Archive for April, 2010

Is the NBA even relevant anymore?  Does anyone even care?   Apparently not.   ESPN didn’t even care.  With what seemed like 74 playoff games being played last Thursday night, the NBA lost the ratings battle with the 1st round of the NFL Draft.  Yes that’s correct, there wasn’t even a game played in the NFL.  It was the Draft.  If that doesn’t wake up the corpse known as David Stern, I don’t know what will.  Hello Mr. Stern!  ESPN, who you have a gazillion dollar TV deal with, iced you on 2 games that night and showed the NFL Draft instead.

The NBA is easily the worst product out there right now of the 4 major sports.  As a whole, the NBA is clearly is the biggest trouble.  There is literally no reason to turn a game on untill the last 2 minutes.  But even if you choose to, do so at your own risk.  There’s nothing better than watching anywhere between 7.5 to 9.5 mindless idiots out there, having zero clue what’s going on. There’s just too much “Hey! Pass it to me!! Clear out fools, I’m takin’ this to the tin!!!!”   I can maybe think of 5 teams right now (Cleveland, Orlando, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.  The Lakers are just brutal to watch) that I would even care to see.  It’s just terrible.  Sure I’ll keep LeBron on for a few minutes if I happen to see the Cavs on TV, or maybe even Orlando to see Dwight Howard just serve pathetic drive attempts into the 15th row. 

The point is that right now as I’m writing this column, I have the Red Wings/Coyotes game 7 on, instead of Kobe and the “Fakers” vs The “Durant’s”.  The Durant’s are easily the most entertaining team in the league to root for.  But yet, I can’t even turn it on.  You know why?  Because If I do, I’ll see Kobe hoisting up ill-advised turnaround jumpers, Ron Artest doing something REAL dumb, Pau Gasol’s god awful beard and Phil Jackson bitching and moaning about every call.  Sure, I’d love to see the up and coming Thunder take out the punks from LA, but I just can’t even muster up the strength to turn that vomit fest on.  And by the way, the NBA would NEVER allow the Thunder to win this series.  They NEED Kobe in the finals vs LeBron.  Yes, that ring tone you are hearing is Tim Donaghy’s cell phone going off (This of course would have happened if he hadn’t been caught rigging games and betting on the ones he was refereeing in)  “Oh no problem Mr. Stern, I know.  Kobe will get to the line at least 18 times tonight.  Yeah, yeah, we’ll keep it close in the 4th, don’t you worry.  Oh no, sorry…..I wasn’t scheduled to work the Orlando/Charlotte series…..yeah they tried, but even giving Dwight Howard 22 fouls in 4 games couldn’t help Coach Brown.  Sorry.  Take care.”

I would love to go back to the mid 80’s to see real basketball being played.  None of this watered down, guaranteed contract, if you leave the bench during an altercation you get suspended a gazillion games, sissy fest.  I recently listened to Kevin McHale on a Bill Simmons Podcast describing how in the mid 80’s when he was on the Celts, that him and Bird were in games where street brawls literally broke out on the court because teams genuinely hated each other.  And not once did I hear anything about suspensions.  These were star players getting involved and policing themselves.  These days, there are no true rivalries.  Who are the Lakers rival right now?  Who are the Celtics rivals?  Do the Cavs even have a rival?  The answer is a flat-out no. 

If the NBA wants to save itself from bankruptcy and going completely on the back burner, they need to take a long look in the mirror and make some drastic changes.  #1 Mandatory 3-years in college.  This will hone the skills of these kids and make them better in the long run.  #2  Contraction.  Way to many bums getting paid $25 million over the next however many years to sit on the end of the bench.  Either limit the number of  players from 12 to 10 or get rid of a few teams.  #3 Four year max contract length.  This will hopefully eliminate teams from deciding to give absolutely retarded contracts to real bad players.  Sure, you can add-on a 5th year team option to these contracts.  This way, a bad contract won’t cripple a team for 5 or 6 years.  #4 Hard Cap.  None of these salary cap “exceptions”.  No “injury exception” or “Mid-level” exception.   You have a 12 man roster and say 3 “practice squad” type players under contract.  $65 million cap. Figure out the math.   If you go $1 over, you forfeit every game that you are over the cap by $1.  There’s how you fix the NBA.  My way. 

