Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Can't Hang With The Eastern Conference's Best

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH



It's Gotta be The Shoes..

BROOKLYN NETS: Losing Is One Thing; Continually Getting Run Out Of The Building Is Another...

The final score in Brooklyn's loss in Toronto's was 105-89; a 16-point disparity.

Working out way back, their game against Chicago on December 10th ended 105-80 in the Bulls favor.  On Dec 8th, the Nets lost to Cleveland by a 110-88 final.  On December 5th, they fell by a 98-75 final to Atlanta.  Against Chicago on November 30th, they lost by a 102-84 margin.

Back on November 22nd, they fell 99-87 to the San Antonio Spurs.  It was then Coach Popovich paid nothing but complimentary words to Coach Hollins' Nets.

The fact remains, in the Nets last 6 losses they've been outscored 619-503, which works out to an average of 19.2 points per game.

All 5 teams presently own winning records.

The Nets do not.  They are now 1-9 against teams playing above the .500 mark.

If you didn't watch the Nets take on the Raptors, don't worry, you've seen that act before.  They got outscored 56-44 in the paint, and by a 14-4 margin on fast-break points.

Just saying....

The Nets continue to play without Brook Lopez, who might (might!) return this weekend when the Nets host the Pistons.

In his absence, Deron Williams leads the team with 16.4 ppg, and 6.9 assists per game.



Mike

Sunday, December 14, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Fifteen



PIGSKIN


Football Sunday
Week Fifteen

RESULTS:
On Vacation 
Week Fourteen

Scoreboard:
Week Fourteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  89-79-3
Schmear of the Week:  6-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5

Coin Toss:

Whether obnoxious rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel wins his NFL debut.

1st and Ten:

The Eagles and Cowboys clash for sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East.

2nd and Short:

With Pittsburgh and Baltimore right up their ass, the Bengals have no room for error.

No Gain:

Vegas has lost respect for the 49ers.

Punt!

There's only one team with 11 victories; the Cardinals.  Yet, there are five teams with 2-11 records; the Raiders, Jets, Titans, Jaguars, and Buccaneers.  However, my vote for worst organization still goes to the D.C. Hogs.


Week Fifteen:
Friday Line - NYDN


GIANTS -6 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
The Giants are going to look brilliant..., because the game is inconsequential!
WIN; 24-13 Giants

Jets -2 (TITANS)
Despite all their troubles this season, there's still talent on the Jets.  The Titans are a good opponent to play Ground and Pound against.
WIN; 16-11 Jets

Raiders +10 (CHIEFS)
Coach Spano's football exorcism seems to be finally paying off.  All of a sudden the Raiders wanna win games.  I like them to cover.
Loss; 31-13 Chiefs

RAVENS -13 1/2 (Jaguars)
Captain Obvious gave me a dirty look.
Loss; 20-12 Ravens

Steelers -2 1/2 (FALCONS)
The Falcons can afford to lose because their division sucks.  The Steelers need to play more desperately.
WIN; 28-20 Steelers

COLTS -6 1/2 (Texans)
The Texans aren't fooling me.  They'll remind everyone what an inconsistent team they are.
WIN; 17-10 Colts

Bengals +1 (BROWNS)
Heeeeere's Johnny!  You'd think the Bengals can do enough to confuse this disillusioned kid, right?
WIN; 30-0 Bengals

PATRIOTS -7 1/2 (Dolphins)
The Pats will get revenge for Week One!
WIN; 41-13 Patriots

Bucs +3 (PANTHERS)
The Bucs get a bone because a bad Panthers season that got worse just spun out of control.
WIN; 19-17 Panthers

Packers -5 (BILLS)
I thought longer than usual about this match-up; maybe too long.  I like the Cheese Heads by a touchdown.
Loss; 21-13 Bills

LIONS -7 1/2 (Vikings)
This might be giving the Lions too much respect.  C'mon Megatron..., I'm counting on you!
Loss; 16-14 Lions

Broncos -4 (CHARGERS)
Four points smells like freshly baked bread.
WIN; 22-10 Broncos

49ers +10 (SEAHAWKS)
Vegas obviously does not believe in rising-up to face a rival.  Ten points is hard to turn down.
PUSH; 17-7 Seahawks

EAGLES -3 1/2 (Cowboys)
I'd stay away from this one.  Pondering Mark Sanchez against Tony Romo hurts my brain.
Loss; 38-27 Cowboys


Schmear of the Week:
Giants -6 1/2
WIN


Good Luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Post Game:
Week Fifteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  97-84-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +10


Mike

Friday, December 12, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Working The Phones Is Code For Trouble

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH



Flatbush Hoops Snap Three Game Skid

Friday Night Final
76ers    70
NETS   88

BROOKLYN NETS: Coach Hollins Deftly Points Out All The Cracks In Billy King's Castle.

The Nets previous two seasons in Brooklyn have taught us it takes roughly 2 months in order for this team to right itself.

Twenty games into the Lionel Hollins era, the trend is holding true.  The question remains however, can they play themselves out of this funk once January arrives?

They entered Friday's action having lost three straight, all by at least 20-point margins.

If you've listened to Lionel Hollins lately (who seemingly took a cue from Phil Jackson), he flatly states the Nets are not a good team (for the moment at least) despite Greg Popovich's recent words of encouragement.

Hollins has been brutally honest when it comes to discussing the team and their shortcomings.  While I find it somewhat refreshing, it is at the same time worrisome because that tact quickly wears thin - just ask Avery Johnson.

The man also certainly knows the game, which, combined with his frankness, makes his post-game analysis a fascinating listen.

