Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Definition of Insanity

I would love to believe that Brad Richards is the missing link for this Rangers team. That putting him on a line with Gaborik would solve their scoring problems and coupled with the development of their young players, and another spectacular season from Lundqvist they could win a championship. Unfortunately, I’m not insane.

The idea of signing a center to a long lucrative contract, right after buying out a center that you signed to a long lucrative contract (Chris Drury) is insane. Shouldn’t having Wade Redden reappear on the team’s cap be a friendly reminder of this ridiculous thought process?

I don’t understand how the Rangers can insist on having a youth movement, and then after ONE season dole out a huge long term contract to an aging center who just had concussion problems. I can’t see Richards being worth the money in the last two years of his contract, a time the Rangers are going to want to lock up some of their young players. As for now, it’s not as if the Rangers are one player away. This is a team that just made the eighth seed on the final day of the season, before winning one game against a team that was subsequently swept in the next round.

Listen, if Richards was coming on a four or five year deal, I don’t think I would have that big of a problem with it. He is a good player, and while the Rangers have been burned in the past, perhaps he can give the Blueshirts a few good seasons. The problem is, Richards is not signing for cheap, even though he claims he would “love” to play for the Rangers. The Flyers just traded away two of their best players to have a chance to sign this guy. Would a team really do that if they didn’t intend to throw a lot of money at this guy, and have a good chance of signing him? If it takes 6-7 years to sign him, I don’t want him.

I just can’t comprehend how Sather can be at this again. Drury, Gomez, Redden and the list goes on. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity. So while I’d love to believe Richards is going to come to New York and light things up, eventually helping the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, I just can’t keep believing these high profile signing won’t blow up in our face. Call me crazy, but I want to stick with our young guys.

The Iman

With an upcoming labor dispute draft night became one of the last nights to make player transactions before the NBA fell into the same fate as the NFL. To me, this meant the promise of an exciting draft night, and so I cleared my schedule to be able to sit down and watch the whole event. I sat at my couch, cracked open a beer and called up some friends for some much needed commentary for the night.

Throughout the show we each made some snide remarks, but for the most part our attention was on who might slide to the Knicks. With the gutting the roster took to bring in Carmelo, this draft seemed more important than most others. (having a first round pick this year probably helped) As we got closer to the pick, the chatter started to heat up. Probably 95% of the the comments was some form of, “singleton baby! no way donnie passes on a talent like that.” However, to the dismay of many, Donnie did just that. As the pick was announced, the name Iman Shumpert scrolled across the screen. No one was prepared for this. We started shouting things like, “great, we got the poor man’s Corey Brewer.” and “Where is Isaiah holding Donnie?” or the token, “who?” I swear, I even heard a shriek from my neighbor’s house. The scene was so terrifying, I half expected the four horsemen to come trotting through my living room.

With enough time to reflect on the pick, I can see some of the wisdom behind it. The three best teams in the East (Celtics, Heat, and Bullls) have all-star players at guard. Rondo, Rose, Wade and Lebron have dominated us. If Iman (I’m gonna refer to him as Iman instead of Shumpert, because I like to think it is pronounced I-man instead of the proper pronunciation. For some reason I think it makes him sound like a better player. I have no idea why, it just does. Also it is fun to say, and if I’m not completely sold on him as a player, I’d like to have fun with his name) can help to shut those guys down, the pick will be justified.

I wasn’t that rational on draft night. I went on a tirade. I just didn’t understand the Knicks thinking. We had a guy who was a good perimeter defender (Corey Brewer), but couldn’t hit a jump shot, and we bought him out because D’Antoni didn’t think he could play in his system. Did this pick mean the end of D’Antoni? Moving past that, we now have four guards on our roster, and Iman is easily the worst one. Wasn’t Fields determined untouchable during the trade deadline? How do we draft a guy who plays his position in the first round?

When asked why they drafted Iman, Knicks brass cited their deficiencies on defense, and hoped this pick would go a long way towards shoring that up. That makes sense, but then why not draft Singleton or Faried. Both are considered top notch defensive players, and more importantly they have size. We needed defensive players, but we needed them to play the 4 or 5, not the 1, 2 or 3. Some analysts even think Singleton is athletic enough to guard the 1. How do the Knicks pass on this guy?

Trying to pull a Spike Lee, I have been able to justify this pick to myself. Like I said earlier, if he is as good defensively as people have claimed he is, he could help us shut down some of the East’s top players. While his jump shot is suspect, so was David Lee’s when he first entered the league. Lee turned that weakness into arguably his biggest strength. (some people may say rebounding, but I think his shooting was more impressive. He had good rebounding numbers for the Knicks, but that had more to do with the fact that there weren’t great rebounders, and someone on the team had to get them. Also he always seemed to be somewhat of a stat whore. When another player came down with a rebound that David wanted, he would give them such an angry stare. I am almost 100% certain he chewed his teammates out more for “stealing” his rebounds, than he did for their lack of effort on the court) If Iman could pull off a similar feat, he could be a great pick up for the Knicks.