Ahhh, nice to see the Thunder are down 20 at the half to the Lakers in LA.  Wow, I’m totally shocked and off to bed.  See you for game 7 in LA sometime next month.

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The Mendoza Line

April 19, 2010 by

When you are a baseball player, you never want your batting average to be around the “Mendoza Line”.   Coined after Mario Mendoza, a batting average of .200 is said to be the cutoff point for futility by a regular position player.  Mendoza was a highly skilled defensive shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers back in the late 1970’s.   Although Mendoza’s batting average was .215 lifetime, he was known as a sub-.200 hitter whose average frequently fell into the .170 to .180 range during any particular year.

Fast forward to mid-April, 2010… Players are bigger, faster, stronger and MUCH richer.  Every move is under the microscope.  Nowdays it doesn’t matter if you are the 5th starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the center fielder for the New York Yankees.  Everyone is watching.

So here I am, flipping thru the MLB Package and I come across the Yankee game.  Mark Teixeria is up, so I figure I’ll catch a glimpse of the Gold Glove Winning, home run mashing, $180 million man.  The guy is everything you want in a 1B.  He’s got reflexes at first base that make his glove almost seem like he’s got a hockey goalie’s catching glove on.  The raw power that he has is incredible.  When he’s in the batter’s box, he’s huge.  Batting left-handed or right-handed, he strikes fear pitchers.  But something just isn’t right.  His batting average says .083.  WOW.  .083 is a pitchers batting average.  So I keep the game on and watch him when he’s at the plate.  Nothing looks right.  I can’t believe what I’m watching.   Lindsay Lohan coming out of the Roxy at 4am has better balance right now than “Big Tex” has at the plate.  It’s almost as if he’s guessing at what pitch is coming instead of recognizing what pitch is coming his way.

To Tex’s credit, he’s not taking his at-bats out to the field with him.  Every night he makes difficult plays at first base look routine.  Year after year, he gets off to a slow start at the plate.  But before you know it, he’s been on a fire for 3 months and is manning 1st base for the All-Star team.  With the lineup that the Yanks put out every night, he’s sure to get his share of fastballs to deposit in the seats.  I’m not saying that it’s time to panic, but the Mendoza Line might actually be a good thing in this case.

…do it Jerry.  Please.  Just pull the damn trigger.  No one is looking at this 2-6 start as “only 8 games”.  It’s more like the last 250 games.  As Mets fans call up local radio stations and write on their blogs, Jerry keeps finding ways to justify every loss. Take this gem from Jerry after last night’s loss…

“I think if we keep ourselves in games, we have a shot, because of the fight that’s in the club”

What fight Jerry?  There is no fight.  When your team is hitting something close to .100 so far this season with runners in scoring position, you don’t have fight.

Jerry not only is hallucinating, he might just be taking drugs.  This guy is so aloof to what’s going on, that he decides that in the 10th inning, with a 2 and 2 count, that he’ll send in a pinch runner for Mike Jacobs.  That’s right.  Jacobs in on 2nd base, and the count is  2 and 2.  HELLO JERRY!  What the hell were you thinking about?  Did it just dawn on you that Jacobs might get on base?  (I know, I was just waiting for a patented pop-up to the infield or a strikeout)

I’ve wanted to give Jerry some slack.  I really haven’t been thinking he should be let go.  But this season so far is just a conformation that he has zero control over this team.  I really don’t think he has a clue or a plan.  He wants Reyes batting 3rd. Why? He wants Mejia in the bullpen.  Why? He wants Ike Davis in the minors.  Why?  He plays Garry Matthews Jr in CF instead of Angel Pagan.  Why? He’s a total disaster.  When Carlos Beltran went down last year, Pagan hit .300 and batted leadoff for a little over 2 months.  The guy was a catalyst.  Now…lets bat him 8th IF he plays.  C’MON MAN.