If anyone should be taking his words to heart, it should be the general manager.

While the Nets were busy Wednesday night losing to the Bulls, their general manager traded Andrei Kirilenko to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Was that the first bottle rocket in what could become a greater fireworks show over Flatbush?  Recent scuttlebutt says Billy King is ready to blow up this core group of players, or, is open to the idea.

As Billy King put it before Friday's game against the Sixers, his job is to work the phones.

Good answer.

My question is, when does it become time to protect this team from Billy King himself?

Despite the huge sums of money spent on salary and luxury taxes, for a third consecutive regular season the Nets are failing to distinguish themselves as one of the NBA's top teams, or even within the Eastern Conference, or even within a pathetically weak Atlantic Division.

In what is now a trend, Wednesday's loss to the Bulls made the Nets just 1-8 against teams with a winning record.  That's right in line with their previous two seasons.  As one series victory in two playoff appearances might also suggest, the Nets have merely been among the best of the rest.

If rumors hold true, then Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez, the most expensive trio in the NBA, are on the block.

Joe Johnson perhaps has provided Billy King the most bang for his buck.  Deron Williams battled injuries and has largely underachieved since coming to the Nets, while Brook Lopez just can't manage to stay on the floor.  Good luck moving those contracts.

In their defense, the much maligned core-3 has been forced to adapt to a continually revolving cast of supporting players and four head coaches in just over two year's time.

Overall, the slow and plodding (and old) teams Billy King has assembled clearly struggle against younger, more athletic teams.  They continually get victimized by fast-breaks; they fail to defend the paint; and routinely get outworked on the glass.

Even should Billy Kind ratchet up the trade mill, there's little he can do to replenish all the draft picks he traded away for years to come.  So, if the present seems dark, the future doesn't appear much brighter.

If any of this seems in conflict with Friday night's victory over the Sixers, I respectfully remind you, it was the Sixers.  Next Wednesday they face the Toronto Raptors; a far greater measure.

To date, however, what's done is done.

In order to endorse Billy King's continuance, we must ignore:

  • a severely compromised draft for several years to some.
  • salary cap and luxury tax hell.
  • per Joe Johnson (paraphrasing), a group of individuals playing selfish ball.
  • per Deron Williams (paraphrasing), unlike the Nets, the Bulls have benefited from consistency and continuity with regards to their roster and coaching.
  • on that note, four Nets head coaches in less than three seasons.
  • two unimpressive playoff appearances.
January is soon coming, maybe then Old Acquaintance be forgot.



Mike

N.Y. Knicks: In Search Of A Miracle On 34th Street

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP



There Will Be No Miracles On 34th Street This Season

NEW YORK KNICKS: Taking A Bite Of A Rotting Apple...

I knew the Knicks would be bad this season, but even this is a little more than I anticipated.  They've already managed to post the franchise's worst start over the first 20 games of a season, and realistically have little to no hope of a getting this campaign turned around.

(...unless you're playing for extra ping pong balls, which then makes sucking a good thing.  So yes, at this rate there's always the draft to look forward to.)

The Knicks present losing streak is now up to ten games.  Their last victory came on November 22nd against the lowly Sixers.  And I'm sure you remember, earlier in November they lost seven straight.

They'll look to snap their streak this evening against Boston.

At the first quarter turn of the season, Phil Jackson rightfully accused his team of having a loser's mentality, and pointed out that certain players are still not buying into the system.

Words never rang more true.

The Knicks literally look like an uncommitted team attempting a triangle offense in a round building named Madison Square Garden.  That's screwy geometry for a team that has more problems than a math book.

(...but deep down inside, dontcha think Phil wants this team to get worse before he tries earning more ping pong balls making it better?)

I can't say the cumulative effect of losing this season has finally gotten players openly at odds with each other because last season that was Tyson Chandler's forte.  Tim Hardaway Jr. was only the latest (of the boldest) to challenge Carmelo Anthony's eminence.

That said, I hold a belief: once is an occurrence, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend.

In successive seasons, Melo failed to mesh with Jeremy Lin; Melo couldn't get along with Tyson Chandler; and most recently, Tim Hardaway Jr. felt compelled to share his displeasure with Melo.

I also have no doubt others found/find life in Melo's world difficult to negotiate.  Amare Stoudemire has perhaps exercised the most tact in voicing his opinion.

The media has largely tip-toed around Melo since his arrival in New York.  Isolation, Melo Ball, the star system, et al, have surely been discussed and criticized from time to time.  But, fortunately for Melo there have always been multiple angles with which to debate the state of the Knicks.  And with the hiring of Phil Jackson, an extension on patience was also in order.  With the recent Melo/Hardaway flare-up, however, the media finally feels inclined to make Melo's perceived acidic existence in New York a topical subject.

I hold Carmelo Anthony accountable for none of this.  I place any and all blame on James Dolan for trampling over Donnie Walsh in a desperate effort to win the Melo sweepstakes (and then essentially firing Walsh).

The present state of the Knicks stems from that very moment, with Carmelo Anthony at the center of a rotten core.



Mike

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: O.T. Win Failed To Cure The Blues

From the desk of:  RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS




207 - 0 - 4
(weight - big hits - points)

NEW YORK RANGERS: I'm unhappy, therefore I am.

We're just about a third of the way through the season, and I can't smell what management is cookin'.

The Flyers didn't seem to pose a problem.  And apparently, the Rangers seem to have the Penguins number.  But if this team wants to go far, they'll need to get through Tampa, and Boston, and even the Islanders.

