Sunday, December 27, 2009

If We Had Free Balled Last Week

Look, you have to believe me. It’s very easy to write this in hindsight and the answer is no; if the Jets would have lost to the Colts I would not be writing this now. If we had Free Ballin’ last Monday I would have came out with my crazy predictions that turn out to be right, (Were going to forget that just a few weeks ago I said the Dolphins were going to win the AFC East, were going to remember last season when I said the Jets would beat the Patriots and Titans on back to back weeks.) and I would have said the Jets were going to defeat the Colts this week.

Now lets be honest, I would have used two arguments. The first one, and probably my strongest one would be the ridiculous, it’s what the Jets do argument. They rope us in and make us think they have a chance. They make us believe were going to the playoffs, then they stab us later. They have their playoff destiny in their own hands, they’ll win the hard game against the Colts we’ll be very happy, and then they will blow the opportunity the following week. That’s just what the Jets do. A few weeks ago before the Jets played Tampa, I said the Jets would beat Indy and lose to someone else that they shouldn’t. It’s what the Jets do; we’ve seen this movie before.

The other argument I would have used would have some football background to it. The Jets matchup very well with the Colts, they have the #1 defense in the league, they could stop Peyton Manning. I said this game was going to come down to what Mark Sanchez does. Would he win it for the Jets? Would he lose it for the Jets? Would he do just enough? The answer of course was C, he would do just enough. I would have made you think way back to week 4, when the Jets faced the very high powered Saints offense and held them to 10 points, Sanchez gave them the rest.

The truth is the Jets got very lucky against the Colts. The defense did a remarkable job against Manning, holding him to 15 points, but they were also bailed out by some timely drops by Dallas Clark, and some poor throws from Manning that made it look like his timing was off for some reason. The Jets defense kept the game very close the entire time, it was 9-3 at halftime; the Jets were very much in it. The problem was the Jets offense could not do anything until the Colts starters came out, which handed the Jets the game.

The Jets play next week for a chance to go the playoffs, which realistically is for resume purposes only. The team has a defense, but need a better passing game to have a shot at doing anything in the playoffs. The running game continues to be an enigma. It is one of the topped ranked rushing attacks in the league, but most weeks it seems that when they absolutely need yards on the ground, they can’t get them. Often times it’s the big runs at the end of the games that pad the stats and make the rushing yards look either big or respectable.

The playoffs would be a nice thing to have on the resume; it would show us what we would need to be work on. Sanchez will get better with experience. When Rex Ryan came to New York I said, “don’t write off the Jets just yet. He’ll bring that Ravens defense which has taken quarterbacks like Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright to the playoffs, it could take a rookie quarterback to the playoffs too.”

So if we had free balled last week I would have said the Jets would win in Indy. Now that you’re here, you would probably like to know what I would say if we were Free Ballin’ this week. So here it is, I don’t know!

There is nothing the Jets can do next Sunday night that would shock me. The final game at Giants Stadium, the fans will be going nuts. They could go out there and play like they did week 17 in 2002 against Green Bay (a 42-14 win) or the following week against Indy in the playoffs (a 41-0 win), an absolute blowout would come as no surprise to me. They could also go out there and play like the Giants did today, and get blown out of their own stadium. It all depends on which Jets team shows up next week, and frankly we’ve seen about 7 different Jets teams this year and any one of them can show up next week. Nothing they could do against Cincinnati will surprise me, and though I knew which Jets team would show up in Indy, I have no idea which Jets team will show up next week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thought: Could Scholes Be Part of the Reason Ronaldo Left?

Right now is on a quest to pick Manchester United’s best goal in the last decade. Their criteria are simple, which is actually the best goal, not necessarily the most meaningful goal, but which goal makes you say WOW! They narrowed it down to 20 goals in the past decade.

In the last three years Manchester United received 91 goals from one man alone, Cristiano Ronaldo. Lets put that into perspective, in three seasons Ronaldo scored 39% of all of Manchester United’s goals. Ronaldo also routinely dominated the shortlist for goal of the week. But when came out with their list of top 20 Ronaldo had just three goals in the top 20. The man who had the most, goals on the list? Paul Scholes with five.

While I may vote for Ronaldo’s 42-yard shot against Porto in the Champions League last year as the top goal of the decade, I can easily make an argument that Scholes five goals should finish numbers 2-6. Could this be a slight reason why Ronaldo left town for Real Madrid?