Omar Minaya hasn’t given Jerry any help this off-season other than Jason Bay, but Bay was only one of 10 holes the Mets had to fill.  Everyone in baseball knew that the Mets season and Jerry’s job was riding on the trio of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Ollie Perez.  Well Jerry, it was nice knowing ya.  Make sure to thank your 3 headcase pitchers and Omar on your way out.

Keep it “Gangsta” Jerry.

Sorry it’s a day late…..

# 1 San Jose versus  #8 Colorado

Once again San Jose has a #1 seed, and once again, they’ll be feeling the pressure to finally get the job done.  Year after year they become their own worst enemy.  The Sharks are red hot coming into the playoffs and face an Avalanche team that is very young.  Avs goalie Craig Anderson got some rest in the last few games, and he’ll need it.  The Sharks are a potent offensive team.  I like the Sharks to move on to the 2nd round.  Sharks in 6

#2 Chicago versus #7 Nashville

The Chicago Blackhawks may be the best team in the West, but injuries have really taken its toll on them.  They’re #1 D-Man Brian Campbell, has been out for over a month after a bone crushing hit by Alexander Ovechkin.  He may play in this series and would be a HUGE addition.  The Preds are a scrappy team that doesn’t do anything special, but they do grind out wins.  Especially at home.  Based on nothing at all, I’ll take a flier on the Preds in 7

#3 Vancouver versus #6 Los Angeles

The LA Kings are my sleeper team to make serious noise in these playoffs.  They are a real young, loose group of guys who can put the puck in the net.  I know they are facing a very good defensive team in the Canucks, but I am not sold on goalie Roberto Luongo.  He’s never really shown up in the playoffs and I don’t see how it will change this year.  Statistically speaking, this has been his worst season since coming to Vancouver.  I expect these to be tight games, and I just love this Kings team.  Kings in 7

#4 Phoenix versus #5 Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings come into the playoffs like a steam roller.  Since the Olympic break, they have a 16-3-2 record.  This year marks their incredible 19th season in a row of making the playoffs.  That’s the longest postseason streak in the four major sports.  The Coyotes have been no slouch since the break either.  They posted a 13-4-2 record.  The ‘Yotes were not expected to turn it around this early in their rebuilding project, but the acquisition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov 2 seasons ago, has really transformed this team into a stellar defensive team.  I think the experience of the Wings will win over youth of the “Yotes in this series.  Red Wings in 6

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadians

The Caps come into the playoffs as the overwhelming favorite in the East.  They are a scoring machine that bullies everyone around.  The +85 goal differential that they had this year, is one of the biggest in recent memories.  Alexander Ovechkin is by far the most dominating force on the ice today.  No disrespect to Mr. Crosby, but “Ovie” is a 6-foot 3-inch 240 lb freight train.  Mark my words, he will put someone’s lights out this post-season.  Canadians net-minder Jaroslav Halak is the Canadians only chance to take this series.  He needs to channel his inner 1985-86 Patrick Roy, and take over the series.  Too bad he won’t.  Caps in 5

#2 New Jersey Devils versus #7 Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers needed a inept Rangers coach and some luck to grab a playoff spot on the final day of the season.  Rangers coach John Tortarella inexplicably left top scorer Marian Gaborik, out of the shootout that had a playoff berth on the line.  Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well.  So here are the Flyers who limped into the playoffs, going up against arguably the greatest goalie in NHL History.  Marty Brodeur had a shaky Olympics, but was very strong down the stretch.  I think that the Devils acquisition of Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, is going to pay off tremendously on their power play.  Devils in 6

#3 Buffalo Sabres versus #6 Boston Bruins

This series features the 2 best goalies in the league this year.  Bruins Goalie Tuukka Rask,  led the league in goals against average (1.97 GAA) and save percentage (.931). USA Olympic goalie Ryan Miller was second in both categories with a 2.22 GAA and .929 save %.  The Bruins don’t pack much offensive punch, so they’ll be riding Rask as long as he’ll take them.  Getting 3 goals out of this team is like trying to draw blood from a stone.   I like the Sabres in this series because they have the ability to get some goal scoring from the wingers.  Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored 52 goals between them this year.  Sabres in 6

