Thursday, February 22, 2007

Various Crap

A few things to cover today.

An Open Letter to Jimmy Rollins:

Dear Jimmy,

I read with great interest your recent comments about how your team, the Philadelphia Phillies are the "team to beat" this coming season. I appreciate your honesty, and am glad to read and hear that you see things the same way that many Mets fans do. You see Jimmy, the Phillies are indeed the team to beat...the living crap out of. Oh, I know you have Ryan Howard, and Utley, and yourself, but who else in your lineup is scaring opposing teams? Do you really think the addition of HR machine Freddy Garcia in your bandbox is going to help? Better hope that Rowand and Victorino don't hurt themselves crashing into the fence this year chasing all those fly balls. At least you won't have to worry about Burrell in that regard.
You see, the team to beat is usually the team that won the division the prior season, not the team that finished 12 games back, and had its fans chanting for their football team during baseball games in August. It's not smart to piss off the other teams in your division when you have won jack shit in years. So, if you want the bullseye, you got it. You see, teams that win don't have to talk the talk. They just walk the walk, and hand out beatings. The Mets plan on doing the same this year.

I really love how the media is still talking about this. Both guys want it gone, yet the media won't let it go. They need something to talk about. The more turmoil in the Bronx, the better for me. Oh, and Bernie isn't coming to camp. More fodder for the media and fans.

Young Mets
Ambiorix Burgos wowed management and teammates yesterday, breaking several bats during batting practice, including one of Lastings Milledge. Coach Sandy Alomar Sr. noted to Lastings "I thought you had fast hands". The response, a chuckle and "I must have left them at home". Good to see Lastings take the joke. Maturity perhaps?

This followed a hitting display by 18 yr old Fernando! Martinez on Tuesday, where he hit one HR over the center field fence estimated at 450 ft. The dimensions at Tradition Field are the same as Shea, and the ball hit the "eye" about 50 ft up. "Wow" was the response from Jeff Wilpon. Wow indeed.

The NY Times used "scrappy" today when describing David Newhan. Watch out Eckstein, we have scrappy utility player too!

The Islanders sit 1 pt out of the playoffs, with games in hand on several of the teams ahead of them. They get Toronto tonight and Montreal Saturday, two of the teams they are battling/chasing. They MUST get at least 3 pts here. Anything less, and we are probably looking at them being sellers at the trade deadline next week. I'm on board with trading Simon, Hill and Blake, so long as the returns are good.

This is the last post for this week (barring anything interesting coming out today). I'll be leaving for sunny and warm Florida on Saturday. I'm going to be near Port St. Lucie, so I'm hoping to head over there on Monday to catch workouts with my 6 yr old daughter. Not sure if I will post anything next week, but you never know, so check back. I'll try to get some photos, and post them when I get back, assuming I can figure out how.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Weekly Observations 02/21/07

1. In response to the many queries, no, I am NOT the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. I'm thinking at this point, it might be easier to track those who are not claiming to be the father as opposed to those who are.

2. Sylvester Stallone is under investigation in Australia for possession of HGH. Sly's response is that they were not his, the bag belonged to Mark Sweeney.

3. Britney Spears checked into and out of a rehab facility in the Caribbean last week. She left because there were none of her friends there.

4. Britney then found another facility in California, but heard that the carpets and curtains matched, so she shaved her head before checking in.

5. How fucked up is your life when your loser ex-husband is laughing with your ex-boyfriend, who, after dumping you then dated Cameron Diaz for a couple of years? No wonder she is in rehab.

6. Barry Bonds dared the Grand Jury to investigate him. He claimed there is nothing to be found. Where is Kenneth Starr when we need him?

7. The Mets are nearly done with their offseason sprucing up of Shea. The paint has been touched up. The field has been manicured, and a urinal has been installed in Moises Alou's locker.

8. Alou was asked what special diet he uses, and he said all he does is drink Lite Beer. It seems Lite Beer has less impurities, leaving cleaner urine for his special hand washing.

9. Jimmy Rollins once again stated that the Phillies are the team to beat. That's right Jimmy, other teams are looking forward to beating up on you again this year.

10. The Chargers hired Norv Turner as coach. Wow, and they thought Schottenheimer was an idiot.

11. Tim Hardaway is still a fucktard (thanks to Toasty Joe for the new euphemism.)

12. Tom Brady's ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynihan, is having a baby. Tom claims that he is excited to be a father. But not as excited as he is to be fucking Gisele Bundchen.

13. The Big Eunuch claims that the NY Media wasn't nice to him, and that they caused him to pitch in pain, leading to decreased performance. I get it, it was the media who made his fastball slower, and his slider straighter. I'm waiting for Jose Lima to use the same excuse.

14. Sean Avery of the Rangers was bitching last night that Martin Brodeur gets the benefit of calls, while Avery does not. Wow, you thinks so Sean? You mean, a goalie who has won 3 Stanley Cups, and is acknowledged as one of the best of all time might get the benefit of a call over a complete asshole like you? Never.

15. The Bears let Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera go this week. Yep, nothing like getting rid of the DC who helped your team get to the Super Bowl, despite having Rex Grossman as your QB. Whose running the Bears, AJ Smith?

16. Michael Irvin was let go from ESPN this week. No longer will we see the mile wide ties. The bad news is that in addition to Irvin leaving, 5 transcript reporters were let go, since they are no longer needed to transcribe whatever the fuck it was he was saying.