While 91 goals is an absolute ton of goals, I could only think of about 3 off the top of my head where Ronaldo created the goal himself and finished it himself. The rest were when teammates created and Ronaldo finished, or a free kick or a penalty kick, and lets not forget many times someone else won the penalty and Ronaldo stepped up to take the spot kick.

During his United career Ronaldo developed a reputation as being a diver. Eventually even the most passionate United fan would not be able to deny there were several times that he went down when he didn’t have to. For those that have come to know Ronaldo the reason why he would do this became clear over the years.

Cristiano Ronaldo always wanted to be the best. Furthermore wanted his goals to be prettier then everyone else’s goals. To Ronaldo, taking a free kick is the prime time to score the goal that everyone will be talking about. To Ronaldo breaking through on a breakaway and simply chipping the ball past the keeper would not be nearly as nice as taking a 30-yard free kick. Therefore if he were lightly touched, he would fall to ground, give up the breakaway, and take the free kick.

People who pay the most attention to Manchester United would always tell you, Ronaldo is the best player on the team, but when Scholes scores, its always special. This was confirmed when Scholes accounted for 25% of the top 20 goals. has long been conducting player interviews. Most of the questions are usually the same and the answers vary among the different players. However two questions always yield the same answers. Ronaldo is the best-dressed player on the team, and when asked who scores the best goals in training, the answer is always Paul Scholes.

For a player that wants to be the prime alpha dog, the best at everything, you don’t think that the fact that EVERY one of his teammates agreed that he was not scoring the best goals it would get to him eventually. No matter what he did on the field, he could never change people’s minds that Scholes scores the most magical goals. Ronaldo wants to play where he is the center of attention for every category.

Look, I know there are many reasons for Ronaldo joining Real Madrid. They were his favorite team growing up, and of course they offered him a ton of money. Furthermore he’s a selfish player, he’s won in England, and unlike United greats such as Scholes and Ryan Giggs who want to keep winning in England, Ronaldo does not. Ronaldo wants to win new things. I’m not saying that Ronaldo left because Scholes scores nicer goals, I’m just throwing the idea that for a player that wants the focus always on him, sharing it with someone who people agree is past his prime, could that have possibly just been in the back of his mind when making his decision?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow Up: Crosby Not Even MVP of His Own Team

Since I’m a week behind in my Sports Illustrated reading I actually did not see Michael Farber’s Crosby or Malkin article until just now, which is two days after I wrote the previous post. I just found a couple of things interesting which also highlighted my point from the last post.

The debate that asks who is the best player in the league, Crosby or Ovechkin? How could that be the question when we don’t even know if Crosby is the best on his own team?

Earlier this year Evgeni Malkin missed seven games for the Penguins. The Penguins won just two of those games. Since Malkin returned 9 games ago, the Penguins have won 7 of those 9. During Malkin’s seven game absence Sidney Crosby had 0 goals and 3 assists.

Last season Crosby was sidelined for 29 games. During that 29 game stretch Malkin recorded 20 goals, 26 assists and 14 multi-point games. The Penguins went 16-9-4 during that stretch.

So based on those above facts could one really even think to question who is more valuable to the Penguins. Without Malkin, the Penguins don’t win; without Crosby, they still can. So why is the question Crosby or Ovechkin and not Malkin or Ovechkin?

Furthermore, after writing a whole article talking that provides the numbers on how Malkin can carry the load without Crosby, but Crosby cannot carry the load without Malkin, Farber ends his article by saying he chooses Crosby as the Penguins MVP. I’m sorry but it doesn’t come any more ridiculous than that. Um Michael, did you read anything that you just wrote?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ovechkin or Crosby?

There has been an age-old question going on around the NHL for the past 4 years. Ovechkin or Crosby? Many pundits have thrown their opinions around basing it around skill and what each does best. Last year the two met in the playoffs and Crosby’s Penguins prevailed in 7 games on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. Apparently that settled the debate and people just agreed Crosby is better, but that couldn’t be more wrong.

Instead of going inside the numbers to figure why don’t we look at the simplest way a fan can tell if a player is good or not. Fear. The Rangers just lost two straight games to the Penguins by a combined score of 13-5. In those two games Sidney Crosby scored 4 goals. Yet at no point during those two games did I ever say to myself “oh no Sidney Crosby is on the ice we better watch him.” Crosby dominates within the flow of the game, but Crosby has one HUGE advantage. What we clearly know is Crosby and Ovechkin are the top two players in the NHL, what we also know is that there is a good chance that Evgeni Malkin is #3. Well guess what, Crosby gets to play with Malkin. It’s pretty easy to get open when the defense has to concentrate on Malkin, and it’s pretty easy to rack up assists when the defense is concentrating on you and you have one of the best finishers to pass the puck too.