The Rangers can hang around with the competition, but to a certain extent.

So far, Martin St. Louis has arguably been the Rangers best all around forward; Rick Nash is up to 18 goals for the season; and they're even getting inspired play out of Kevin Klein.

Otherwise, I'm seeing a preponderance of yawn inspiring play.

Overall, the blue liners have played piss poor transitional hockey, and generally speaking, it seems as if there have been more defensive breakdowns this season than in recent seasons combined.

Kevin Klein's game winning goal is an obvious aberration, as the Rangers have benefited very little from their defensive scoring.  Klein has twice as many goals as the rest of his blue line mates combined; Dan Boyle (2 goals) and Dan Girardi are the only two other defenders to find net this season.

Even since before his injury, Ryan McDonagh has not played up to his own standards, while Marc Staal has played all 26 games this season and averages 22 minutes a game, but has only registered 4 assists.

I'm not necessarily targeting Marc Staal, but maybe if he threw his body around more often (or at all) the Rangers need not go into overtime against the Penguins.

I'll take that a step further: maybe if Montreal does not eliminate Boston from last season's playoffs, we have an entirely different perspective of this team.

I digress.

As a team, they're only playing 40-minutes of hockey on any given night, which is a problem considering they are not nearly as relentless in their offensive zone as, say, Tampa, Boston, or even the Islanders (...much less the Los Angeles Kings,etc.).  When you get right down to it, those are the only teams that potentially matter.

While I'm at it - Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin..., Hello?

In truth, I still don't know what kind of club Alain Vigneault is trying to run.

I do know the Rangers are bland and clearly lack salt.

But that's on Glen Sather.



Mike

Monday, December 08, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: 25 Years After Princess Di's Visit, We Welcome The Duke and Duchess of Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH



In 1989, Princess Diana visited the
Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Tonight, Kings County welcomes back her son and his wife,
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,
Prince William and Kate Middleton


"Welcome Back..., to that same old place that you laughed about."


BROOKLYN NETS: Coach Popvich Said Be Patient, That The Nets Will Become A Conference Force.  He's Friggin Hysterical Isn't He?

Just when it appeared as if he was playing his way out of Coach Hollins' doghouse, Brook Lopez is hurt again.  But, this time his lower back is barking.  Thankfully, his foot bone is still connected to the ankle bone....  Whew!

He'll certainly miss tonight's game against King James, with Prince William and Princess Kate in attendance.  Reports say he'll miss a week.

In the mean time, remember when Milwaukee (the youngest team in the league) started two teenagers, and outscored the Nets 58-54 in the paint, and outpaced them 16-9 on fast-breaks during an overtime victory on Brooklyn's turf?

That was 8 games ago, I know.  But the Nets effort against the Hawks reminded me.

Know why the Nets beat the Spurs?  Because San Antonio is old, and somewhat just as plodding.

In the Nets defense, Coach Popovich had nothing but praise for Coach Hollins and the team, even saying Brooklyn would be a conference force by Spring.

Interesting.

So far, the Nets are 1-7 against .500 teams or better, which makes them 7-3 against the rest of their early   competition.  Their 8-10 record has allowed them to loiter in 2nd place of a very weak Atlantic Division.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 11-7 this season; not a juggernaut by any stretch.

Perhaps with Brook Lopez out, the Nets can speed up the tempo of tonight's game.

Above all, pay attention to detail..., ok?  Don't embarrass yourselves tonight.  The Royal Family has been very good to this Borough.  So Don't Mess It Up.

And don't let LeBron James orchestrate a royal show on the court of Flatbush.

This is Kings County, not his county!



Mike

Sunday, December 07, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Fourteen



PIGSKIN


Football Sunday
Week Fourteen

RESULTS:
On Vacation 
Week Thirteen

Scoreboard:
Week Thirteen:  8-7
Overall Record:  81-74-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-6
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5

Coin Toss:

Flip this!  When you lose to the Jags, and you're PK against the Titans, it means a major rebuilding is in order, Sir.

1st and Ten:

Don't look now, but the Cardinals hold on 1st place (NFC West) is slipping fast.  A loss Sunday, and a Seahawks win ties them for the division lead.  

With the Falcons playing in Green Bay Monday night, the Saints appear poised to take sole possession of 1st place in the NFC South.

2nd and Short:

Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East, and Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in the AFC North, all enter Sunday tied for 2nd place.

No Gain:

The Ravens lost DT Haloti Ngata for the season (suspended) after testing hot for banned stuff.

PUNT!

Rex Ryan's time in New York is growing shorter.


Week Fourteen:
Friday Line ~ NYDN


Giants PK (TITANS)
As a Giants fan, I really have little to say, particularly after last week's loss to the Jaguars.
WIN; 36-7 Giants

Jets +6 (VIKINGS)
I'll take the 6-points; thank you very much.  The Vikings are a good match-up for the Jets.  I think Rex Ryan's Ground and Pound will enjoy its one and only day in the sun.
PUSH; 30-24 Vikings  O.T.