17. MLB is unveiling new game caps, designed to wick away sweat better than the old wool caps. MLB Uniform Czar George Costanza has lined up many tributes to the effectiveness of the new material, and is working hard on getting cotton uniforms approved as well.

18. Tommy Morrison has been licensed to fight again, 11 years after being banned for testing positive for HIV. Morrison claims he never had HIV, and that the government planted the failed results. Morrison also claims that the government is also responsible for Rocky 5.

19. Donald Trump, that paragon of all that is good and pure, is involved with the WWE in a "Hair vs Hair Match" with WWE owner Vince McMahon. Each will choose a wrestler to be their proxy. The billionaire whose wrestler loses will have his head shaved. So maybe Britney was practicing for a guest appearance?

20. Aaron Heilman got a short haircut, which revealed a bald spot on the side of his head. Aaron said there is no truth to the rumor that Britney was the one who cut his hair.

21. Derek Jeter spoke yesterday on the most important topic in Yankee camp, the new practice caps, which feature a multi-layered interlocking NY and a white loop over each ear. Jeter does not like the cap, will not have it over for sleepovers, and will not share his limo with it.

22. A-Rod this week stated that his relationship with Jeter is not what it once was. Where the two once had sleepovers and went out for dinner, now they just do what they need on the field. Of course, this is mostly due to A-Rod getting married, and Jeter "dating" numerous models and actresses. Well, that and the fact Jeter kept refusing to let A-Rod try on his WS rings.

23. Heilman was also upset that the Mets did not assign him a parking spot. Mets officials stated that they just want him to park far away, so he is in shape for the jog in from the bullpen.

24. USC hockey goalie Mickey Meyer put on a show the other day, riding his stick like a horse, slapping his thighs, and then dropping trou. Charleston Chiefs coach Reg Dunlap quickly offered him a contract.

25. Meyer received a ticket for public lewdness. He then got a call from Sean Salisbury, asking if he took any pictures.

On the serious side, good thoughts for Brendan Shanahan. He might be a Ranger, but that was one ugly collision, and I hope the effects are not long lasting. Brendan is a great player, and I would hate for him to wind up like so many other hockey players with Post Concussion Syndrome.
Good thoughts for Mike Knuble, the other party to the collision. May both recover fully.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why I Love Willie Randolph

From today's NY Times, and other papers:

"Come on, give me the first Milledge negative question, C'mon, throw it at me. I know you can't wait."

Willie starts his morning presser, which followed a session between the media and young Lastings, with that beauty. I love it! He knows the vultures want to start up on Lastings. He knows they want to dredge up the crap that went on last year. SO he says, let's go, ask away, and I'll answer.

Look, I'll admit, Lastings made some mistakes last year. You don't show up 70 minutes before a game, even if you are not starting. You don't turn your back on the manager when he is talking to you (though we do not know if that was intent, or if he merely thought Willie was done speaking and he went to walk away). You don't act like you are all that and a bag of chips when you are a rookie. But you know what, that was then, this is now. New season, new beginnings, and a new start for Lastings.

He said all the right things yesterday. He worked out during the offseason, cutting out the hamburgers, and adding on 12 pounds of muscle. He looked to be in good shape, and had a good BP session. His teammates appear ready to move on. Wagner said "He just has to come in here and respect his teammates. If he does that, his play will be good enough for him." On Day 1, it looks like he has. I'm hoping Lastings learned from last year, and is listening to his teammates. THey don't have it in for him, they want him to succeed.

Last week, John Delcos of the Journal News, posted a blog piece about how Wright was a week early, but Milledge was not. This is the type of crap Willie was talking about yesterday. Taking a nothing and turning it into a negative. Some fans, myself included, posted in Lastings' defense. Others decided to re-hash the stuff from last year, and even stuff from when Lastings was 16 years old. How long do we need to keep reading the same stupid stuff? That HS shit happened 5 to 6 years ago. It is done, and it is no different than what a lot of 16 year old kids do. I'm not saying I like it, I'm just saying I understand it happens, and that he does not need to walk around with a scarlet "A" around his neck for the rest of his life. A lot of players do some messed up stuff, even now (PLD anyone?), and we do not hold it against them. Let's give Lastings the same treatment, shall we? Besides, Willie will keep an eye on him:

"Just because you're talented doesn't mean you have a feel for the game. I'll be watching him for that reason."

Willie and the guys will watch him. Let's hope the vets help him a tad. I want to see him reach his full potential in NY, as a Met.

Willie also said the following :

"I feel that's one of the only things missing from his game since he's been here. That's another dimension. He can steal 50 bases, 50 bases, easy. He could steal more than Jose."

That was in regards to Carlos Beltran. Man, could you imagine Beltran stealing that many bases in NY? Forty is not out of the realm of possibility, he's done it twice before. What an added dimension that would be.

Willie grew up playing for the Yankees during the Bronx Zoo era. He knows what can happen if the players run things. If personalities clash. He seems to do a good job making sure everyone is on the same page, and that they toe the company line. If he can continue to do that, we have the makings of something special here.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, you have Rivera screaming for more money. Bernie not willing to be a non-roster invitee. A-Rod saying he and Jeter are not BBF anymore. The Big Eunuch throwing darts to the media. Giambi saying he would like to play 1st base. Contrast that to PSL. It is night and day.