Crosby has a great team around him, with one of the best players in the game playing on his line. He also has role players who have been successful with previous teams. Take Crosby off the Penguins and their still a playoff team.

Ovechkin has never had that luxury. It took the Caps a few years to complement him with players that could make them a playoff team. But really that’s all they are, players that complement Ovechkin. Most of the players on the Caps would not have the success that they are currently having if they were playing on some other team. Take Ovechkin off the Caps and that team has no identity and is in a lot trouble. Without Ovechkin the Caps have virtually no shot at the playoffs.

Ovechkin is much more valuable to his team, but lets go back to the thought that would strike you if you were sitting in the stands watching either of these guys play. Fear. Like I said before, at no point was I afraid when Sidney Crosby was on the ice. In the last two years I’ve attended 4 Rangers-Caps games. Whenever Ovechkin steps on the ice it is like the Caps are a different team. I’m always sitting there watching Ovechkin, the way he lurks, the way he stays quiet just waiting to pounce, waiting for you to forget about him. Ovechkin changes the game when he’s out there; he needs to be accounted for at all times. When Ovechkin steps on the ice I say “oh no” every single time.

You can look past the numbers; look past how valuable each one is to his team. When it comes down to it Crosby doesn’t make you fear for your life when he’s on the ice, Ovechkin does, and in my book that is the final decision maker.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I was rooting for the Phillies. Plain and simple, I’m a Mets fan and I was rooting for the Phillies.

Before all you Mets fan go up and arms about this lets explain a little something. Since when did the Mets actually hate the Phillies? Here is the answer: 2007. That’s when the Mets collapsed and the Phillies won the division. Did the Phillies beat the Mets? Well they had some battles along the way but ultimately it was the Mets who beat themselves, then the Phillies running their mouths about it. Same thing happened in 2008, and the Phillies fans made sure to let us know.

Before 2007 the Mets and Phillies never had anything to do with each other. In the late90’s we fought with the Braves. Mets fans hated the Braves. The Phillies were not good; they sat there with the Marlins and Expos at the bottom of the division. Prior to the Mets-Braves battles of the late 90’s it would play out in one of three ways. The Mets were good and the Phillies were awful therefore there was no rivalry, The Mets were awful and the Phillies were good therefore there was no rivalry, or the final scenario, The Mets were awful and the Phillies were awful therefore not only was there no rivalry but who even cared?

So this whole Mets hating the Phillies thing is a little overblown. Yes in 2007, 2008, and even the first six months of 2009 before the Mets decided to be the worst team ever Mets fans hated the Phillies. By June though this just turned into scenario B, the Mets were awful and the Phillies were good.

A little off topic but my favorite the Mets and Phillies don’t really hate each other moment came this summer. One of my 15-year-old kids who I was a counselor for at summer camp, (I won’t say his name but he’s allergic to nuts and has been known to eat a cookie with nuts in it) is what most people would call a front runner. He is a Yankees fan, he is a Giants fan, and he is a Florida Gators fan. Lets remember he’s 15 so by the time he was at an age to start clearly remembering sports (you have to say that age is around 12) the Gators were becoming a power house in football and basketball. His excuse that he wasn’t a front runner with the Gators, “there was one year they had Tebow and they only finished ranked #6 at the end of the season.” 6 out of 119 teams, your right, that’s pretty awful. The story manifests when we took a trip to Philadelphia and he bought a Phillies hat (which he wore for the rest of the summer), when I asked (rather obnoxiously) if he was becoming a Phillies fan because they actually won his response was, “I’ve always been partially a Phillies fan ever since they’ve hated the Mets which has been forever.” Wrong. Pretty much you just confirmed everything and you became a Phillies fan when they became good, so this World Series was win-win for you, congratulations. I’m sure that two years ago you were a Celtics fan in the NBA and now you’re a Lakers fan.

I know that was very off topic but it had to come off my chest. The point is I hate the Yankees much more then I hate the Phillies so it was a no brainer for me to root for the Phillies. Then the Phillies lost and everything started to get annoying. The moment the Yankees won facebook was littered with Yankee fans statuses saying, “Yankees win!” “27 CHAMPIONSHIPS.”