I guess we’ll hope for the best from this kid this upcoming season. That, or pray Jerome Jordan has turned into a top center in the league. What? It’s the offseason, I am allowed to dream.

 

In Which Stirrups Save The World

“What’s a balk?” I flicked my eyes back to my phone, smiling inadvertently. I hesitated, wondering how to respond to the text message. “It’s really complicated. I dunno if I can tell you via text.”

Ah, those stirrups.

***

Sandwiched between the balk off-loss and Chipper Jones douchery home run, tonight’s was a dandy little ballgame, the kind that can easily disappear three and a half hours. R.A. Dickey was shaky through an uncharacteristic four inning outing. Jones deposited a three run home run (on a 3-0 fastball from Dickey) into the hatchet-ing, chanting, and generally insufferable Turner Field crowd. Four innings, six runs, four earned. “Yeesh.” I excused myself from the TV, cursed Larry Jones, bain of all things Metsian, and settled back onto the couch.

6-2. Dickey’s out. Manny Acosta, former Brave and recent inheritor of Oliver Perez’s dreaded #46 jersey, fanned his former mates, lowering his ERA to a paltry 16.20 (mantra time: small sample size, small sample size). Pedro Beato,apparently now the sixth inning man, a stellar Tim Byrdak and a stocky-as-ever Jason Isringhausen reveled in the “tomahawk chant.” No runs, three hits between the four of them.

Meanwhile, Scott Hairston’s Compact Swing of Justice (patent pending) annexed the enemy territory of the left field stands in the top of the fifth. Playing center in place of Angel Pagan, Hairston’s game tying blast was preceded by a Jason Bay RBI single to right. Hairston would figure into the scoring again in the seventh. Whiffing against heretofore impenetrable Johnny Venters, the ball squeaked away from catcher Brian McCann. Carlos Beltran, gazelle-like, bounded home. 7-6 Mets. Add a Beltran force-out in the top of the eighth, and the Mets were three outs away from sweeping the Braves in enemy territory for the first time since 2007.

I’ll spare you the bottom of the ninth.

Ah, but the tenth.

***

“So, what’s a balk?” Real telephone conversations are instantly refreshing. “Well, basically, if the pitcher is on the rubber–oh, and there are runners on base–and he stops and starts, they call a balk. Runners move up a base.” I furrowed my brow, of course, invisible to the person on the other end. I briefly considered trying to explain the infield fly rule while I was at it, but quickly assessed that it would be like trying to recreate Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. You just have to see it to get it. The voice on the other end giggled. “Balk. Baseball has ridiculous terminology.” “And strange rules,” I added quickly. “Either way,” the voice continued. “Sounded like a good game.” I nearly hiccuped with defiance. But the Mets had blown it! Duda should have let Tejada play that ball, D.J. Carrasco shouldn’t have balked! But I paused. The person on the other end hadn’t seen the game; she was just receiving periodic updates from me. “You know what,” I hesitated. “It was pretty good.” I continued 0n, talking about how Duda should have stayed near the bag, how if Dickey could have gone another inning, we could have spared K-Rod, how graceful Carlos Beltran’s every move was, how unfathomably great Jose Reyes is. How nice D.J. Carrasco’s hiked-up pants and bold, beautiful stirrups were. “There was a time,” I said with faux pretension, “where everyone wore stirrups. Golden years, then.”

“Sounds like it was a good game,” she chuckled. “It was,” I said mournfully. “You should have seen the tenth,” I was feeling oddly reverential. “Just watch,” she continued. “The Mets will probably win on a balk sometime soon.” “They don’t have to.” I smiled. I preceded to aggrandize the night of May 29, 2007. Benitez’s problem? We concluded that it must of been because he wasn’t wearing stirrups.

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Quite A Ride

Wow. What a game. Entertaining till the end, but absolutely crazy. Sitting back with an 8-6 lead, and K-Rod coming out to close the game, you had to feel confident. Unfortunately I didn’t. As much as I have finally bought into the legitimacy of the Mets (and by “bought in” I mean I believe that they are playing well now, clearly have talent on the team, and have a chance to stay withing 5 games of the wild card for the rest of the season…all while being terrified the wheels are going to fall off at any moment. Ahhh cautious optimism!) as soon as Gary said, K-Rod is coming in to save his 20th consecutive save, I knew he would blow it. I am very superstitious and I believe whenever an announcer says something positive about one of my team’s players, something bad happens. When Gary said that I screamed, “KNOCK ON WOOD!!” It was to no avail. That smug bastard did nothing, and K-Rod blew the save.

Of course, after that Lucas Duda had to flub a play the exact way Gary said Murphy could screw it up just innings prior. And adding insult to injury, he called Duda “Murphy” throughout the entire explanation of the play. After that Carrasco inexplicably balked to “drive in” the winning run for the Braves. Just a crushing defeat.

Still, there is evidence the Mets have come a long way. When Dickey left the game in the fourth inning having surrendered 6 runs, how many people thought the Mets would come back and even take the lead? In the eighth inning, when the Mets scored a run off of an intentional walk and two errors I felt fantastic. Finally, it was the Braves making countless errors. At first I did a double take to make sure it wasn’t the Mets in the field. Then I tried to make sure the players just didn’t change uniforms for the inning. Once it was confirmed that the Braves were in the field, and the Mets were at bat, I went nuts.

