1 million dollars per team, per year, after revenue sharing does its thing. So what does a million dollars buy a Major League Baseball team? Try one of these. That's right, Rudy Seanez just signed a contract for a million dollars, meaning, his 1million ERA is more valuable to a baseball owner, than is his fans' ability to watch his team play out of market. Millions of households across America, of course, are incapable of being equipped with a satellite dish. Some don't have adequate Southern exposure, some can't afford the Dish, others (like me) have annoying condo associations or landlords, who simply won't allow it. Of course, they expect the die-hards who would have paid 170 to get the package, to simply get instead. And they probably will get 75% of them. So those who argue that this is a smart business move by MLB are correct. For now. But for how long? You see, like me, many fans became more involved in baseball because of the package. They saw stadiums on TV they wouldn't typically see, and they made trips to those stadiums, or they fell in love with a second team they wouldn't normally root for, and went out and bought some of their gear. I would have raised my kids to be Red Sox fans, MLB fans, if I could just have access to the games. But I can't. And so now my kids probably won't be MLB fans. Because there's no way in hell they are going to be Yankees fans (obviously) or Mets fans (too cruel to an innocent young man.) I have a feeling there are lots more like me out there, who are tired of being kicked like a loyal dog by MLB. I am not following the Sox on a computer and in box scores. I refuse to do it. Call it a protest or call it being smart: I am takin the 170 I would have spent on the package, and the (approximately) 400-500 bucks I would have spent on two trips to Fenway, and buying season tickets to an unaffiliated minor league team. No joke. The Red Sox, along with the Cubs and Yankees have the most spread-out fanbase in the league. They could have made a plea to prevent this, and they didn't. They sold their die-hards for a Rudy Seanez (or 10 games worth of JD Drew (if he plays 140 games, which is awfully unlikely.) So screw them. If they don't care about me, I am done caring about them. Go Bears.

Ball Two: My Pedestrian Friend

Training for the marathon is in full swing. Running 10-11 miles tomorrow, so it is going to be a quiet Friday night for me. Here's a fun story, though: yesterday I was running in my neighborhood, which, for those of you who don't know, is a nice neighborhood, surrounded by not so nice neighborhoods, and a park. Well, I had to run through the not-so-nice neighborhood to get to the park, which is fine. Sometimes it gets me an odd glare, or the occasional mumble from a passer-by (my favorite was when one gentleman saw Brian and I running quite early on a Sunday, and told us "you better run yo' ass out the 'hood") Hooray, gentrification! So yesterday it was about 17 degrees here at dinner time (when I was running.) And as I was approaching the park this elderly pedestrian walks past me, and simply says, "You're gonna freeze ya' man parts, Son." I was comforted to know that this old man was concerned for my man parts, and alas, when I got home and undressed, I wondered if perhaps my pedestrian friend was on to something.

Ball Three: Trying Out The Wire

I have started watching The Wire on Netflix, since pretty much everybody says it is the most amazing show on Television. I will say this: the drama, and action are pretty intense. The acting (so far, and it is the first season) is pretty bad. The directing seems pretty appropriate for the cop-style drama show. It is impossible to make a judgment based on three shows, but so far the hype is overrated. I am keeping an open mind.

Ball Four: Whatever

This is pretty much the most disturbing thing I have come across all week.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Which Side Are You On Boys, Tell Me Which Side Are You On?

In the most recent edition of New York Magazine, there is an article about the 'edgy' art contingency on the L.E.S. known as Irak NY. These dudes are a bunch of graf artists, apparently, but from the article you get the idea that most of their art is super-gritty stuff, such as collages of newspaper articles with man-juice smeared over the top. Now, I am, admittedly, not that savvy when it comes to what's new in the art world, and what qualifies as certifiably good art. Apparently people pay tens of thousands of dollars for this stuff, which speaks to the value that some place on it as not only certifiable, but sustainable. That's neither here nor there really, as I don't wish to judge the artistic merits of Dash Snow and the other members of that community. What interests me most, however, is why this stuff is considered 'edgy' or new. Back in the day I went to school with the Grandson of a big-time newspaper industry magnate. He told us stories about how his parents who lived in a SoHo loft in the '70s used to take loads of acid and poop on canvasses, smear it around and sell this stuff for thousands of dollars. The moral of the story? Rich, white, kids have been taking drugs and rubbing fecal matter on paper and calling it art since the '70s. So why is this now considered edgy? I am interested in why people are reacting to this art as the 'next Warhol' or 'next Pollack' and more importantly, why we feel the need to annoint a 'next (pick the icon).' It happens in the sports world (LeBron is the next 'Jordan') in the music world (Clap Your Hands is the next Talking Heads, or Modest Mouse, or...) and even in the writing world (Marisha Pessl is the next Nabakov.) I just don't get this on a number of levels: the most obvious being, that the people we are always comparing the newcomers to were so successful and so earth-shatteringly awesome, precisely because they were totally incomparable to anything we had seen prior to their existence. Before Jordan we didn't know a Guard could simply snap his fingers and take over an entire game. Before Talking Heads music wasn't supposed to be that 'weird'. Before Nabakov, writing was supposed to be formulaic, and on, and on...