There were many annoying things going here. One of which is the amount of casual Yankee fans that were doing this. Somewhere around October 10th the amount of Yankee fans quintupled, it was actually so bad that some true Yankee fans that I know were starting to question, “Since when the hell were you a Yankee fan.” I kid you not when I say that one-day when we had friends over at my apartment and the Yankee game was on, one of my friends who has been a Yankee fan since “forever” turned and asked “who is Brett Gardner?” I rest my case there.

The thing that always bothers me is the Yankee fans screaming 27 championships! Here’s the truth, since you and I were born and we started following baseball the Yankees have won 5 championships. No one cares right now what the Yankees did in the 20’s and 50’s when there were fewer teams, no black players in the league, and how much competition was there, they played the same two teams in the World Series every year. The fact that they have 27 total championships doesn’t give them any more advantage heading into next season. You’ve been around for 5 of these championships, not 27.

The most annoying part about last night, Yankee fans, what were you doing by your computers the moment the Yankees won? The big response from Yankee fans was “shut up if this were the Mets you would be doing the exact same thing.”

Well I hate to say it but those Yankee fans are right, I would be doing the exact same thing, WHEN I GOT HOME! There is no way in hell I would have been caught dead sitting on my couch watching this game with my computer. I would have been in one of two places, down the street at the sports bar celebrating with other fans. Or back in New York celebrating with many other fans.

This brings me to the most annoying status around, “FINALLY AFTER 9 YEARS THE YANKEES ARE BACK ON TOP!” AFTER 9 YEARS?! 9 YEARS HAS ALL OF A SUDDEN BECOME AN ETERNITY? I have several issues with this. First of all here is the reason you Yankee fans were at home with your computers, BECAUSE ITS ONLY BEEN 9 YEARS! It’s still been there done that with Yankee fans that winning the World Series isn’t special enough that you have to ruin your daily routine.

When Yankee fans were interviewed they commented how this one was special, it was for all the fans that stuck with the team after all the hard times. Hard times! What hard times? Between 2000 and 2009 the Yankees went to the World Series twice, the ALCS three times, and made the postseason every year but one. It was a hard time because the fans said if we do not win the World Series this year it’s a failure. They would say we’ve built the perfect team, were going to win this year. It was a hard time because Yankee fans are delusional and one sided and somehow decided that signing Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano was a good idea; it was because Giambi is the best first baseman out there. It was the delusion that the Yankee fans put themselves into that made these years a hard time.

I feel bad for Yankee fans now. You made the playoffs for 13 straight seasons and the past 9 are perceived as failures. Is it even fun rooting for them? It is more of a relief that they won rather then a celebration that they won. That’s why the Yankee fans were at home, it wasn’t an event that their team was in the World Series, it was just relief that they were there.

See the beauty of sports is there are ups and downs, some teams have longer ups then others, and some teams can’t get out of their downs. So yes, there are times, and it does feel like most of the time that your team just is not good and is not worth watching. But when the time for the “ups” comes, the whole season just becomes one long memorable ride. The Mets were good in 2007, they collapsed at the end of the season, I don’t remember much about that season. The Mets first recent up was in 2006, when they led a charge all the way to the NLCS. Every Mets fan knew something special was going on that year, and I remember every game of that season. Yankee fans don’t get that, they just get this ride of we need to win, we just need to, and then relief.

So 9 years is now an eternity. Lets not forget that most (not all) Yankee fans are Giants fans, the Giants won the Super Bowl two years ago. Why don’t you look at cities that have not had any teams win in recent memory. Before the Phillies won the World Series two years ago it had been over 25 years since the last time a team from Philadelphia won a championship. How about those fans in Cleveland, what about Seattle?

So Yankee fans, go along, talk and scream about how it has been an eternal 9 years since your last World Series. Go tell a Cubs fan about how happy you are that you finally won.

I hope that Cubs fan punches you in the face.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


That’s right, I have opened up my drawer found this baby, dusted it off, and began to write in this again. I have decided I am going to try to write in this a bit more, though it defiantly helps that the alternative is writing a paper that I have been putting off for days now.

On Halloween 2009 something very scary happened. It did not happen in College Park Md. or in my hometown in New Jersey, it did not even happen on this continent. This event took place on the other side of the pond in Spain where Real Madrid midfielder/striker/foreword and resident best player in world Cristiano Ronaldo publicly urged former teammate and current Manchester United star Wayne Rooney to jump ship and join him at Real Madrid. Ronaldo’s logic; he should do it because he should follow the footsteps of former Manchester United greats David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and the latest Cristino Ronaldo and join Real Madrid.