DOLPHINS -3 (Ravens)
We're about to find out how much losing DT Haloti Ngata will affect the Ravens.
Loss; 28-13 Ravens

BENGALS -3 (Steelers)
This is one of those games that makes you second-guess the Bengals: they're winners of three in a row, they can solidify their hold on 1st place with another victory; and they're playing at home - all the ingredients for a colossal let-down.
Loss; 42-21 Steelers

Colts -3 1/2 (BROWNS)
I just know Vegas is begging everyone to take the Colts knowing the Browns can ruin even the best laid plans.  I'm taking the sucker's bet too.
Loss; 25-24 Colts

Texans -6 (JAGUARS)
The Jaguars have been busy partying well after defeating the Giants.  Did they practice?
WIN; 27-13 Texans

SAINTS -9 1/2 (Panthers)
The Panthers are perfect opponents to make the Saints look like Super Bowl contenders again (if just for a day).
Loss; 41-10 Panthers

LIONS -10 (Bucs)
While I do not foresee the Bucs generating much against Detroit's defense, the Lions offense really makes you wonder.
WIN; 34-17 Lions

Rams - 2 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
The situation in Washington is laughable.
WIN; 24-0 Rams

Bills +10 (BRONCOS)
If Buffalo's front four can manage some pressure by themselves, the Bills might cover this.
WIN; 24-17 Broncos

CARDINALS -1 (Chiefs)
The Cards have lost two straight, and are desperate for a win.  Drew Stanton had enough practice; time to make some plays.
WIN; 17-14 Cardinals

49ers -8 (RAIDERS)
Where the hell did Vegas get "8" from?  Do they expect a safety?  Eight?
Loss; 24-13 Raiders

Seahawks +1 (EAGLES)
Mark Sanchez has been making me eat my words, but I refuse to trust him.
WIN; 24-14 Seahawks

Patriots -3 1/2 (CHARGERS)
Did you see the way Tom Brady was launching f-bombs all over the sidelines last game?  Let's just say I like the Pats coming off a disappointing loss.
WIN; 23-14 Patriots


Schmear of the Week:
49ers -8
LOSS


Gutten Appetit: Brisket and baby back ribs; roasted red potatoes; garlic roasted corn on the cob; homemade onion rings; baked beans and side salads.  What's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!


Post Game:
Week Fourteen Record:  8-5-1
Overall Record:  89-79-3
Schmear of the Week:  6-7
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5



Mike

Saturday, December 06, 2014

N.Y. Islanders: Garth Snow's Critics Laying Low

From the desk of:  BROOKLYN's FOSTER HOCKEY CLUB




LOCAL STANDINGS
N.Y.I.   19-7-0    38 points
N.Y.R.  11-9-4    26 points
N.J.D.   10-12-4  24 points

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: In his eighth season as general manager, Garth Snow might be the metropolitan area's junior executive next to Lou Lamoriello and Glen Sather, but he's presently doing the best job.

Although Garth Snow inevitably came up empty in the Matt Moulson trade, no one is harping about Thomas Vanek these days (unless you're a bookie that is).

At the time, the previous year's playoff series against the Penguins left many greatly anticipating the team taking another giant step forward in 2013-2014.

However, the team had obvious shortcomings on defense and in net.  Not only did the trade delete John Tavares' popular line mate, Vanek addressed neither issue, which caused many fans to find a place on the fence.

We know Snow's gamble failed to pay off.  The Islanders were unable to overcome a poor start, and did not qualify for last season's playoffs, and Thomas Vanek moved on to sign a free agent deal elsewhere.

In a different town; a different situation; perhaps the net-gain zero trade of a very popular player, and failure to make the playoffs adds to unemployment figures.  However, the continuing post-Milbury reconstruction under Charles Wang has been a very forgiving process.

If nothing else, Garth Snow showed some poblanos, chalking the trade up to - nothing ventured; nothing gained.

Fair enough.

To that point, Snow had already put together a young, fast, and physical team, that was capable of scoring with consistency.  Perhaps a chance to retain a veteran player of Vanek's caliber was worth a shot.   As an impending free agent himself, it would have been far more difficult to maximize a return on Matt Moulson through another team, lest we forget Buffalo was the NHL's most highly motivated seller.

Then what?

This last off-season, Garth Snow very smartly shored up his defense, and vastly upgraded his goalie situation.

For the moment, perhaps no single acquisition indeed shines more brilliantly than goalie Jaroslav Halak.  In exchange for a 4th round draft pick, I'd say Garth Snow did well.

In Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Senators, Halak, 29, earned a franchise record 11th straight victory, breaking the mark set in 1982 by Billy Smith.

Although he only ranks 19th in the NHL with 18 starts, he is t-3rd with 3 shutouts, t-4th with 14 victories (14-4), 7th with a 2.05 GAA, and 8th with a .926 save percentage.

On Saturday night, he'll have the opportunity to face his former team, the St. Louis Blues, whom seemingly had no use for Halak, yet presently find themselves desperate in net and earlier this week signed Martin Brodeur.

Playing in front of Halak, the former Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, and former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, have repainted the Islanders blueline.

Nick Leddy, 23, is presently playing up to expectations, and (IMO) still packed with offensive potential.  This is a trade I feel will only get better as the season progresses.  Quite frankly, I don't know what Chicago was thinking.  Meanwhile, in addition to the size and presence he brings to the ice, Boychuk is off to the best start of his career.  In 26 games the two have combined on a +9, with 25 points.

No Moulson; no Vanek; no problem.  Garth Snow and Coach Capuano unleashed Brock Nelson this season, and the young 2nd year center is responding.  He is on the power play, his overall minutes are up, thus he's benefiting from increased shot opportunities.  In return, he has 7 PP goals, and a team leading 12 goals, and is tied with John Tavares with a team leading 23 points.

All this so far has contributed to the Islanders NHL leading 19 victories this season.  They enter Saturday night's action in sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division, and trail Tampa by one point for the conference lead.

Not incidentally, those who widely criticized Snow's lack of experience over the years are now laying low.