Few things warm the cockles of my heart more than angst in the Yankee clubhouse. The acknowledged best closer in the past 10 years, if not history, is not happy. He could very well walk away at the end of the season. One of the great Yankees, Williams, is being shunted aside, even though he has a pretty good bat. Giambi appears to be accepting his DH role, but how will he adapt? And then there is A-Rod, who finally told it how it is and said he an Jeter aren't having sleepovers anymore, and that all he wants is for the team to succeed. Now, Jeter has yet to respond, but you can be sure that the repsonse will be very measured, and non-incendiary.

I say bravo to A-Rod. Tell it like it is. You messed up and called out Jeter in 2001 in the media. Jeter got rightfully pissed (though I do think Jeter's role in those WS wins is a tad over-hyped, A-Rod was right in what he said, he was wrong for actually saying it). The bottom line though is Jeter needs to say, it's done, he said something that pissed me off. But now, he is a teammate, and I realize that in order for us to reach our goal, we all need to play to the best of our abilities. The guy had a good season last year, and I think he will do better. So fans, lay off, so we can concentrate on reaching the World Series.

But he won't say that. And the media won't let it go. So there will be a fun sideshow in the Bronx this year. The first slump for either player will be magnified. And if the booing keeps up, A-Rod will opt out of his deal, and go elsewhere. Leaving the Yankees with a sizable hole at 3rd base.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

So It Begins...

Today is a day that Mets fans have been waiting for since that cold October 19th evening, when the hopes of a World Series appearance, the first since 2000, were ended. Pitchers and Catchers report today. Spring (despite the weather in NY) is in the air. Position players report on Monday, and then things will be in full swing.

Several Mets have been in camp for a few days already, including David Wright, desperate to wash the taste of a Cardinals series that saw him hit .160 from his mouth. In addition to Wright, other early arrivals are Aaron Heilman, John Maine (taking nothing for granted, a very good sign), Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Jason Vargas, Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson. But the best news for Mets fans is Pedro Martinez is already there (that makes 3 years in a row on time for Pedro, who used to be a late arrival in the past). Pedro is working hard on his rehab, and is looking forward to coming back in July or August, primed to show the best of Pedro, better than anything Mets fans have seen according to reports quoting him. But the simple fact that he is there is a boost to the fans, and to the rest of the team. Young pitchers can look to him for advice. He did it last year, and will hopefully do it again.

Now, this morning the Daily News had the obligatory "Aaron wants to start" story. Aaron once again asked if he could start, and was told no. He is needed in the pen, what with Mota being out for 50 games, and questions about Filthy Sanchez being ready for Opening Day. Duaner is rehabbing on schedule, but has not thrown off a mound yet. Heilman is a key component of the bullpen, especially in light of the question marks in the starting rotation. Now, some fans may be upset with Aaron for asking the question, feeling that he is being a tad selfish. I do not agree. He asked the question, was told no, and accepts the answer. He stated in the News

"I've got to come in and still do a job and help this team win. Unfortunately, I can't have a lot of say in what my role is. I can just try to control things I can - which is my performance when I'm out there. I'll just go out there and have another good year and help the team win."

Issue closed. He knows his role, and accepts it. He may not be happy about it, but he is moving on. Of course Adam Rubin was going to ask the question. I don't blame him for it. Aaron answered truthfully, and acknowledged what he needs to do, which is accept his role and be a key cog in the pen.

There are of course lots of questions as we enter camp. How will Perez and Maine do following their stellar performances in Games 6 & 7? How will Sanchez' rehab progress? Can Burgos and Vargas be key members of the pen? What of Juan Padilla, can he rebound from surgery? Who will emerge as the fifth starter? Is Petersen a magician, and can he fix Park or Sele? And of course, how will Glavine and El Duque fare?

From the offense, there are some questions as well. Can Reyes and Wright continue to progress? Were some of Delgado's struggles last year related to his elbow issues, and will the offseason surgery help him (I know, the man had a great year, but there were some slumps)? Can Beltran replicate his fantastic season of a year ago? Will Alou stay healthy and provide Wright with protection in the order? Will 'Stache be the 'Stache of July, or of October? Will Milledge push Green for the starting job in right, or perhaps a bench role? Can Milledge shake the problem child label he is being tagged with by fans and the media? Can PLD do it again? Quesitons abound. But you know what, Mets fans have to be feeeling good at this point. Experience was gained lart year for a lot of key youngsters. And the pain of loss is a great motivator.

Even with the questions as camp begins for the reigning NL East Champions, they still have to be considered the favorite in the East. Yes, the Braves shored up their pen, but lost some offense. And I wonder, why is it that people think Hampton can come back to what he once was, but people question whether Glavine and El Duque can still do the job? Yes, the Phillies added Freddy Garcia, but they still lack a good bridge to Tom (Puke) Gordon. Oh, and they better hope Freddy doesn't get whiplash watching all those fly balls leave the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park. The Marlins surprised last year, but how many of those youngsters can repeat their performances? Note the lack of the Nationals in the discussion, they suck.

Let the battle begin! Opening Day is April 1. It can't get here soon enough.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Weekly Observations 02/14/07

After a short winter's nap (OK, laziness), Ed is back with the observations.