I laughed this news off, for one that is the worst logic ever, for two when did Manchester United just become a stepping stone to going to Real Madrid, and for three, why would Rooney ever want to do that? Furthermore what is wrong with the players flanking Ronaldo now? Real went on a spending spree this summer brining in Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema, and Xabi Alonso, adding them to Raul and Van Nistelrooy who they already had. Do they really need Rooney? Does Ronaldo even need Rooney to be there?

Lets examine this from another angle. Who is to say that these two players even like each other? Yes they were able to co-exist as teammates, but that is because Rooney is a team first guy, Ronaldo on the other hand, is not. They say if you let Rooney just run on the field and kick a ball around for 90 minutes he’d be happy regardless of what position he’s in, you defiantly cannot say the same about Ronaldo. Lets go all the way back to the World Cup of ’06 in Germany, where in a match between Rooney’s England and Ronaldo’s Portugal Rooney received a red card for stomping on Ronaldo, starting a whole summers worth of talks questioning whether the two will be able to play on the same team again or not. They answered that question by winning the Premier League title.

However what would happen over the next couple of seasons was the emergence of Ronaldo, who became a tremendous goal scoring threat, and would start to move towards the middle of the field. This often caused Rooney to be exiled onto the left side of the field to make room for Ronaldo. Though Rooney did it happily for his team he has always said he prefers a more central role. The exit of Ronaldo allowed United to place Rooney back in the middle of the field and he responded by scoring 6 goals in the teams first 6 games, starting up talks that he was the best striker in the world, talks that had been killed in recent seasons.

So the question becomes, do these two players really like each other? If Rooney had to play with Ronaldo again he’d face further exile onto the left flank. He would be playing with a selfish person again, and he would also have to share time with the vast amount of strikers at Real's dispense; unlike at United where he only has to compete with the Bulgarian Bitch Dimitar Berbatov. Does Rooney even have a reason to want to go play with Ronaldo? He could remain in Manchester and continue to win titles as the face of the club, also playing in his home country remaining the poster boy for the English national team.

So there is pretty much no controversy here, provided Rooney actually thinks logically about it. It was the mere two seconds of thought about Rooney leaving that had Ronaldo scaring me, until I thought about it for about .34 seconds and realized how dumb Ronaldo could be sometimes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Stanley Cup that No One Won

I hate the Penguins, with a passion. There are four teams that I would never like to see win the Stanley Cup, ever! The Devils, Islanders, Flyers, and Penguins. Everyone else I could live with, and that includes the Detroit Red Wings.

That is, until the Red Wings played the Penguins in the finals this year.

Around this time of the year last year I wrote about how sometimes we root for guys who switch teams to win championships and sometimes we hate them for it. I rooted for Garnett, Allen, and Pierce to win a championship with the Celtics last season. I rooted for Ray Bourque to win a Stanley Cup with Colorado. I mega-loath A-Roid and Randy Moss for signing huge free agent deals and then forcing trades to contenders to win championships. I hate the Penguins, more importantly the diving Sidney Crosby, so what caused me to all of a sudden want them to beat the wings and win the cup?

The answer is simple, Marian Hossa. I wrote about how the Red Wings did not need to add Hossa to their roster last off-season. I also said they were hurting the team more then they were helping the team. Turns out I was nearly wrong. “Nearly!” You could ask my radio partner Jonathan “JB” Berenson, (co-host of Free Ballin’ with JB and Pauly which could be heard at its new time this September on Mondays at 4:00 pm live on could attest to the fact that I’m never wrong about these things. Hossa was traded to the Penguins at the deadline last season, and took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to Detroit in 6 games. In the offseason Hossa took less money to sign a one-year contract with the Wings.

A lot of my friends love that Hossa took less money to win a cup. I on the other hand, am not so much a fan. There was just something that set me off about what Hossa did and again I started thinking about when is it ok to root for someone to win a championship when he left his team and why do we root for some and root against some? Marian Hossa helped me reach more of an answer. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Ray Bourque are my prime examples. All three of them played for teams, were the heart and sole of those teams and experienced moderate success with those teams. Each of them made the playoffs with their teams and came close to winning titles, but eventually they ended their runs and before they knew it they were playing for bad teams. When the time came to move on, their teams knew they wouldn’t be able to win a championship during the remainder of the players’ career so the player went elsewhere. On the other side, there were guys like A-Rod and Moss who signed mega deals with bad teams and then realized they were playing for bad teams, and wanted to go elsewhere. For them it wasn’t about the game, it was about the money.