In his eighth season as general manager, Garth Snow might be the metropolitan area's junior executive next to Lou Lamoriello and Glen Sather, but he's presently doing the best job with the least resources.



Mike

Sunday, November 30, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday ~ Week Thirteen



PIGSKIN


Football Sunday
Week Thirteen


Scoreboard:
Thanksgiving Day:  3-0
Overall Record:  73-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +7

Coin Toss:

Heads - Ray Rice plays again this season; Tails - Ray Rice does not play again this season.

1st and Ten:

In defeating the Cowboys, Mark Sanchez avenged himself of the Butt-Fumble, and has his Eagles soaring sky high in first place (while his former team remains in a nose dive).  Speaking of which....

No Gain:

The truth is out; Rex Ryan had no shot this season.  There's a question of sabotage to ponder.  Rex is still Jets head coach because of Woody Johnson.  But with this week's revelation of John Idzik's true intentions, one can now look back at the off-season and more confidently assume the GM indeed hoarded potential free-agent money in full knowledge he was committed to canning the wildly popular coach before the season even started.

3rd and Long:

Long live parity - in 3rd place of the amateurish NFC South, the 3-7 Carolina Panthers still have a shot to win their division.

PUNT!

Roger Goodell's administration...


Week Thirteen:
Friday Line - NYDN



Giants +3 (JAGUARS)
Tom Coughlin's homecoming; it's finally time for the Giants to break this damn losing streak.
WIN; 25-24 Jaguars


COLTS -9 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
The Hogs are in turmoil, and RGIII is benched.  Daniel Snyder would be better off if the media revived the "change the team name" rhetoric.
WIN; 49-27 Colts


TEXANS -7 (Titans)
No one cares, but at least Houston still has something to play for.
WIN; 45-21 Texans


BILLS -3 (Browns)
The Bills plowed through a good Jets offensive line last week like they were wet toilet paper.  I'm going with the momentum.
WIN;26-10 Bills


RAVENS -5 1/2 (Chargers)
Two good defenses, but the Chargers can't run the ball and Baltimore can, and will.
Loss; 34-33 Chargers


Bengals -3 1/2 (BUCS)
Even the Masters Of Letdown should manage this one.
Loss; 14-13 Bengals


Raiders +6 1/2 (RAMS)
...because when you're hot, you're hot.
Loss; 52-0 Rams


STEELERS -4 (Saints)
I actually like the Steelers, big.
Loss; 35-32 Saints


VIKINGS -3 (Panthers)
A very disappointing season in Carolina is going to get a little bit worse.
WIN; 31-13 Vikings


Cardinals -2 (FALCONS)
The Cards are 1-1 in Carson Palmer's absence.  But even Drew Stanton should be able to pull this one out.
Loss; 29-18 Falcons


Patriots +3 (PACKERS)
Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady cancel each other out.  New England's corners are better.
Loss; 26-21 Packers


CHIEFS +2 (Broncos)
A banged up Broncos defense will allow the Chiefs to do enough.
Loss; 29-16 Broncos


Schmear of the Week:
Bengals -3 1/2
LOSS


Gutten Appetit:  Are you kidding me?  What's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone.


Post Game:
Thanksgiving Games:  3-0
Week Thirteen:  5-7 (8-7)
Overall Record:  81-74-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-6
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5



Mike

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Thanksgiving Day Special



PIGSKIN


Week Thirteen
Thanksgiving Day Special


I'm thankful we're only playing for BAGELS.  I had a disastrous Week Twelve, posting a 2-10 record and losing the Schmear for a total loss of 11 Bagels.

Scoreboard:
Week Twelve Record:  2-10
Overall Record:  70-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +4


WEEK THIRTEEN:
Wednesday Line/NYDN


LIONS -7 (Bears)
When I was a kid, the rule was never bet against Detroit on Thanksgiving.  But that was a long time ago.  They've been consistent losers for well over a decade now.  Despite a 7-4 record, they're the worst offensive team in their conference, and one of only five NFL teams with under 200-points scored for the season.  Fortunately for the Detroit Kitties, the Bears defense is very generous.  On the other side of the ball, the Lions have one football's most formidable defenses, and I'm banking on them holding off the Bears.
WIN; 34-17 Lions


Eagles +3 (COWBOYS)
Somewhere in this match-up between Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez lies a joke.  I just can't pinpoint it.  (Or, maybe the joke's on the Giants.)  But, with both teams sporting 8-3 records, this NFC East battle for 1st place will be entertaining to say the least.  Romo's (back injury) durability immediately comes to mind, which begs the question - can the Eagles affect his early departure?  The Eagles will certainly blitz more often than the Giants did.  I say the Eagles sell out against the Cowboys potent running game, and make Romo work for his money (or throw INT''s).
WIN; 33-10 Eagles


Seahawks +1 (49ERS)
Last week I thought the Cardinals would exact their revenge (against the Seahawks) for not making last year's playoffs.  Seattle wound up limiting the Cards (w/o Carson Palmer) to just 3 points.  After both the Niners and Seahawks stumbled out of block this season, the defending champs seem to have gotten more of their act together than the Niners have.  And now that Seahawks players appear to be bonding in their collective rebellion against the NFL, and making it rain fine fees, look out - bad guys comin' through.  In truth, the Niners are playing just a shade better than the Lions, meaning, despite their 7-4 record the 49ers are largely underachieving.
WIN; 19-3 Seahawks



I'm thankful for all our county's combat veterans, 
and for the men and women presently serving in our Armed Forces 
whom find themselves in harms way on this national holiday 
away from their homes, family, and friends.