So why are we in such a rush to find the next huge thing by identifying it so closely with something that has already been. By nature this is asking art to be repetitive and emulative. Don't get me wrong, all good art has its inspirations. Pollack was clearly influenced by the Cubists, Talking Heads by prog rock, etc...And the art is often a reaction to what comes before it. But for art to AIM for comaparisons to or against its predeccesors seems, to me, to take away from the artistic liberty necessary to make something unique and inspiring. What is apparent both from the article, and from the little I know about Snow and the Irak folks, is that they have a deep-seated ambition to be compared to--and thought of as the torch-bearers of--the NY art scene of the '70's. Everything from the inherent wealth--who else can afford to be full time artists?--to the excessive use of drugs, participation in sort-of-illegal activity, to blurred boundaries of sexuality, family, spirituality and ethical responsibilities. The problem with this copy-cat behavior is that, while it is obviously a function of Youth, its also bound to lead to certain interpretations that are going to be dubious at best, and unabashedly mocking at worst.

While I think the author of the NYMag article, Ariel Levy, meant well, and tried to be honest with her portrait of Dash and the other Irakies, there are certainly moments where her coverage floats between the aforementioned interpretations. Towards the end of the article she admits it is easy to hate Dash and the rest, particularly for the hypocrisy of their lifestyle balanced against Dash's wealthy family background (see Dubious.) At other points in the article there certainly does seem to be the feel that Levy is standing behind the Irak Crew as they speak, and giving you the wink and nod (see mocking.) Of course, the fact is, this is the actual subjects killing themselves with their own words. For instance, one artist involved with Dash (McGinley, who is actually a pretty respected artist, but comes off sounding moronic) had this to say about Dash: "These kids that would go up on a rooftop, 40 stories up, and go out on a ledge to write their name—it’s just, like, the insanity of it all!" Insane? Hardly. Kids in Newark (who aren't getting commissioned thousands of dollars) do this crap on a nightly basis. He goes on to compare his art to Dash this way: "I’m into freedom and a celebration of life, and Dash is more about the fall of humanity." Knowing what we know about the absurdity of Dash's wealth (his brother dates one of the Olsen twins, by the way) it is hard not to smirk at the notion of him being a prophet of the fall of humanity. Dash who refers to himself as a derel (derelict, obvs!)gives the author this insight upon meeting her: "I was just down for it! I’m down with anyone, even if they’re bad people, if they’re just, like, anti-American, you know what I mean?" The idea obviously is that he's bad-ass, edgy, dangerous: he does drugs, tags billboards, lies naked in bed with men, empathizes with terrorists. I guess the idea is this gives him credibility. Unfortunately for him, it comes off as "resumé-padding," trying to establish his place, and prove he has earned it.