So why is Hossa different from those guys? He wasn’t about the money, he took less money to play for a good team and win. What bothers me here is that Hossa is in the prime of his career. Garnett Allen and Bourque were all either at the end or towards the end of their careers when they left. Hossa also left the #2 team in the league to join the #1 team. In essence Hossa said, even though we just made it to the finals, I don’t think were good enough to win so I’m gonna jump ship. Hossa played for a good Ottawa team, a good Atlanta team, and then a very good Penguins team. Hossa was a centerpiece, he was the key to getting the Penguins to the finals. Then eventually he just said I don’t want to go and win a championship myself, I want someone to win it for me. Therefore I found it very odd that though I wasn’t rooting for the Penguins, I was hoping they would win, and make a statement to Hossa saying “you thought we weren’t good enough, but were better without you.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


"Enough is enough. He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the organization, and he’s embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the NHL."

Those were the comments made by TSN analyst John Tortorella about Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery back in December.

On February 24th the Rangers hired Tortorella to replace fired head coach Tom Renney. A week later, on March 3rd, the Rangers claimed Sean Avery off of re-entry waivers from the Stars. Tortorella was now going to have to coach Sean Avery. Being in New York it was impossible to not hear everyone in the media bringing up the comments made by Tortorella and questioning how this relationship is going to turn out. So how has John Tortorella now flip flopped and has come and said, "I don't think Sean is being treated fairly," (by the league). What has happened to make Tortorella change his mind about a man that just a few months ago he said should be out of the league?

The answer is actually very simple; Tortorella did something that none of the rest of the media has decided to do. He watched Sean play! Tortorella knew that when he was hired to coach the Rangers that the Rangers would be acquiring Avery, and that he would have to be played. Tortorella simply said, he’ll earn every minute he gets, if he’s not playing the team’s game, he won’t play. Avery saw limited time in his first couple games, but guess what, Tortorella saw him for what he really is, a pretty good hockey player. Avery has been moved up the Rangers top line and has re-energized the team. So Tortorella is right when he now calls out the league for treating Avery unfairly.

A big example of this was in last Monday nights game against the Devils. The Rangers had a 3-0 lead and Avery got into a little push and shove match with David Clarkson. Clarkson dropped his gloves and grabbed Avery. Avery said he didn’t want to fight and even told the referee to break up the fight because he didn’t want to fight. The ref did nothing, finally Avery dropped his right glove, and although there were many clear chances for him to punch Clarkson in the head, he never did, he never threw any punch at all. Clarkson then threw Avery onto the ice, Avery went down head first, the whistles blew and the linesman moved in to separate the two but Clarkson picked Avery back up and threw him head first back onto the ice again. This was outrageous and incredibly dangerous. When they got back from commercial break we discovered that Avery received a 2 minute roughing penalty for dropping his glove, and Clarkson got two double minors and a 10 minute misconduct. This was ridiculous. I personally believe that no one else would have gotten the two minutes for dropping one glove but I can understand it. What Clarkson did was stupid and dangerous. Had he thrown any other player in the NHL onto the ice twice when the player was not fighting back, not only would he be thrown out of the game, he would have been suspended too. That is treating Avery unfairly.

Sean Avery is not a dirty player, he gets treated like a dirty player but something that never gets mentioned is he plays within the rules. Many people like to bring up the Sean Avery rule where during last seasons playoffs he faced Martin Broduer and waved his stick at him, they use that as their example on how Avery is a dirty player. Two things about that, one: it’s now called the “Sean Avery rule” because they put it in place for what he did, meaning it wasn’t there when he did it. He didn’t do anything wrong, he just did something different. Two: He was told by the ref, and by Chris Drury to cut it out, so what did he do? The Devils cleared the puck and when the Rangers brought it back into the zone Avery went right back to where he was standing, only this time he faced the action and about 4 seconds later he scored a goal. He had completely taken Broduers head out of the game.
Many people look at him like he’s terrible for the game; the truth is the guy just plays at an extreme level. He skates hard, he hits people, he never backs away from getting hit and he does what he can to help his team win. Avery has 10 points in his first 13 games with the Rangers this year; you don’t get that unless you’re a good hockey player. So it’s not crazy that John Tortorella has flipped his opinions of Avery and now has him on his top line. Watch Avery play, you’ll see he’s a tremendous difference maker on the ice and a hell of a hockey player. Unfortunately the only things you’ll hear about him from the media are all the shenanigans that he’s pulling.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Hate Being Wrong, Except When I'm Wrong

So they actually went through with it. Earlier today the Rangers fired head coach Tom Renney and assistant coach Perry Pearn. Maybe I’m just cursed, I have four teams that I follow intensely; in the past 7 months three of those teams fired the man in charge. Fittingly it is my only team that doesn’t play in America, Manchester United that is the exact opposite, showing stability and having a manager who has been in charge for just slightly longer then Gary Williams has been the basketball coach here at Maryland.