Mike

Sunday, November 23, 2014

N.Y. Islanders: Sweep Pair From Penguins; Grab Share Of First Place

From the desk of:  BROOKLYN's FOSTER HOCKEY CLUB




Metropolitan Division
Penguins   13-4-2  28 points
Islanders   14-6-0  28 points

New York Islanders: Saturday Night Fever In Uniondale!

Last Saturday in Tampa, the Islanders suffered a 5-2 defeat in the front end of a home-and-home series against the Lightning.  On Tuesday, the Long Islanders exacted their revenge upon the Bolts with a 5-2 victory on home ice.

On Friday, the Islanders opened a home-and-home against the Metropolitan Division leading Penguins in Pittsburgh.  The last time the Isles visited Pittsburgh on October 18th, they lost by a 3-1 margin.  This time they outlasted the Pens in a 5-4 shootout.

The Islanders reengaged the Penguins Saturday evening in Uniondale.  After Ivgeni Malkin opened the scoring with a 1st period goal, Matt Martin tied the game in the 2nd period.  The Isles then dominated the Pens during a 3-goal 3rd period to gain a 4-1 final, and a series sweep.

The Islanders essentially arrested Sidney Crosby, who managed just one SOG, and lost 60% of his face-offs.

The Isles out-shot Pittsburgh by a 71-58 margin over the two games.

Brock Nelson continues to reward Garth Snow, this time with his 10th goal of the season.  Matt Martin's only 2 goals this season came during this series.  John Tavares closed-out Saturday's scoring with his 8th of the season.

With 1 goal in 2 opportunities, the Islanders power play is now operating at 20.2% efficiency, and has scored in 11 of their 20 games this season.

The Long Islanders won playing physical hockey as well.  Travis Hamonic mixed it up early with Steve Downie, whom continued to goon it up throughout the game, specifically with a dirty hit on Hickey.  And as the 3rd period wound down, Hamonic let Pitt's Zack Sill know he wasn't putting up with any last minute crap either.

In his last two starts, goalie Jaroslav Halak has posted victories over the Penguins and Lightning.  In gaining his 9th win of the season Saturday night, he made a short-handed save, two saves on the PK, and stopped 24/25 even strength shots.  He has now won 6 straight, and started 7 of the Islanders 10 games this month.

In Friday's game, back-up Chad Johnson made his 7th start of the season and earned the shoot-out victory in Pittsburgh.

This latest victory gives the Islanders 8 in their last 9 games, and more importantly, earned them a share of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division along with these same Pittsburgh Penguins (whom have a game in hand).

Lastly, the TV guys said this is the New York Islanders best start to a season since the 1987-1988 campaign.

In 20 games this season, they only have losses against Toronto and Winnipeg to atone for.   Otherwise, the Islanders have racked up impressive victories over the Rangers, Sharks, Bruins, Ducks, Kings, Lightning, and now a pair against the Penguins.

The Islanders have also seemingly straightened out their penalty kill.  In October they killed-off 22 of 33 power plays, for a poor 66.6% rate of effectiveness.  In November, they have so far killed-off 23 of 28 power plays, for a vastly improved 82.1% rate.

That said, the Islanders are starting to get things done in all aspects of the game.



Mike

Saturday, November 22, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Cowboys Bringing Familiar Smash Mouth Style To Sunday's Game

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE




It was a nice run, but the party has been over.

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: The Cowboys Running Game Is A Reminder Of What The Giants Used To Be.

The Giants head into Sunday night's game against the Cowboys low-riding a five game losing streak.

After the Giants loss to Niners, Coach Coughlin and particularly Ben McAdoo said three goal-to-go plays weren't all designed to be fades; it just worked out that way.

Okay.  But what we got were three consecutive fade plays nonetheless, and a tipped ball interception on 4th down.  That's what I'll remember most about last week.  It's a sorry state, because I remember a day when the Giants basically telegraphed the run, then dared you to stop them.

That's why you lift all those weights!  Run with power.  -  BP

In any event, wasn't this new offense supposed to resemble Green Bay's?

Newsflash - not with this offensive line.  I wouldn't trust them in a tailgate pick-up game.

An inability to create daylight, while allowing constant pressure on the quarterback are what losing seasons are made of.

Sunday, I suspect the Dallas Cowboys will keep possession and control the clock behind their new offensive line and DeMarco Murray's rushing.  I could be very wrong about that (considering the Giants played the Cowboys well last time they met) but I seriously doubt it because we've watched that formula work here for decades.  Plus, the Cowboys just happen to have the 2nd top running game in football.

The Giants head into Sunday night's game low-riding a five game losing streak.  At this point, there's little to nothing the Giants can do to turn their season around, which is too bad because Perry Fewell's defense finally played a solid game against the 49ers.  But, that said, apparently holding the Niners under 20 points this season has been somewhat easier to do than in seasons past.  Besides, one good performance out of ten should not save Fewell's job.

This all means the Giants strayed from this organization's core values, and that it's high time for John Mara to rethink everything.

In the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era, Giants Football been about passing the ball, and having a strong defensive line/pass rush.  It's been a hit or miss approach - Super Bowl or big busts.

Previously. Giants football was traditionally predicated on defense (featuring a Pride of hungry linebackers) and running the ball with power.

There was a name for that style.

It's high time they rediscovered it, and brought that brand of football back home.