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins versus #5 Ottawa Senators:

For the Pens to win this series, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will need to shoulder the load again due to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury not being on the top of his game for most of the season.  The Senators can match-up pretty well with the Pens, but the Loss of scorer Alexi Kovalev will definitely hurt.  The Sens have been a very streaky team this year and will need a good streak to win this series.  An upset is possible here, but I do like the Penguins in a long series.  Pens in 7

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Black is the new Red

April 11, 2010 by

Black is the new Red by Admin

No more than 2 minutes after Peter Kostis had a nice little chat with Mister Wonderful, I mean Tiger,  Phil Mickelson locked up his 3rd green jacket.  I find it pretty fitting that as Tiger is gracing Kostis with his sheer existence, Phil, dressed in all black, is acting out his role as the Anti-Tiger.  He drains his birdie putt on 18, hugs his caddie, and makes a bee line to his sick wife.  Amy, surrounded by their kids and Phil’s dad, fights back the tears.  As Phil kisses his wife, the cheers got even louder.  A nice big EFF YOU to Mr. Woods.

How could you not root for this guy?  He’s everything you want in a player.  Early in his career, he was ultra aggressive, and sometimes reckless.  Whether in the lead or behind, he was always the gunslinger.  But after years of just coming up short, his style changed a little bit, and he became the #2 player in the world.  3 Masters and 1 PGA Championship later, Phil is no longer “the other guy”.

I could go on and on about how Phil had a great putt here and a great iron there, but there were 2 shots that made Phil a champion today.  The 12th hole, a 155 yd par 3, has never been kind to him.  But as I said yesterday, Phil was in “The Zone”.  He took out his 9 iron, and put the ball exactly where he wanted it.  12 feet past the hole.  It left him a relatively easy downhill, left-to-right putt.  The green is located on the other side of Ray’s Creek.  So the fans are essentially 200 yards away, back behind the teeing area.  So when Phil nailed the putt, he gave a massive fist pump and the crowd reacted as if on a tape delay.  Everyone was just waiting to see Phil’s reaction.  After an errant tee shot to the right on 13, he found himself behind two trees, spread about 5 feet apart.  In classic Phil style, he unleashed an aggressive hard swing.  When the club made contact with the ball, there was a collective gasp from the crowd.  It sounded like  “Oh my god, what is he doing?”  But Phil pured it.  Right through the uprights.  The ball had eyes for the green.  It soared over Ray’s creek and landed within 15 feet.  Phil emerged from the trees pumping his fists and never looked back.  His 2-putt birdie put the stamp on his 3rd career Masters.

Mickelson’s birdie at 18 gave him a 5-under par 67 and a 3 shot win over Lee Westwood.  Maybe, just maybe, this will quiet all the Tiger hoopla for a few weeks as some of the real TV and print journalists get their heads on straight and report about the tournament.  Not the side-show.

Tiger’s Sunday staple has always been the blood-red shirt and black slacks.  Phil came out in all black.  Black shirt, black slacks and black shoes.  I hope Phil keeps this look going.  Black is the new red.

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Master-Phil

April 11, 2010 by

Master-Phil by Admin

“The Zone” –  Some athletes describe it as seeing everything in slow motion.  Some describe it as seeing the basket the size of a swimming pool, the baseball the size of a grapefruit, the defense is just not there.  Well Phil Mickelson found it during the 3rd round of the Masters yesterday. 

 For a 3-hole stretch, “Lefty” was in “The Zone”.  On the par 5 13th, Phil was trailing Lee Westwood by 5 strokes.  Knowing that he needed to make a move, Phil locked in and hit the green in two.  He drained the eagle putt and now was only 3 strokes off the lead.  The crowd went absolutely nuts and Phil was locked in.  The par 4 14th, has a very tricky and undulating green.  But when you start feeling it, it doesn’t matter where the pin is.  The pin was in the back of the green, about 15 ft to the right of a giant ridge that runs though the middle of the green.  The ball landed 10 feet to the left of the pin and just made a right turn.  No blinker or even a hand signal.  Just a good ol’ Cross-Bronx expressway cut-off. 