I can’t say anything about Eric Mangini, but I know I was against the firing of Willie Randolph, but Jerry Manuel seemed to light a fire under the Mets last year and initial reports out of spring training are filled with optimism. I recently made my case for Tom Renney, and Jim Kelly’s sports illustrated article seemed to fall right in line. ( Kelly compares the management between the Rangers and the Devils, which ultimately has turned the Rangers into a joke.

Renney was 164-121-42 in 5 seasons with the Rangers. That’s a pretty good record for a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in 8 seasons. He was unfairly fired this year, as Kelly points out, “When your forwards are ineffective, your defense is incapable, your special teams are incompetent and your goaltender is inundated with shots, that's not bad coaching. That's an inept hockey team.” The fault here doesn’t fall onto Renney, you could make an argument that Perry Pearn, the man in charge of the Rangers terrible power play deserves to go, but not Renny, the fault here falls on the man who built the team. That team was put together by Sather, the man who fired Renney. Again the only person with the power to fire Sather is the inept James Dolan, whoever comes into New York should send Wade Redden down to the minors, and just wait until Dolan realizes how much he’s paying for a minor league player. That might be the only way for him to realize how bad the Rangers management was.

Unfortunately I don’t see the Rangers responding to this the way the Mets responded when their manager was fired. The Mets were a much better team then Willie was getting out of them. The Rangers on the other hand are a terrible team, and sometimes don’t even look like they know how to play hockey. The Rangers will likely miss the playoffs this year and we could probably start counting how many years their going to miss the playoffs again.

I just hope I’m wrong.

Monday, February 16, 2009


This was supposed to be written Sunday, after the Rangers dreadful showing against the Flyers. I decided to hold off on that, when I wasn’t sure whether I was more bothered by the fact that the NBC commentators noticed how bad the Rangers were after watching just one game, or whether it was because everything they said was justified. I also wanted to wait a night and see whether the commentators on Versus would be able to pick up on anything. Turns out not only does nobody watch Hockey on Versus, but the Versus commentators showed that they themselves don’t really watch any hockey other then what’s on Versus.

I just watched the Rangers show off their dreadfulness, again. Many people in New York are now calling for Tom Renney’s head, citing that his team is playing unmotivated undisciplined hockey. The problem here is, Renney isn’t to blame. Yes right now he is not doing his job well, but this year he was put into a situation where it’s almost impossible for him to succeed. The problem falls onto the shoulders of perhaps one of the least competent people in all of New York, James Dolan. You may remember when Dolan took over control of his fathers entities which include Cablevision, the Knicks, and the Rangers. Now Cablevision is by far the worst TV distributor in the New York area, and is terribly run, he was a hands on owner with the Knicks and ran them down the drain, he ran a great talent evaluator in Dave Checketts out of Madison Square Garden and as bad as he is as a hands on owner of the Knicks he’s been awful as a hands off owner of the Rangers.

The Rangers biggest problem right now seems to be that Dolan has no idea what is going on with his team. If he did he would realize that its general manager Glen Sather that needs to go and not Tom Renney. Unfortunately for the Rangers Dolan probably has no idea about this and Renney is likely to be the one to go. Now I don’t agree with everything that Renney has done, in fact he’s butchered a few situations, namely Petr Prucha who never plays anymore, when he really should. But coaching aside Renney is in a position where he can’t win, and it’s his general manager that put him there.

Glen Sather has a history of terrible free-agent signings. Just look at the teams put together from when he first came to the Rangers until the year after the lockout. In fact you can argue that Sather shouldn’t even get credit for the post lockout years because for the first year the “new” NHL couldn’t stop Jaromir Jagr. All the trades he made in the rebuilding process before the lockout to get the Rangers their post lockout team, only Michael Rozsival, Blair Betts Henrik Lundqvist, and Petr Prucha, who rarely plays, are left on the team. Renney’s problem is that Sather has again crippled him with crazy contracts. Bringing in defenseman Wade Redden and re-signing Michael Rozsival is absolutely going to cripple the Rangers. The worst of these signings though is when Sather drove away Jagr, and then threw $8 million a year at Markus Naslund, who really looks like he doesn’t know how to play hockey. Renney has players on the team who will go all out for him, the only problem is those are the guys making no money, and there the ones he could bench if they don’t play well. However his hands are tied with guys like Naslund and Redden, two players making crazy amounts of money and absolutely killing the team.