So I guess, for all the heartache I had today, this was still an entertaining game. Perhaps a good indicator of what their season can be. They start out in a big deficit. (think back to that ugly record at the beginning of the season) Somehow make a big comeback, and even take the lead for a bit as the other teams implode. (Back to .500 baby…or we were. And who knows, we could have the wild card lead for a bit) Then ultimately blow it, because as close as they are, they are at least a piece away from being real contenders for a championship. (sorry, as optimistic as I’m trying to be, I just don’t see them making the postseason. It might be close, but I think they’ll miss out)

One last note: Have the Mets won a single game in extras this season? Earlier in the season I joked with a friend that once the game went into extras the Mets lost. Then when the Rangers couldn’t do anything against the Caps this postseason I joked that it just might be teams I liked. I laughed about it at the time, but looking back, I honestly can’t remember the last time the Mets have won a game in extras.

Anyway, the Mets will take on the Angles at Citi field tomorrow. I will accept a game that is less exciting if the Mets can pull out a win. Deal sports god?

Osi Wants Out

Osi Umenyiora wants no part of the Giants organization. According to him, back in 2008 he talked to Jerry Reese and wanted a raise in pay. He was told if he continued his high level of play, he would get what he wanted. Unfortunately for Osi, he has not gotten that raise, and now believes his days with the New York Giants are numbered.

Well I have to say, I have very little sympathy for Osi. He has been a good player for the Giants, but he has always had an inflated self-worth. He has compared himself with the top 5 players at his position, but he has never even been the Giants best defensive end. Strahan was always better than him, and as soon as Strahan retired, Tuck was the player who took the torch, not Osi. Osi is a one-dimensional player that has never really dominated. In 2007, one of his best seasons, he got half of his sacks (6) in one game, against an overmatched Winston Justice who never received any help. After that season, he was injured in 2008, and played so poorly in 2009 that he was benched. He was great last season, but it’s not like he is going to get a raise right before the lockout. And even if there wasn’t a lockout, he has hardly earned the type of money he is clamoring for.

Osi and the NFLPA are using this fairly pathetic argument as one of their reasons why the CBA should be changed. This brings me to a bigger point than Osi’s worth, and that is the lockout itself. Personally, I’m tired of the players and owners trying to win public support. I don’t think either side deserves it. If anything, I wish we as fans could unionize and force the players to take the salaries they used to get not too long ago, and make the owners drop the prices of tickets and merchandise to reasonable levels so fans can go back to the games.

Honestly the players feel victimized? As fans, our team’s home games get blacked out if the team does not sell out their games. Essentially we are being blackmailed into paying the 100+ dollars for ONE ticket. That does not include the money for transportation, and food once at the stadium, not to mention the fact that generally you don’t go to a football game by yourself. Plus that 100+ dollar ticket is for some of the worst seats in the stadium.

I understand why the NBA is heading to a lockout. I have no complaints with that one. At this point, small market teams are having an impossible time operating. There is no revenue sharing like in the NFL. The player contracts are guaranteed, and with the salary cap, if a team makes one bad investment, it can screw them up for a long time. What other sport would have a team spend several years just trying to clear salary space? Also there is no way to keep a star player on their small market team. Carmelo, Lebron, Bosh, Deron, and probably Paul and Howard pretty soon, have showed us that if a superstar wants to leave, he is going to leave. The league is a mess, and they really need to figure out a way to fix it.

The NFL does not have these problems. The owner aren’t losing money. The NFL is easily the most profitable of the major leagues, and they have revenue sharing in place for the smaller market teams. Teams do not have problems holding on to their top players. I think the fact that the Oakland Raiders were able to hold on to Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha for as long as they did speaks to that. Most importantly, the players contracts aren’t all guaranteed. Think back to Shaun Alexander. How soon after that megacontract were the Seahawks able to release him?

On the players side, they are making considerably more money than players in their league ever have. I mean athletes in general make so much money that Lebron James can tell us, after having one of the most depressingly awful Finals performances, that he is far better off than everyone else in the world. (I know he claims he was misinterpreted, but I don’t buy it for a second. He was angry and he said something really really really dumb, that I am pretty sure he 80% believes) This guy hasn’t gone to college, has such little confidence that he would rather join a team where someone else can win the game, then defer all series to the likes of Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem than dominate the game himself, even though he is easily THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA RIGHT NOW! How is this guy doing better than us? Because he has a lot of money? Because he is famous? Because he only surrounds himself with people that tell him he is god? Honestly I think he is going to pull a John Lennon before he dies and tell the world he is Jesus. Yes, the messiah came back to dominate basketball for three quarters 82+ times a year.

Anyway back to my original point. I don’t care about the owners, I don’t care about the players, I sure as hell don’t care about Osi “only” make 3.5 million dollars every year while I would do unthinkable things just to get an unpaid internship. Get a deal done…any deal done and soon.