1. War, famine, genocide, all took a back seat to the death of Anna Nicole Smith last week. Glad to see our priorities are in good shape.

2. Rupert Murdoch of Fox News announced that he is starting a Fox Business Channel. It will be more business friendly than CNBC per Rupert. The tag line, "We Report what we decide is going to make business look good."

3. Chan Ho Park has been signed by the Mets. The World Series is OURS!

4. I went to MSG Friday to watch the Rangers beat the Lightning. Sat in the second row, right behind the Lightning bench. Apparently, Ed has a bad influence on teams he sits behind, as the Lightning were zapped. Ed was not happy.

5. The only good thing about the night was being able to eat and drink on Jim Dolan's tab. Ed made up for a couple of months of cable bills.

6. Welcome to the life of a presidential candidate Barak. How's that foot taste?

7. Mariano Rivera demands some freaking respect. Mo wants to be re-signed prior to the start of the season, but the Yanks want to wait. Mo feels they will take care of him. Yeah Mo, just like they took care of Andy Pettitte a couple of years ago.

8. Sele, Park, Vargas, Burgos, Perez. Man, The Jacket better clone himself.

9. The Dixie Chicks won 5 Grammy awards the other night. I'm still trying to figure out who the hell the Dixie Chicks are.

10. The FBI has lost 160 weapons and 160 laptops in the last 44 months. Yep, these are the guys and gals protecting us from evil. Keep up the good work.

11. Deadspin posted a story where someone claimed Eli Manning likes to frequent call girls. Well, at least they won't scream at him if he is off target with a pass.

12. Kris Benson is out for the season after tearing his rotator cuff. Orioles GM Jim Duquette moved quickly to fill his spot, signing Steve Trachsel. So at least the O's have someone to lead the rotation in suckitude.

13. Hoping that Duquette was also looking for a way to replace Anna Benson, Jose Lima was anxiously awaiting the call. Lima Time! apparently forgot that even Duquette realizes he sucks.

14. The Chargers fired coach Marty Schottenheimer a month after announcing he would coach the team next season. Apparently, they finally got around to watching game tape of the playoffs, and realized that Marty sucks.

15. The Westminster Dog Show was this week. Bill Cosby's dog won a ribbon as best in its breed, beating out 0 (that's zero folks) challengers. It then lost the "Best in Show" title to another dog. Afterwards, the winning dog's owner was quoted as saying "Tell Bill to have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up".

16. Peyton Manning was on Letterman, and said the Super Bowl felt "normal". Peyton apparently was hypnotized into believing this was a regular season game.

17. This just in, Rex Grossman still sucks.

18. Two players on Gonzaga's basketball team were arrested after cops smelled pot. During a search of their car, the cops found mushrooms. Of course, being that they are high profile athletes, no charges have been filed.

19. Because it can't be said enough - Braden Looper is a Douche.

20. David Wright reported early to Mets Spring Training. So did Pedro Martinez. Lastings Milledge did not, leading many Mets fans to say the he is cocky, arrogant, and undeserving of a place on the roster. Of course, the same will not be said about the other 22 players who have not reported yet.

21. The Cardinals will raise their World Series Banner and receive their rings prior to their opening night game against the Mets. They want to enjoy that winning feeling prior to the Mets knocking the living shit out of them.

22. The AP reported that Keith Hernandez will be on hand for the festivities. Keith was quoted as saying "Just like a women's place is in the kitchen, my place is with the Cardinals."

23. Tiki Barber singed a contract to be a correspondent for NBC on the "Today" show, and on NBC's Sunday Night Football pre-game show. I hope Tiki read the fine print where he has to report to all meetings 15 minutes early, and appear in full pads.

24. Braden Looper is a douche. (Yes, Ed has an irrational hatred of Braden Looper, why do you ask?)

25. More on Gonzaga. Apparently, the 'shrooms were in a baggie that was sticking out of one player's gym bag. Great institute of learning Gonzaga. I mean, shit, these guys can't even properly close a gym bag?

26. Beyonce is on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue. I have nothing funny to say about this.

27. OK, just kidding. It might be the first time a model's ass was bigger than her breasts. Mind you, I'm not complaining. Beyonce has a very nice ass. (man, I really hope the wife is serious when she says she doesn't read my blog. Just in case, honey, I did not write that, it was my evil twin skippy).

28. Carlos (The Greater) Zambrano told the media this week that if the Cubs do not re-sign him prior to Opening Day, he will walk as a free agent. He referred to himself in the third person several times in the interview, even coining a new nickname, the "Big Z". When did the Cubs hire Rickey Henderson to work with their players?

29. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that an active NBA player who came out of the closet would be an idol to many, and would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. Cuban said he hoped the player would be from his team, since he would know how to deal with it. The money that is.

30. Some NBA players were up in arms about the possibility of an active player being gay. They worry about the impact on the locker room. Don't these guys realize the important thing here, it leaves more groupies for the rest of them! Keep your eyes on the important things here guys.

So endeth the observations for this week. Hope you enjoyed, and remember, Braden Looper is a douche.


Why the Looper references you may ask? Well, Spring Training opens this week, with Pitchers and Catchers reporting. I'm just trying to get myself ready for the season as well. Yeah, I've practiced hate with the Rangers, but it's not the same, since they suck, and the Isles aren't much better. Baseball is where the vitrol really gets going.