The thing is, Snow seems to (I cringe to say this) believe in the life-style he lives. That is to say, I think he does see himself as a derel and a total outsider to society. But no matter how hard he tries he will always be known to have come from society at its gaudiest: NYC old money. So when Snow talks about how 'down' he is, it is only natural for the reader to roll his eyes. Hypocrisy, even the unintended variety, is hard to sneak past the dubious public. Snow seemed aware of this following the release of Ariel Levy's piece. In the immediate aftermath the Irak NY blog ran an article calling it 'A Big Wack Story.' The comments, moderated by a member of Irak go on to make some seriously derogatory remarks about the sex and religion of the articles author. Referring to Levy, a very out lesbian, the commenters sling anti-semitic slurs, and discuss their desire to probe her orifices (very edgy stuff.) The moderator didn't seem to mind any of this obviously derogatory, and chauvenistic behavior: what did I say about hypocrisy? Of course, other recent blogs on the Irak board range from a drooling 'How long until June' headline (referring to the release date for the new iPhone, a $350 excessive-consumer's wet dream) to an article berating the US for sending more troops to Iraq (the one with a Q) and 'simply throwing money at a problem.' "So American" the blogger writes. Yes, American, like growing a hard-on over a hand-held communication device that costs more than the GNP of some third-world nations. Hypocrisy, it seems, is as much a part of being 'down!' with the Irak crew, as sleeping naked in bed with other dudes.

Dear Dash and the rest of the Irakis: The seventies are dead. If we continue to rehash the ghosts of Pollack and Warhol until we are blue in the face, the art scene in NY is going to be dead right along with it. Furthermore, if you want the world (the part of it that can't afford 90 Grand for your splooge-stained artwork) to take you seriously, you might want to reconsider how valuable it is to attack your critics at the cost of making yourselves seem like hypocritical angry boys. Surely Pollack and Warhol brushed off much harsher critiques than the piece from NY Mag. Maybe that's a piece of those guys--the last piece, I'd suggest--that you boys should learn to emulate.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

39 Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report

Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday I will have something more intelligent to say about the drubbing the Jets took. For now: there are no moral victories in my book. Sure I am happy that the Jets season wasn't like the Raiders season, but losing to the FUGGIN Patriots in the playoffs sucks any damn way you cut it. Chad Pennington is NEVER going to be better than he was this year: which means he is never going to be good enough to make you a legitimate contender: Three goals for the offseason:

1. Add a possession back to compliment Washington Who Should be the every down back to start next season: maybe pick up Brian Leonard with the second round pick?

2. Decide what we have in Clemens. We used a second round pick on the kid. We need to find out soon if he is worth it, or if we should go after say...Troy Smith at the end of round 1.

2b. If Clemens is a legitimate enough QB to take a flyer as a starter, trade Chad to Cleveland or Detorit for a second round pick. Use it to shore up a Tight End or Outside Linebacker, which will effect what you do with suggestion number 3...

3. The Jets are targeted to have upwards of 26 million dollars in capspace this offseason: get a legitimate Tight End or Outside Linebacker out of free-agency...If Herm doesn't franchise Tony Gonzalez, he'd look GREAT in green.

If they had lost that game to any other goddamn team in the NFL I would rest easy tonight knowing that just getting here was a celebratory cause. But for the next nine months I will re-hear Tom Brady's smug punk-ass press-conference ringing in my ears:

"To beat a team that beat us at home a few weeks ago...and to beat 'em by 21 points feels really, really good." Like that game was really a breeze, and the final score was at all indicative of the quality of competition. F U Tom. And I am going to say it now, without a shred of regret: if Teddy Bruschi could go and have himself another stroke, that would be fuckin fantastic in my book.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Never Drove a Carmengia OR Do You Believe in Anything?

Can we talk about God? Specifically, I want to talk about the people who make these outrageous claims that God has spoken to them. I don't want to mock them so much as just try to understand some things. I have always wondered two things about these people: first of all, when these people say things along the lines of, "I was lying face down in the gutter, in a pool of my own vomit and that's when God spoke to me and said I was headed down an evil path but I could save myself..." are these people saying, "I had this feeling--like an epiphany--that I had to get my shit together, and the only way I can describe it is by saying some greater outside force was giving me clear thoughts in a time when I was incapable of thinking clearly" or do they mean, "some little dude with a beard came down and I physically had a conversation with him." I'm not trying to be curt here, I am seriously interested because if it is the former, then I can empathize. I think we have all had moments of "epiphany," but if it is the latter, these people should seek help, right? And, going back to the former scenario, if it is just an epiphany, why do these people insist it was a god-figure, let alone the Christian God, who "spoke" to them? I just don't get it. Somewhere in the world I guess there must be born-again Jews and born-again Muslims. Just seems odd that the vast majority imagine this sensation to be the Christian God.

