Monthly Archives: October 2012

The NHL Lockout

Is it just me, or was this lockout more of a surprise than both the NBA and NFL lockouts? The NFL lockout you knew was going to happen, but you also knew was going to be resolved before the season started. The NBA lockout was expected, and there was even the potential for a lost season. The NHL lockout? Didn’t we just have one of those?

That was really the only thought I had when it become obvious that this was going to be an issue. The entire time I thought: isn’t hockey doing great right now? Hasn’t it accomplished almost everything it could’ve hoped for after the last lockout? Do they really want to risk that growth now, especially after they saw what happened after the last one?

After the last lockout the NHL lost their deal with ESPN. In their place? College football. While never completely forgotten, the NHL clearly felt like it was just on a different level from what became the major three team sports in America: baseball, basketball, and football.

Slowly things turned around. The rule changes implemented after the lockout made the game faster and more exciting. There was more parity in the league, and exciting playoff finishes each season. NBC just put together a new sports channel (cleverly titled NBC Sports) with hockey as its main draw. The NBA and NFL lockouts gave the NHL some good will back from fans. It made their lockout seem a little more excusable, and made them seem like the stable league since there was no way they would have another lockout so soon (stupid, stupid, stupid).

Now I’m just at a loss. This entire situation seems like it was avoidable.

One look at the NHL’s original proposal could make you laugh out loud. I swear, I thought it was a joke. To me it reads like this: Hey players, there will be a lockout this season.

How else do you explain the owners demanding a player cut in profit percent from around 60% to almost as low as 40%? All this while extending the years a player has till he reaches unrestricted free agency, and eliminating arbitration. It is just too much, and entirely unreasonable to expect the players to accept it. Didn’t they just agree to a salary cap? Baby steps people.

This isn’t to say I feel badly for the players, simply that I don’t really see what they could’ve done differently.

Once again, though, the ultimate losers are the fans. Honestly, this is probably the most infuriating lockout of the three. Now, I haven’t sat in on any negotiations. I haven’t talked to anyone involved in negotiations (100% to do with the fact that I’m one of a large number of people who paid the minimal fee to have their own low traffic blog on the internet) so take what I say with a grain of salt. To me, it is beyond insulting. It is saying that there is absolutely zero thought for the fans. I see this as the owners observing the NFL and NBA lockout their players, get what they wanted, and, in the end, not lose any fan support. They see us as a group they can abuse all they want, because in the end they know we’ll be back.

They’re right. When the lockout ends, I will no doubt be watching the Rangers again. That doesn’t mean the whole situation doesn’t make me angry. Worse it almost makes me apathetic. I haven’t paid much attention to the lockout. This after reading articles every day on the NFL and NBA ones. Right now, I don’t care about the NHL. Still love hockey. Can’t wait to make it to my undergrad to see some D-I hockey. Might even check out some AHL games, and I’m currently interning with a Junior Hockey team. But the NHL I’ll live without. What’s the point in doing anything differently.

This lockout was completely avoidable. Having one shows a complete lack of respect for the fans, the players, and the NHL product itself. Apparently all of it is worth risking to make more money.

The Giants Running Game

A question I’ve heard a lot from non-Giants fans this week is whether the running game can see similar production for the remainder of the season.

To be honest I barely gave the running game a second thought, even though Ahmad Bradshaw just ran for a career-high 200 yards against the Browns this week.

The running game has been SO bad the past season and a half, that one game isn’t going to do it for me, especially when it came against the Browns. Next week the Giants are going to have no running room against the 49ers, and people are going to stop caring about the running attack of Big Blue.

That would be silly as well. There are some reasons to believe that the Giants running game can at least be a formidable attack from this point further.

For starters, Will Beatty has looked outstanding ever since being reinserted into the lineup this season. I have no idea what happened, but he looks like the left tackle we were expecting to get when the Giants took him in the second round a couple seasons ago.

His emergence helps solidify the left side of the line with Kevin Boothe, a player that is a little underrated in my opinion.

Another change is the plan of attack for the running backs. Andre Brown was able to have success when he got carries by following his blocks and running where the play was designed to. The same cannot be said for Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs last year.

This was probably due to the poor blocking they had in front of them, but both would dance around, or be quick to bounce the play outside in a desperate attempt to find running room. This caused confusion amongst the lineman, and they had trouble knowing where to block, which made it harder for them to hold the blocks.

Perhaps Beatty has helped solidify the line. The new running style has made it easier for the lineman to know their assignments, and that will allow Bradshaw, Brown, or whoever else is running to have confidence there will be a hole if they follow the play. That would be awesome.

Unfortunately I haven’t bought in yet. Even worse, we probably won’t know anything new based on this weekend. Still, it is worth keeping an eye on moving forward. If the running game really has emerged this offense could be a top 3 unit in the league.