I start out slow, just some long tossing from 120 feet with Looper. I'll then move closer, and hit on Pujols, LaRussa. Then, get on the mound and go at Larry Jones for some batting practice. Finally, game ready, and open up on the Yankees. So much there, A-Rod, Pavano, contract issues, Torre. And let's not forget the fans themselves.

As Metsradamus posted a couple of weeks ago, you have to keep the hate muscles in shape.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Be Verry Verry Quiet, They're Hunting Playoffs...

Maybe I should write another Isles are inconsistent post, since the last time I did so, they started to play better. But no, I'm going to give them credit, well deserved credit.

A team that most figured for dead last in the conference at the beginning of the season, and who I myself was basically leaving for dead a couple of weeks ago, has decided it is time to start playing some good hockey. Since the last game before the break, the Islanders are unbeaten in regulation, going 5-0-3 in that span, with wins over the Thrashers, Sabres and Canadiens during the stretch, along with 2 against the Flyers. The have lost in OT to the Red Wings (after blowing a 3-0 lead), in OT to the Thrashers (after coming back in that game to force OT) and the Capitals (2-1 in a shootout). The gap for the 8th playoff spot is now 2 points, and there are only 5 points between them and 4th place in the conference. So why the turnaround? Yashin is out, they missed Poti (a tremendous surprise, a grudging thanks to Neil Smith) and Gervias (rookie defenseman who has played well) and Radek Martinek (out again, this time a broken leg). All these pieces missing, yet, for the fist time since 2001-2002 under Peter Laviolette (the fantastic 9-0-1-1 start), the Isles have taken at least a point in 8 straight games. How is this happening?

Well, for starters, the other forwards besides Blake are starting to score. Miroslav Satan is shotting and scoring. Kozlov is doing the same. Trent Hunter continues to hit everything on skates, and now is adding the back of the net to the mix. Blake still leads the team with 27 goals, but Satan, Kozlov and Sillinger are close to 20, and Hunter is now at 14. I, along with others, have bemoaned the lack of scoring from the other lines, and now we are getting it.

But goals alone are not going to get the job done. Defense remains key, and they have stepped up there as well. Despite Poti missing 4 games prior to last night, and Gervais a few more, and with Martinek out for 4-6 weeks, the defense has tightened up. Brendan Witt is playing very well. Chris Campoli is reminding us of his strong play from last season. Sean Hill still makes some mistakes, but is steady for the most part. With Poti and Gervais back, lesser guys like Freddy Meyer will see less time. But the key to it all remains Rick DiPietro.

If this team is going to make the playoffs, and do any sort of damage there, Rick needs to continue to show he is one of the top goalies in the league, which is what he needs to be based on his (stupidly long) contract. Last night, shutout #5 for Rick. Yeah, it was the Flyers, but they had been playing well as of late. Rick's numbers aren't in Brodeur territory, but what other 25 year old goalie is in that group? Here are the numbers and rankings:

Wins - 22 (tied 12th))
Losses - 16
GAA - 2.68 (16th)
SV% - .915 (9th)
Shutouts - 5 (4th)

Now, some of those stats are skewed by backup goalies, but in a few of them he is ahead of top goalies like Hasek, Miller, Turco and others. He is the key. A hot goalie, as any hockey fan knows, can make a world of difference. In 1993, the Isles rode Glen Healy to the Conference Finals. How many games did Billy Smith steal? Look at last year with the Hurricanes and Oilers, goaltending made the difference. If this team is going to do anything, Rick is the guy to lead the charge. Yes, they need to score, but a hot goalie can help there, as the other team will break down on defense if they need to jump into the play to try to generate opportunities.

Now, all is not roses. They still take too many penalties, and the special teams are not. There is some dead weight here, like Chris Simon and Shawn Bates. Blake is streaky, and needs to be consistent. And the absence of Yashin is not a good thing over the long term. But on the whole, this team has a chance. There are 28 games left, starting tonight against the Devils. The key is going to be avoiding a multi-game losing streak. A loss here or there is not awful, but they cannot afford a 3 game losing streak, or a lose 4 out of 6. The remaining games are mostly in conference, and with so many teams bunched up, they can't afford missteps. Nolan needs to keep preaching smart hockey, and they need to keep listening. I want to watch playoff hockey on the new LCD TV this year. And I want it to be Islanders playoff hockey.

In other Hockey news, as noted in yesterday's observations, Mark Messier has thrown his bald head into the ring to be the next Rangers GM when Sather retires. I'm sure Don Maloney is happy about that. Most think this is a good idea. These are the same people who laughed when Garth Snow was named Islanders GM with no front office experience. Now, I know, Messier won 6 cups. Tell me something, how does that translate to success wither behind the bench or in the front office? Brian Trottier won 5 Cups, yet he failed as a Head Coach. Wayne Gretzky is not having a great deal of success in Phoenix. Well, I guess Messier does have some experience, since he basically ran the Rangers during his last tour, forcing out players like Petr Nedved. How well did that work out for them? No playoffs during his last go around. Winning as a player does not make you a good coach. As Larry Brooks (who I have no love for) noted yesterday, Messier is not the leader everyone makes him out to be. He is not a mentor to young players, he likes his clique, and that's it. He disdains players who do not play his way, which may not be a bad thing for the most part, but when it forces talented players out of town, it hurts the team. His last go around, he was not the player he once was, but refused to play on a 3rd line, using valuable ice time that could have been given to younger players, allowing them to gain valuable experience. But Messier brought the Cup to MSG, so he could do what he wanted. I for one hope this happens, since it will certainly help drive the Rangers deep into an abyss of losing. And since Jim Dolan is in charge, it will probably happen.