And why am I talking about this? Well, I think I talked to God. Not really, of course. Certainly not in the way that I think these people mean it. I just mean that I had a mystical (god I wish there was a better word) experience last night. How hippy of me, right? Here is what I mean: last night I was running in Liberty State Park right around dusk (6ish?) and ran deeper into the park than I ever have before. I was on a trail coming around a marsh, which had tall brush I couldn't really see over, and suddenly I make a turn and am turning onto a boardwalk that runs along the hudson with perfect views: of a shadowy and ominous Statue of liberty; of a dimly lit, but empty Ellis Island; and beyond that, the blazing lights of lower Manhattan. I was all alone in a cold, dark part of the park, caught somewhere between an eerie fear, and a comforting connective feeling with the large world in front of me. It was odd, right, to feel the loneliness that is inherent, first of all, in running, and secondly, in doing so in a dark and foreign place. Then, at the same time, to look past historical and cultural iconagraphy like the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, into a microcosm of society like New York, where, beneath all of those lights, a million vignettes were playing themselves out. So many of them: vignettes of loneliness; love; heartbreak; joy; celebration; anger; violence; addiction; prosperit;, deceipt; betrayal; vindication. All of this is going on in front of my eyes, somewhere in New York, right? Somewhere in the world, right? And yet, there I am, observing it, acting as a voyeur to it, when in actuality, I can not see it, I can not but imagine it.

These things always recast themselves in our minds--these moments--to make them more perfect, more surreal, perhaps, then they were at the time of their being. So, I recall now, that I was thinking--before turning that corner--about work, what else? And how little satisfaction I get from it; how if I had done something else in school--i don't know, pre-law, maybe--I could at least make ends meet, and perhaps more. I was thinking about--well, I was wallowing in self-pity, quite frankly. And then I turn a corner and all of that splendor exploded into my field of vision like a blossom. That's not a reach for an image: it really felt like watching something blooming. And as I was caught up in all of this, I began to think of my father's Carmengia, of all things.

My father drove a Carmengia when he got out of college. It was as close to a sports car as he could afford, and, apparently this is how dudes in the sixties got tail: showing off volkswagen convertibles, and being the proud owner of quality dope would be a good alternative, I'd bet. My dad used to know alot about cars, it was a passion, I gather...sort of like baseball cards for my brother and me. I mean, he'd tell me stories about knowing cars by the revving of their engine, and so on. So this car was a precious piece of machinery, but he loved it moreso, I now think, because it was a piece of his childhood, something to collect and salvage from the innocence of middle-american-50's life, before shit got complicated with war, civil rights conflicts, assassinations (but I digress.) The point is, I think, for my Pop the Carmengia was his last memento to cling to that spoke to him of being young, the last shred of youth. He sold the car away a summer after he bought it with all of his savings, so that he could enroll in Seminary school where he met my mom. My mother attended seminary because she had some serious spiritual beliefs, a religious background, and probably because it was a free graduate degree. My dad attended because he needed "consciencious-objector" status to avoid the draft. He couldn't bring his car to school. And so he severed that last shred of his innocent youth.

Well maybe I am babbling, or maybe the reason I was thinking of the Carmengia in the first place is because here I am, the same age my father was when he sold that car, so he could attend seminary to avoid going to a war where he would inevitably end-up either dead, or permanently fucked-up. And for all of the faults of the '60's--the blind idealism, the divisiveness of political extremes, the everlasting pat-self-on-shoulder arrogance that the BabyBoomer Generation has suffocated us with--for all of those negative aspects, there is an inherent truth to the fact that this generation (mine) has been a greatly priveleged one. This is due, in large part, to the struggles of the two generations before us. There is a negative aspect to this: namely, the cynical, self-obsessive nature of being a generation of babied "adults" who have the privelege of using detachment as a shield from needing to believe in anything, or worse, as an actual belief system: the religion of disinterest. But there have been benefits, too: namely, people like me live in a world where we don't have to be held at a proverbial gunpoint and forced to grow up. (And I know there is a larger issue here about the people who are not priveleged the way that I am, and are held at this proverbial gunpoint, but in case it isn't already clear, I use my blog to think about issues that tend to be more local than global, and by "local" I mean "me.")