All Things Come to an End

Today was the final day of the 2012 regular season. Once again the Mets finished below .500 and are hoping some offseason magic can make them relevant sooner rather than later. Because it is no fun to reflect on a season in which the team hasn’t been competitive or in the playoff race for months, we will instead look to next season.

So, should Mets fans be optimistic going into next year?

To be honest I’m not entirely sure. I know this is a bit of a cop out, but with Sandy Alderson claiming to be very active in the trade market, this team might be entirely different by the time the 2013 season gets underway.

But let’s pretend the Mets will largely keep the same team intact going into next season.

The biggest weakness of this club is the outfield. Who on the Mets makes you feel confident going into next season? Jason Bay? Lucas Duda? Matt Den Dekker?

There is a chance one of the young players on the Mets could blossom into an everyday starter, but we have yet to see it, and everything said by scouts says we will never see it. So unless Alderson makes some moves, the outfield situation should not be much better next year. There may be small individual improvements among the players, but nothing drastic.

The infield is less of a question mark. Daniel Murphy has proven to be a steady hitter, and (this may be generous) serviceable second baseman. Best part? He is probably the weak link. David Wright is a perennial All-Star, Ruben Tejada had a remarkable year, and Ike Davis rebounded in the second half to belt 31 hrs. Even catcher has been decently reliable for the Mets ever since the trade for Kelly Shoppach.

So how about the rotation?

Going into next season the rotation looks to be a strength. R.A. (Cy?) Dickey will be returning. As will Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. Top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler will be up sooner than later, and the Mets will potentially have Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey, and/or Chris Young to choose from as the fifth starter. Not to mention a spot starter and long reliever in Jeremy Hefner.

The bullpen may still be a weakness, but with the improvement of Bobby Parnell, and the expected additions of Jenry Mejia and Jeurys Familia the bullpen should be at least serviceable moving forward.

So outside of the outfield things seem good. Does that mean the Mets could be in the playoff race?

They could. Stranger things have happened, but if I had to bet I would say no. Why? Well there are just too many questions that face the Mets.

First, can RA Dickey have a similar season? How will Matt Harvey look during his first full season? How will Zach Wheeler perform in the majors? Will Santana be a solid starter? Are they even bringing Pelfrey or Young back? How will Gee recover from surgery? Those are just the questions for the rotation.

Murphy is still a reliability at second, Davis hasn’t put together an All-Star season yet. Tejada is good, but isn’t a star yet. And with no outfield, and maybe one star in the infield, the offense will struggle. On top of that, we still aren’t sure how much better the bullpen can be expected to be next season.

I guess in short: the Mets have talent. In my opinion I think they are doing a nice job of building within, especially considering where they were. But they aren’t there yet. Perhaps Alderson can do something in the offseason to change this, but as of now the Mets look at least a season away from being real playoff contenders.

Once again the Giants find themselves at 6-2 halfway through the season. No, they haven’t reached that plateau every season under Coughlin, but it is pretty damn close. There are only two seasons they started worse than that: 2004 and 2009. Both years the Giants started 5-3.

Yet since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004, the Giants have only won 3 division titles, and received a first-round bye only once. Will this season be different?

Yes. Maybe they won’t secure a bye, but that has more to do with the strong play of the NFC than any problems with the Giants. Between the 49ers, Falcons, Bears, and Packers it seems like 12-4 is the minimum record to earn a bye this year. An identical 6-2 record in the second half will be tough.

The Giants play the Steelers, Bengals, Packers, Redskins, Saints, Falcons, Ravens, and Eagles. Can you point out an easy win? The Bengals and Saints pop to mind first. The Bengals were a playoff team last year, and still have several important pieces from that team. The Saints haven’t lost to the Giants since Drew Brees signed.

So why do I feel more confident this season?

For starters the Giants seem to be as deep as they have ever been. Injuries derailed the Giants in 2005, 2006, and 2009 (As did terrible coaching. Looking at you Sheridan).  This season that seems like less of a possibility. Sure if Eli went down we’d be done. But that is the case of pretty much every other NFL team as well.

Think about it though. Who else can’t we afford to lose? Hakeem Nicks? Kenny Phillips? Ahmad Bradshaw? We’ve looked fine without each of them for portions of this season. Sure we couldn’t afford a significant amount of injuries, but again that is a given for any team.

Another reason I feel confident is Eli. He became an elite quarterback last season, and has nothing but solidified that fact this year. This season the Giants have shown the ability to play with any team in this league, and to be able to pull out a win no matter how bad they look in the first three quarters. There has not been a single game they have been out of yet. Their two losses were by one score.

The schedule won’t be easy, but the Giants aren’t going to be an easy win for any team either. The Giants aren’t a product of an easy schedule. They aren’t the product of luck. They are legitimately an elite team in this league, and elite teams make the playoffs. I’d be surprised if the Giants finished worse than 10-6, and with each NFC East team already with 4 losses, that should be enough to take the division for the second consecutive season.