Sather’s moves are not only hurting the Rangers this season but are locking them into a cap problem for the next few years as well. Meaning these guys are tied down to the team which will make it very hard for the Rangers to improve, let alone make any changes. Yes right now Tom Renney is not doing a good coaching job, but part of motivation also falls onto the players on the team. The Rangers have been crippled by a bad GM; they need a new one who will have the very tough task of trying to re-make this team despite the absurd unmovable contracts. The biggest problem, I highly doubt James Dolan knows that there’s a problem and that he needs to fire Sather, if he doesn’t, Sather will feel the pressure and unfairly fire Renney.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Mets lineup isn't strong enough to compete with the Phillies....REALLY?!?!

You can argue that George Steinbrenner has ruined baseball in different ways. You can blame him for starting the free spending craze that has pushed the free agent market to ridiculous highs, and has broadened the gap between the big market teams and the small market teams. But I’m here to blame him for something else; because of George Steinbrenner it is all of a sudden a problem in New York, if your lineup doesn’t have 9 all stars in it day in and day out.

The Mets defiantly have their problems with their team, but it’s starting to get ridiculous how many “holes” they have in their lineup. A few years ago George decided his lineup wasn’t good enough because he didn’t have all stars all over the field. Eventually he fielded a team that had a guy who was batting over .300 batting 9th! Somehow that team, which didn’t win the World Series, has become the standard through not just New York but all of baseball. This whole off-season I’ve heard a lot about how the Mets lineup has holes and the team isn’t addressing these issues. It’s true the Mets don’t have 9 all stars in their every day lineup, but their lineup isn’t flawed either; the standard is now being set too high.

The Mets issues this off-season was their bullpen, not their lineup. They addressed the issue that was their bullpen but now all of a sudden everything thinks their lineup is too weak to compete with the Phillies. Where are these weaknesses coming from? The Mets lineup is relatively the same as last years, but so is the Phillies, shouldn’t that make their lineup stronger then the Phillies? The Mets blew around 30 saves last year. Had games ended after 6 innings the Mets would have won the division by almost 16 games! Had games ended after the 8th inning the Mets still would have won the division by more then 5 games. Last year the Phillies pulled off something remarkable and rare, every time they had a lead after 8 innings they won the game; meaning their closer came into the game and did what he was supposed to do, close out the game. The Phillies had a 65-9 record when leading after 7 innings last year, and their first loss in that category came in late August against the Mets.

The point here is, the Phillies won the division by a mere 3 games. New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana won 16 games last year. What is crazier is that 9 times last year he left the game with a lead and watched the bullpen give it up. Had the Mets held onto just 4 of those games, still blowing 5 saves, Santana would have won 20 games and the Mets would have taken the division by a game. This just emphasizes how the Mets lost the division last year because they couldn’t pitch late in games, the Phillies were able to finish the job and close out the games. The thing is, in order to give up a late inning lead; you have to have a late inning lead. The Mets lineup got them far more late inning leads then the Phillies did, it was simply the pitching that couldn’t hold onto it. The bottom line there was games that the Mets lost, and there were games that the bullpen blew. The Phillies only had games that they lost, every game that they gave a lead off to their bullpen ended up being a win for them.

Both teams are brining back relatively the same lineups as last year. The core of the Mets lineup last year, Reyes, Wright, Beltran, and Delgado were the only people who really played the entire year last season. The team had multiple catchers, multiple second basemen, and multiple corner outfielders all year and still put the team in position to win far more games then the Phillies did. The non all stars that helped them do this, like Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, and Ryan Church are now being called “holes” in the teams lineup. In truth the only hole the Mets have in their lineup is the dead carcass that is 2nd baseman Luis Castillo.
Last year this lineup was mostly unknowns filling in for injured players, this season we know what the Mets lineup is going to look like, and it’s the same lineup that put them into a great position to win the division. The problem that was needed was a bullpen overhaul, and that’s the problem that was addressed. The Mets didn’t address their lineup because they didn’t need to; their lineup is just as strong, if not better then the Phillies.