I certainly don't mean to preach, but it just seems that people my age are quick to fall back on cynicism or detachment as a tool to avoid serious debate or consideration of an issue, an artist, an institution. The common reaction to things that don't immediately gratify or please us seems to be: find something at fault, or at least fallible with it, and rip it to shreds in a sardonic manner. We hear a band we don't like: how derivative ("totally never heard that before. Sooo unique!" wink wink) or how cheesey, etc.; we roll our eyes at Literature we don't think is up to snuff; we mock those who dress differently, or disagree with our political tendency. This way there is no need to even attempt trying to understand where others come from, why others do, say, feel, different than we do. In a way, it's become a belief system of its own: a crutch on which we can rely when we don't know how we should feel about something, whether we should believe in anything.

This isn't just self righteousness speaking: look, I am guilty of it, too. It's just become ingrained. We are constantly absorbing information: new music; new clothes; breaking news; voyeuristic gossip; personal blogs; art, culture, television...all on demand. How can we not simply scoff at some of it? This has been the gift and the curse of my age group: the ability to mold our world to function as a "pod" of ourselves. Surround ourselves in music we like on our Ipods; dress in clothes we like; live in neighborhoods we like; read (or choose not to read) the news coverage we like; drink when we like; obsess over ourselves when we like; peep into other's self-obsessions when we like. It's all about me, and all about you. Shit, YOU were the Time Person of the Year! And yet, you and I can be caught at moments where our minds are practically moribund with self-pity, and look up to see the world (the REST of the world) unfolding before us.

And so maybe these are or aren't the thoughts I was thinking, when I ran beneath the dark silhouette of Lady Liberty, and looked upon the emptied grounds of the station where so many boatloads of people, who sacrificed to make our lives thus, first came upon these shores. And no, I did not, at that moment--looking onward to the greatest city in the world--feel thoughts of Patriotism, or even complete sentimentality for my heritage. What I felt in that solitude was an inexplicable connectivity to things past, things future, things present, and taking place beneath the lights of so many streets, covered by tall buildings, or lonely rowhouses. As some might say, I felt the presence of god. I say I felt a different presence--my own--in relationship to the rest of the world, for the first time in a while.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sometimes You Eat the Bear

My wife says my blog is depressing. Looking back over it, I can see where she gets this opinion from: the conitnuous bitching about my work, the image of the lonely drinker, the self-pity towards my mediocre writing (especially because she knows I could and should do more to improve this, on my own.) So I am going to make the kind of New Year's resolution regarding my blog that everybody else makes regarding their personal health, happiness, and hopes: the kind that probably won't ever get resolved. I am going to do my best to make the entries more positive. As far as those aforementioned personal health, hapiness, and hopes resolutions: run 4 days a week (this has been going on for a couple weeks now, and shouldn't be a problem) in training for the Jersey Shore Marathon in late April; see more movies; read more; write daily.

Go and Give 'Em Hell, or Don't Go and Give 'Em Hell

Finally saw "Little Miss Sunshine" on DVD. It was definitely better than I thought it would be. Alan Arkin is simply awesome, and Steve Carrell does a good job taking on the "comedic serious" role. Otherwise, there are some definite funny moments, some decent writing, and a nice soundtrack. I was upset at myself for not seeing it in the theater, but I think it might be more of a curl up on the couch and enjoy type-of-movie anyway. It isn't life-altering or anything, but I recommend it, if you're looking for something light-hearted, feel-good, but not excessively cheesey.

Other than that film on Thursday, my weekend went by way too fast. Brian came up last-minute on Friday, and he and I met Dan for some beer and Darts at Park Tavern. Called it an early night Friday so I could get up early and sober for the family christmas. Went out Saturday and was properly hungover for the Jets game (friend from HS called me last minute with Tickets.) The atmosphere at the game was pretty good, but until the Jets had a comfortable lead, people seemed leery of getting too amped up. By the Third quarter though, it was constant yelling, and everyone seemed genuinely pumped (and probably still somewhat awe-struck.) Almost everyone I overheard on the way out was having some variation on the "how the hell did this team make it to the playoffs?" conversation. Nobody really seemed to care whom the Jets would face, or if they could even play with any of the other AFC teams. Later on in the day, when I found out the Broncos lost, and the Jets would be playing the Pats, is when it finally sunk in for me: as I predicted over a month ago (with a little inspiration from Peter King) the Jets will be playing the Pats in the first round of the playoffs!