Tomorrow, for the first time since since September 1997, I will grace MSG with my presence, as I attend the Rangers game against the Tamp Bay Lighting. The last time I was there, Pat LaFontaine was making his Rangers debut in the home opener. I of course applauded Patty, remembering the good times from the Islanders days. But you can bet your ass that I will be applauding nobody in a Rangers jersey tomorrow. I'm not sure where the seats are, but given the places I've sat when I've attended other sporting events with the friend who got the tickets, I'm pretty sure they will be quite good. So I'll hit a bar before the game, have a couple, then enter MSG, and hope to see a Lightning win, keeping the Rangers 4 points behind the Isles (at least, depending on tonight's Isles/Devils tilt). Now, the question is, should I wear the Islanders hat or not...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Weekly Observations 02/07/07

Direct from the frozen environs of NYC, your eagerly awaited Weekly Observations:

1. Two sons of Eagles coach Andy Reid were arrested last week on various charges. The good news is that the Bengals think they are ready for the NFL now.

2. John Kerry announced he is going to look into the MLB Extra Innings deal with Direct TV. He was very upset the Red Sox fans would not be able to watch their favorite team. Within hours, the Swift Boat Veterans for Satellite Truth put out an ad stating the Kerry is actually a Yankee fan.

3. Brett Favre is coming back next year. Opposing cornerbacks in the NFC are rejoicing, knowing the interception stats will be padded once again.

4. San Franicisco Mayor Newsome apologized for sleeping with the wife of his chief of staff, blaming it on the booze. Ah, the old beer goggles defense. It's good to know that works beyond college.

5. Wait a second, the mayor of SF is straight? Did the voters know this?

6. The NFL Network apparently replayed all of the past Super Bowls last week, including SB III. Thanks to douche Jim Dolan, no one in NY with cable was able to see it. Thanks again Jim. Hey, do you have another "Metro Traffic & Weather Channel" for us?

7. Loved the Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl with crabs on a beach taking the cooler of Bud. Yep, drink enough Bud, and you could get crabs on the beach. Just like on Spring Break.

8. As if we needed more proof of how big a douche Bill Belichick is, retired Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson said this week that he was forced to play despite suffering a concussion. Belichick said in response "How the hell would he remember what happened, he had a concussion".

9. A-Rod has written a book "Out of the Ballpark" for kids. Yankee fans were estatic, as they felt it was an announcement that he was leaving the team.

10. The A-Rod book tells the story of a young boy who makes an error costing his team the game, but then helps them win later on with a big hit. So, its part non-fiction, and part fiction.

11. The target audience for the A-Rod book is young kids, reading at a grammar school level. Too bad, it will go over the head of most Yankee fans.

12. Rumors abound that Bill Parcells will return to the Jets in a consulting role. Of course, he could return, only to leave a few days later.

13. This just in, Rex Grossman still sucks.

14. Astronaut Lisa Nowak was charged with attempted murder after driving 900 miles, wearing a diaper to avoid having to make pit stops, and attacking her rival for the affections of another astronaut. Somehow, I don't think Huggies or Pampers is signing her up as a spokesperson.

15. Nanny Govt alert - a State Senator from Brooklyn is proposing a ban on walking while listening to an iPOD, talking on a phone, or using a Blackberry, claiming that the devices distract walkers. Wow, I'm so glad that this important issue is being discussed. I mean, who waste time on silly things like health care, taxes and crime.

16. Mark (El Capitan) Messier announced that he is moving back to NY, with an eye on becoming the next Rangers General Manager. Current GM Glen Sather said he is happy to hear Mark is interested. Just what the Rangers need, the leadership of Messier in the front office. You know, because it worked so well when he was de-facto GM his last time as a member of the team.

17. Of course, Ranger fans are happy Messier would be GM. The same fans who laughed at the Isles for naming a former player with no front office experience GM.

18. Nicole Ritchie is afraid that she will have to go to prison due to her recent DUI arrest. She's worried she would actually have to eat.

19. Another Bengal was arrested last week. Nice to see consistency in the NFL.

20. In order to ensure parity in the NFL next year, all teams will be required to have at least 2 players arrested during the season.

21. In recent weeks, the Knicks have faced superior teams not able to field their best lineups, allowing the Knicks to win. The Lakers missing Kobe at MSG due to a suspension. The Grizzlies missing Gasol. The Heat with Shaq.

22. Mike Piazza's wife gave birth to the couple's first child last week, a baby girl. Congrats to the happy couple.

Pitchers and Catchers draws ever closer. Ed is very happy about this.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Wow, Does Grossman SUCK!

The next time someone says "Chad Pennington will never lead the Jets to the Super Bowl" I will remind them that Rex Grossman led the Bears to the Super Bowl. Now, I know, they had a good running game, featuring a two headed monster. And I know they have a good defense. FIne. But Grossman is the QB, and he is responsible for the good and the bad on that side of the ball. What I saw last night was a guy who is quite possible one of the WORST Qb's in the NFL.