You would have thought that a fighter jet had just taken off,  but that was the sound of the crowd roaring as the ball went right into the clowns mouth.  With arms raised and fists pumped, Phil walked up to the green with a hero’s welcome.  2 eagles in a row, 4 strokes shaven off the lead. At the same time, Ian Poulter was 3 holes behind Phil, but had to back away from his putt as he could hear the roar of the crowd (Of course he missed the putt).  You could just sense that you were witnessing something special. 

The par-5 15th was up next.  Phil was licking his chops.  As he stood over his 3rd shot, you knew this was going to be close.  With his sand-wedge as his tool of choice, he fired right at the stick.  One bounce.  2 bounces.  Left turn.  Right across the cup.  It was almost like the crowd was disappointed that it hadn’t gone in.  Phil’s tap-in birdie moved him to 12-under par, and into the lead. 

That 3 hole stretch might have been the greatest in major golf history.  He was in the Zone.  One stroke behind Lee Westwood going into the final round, Phil is easily the favorite.  Westwood sits at 12-under, Phil at 11-under and  Mr. Entitlement and K.J. Choi are at 8-under.  It’s going to the a great final round.  Let’s go Phil!

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English Muffins

April 10, 2010 by

English Muffins by Admin

Two of England’s top golfers are tied at the top of the leaderboard after the 2nd round of the Masters.  Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are tied at 8-under par, 2 strokes clear of  5 players (including God, I mean, Eldrick). Westwood followed up his 67 with a 69 and Poulter fired his second straight 68.  On a day in which only 3 players shot under 70, the two tied at the top posted 2 of them. 

In the 5-some that is 2 strokes behind the leaders is Tiger Woods….where else would he be than a 5-some?…”The Peoples Champ” Phil Mickelson, KJ Choi, Rickey Barnes and Anthony Kim.  Phil had a 65-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole  that slammed the back of the cup and popped out.  Had that putt dropped, he would have been in Cpt. Transgression’s group on Saturday.  I’m actually glad that Phil didn’t hole that putt.  He deserves to be the focus of his group.  Not playing second fiddle to some self-centered loser. 

Of the 3 members of AARP that had fantastic 1st rounds, Sandy Lyle was the one who failed to miss the cut.  After posting an improbable 69, he shot an 86 today.  He must have had a bridge game, or something that he need to make sure he was at on Saturday morning.  Freddy Couples and Tom Watson didn’t exactly light the course on fire Friday, but they remain in the hunt.  They both fell back to 3-under for the tournament, 5 strokes off the lead. 

3-over par was this year’s cut line.  Favorites such as Jim Furyk (+12), Vijay Singh (+10), Stewart Cink (+8), and Paddy Harrington (+5) all missed the cut. 

All the storylines are there for a great weekend.  Can one of the two Brits take home the green jacket?  Can Phil win his 3rd Masters?  Can Tom Watson and Freddy Couples get the DeLorean up to 88-Mph and go back in time?  And will mistress number 20 show up at Augusta National looking for her cut of the winner’s check in order to keep quiet?  Personally, I’d love to see Phil and the guy who’s “In treatment” battle it out in the same group on Sunday…..with Phil CRUSHING him. 

Let’s all tune in tomorrow morning for “moving day”.  Wait?  It’s not on in the morning?  Oh ok, I’ll tune in at lunch time.  Stop, why can’t I watch the leaders tee off at 2:45 PM EST?  Oh, that’s right, because The Masters doesn’t want you to see the 1st few holes at their precious course.  So Live TV coverage will start at 3:30PM. 

Wasn’t  this attitude and arrogance the EXACT cause of Eldrick’s “transgressions”?   

Welcome to the “Old Boys” Club – Written by Admin

When Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Sandy Lyle came into the scorers tent following their opening rounds at this year’s Masters, they were asked for their “cards”.  It’s not that no one believed that they shot 66, 67 and 69…but that the Masters officials wanted to see their AARP cards. 