Mike

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Twelve



PIGSKIN


Football Sunday
Week Twelve

RESULTS:
On Vacation 
Week Ten
Week Eleven

Scoreboard:
Week Eleven Record:  4-8
Overall Record:  68-57-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-4
BAGELS in the Basket:  +15

1st and Ten:

That's the NFL for ya.  The Chiefs were fresh-off beating the Seahawks, and could have taken a share of 1st place, but LOST to the Raiders!   On that note, damn those Raiders for not winning their first game of the season on a Sunday.  I would have picked against them..., but hey..

2nd and Short:

All of a sudden RG3's time in D.C. seems short.

No Gain:

The Player's Association...

PUNT!

It's hard to disagree that every team in the NFC South sucks, and is in second place until notified otherwise.  However, (I'm not going to say which) I read an article in some prominent city tabloid suggesting the NFL should realign due to the NFC South.  To that I say, Fire The Author!  How reactionary, knee jerk, and friggin typical!!!   Should we start handing out participation trophies as well?  Idiot.

WEEK TWELVE:
Friday Line ~ NYDN


***Jets +1 1/2 (BILLS)***
****This Game Is Off My Board****** - Lake effect weather is one thing; what happened in the Buffalo area is entirely something else.  The last thing they need is a football game.  My thoughts are with my fellow Empire State denizens.

Cowboys -3 1/2 (GIANTS)
Perry Fewell's defense actually showed up last week.  It was the offense that was so inefficiently bad. Flip a coin as to which unit shows up this week, and the other side of the ball is sure to suck.  The Giants are an inconsistent team, and that's what inconsistent teams do.  The Cowboys offensive line is healthy and strong.  Nuf ced.
Loss; 31-28 Cowboys

FALCONS -3 (Browns)
I tried giving the Browns some respect last week and they spit in my face.  After five straight losses, the Falcons are suddenly.....hot?  Whatever - will some team please take control of the NFC South?
Loss; 26-24 Browns

Titans +11 (EAGLES)
Would you trust Mark Sanchez with 11 points?
Loss; 43-24 Eagles

PATRIOTS -7 (Lions)
The freakin' Lions were limited to 6 points by a stout Cardinals defense, but only allowed Arizona 16 points.    I don't know what that means, but the Lions are not going to outscore the Patriots.
WIN; 34-9 Patriots

Packers -9 (VIKINGS)
Why does Las Vegas tease us like this?
Loss; 24-21 Packers

Jaguars +14 (COLTS)
Tough break for Ahmad Bradshaw; he was the Colts running game.  They're one dimensional now which gives the Jags a good chance to cover.  That's all that matters, Baby!
Loss; 23-3 Colts

TEXANS -2 (Bengals)
The Cats manhandled the Saints in the Dome last week, while the Texans wiped out the Browns in Cleveland.  Both desperately need to win.  The smart money is on the Bengals, right?  That's precisely why I'm going the other way.
Loss; 22-13 Bengals

Bucs +5 1/2 (BEARS)
This is a very wishy-washy selection; I would pick against both teams were it not for playing each other.  I'm thinking Bears by a field goal?
Loss; 21-13 Bears

Cardinals +7 (SEAHAWKS)
This is it - The Showdown.  This is the first time these teams meet this season.  The Cardinals remember how disappointing missing the playoffs last year was.  They've been on a mission since.   The Cardinals will refuse to lose on Sunday.
Loss; 19-3 Seahawks

Rams +5 (CHARGERS)
Ah hah!  The cat is out of the bag; Phillip Rivers has been playing hurt.  That explains much.
Win; 27-24 Chargers

BRONCOS -7 (Dolphins)
Have to give props to Miami's defense this season; they're the real deal.  Any more points and I would have swung the other way.  Hard to go against Peyton at home.
Loss; 39-36 Broncos

49ERS -9 (D.C. Hogs)
Criticism for RGIII is mounting, and considering what the Bucs did to the Hogs last week, be on the lookout for another lame D.C. performance.
Loss; 17-13 Niners

Ravens +3 1/2 (SAINTS)
...because I still believe the Ravens are the best team in their division, and the Saints insist on being inconsistent. Ooooops!  Monday Night; off the board.


Schmear of the Week:  (6-4)
49ers -9
LOSS


Guten Appetit: Have to make room in the freezer and fridge for Thanksgiving Day stuff.  That means I'll be making various foods that shouldn't necessarily hang out together.  However, this is an opportunity to experiment with my own version of waffles and chicken. So what's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!


Post Game:
Week Twelve Record:  2-10
Overall Record:  70-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +4



Mike

Thursday, November 20, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Tiki Barber Fumbles Yet Again

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE



Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have won two Super Bowls together.
Even Michael Strahan won a Super Bowl because he conformed to the program.
Tiki Barber?  No Super Bowls for you.

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: I guess it was just Tiki Barber's time of the month...

Thank you Tiki for all the rushing yards gained as a member of the Giants.  As a fan, we had good times together.  Otherwise, shut up.

On the radio the other day Tiki Barber said he never disparaged Coach Coughlin.

Well, what do you call lashing out "we got out-coached" immediately following a playoff loss to the Panthers; a 23-0 shutout playoff loss to the Panthers in which the offense was limited to just 132 total yards, while he himself only accounted for a mere 41 of those yards.

But Tiki had nothing to do with that, did he?  It was all Coughlin's and Eli's fault.

Everything about Tiki's last two seasons was disparaging towards Coach Coughlin - the head coach who cured Tiki's massive fumbling woes!
  • 10 year career; 32 career fumbles; 19 lost.
Tiki Bitter didn't have nice things to say about Coughlin or Eli then, and apparently still has nothing terribly supportive to say regarding either, or the Giants present situation today.