It's hard to think of the Jets as anything but underdogs going into this game. I have said it before, and still contend that the the Jets victory in Foxboro, week 10, was more of an abberation than the Jets really beating the Patriots. Any Jets fan who says anything along the lines of "The Patriots don't scare the Jets, anymore," is either lying or delusional. The Patriots still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and those two men have been a thorn in the Jets side for 4 years. One win does not erase all that. The Pats should be gaining some healthy defensive starters by Sunday, while the Jets will be losing Andre Dyson, whom I say has been their best Corner this year. The Pats have two legitimate RBs while the Jets need to rely on Leon Washington to keep breaking magical big-plays (something he has proven himself capable of time and again, as the season rolls along.) Breaking down the teams component-by-component its pretty tough to find a single edge for the Jets. And yet, when you compare the teams to one another overall it is hard to say just why the Pats would be favorites in this game (y'know...other than the fact that they have the best QB/Coach tandem in the NFL.) The math, oddly, doesn't add up. You don't believe me? Try it:

RB- Washington, as I said, has broken out some spectacular plays. His balance is outstanding, his speed impressive. But when teams have stacked the middle against the Jets, the way the Pats certainly will, they haven't had a strong enough RB to push back the line, and wear down the big guys.
WR- All right, here is one! The tandem of Cotchery and Coles has been overlooked all year, and they might be two of the most athletic receivers in the AFC. But, why have they been overlooked? Oh, right, because whenever Pennington has to hit them on an outside pattern he either throws the ball 10 feet wide or ten feet shy.
Overall Offense- Given the inconsistency of either team, can you really say the Pats offense is better than the Jets? Would it surprise anyone if Tom Brady's receivers bobble 3 or 4 big passes, and one or two end up in Kerry Rhodes' hands? Would it surprise anyone if the Jets force the WRs to be the difference-makers in the game by stacking the line? And does anyone really think that New England's WRs can be the difference in a playoff game? Can anyone name 2 WRs that play on the Pats? Sure, with Tom Brady at the helm in a playoff game anything is possible. The guy could throw for 340 and 3 touchdowns with just about the worst receivers in the NFL. The good news? He is going to have a chance to do just that. The Jets offense on the other hand: 100% reliant on Pennington. I can't remember the last game where Pennington looked completely sharp. If he doesnt change that pattern, Ben Graham could be spending alot of time on the new turf at Foxboro.
Defensive Line- The Pats D line has been unreliable all year. Sometimes it has seemed as though opposing QBs could catch a film and lunch with the amount of time they have been able to give him. Other times their opponents have been nailed for multiple holds early on and turned into a veritable sieve by halftime. The Jets on the other hand have been consistently OK on the D-line. But, its the Patriots in the playoffs. Expect the Jets O-Line to pick up some early holds and turn into that aforementioned sieve, while New Englands O-line holds the Jets all over the field, only to unleash a frustrated Victor Hobson onto Tom Brady mid-delivery on a crucial third down. Brady's pass will be incomplete. Hobson will get a personal foul for "roughing the passer." Brady will applaud the league for protecting its mostest precious asset. Hobson will be inexplicably fined 15 Grand. Moral of the story? If it's too close to call, always give the Pats the benefit of the doubt.
Safeties and Corners- Typically I'd give this nod to the Jets because Rhodes has been downright nasty this year. Buuuut, something tells me Rodney Harrison is going to be playing in this game. And given Dyson's injury, the corners probably favor New England. Edge: Pats.
Special Teams- Slight edge to the Jets. Speed is the key on special teams, and they have it.
Coach- Please.

So call me a homer, but the only real advantages I see there (and granted, they are not small, by any means) are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But, and I mean BUT, remember what I said following the week two game between these two teams: Bill Belichick is a time-bomb waiting to explode on that side-line. I don't think you can underestimate the lengths to which he will go (and therefore, the possibly foolish risks he will take) to show up Mangini and the Jets. I am not sure how it will go, but at some point in the game Belichick is going to take a risk that will either make him look like a genius or a overconfident fool. I have an odd feeling it will be the latter. So here is a scenario for you: 3 minutes left, the Pats winning 21-17. Pats have the ball on the Jets 29, fourth and five. Instead of kicking the field goal and forcing the Jets to score a TD to tie the game, Belichick goes for it. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Fearless Prediction: 24-21 Jets
"Told You So" Prediction: 28-20 Pats