The guy just looks like he is lost. He had more balls slip through his fingers than a hooker on a busy Friday night. Yeah, I know it was raining, but I didn't see Peyton having those problems, did you? Didn't think so. Those two picks were horribly thrown. I mean, Chad may not have a strong arm, but there is no fucking way he makes those mistakes. Not in a big game like last night. Rex threw for 165 yards, but was never in any position to lead the Bears anywhere but home. If not for Hester's run back, and Thomas Jones' 52 yard run to set up the second TD, we might have seen the Bears score a paltry 3 points.

As for the Colts, yes Peyton has the monkey off his back, and Marino is again (and forever) the best QB to never win a title. I like to think that is payback from the football gods for the fake spike. But that's just the bitter Jet fan in me talking. Peyton wins, and gets the MVP award. But I gotta ask, is there a winning QB who bitches after plays more than Peyton? I can't remember how many times after an incompletion Peyton was shaking his head, or throwing his arms up in the air. He did it once late in the 4th qtr when Harrison was walloped trying to make a catch. Memo to Peyton, it's not a good idea to bitch when your receiver gets his bell rung.

As for Tony Dungy, an all around good guy, congrats. He has been in the league a while now, lately having great regular season's, but falling short in the playoffs. He had to deal last year with the death of his son. Now, he is at the top of his profession. Dungy is a good guy, and a man of faith. It bothered me a bit when people made light of his comments about God and his faith. The man believes, and that is his deal, good for him. You don't agree, that's your deal. Now, I don't think God is watching over a football game, but his faith has helped him deal with adversity that he has faced, and has led him to be a good man.

As for the Bears, well, I can't really say they played great. The defense couldn't stop the short passing game the Colts ran. They had a hard time stopping the run. And on offense, they sucked. If I'm Lovie Smith, I'm looking for a new QB. Oh, and Brian Griese is not the answer.

So now we get ready for the NFL draft and Free Agency. The Jets needs are obvious, a running back, and a shut down corner. Assante Samuel from New England would look nice in green and white. As for running back, Michael Turner is a restricted FA. Or perhaps they trade up in the first round, or wait to see who falls to round 2. Lots of time to get ready for that. In the meantime, Pitchers and Catchers in less than 2 weeks baby!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Consistently Inconcistent

Forgive me, but there is nothing going on in Jets land, and precious little going on with the Mets that I haven't already spoken about (though, in the interests of, well, me, I will state that based on what a couple of people have written here and elsewhere, the Sierra signing may be OK, so long as he stays in New Orleans and is able to mentor Lastings. Sierra has apparently been noted as a good mentor. That being said, I still don't want him on the Mets bench), so I am going to write about the Islanders today.

After an good start, led by Alexei Yashin, who appeared to be getting whatever monkey was climbing all over him off, the Isles went into a typical slump, once Yashin hurt his knee. Now, this was not a slump of 13 straight losses or anything, but they basically treaded water for the time he was out, and fell from first place(!) to out of the playoffs. Once he returned, Yashin still looked out of sorts for the most part. He could not get a good step due to lingering issues with the knee, and then he tweaked it again.

Following a 2-0 win over the Rangers on Dec 26, they proceeded to lose 6 in a row. They then won 2 in a row, and lost 3, followed by a win just before the All Star Break. These guys bounce around more than Jose Lima's wife doing aerobics. After the break, their schedule looked daunting. Atlanta, Buffalo, Detroit, Atlanta again (last night). So how would they respond facing the top teams in the NHL? Well, thanks to Rick DiPietro apparently thinking he was still on break, they fell behind 3-0 in the first five minutes against Atlanta in the first game after the break. However, they were able to come back to force OT, eventually losing, but gaining a point. The next night, they faced Buffalo and Ryan Miller, whom many people feel should have been Team USA's goalie in the Olympics last year (despite the fact he was coming off a hand injury, and despite the fact the team scored less frequently than a leper at a porn convention). Rick bounced back from his awful start the night before, and the Isles lit up Miller in a 5-3 win. A couple of nights later, the Isles faced the Red Wings, and Dominek Hasek, who is credited with forcing Ted Nolan out of Buffalo (LOTS of rumors on that one). Well, 22 second in, the Isles scored, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods. However, they went into a shell in the third, and Detroit pounced, tying the game to force OT, where they eventually won. Still, the Isles got a point. Now last night. They travelled to Atlanta, to face the Thrasher again. Kari Lehtonen, who is viewed as a top goalie by many, got lit like Tara Conner at a party, as the Isles won 5-2 behind very solid goaltending from Mike Dunham (former Thrasher) and goals by Blake (who is on fire again thankfully), Satan, Hunter (also heating up nicely, now has 12 on the year), and two from Kozlov (the poster child for this inconsistent team, along with Yashin). Youngster Jeff Tambellini (son of Steve for you longtime fans) was called up as Yashin sat out, and played on the second line with Satan and Kozlov, and added 3 assists. How long will he stay up, who knows, but it was a nice game for the lad.