If somewhere in the darkest recesses of his delusional mind, he's trying to be some modern day Frank Gifford, someone please tell him he's failing miserably.

He lost his job to Brandon Jacobs; then unceremoniously retired but not before disrespectfully announcing his plans mid-season; then the Giants won the Super Bowl....and another.

So what's the problem?

Apparently, Gary Meyers is his problem.

What, did Tiki Barber go on the radio this week just to be a bitch?




Mike

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Latest for Rising Apple: Who should the Mets backup outfielders be in 2015?



Here's my latest for







Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Brooklyn Nets: Bad Just Got Worse

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH




Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop


BROOKLYN NETS: Rift between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez widening; team's downward spiral continues; and don't look now, but here comes Jason Kidd!

Joe Johnson's attempt at a preemptive kick in the ass has seemingly resulted in a major case of team indifference.

How else do you describe it?

New coach; new players; I get it.

Not really; not to this degree.

The graffiti is spray painted on the brick wall.  Three games on the west coast proved how vulnerable the plodding Nets are to small line-ups.

Three games; three losses.  They played well at times, but not well enough, and clearly not long enough.  They played in spurts; the Brooklyn Spurts.

In Phoenix, the Nets were up by as many as 19 points, and took a 63-49 lead into halftime.  Then their shooting soured; they only shot 27.5% in the 2nd half.

But in truth, the game changed on a dime when the Suns imposed their style in the second half.  The Nets still led 84-78 after three quarters, but the defense took the rest of the night off as the Nets were outscored 34-20 in the 4th quarter en route to a 112-104 defeat.

Joe Johnson manned-up with 21 points, and Kevin Garnett posted a double/double with 12 points and 10 boards.  Mirza Telotovic and Brook Lopez chipped in with 16 points each, but all Lopez could manage was 3 rebounds.

Making a Point:
  • Eric Bledsoe - 18 points, 3 assists.  Isaiah Thomas - 21 points and 2 assists off the bench.
  • Deron Williams - 14 points and 5 assists in 34 minutes.
The Brooklyn Spurts were at it again in Oakland against the Warriors.  They jumped out to a 36-32 1st quarter lead, but trailed 66-54 at the half.  They played to a 3rd quarter stalemate, and the Nets even outscored the Warriors 24-20 in the 4th, but the damage had already been done.

Brooklyn's lack of interior defense was all too clear, allowing Golden State 50 points in the paint, and getting outpaced on fast-break points by a 30-9 margin.

They also got out-rebounded, and trailed Golden State 30-19 in team assists.

The Nets shot a sub-par 43.8% from the floor, and suffered through 3/16 from beyond the arch.

They ultimately fell 107-99, and failed to score 100-points for only the 2nd time this season (until....)
All 5 Warriors starters scored in double digits.

For this game, Deron Williams' standard of measure came against Steph Curry.

Making a Point:
  • Stephen Curry - 17 points and 5 assists in 32 minutes.
  • Deron Williams - 18 points and 5 assists in 33 minutes.
  • Jarrett Jack scored a team high 23 points off the Nets bench.
The city of Portland provided yet another let down.  Poor shooting that began in Phoenix, and worsened in Oakland , bottomed out against the Blazers.

The Nets only scored 15 first quarter points, and shot an abysmal 39.3% for the game.  And if you can imagine it, the Nets 3/16 three-point experience against Golden State worsened, as the Nets connected on just one of 19 attempts from beyond the arch in Portland.

They were also out-rebounded, and handed out less team assists yet again.  Adding insult to injury, Portland played minus two main cogs; LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

Making a Point:

Damien Lillard - 28 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes.
Deron Williams - 19 points and 6 assists in 37 minutes.

That doesn't even begin to tell the story.  When Deron Williams wasn't getting defensively switched off Lillard, the Portland point guard was lighting up Williams like a roman candle.  More, Steve Blake stepped in with another 7 assists off the bench.

You would have thought the next best place for the Nets should have been home.

But in their first home game back at Barclays Center on Monday, they encountered a quiet, apathetic crowd.  The Nets responded in kind with a lethargic effort against the LeBron-less, Wade'less, and generally undermanned Miami Heat.

On this night, all Flatbush could manage was 83 points.  Their best effort came in the 2nd quarter when they scraped together 22 points, but were held to just 19 points in the final quarter en route to a 95-83 defeat to the Heat.

How's this for a downward trend:
  • 104 points versus Phoenix
  • 99 points versus Golden State
  • 87 points versus Portland
  • 83 points versus Miami
And how's this for Making a Point:
  • Mario Chalmers - 22 points and 5 assists in 34 minutes.
  • Deron Williams - 14 points and 7 assists in 35 minutes.
Throughout this time, the relationship between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez continued to deteriorate even further.

....All since Joe Johnson tried administering the team a swift kick in the ass, remember?

Next:

On Wednesday evening, Jason Kidd and his Milwaukee Bucks come to Flatbush.  This will be the first meeting between clubs since Jason Kidd was jettisoned out of Barclays for attempting a coup d'etat.

This will also be the first time these clubs meet since Mikhail Prokhorov and Kidd served and volleyed through the media.

I don't know that a Brooklyn crowd will let bygones be bygones, and give Jason Kidd a well deserved ovation for being the best Nets player of all-time.  Obviously, New Jersey isn't across the continent, but it wasn't Brooklyn Jason Kidd led to back-to-back Finals appearances.  There's the rub.  How much of Kidd's playing history gets lost on Wednesday night's crowd remains to be seen.

In Empire State fashion, however, he just might get the Benedict Arnold treatment one might argue he deserves.



Mike