These 3 men are all former Masters champions.  Couples (50 yrs old), your 1st round leader with a 6-under 66, won it back in 1992 .  2-time green jacket winner Tom Watson (60 years old), who is tied for 2nd after a career best 5-under 67, was probably in the VIP room at Studio 54 celebrating his wins in 1977 and 1981.  And then there’s Scotland’s Sandy Lyle (52 yrs old), who shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for 12th.  He won the Masters back in 1988, right around the time when Sonny Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs.

Now I’m not saying that Freddy, Tom or Sandy can’t win it, but I’d almost be as shocked as Elin Nordegren after unlocking Tiger’s blackberry, if any of them finished in the top 10.  Last summer, Watson gave a performance for the ages in the British Open.  He battled Stewart Cink to the very end but ran out of gas and lost in a playoff.  For Watson to pull that off again, it would be an absolute miracle.  Every year it seems as if a blast from the past shows up with a stellar and unexpected opening round , but then fades in the second round and eventually is forgotten.

Oh yeah, Tiger Woods is back this week.  I’m not going to waste anymore time on him unless he wins the tournament.  Even if he does, I don’t really care.  People were blinded by his “greatness”, but not me.  From day one, his antics on the course and his sense of entitlement made him impossible for me to root for.  This week, and every week, I’ll be rooting for “The People’s Champion”, Phil Mickelson.  There’s a man everyone should root for.  He took time off last year not because he got caught cheating on his wife, but to be there beside her. 

The course will be extra soft early on tomorrow after strong storms came thru this evening.  So you can expect some low numbers early.  This will be beneficial to Freddy and Sandy, who tee off early.  As the wind picks up in the afternoon, the likes of Phil Mickelson, Y.E. Yang and Tom Watson will have to be near-perfect on the back 9.

Prevention and Recovery.  That was the slogan posted in the Mets locker room in Port St. Lucie this spring.  After a rash of injuries that crippled the team, they needed to come up with a positive outlook on the 2010 season.

After game #1 of 162, Johan Santana prevented the Marlins from scoring and David Wright recovered from last year’s power outage.  Santana upped his opening day mark to 3-0 with the Mets, who interestingly ran their all-time opening day record to a MLB best 32-17.  That’s pretty amazing considering that they had lost their first 8 season openers.

In 2008 David Wright was Superman.  He had the best year of his career,  batting .302 with 33 HR and 124 RBI.  In 2009, Superman met his Kryptonite.  Citi Field.  From it’s opening in 1964 to it’s morbid closing in 2008,  Shea Stadium was by no means a home run hitters park.  It was known as a pitcher’s park, due to its deep power alleys.  But Citi Field zapped Superman of all his powers.  He only hit 10 HR last year.  It just seemed like every ball that Wright hit into the gaps were swallowed up by the Grand Canyon that has become known as Citi Field’s outfield.  But this is a new year.  2009 is in the rear view mirror and a thing of the past.  In the bottom of the 1st inning, Wright smashed an opposite field 2-run HR to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.  Wright didn’t get into a home run trot, he ran around the bases as if to tell his teammates  “Let’s go, get on my back.”  When arriving at the dugout he was dishing out high-fives like a Hulk Hogan double-axe handle off the top rope.

As important as David Wright is to the Mets offense, Johan Santana IS the Mets Pitching staff.  He was acquired by the Amazin’s 2 years ago and didn’t disappoint in his first campaign.  He went 16-7 with a stellar 2.54 ERA.  Last year, he was cruising along in his usual fashion, when he started losing velocity and later had his season cut short do to an elbow injury.  Fast forward to opening day and he was as good as ever.  Johan went 6 innings, while only giving up 1 run.  His change-up was devastating.  Hitters were constantly off-balance and hit many weak fly balls.  He used the change-up so effectively in his first two at bats with Hanley Ramirez, that in the third, he blew 3 straight fastballs right by him on the inside corner.  That’s a master a work.

The Mets aren’t going 162-0 this year, but with a few breaks here and there, a .500 record is not out of the realm of possibility.  The key will be the 4 starters behind Santana.  Pelfrey, Maine, Perez and Niese must have good years for the Mets to contend for a wild card birth.