So, where do they stand? They are 4 points out of the playoffs, tied with the Rangers and behind Toronto. They have a captain that is injured. They have a goalie who is stellar most nights, but then has nights where he reminds you of Tommy Salo. But they also have some guys who some thought were mistakes, like Brendan Witt, who are playing their asses off, and helping out the younger guys. The defense is playing well, including youngsters Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais. Radek Martinek is solid, if unspectacular. Tom Poti, who I personally was not happy about signing, has played quite well (though he is suffering from back spasms and has missed the last couple of games.) The problem is that the team is too up and down to get a good read on them. Some nights, they can beat anyone in the NHL. Others, they play like crap. Win two, lose 3 and so forth is not going to get you to the playoffs. The NHL Trade Deadline is February 27. Garth Snow has freed up some cap space. Now he has to make a decision. Should he trade for another scorer, knowing that he has to resign 33 year old Jason Blake to what will surely be a large deal in the offseason? Or does he trade Blake to a contender, along with a few others (I'm talking to you Shawn (oh my aching groin, again) Bates), clearing more cap space, opening slots for younger guys like Tambellini and Robert Nilsson to play this year, and Blake Comeau, Kyle Okposo next? It's an interesting position for Garth, in his first year as GM. I'm sure he will be relying heavily on Ted Nolan to see where Ted thinks the team should be. Of course, Wang may see the dollar signs from playoff games (2 at least), and may push for a trade. I'm not sure. Part of me wants the playoffs, thinking they could do some damage if Ricky gets hot like Glen Healy in 1993. But part of me wants them to trade to clear space, then buy out Yashin in the offseason, and make a run at the myriad of young Free Agents that will be available. I'm going to be like Garth and wait till the last minute and see where they are. The tease of the last week gives fans reason to hope though. Now if they could do the same against the dregs (besides the Rangers, who they have OWNED this year), maybe they can make the push. No one thinks they can, no one thought they would at the start of the season. It would be nice to show all the experts up.

I have one other note. Following their game on Wednesday, Brendan Shannahan of the Rangers complained about the ref's and their treatment of Jaromir Jagr. Channy claims that the refs don't make calls when Jagr is hooked, prodded, slashed and so forth. Now, one thing we have all learned in watching the NHL is that you do not want to piss off the refs, lest they make even fewer calls in your favor, and more against you. Also, the league usually takes a dim view on these types of comments. Well, for the latter part, the NHL announced there would be no fine forthcoming, which in a way I am OK with, since I feel the refs are as consistent as the Isles in calling penalties. I do wonder how much the fact that Shanny is a well respected vet playing for the Rangers came into play in that decision. I wonder how the league would respond if an Islander said Yashin was not getting calls? Or if someone on the Blue Jackets made the same claim. Anyway, for the former, we will have to see how it plays out during the next Ranger game. If they get calls, well, expect every team to bitch. Then lets see how the league reacts. Something tells me charities will be getting an infusion of cash.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

OK Omar, What's Next?

So, yesterday brought us some interesting news from Metsland. Bad news, and worser news. First the bad news.

What was rumored a couple of weeks ago has happened, Ruben Sierra has signed a minor league contract and will be in camp. So, add another bat to the mix for the 5th outfielder spot (I say 5th 'cause ain't no one taking Highlight Endy Chavez' spot as #4). We now have Ben Johnson, Lastings Milledge and David Newham in the running. Now, young Lastings is more than likely going to start in AAA New Orleans, unless he absolutely crushes the ball in the spring, and does not look completely lost in the outfield. The problem I have with that is he could use more time learning the corner spots than he will get as a reserve in NY. Johnson could be this year's Xavier Nady, which depending on your point of view is either a good thing (some pop in the bat) or a bad thing (alas, lots of wind generated from missed pitches). Newhan has some (limited) experience playing first, but with 58 year old Juio Franco around, odds are he will not get a spot.

So what about Sierra? Well, there was a time where he was a feared hitter. Lets see, was it in 2004 when he had 17 hr's and 65 rbi's for the Yankees, while batting 244? Nope. Was it in 2005, he appeared in 61 games, hitting 229? Nope. How about last year? Not so much, as he played in 14 games for the Twins, hitting a Matsuiesque .179. I would say the last time he was feared was 2001, when he hit 291, with 23 HR, 67 RBI in 94 games for the Rangers. Even that was not exactly a stellar year.

So what is the benefit of Ruben Sierra? I'm not quite sure. There is the thought that he could play in NO and act as a mentor for Lastings and Carlos Gomez, along with other young players. There is the thought he could provide "pop" off the bench. In my mind, neither of these is a good plan. For the latter, his "pop" is about as lively as Barbaro. For the former, it's not like Ruben was ever a great fielder. I usuually don't disagree with Omar that much, since he has risen to be a successful GM of a Major League Baseball team, and I am just some schmuck with a computer, but I just don't see the rationale here. The signing makes little sense.

The worser news is more troublesome. Dave Williams (DW2 to my friends of on Metsgeek) had surgery for a hernieted disc in his neck. The team will not know how long it will be until he can resume baseball activities until next week possibly, depending on tests at that time. This is bad news, as DW2 was in the running for at least the long man role in the pen (ala Darren Oliver) if not the #5 starter slot. DW2 is not the most overpowering guy, but he pitched well for the Mets last year in several starts, with few total clunkers. So, the #5 competition becomes a little less crowded, and the options for the long guy out of the pen change as well. I'll have more to say on this as Spring Training gets underway and I start looking at how guys are doing. Luckily, Omar brought in a lot of arms this offseason, so quantity is there.