Monday, December 11, 2017

N.Y. Yankees: Brian Cashman Reclaims The High Ground

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

I Think We Need A Bigger Park

New York Yankees: Brian Cashman acquires outfield slugger Giancarlo Stanton along with $30 million dollars from Derek Jeter Miami Marlins in exchange for Starlin Castro, prospects, and a complimentary bag of NYC bagels.

I left off in my previous post saying ... 


When you think about it, the Death Star Bronx County is indeed the logical landing spot, but only because Sith Lord Brian Cashman made it so.

Cashman had already started whittling down payroll since before Derek Jeter's retirement.  And as luck would have it, the Empire Yankees wound up being the lone team presently capable of absorbing Giancarlo's mega contract in which he is still owed $295 million dollars.

Derek Jeter's options were clearly limited due to Stanton's full no-trade clause, making it no wonder Jeter also kicked in $30 million as part of the trade agreement.

Even more amazing is the fact the Yankees are able to accommodate the balance of their $265 million obligation, and still satisfy Emperor Hal Steinbrenner's desire for being under the luxury tax.

Giancarlo Stanton, the 2017 National League MVP, batted .281 with a .376 OBP.  He led all of baseball with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, and led the National League with a .631 slugging average.

Aaron Judge, the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year, slashed .284/.422/.627, and led the A.L. with 52 home runs, 128 runs scored, 127 walks, drove in 114 runs, and finished second in voting for American League MVP.

Combined, they hit 111 home runs and posted 246 RBI in 2017 (with 371 strikeouts in 1,139 regular season at-bats for a rate of 32.5 percent.., just saying).

With a line-up also featuring Didi Gregorious, Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, et al, you can forget about Mos Isley Cantina Coors Field, as Yankee Stadium suddenly becomes the nation's wretched hive of scum and villainy largest pinball machine.

Perhaps the Yankees should consider installing overhead netting in order to protect the Judge's Chamber and Bleacher Creatures, or at the very least make them all wear Storm Trooper helmets.

There's no denying Christmas arrived early for Yankee droids fans.  What an absolutely stunning off-season this has been for Yankees brass as well, between the hiring of new Imperial Guard field manager Aaron Boone, and now this.

But wait, there's more.  As Brian Cashman continues expressing his desire to rule the galaxy sign a starting pitcher, be it resigning C.C. Sabathia, or otherwise.

In fact, he foresees it.

Upon the conclusion of a whirlwind week in December, Brian Cashman has no doubt seized the attention of every member of the Senate general manager in baseball.  Every front office, field manager, Jedi, and player, from Los Angeles to Houston, Anaheim to Chicago, from Boston, and closer to home in Tatooine Queens, realize the Sith Yankees have once more altered the landscape of baseball.

R2 says the chances of A.L. East survival are 3,720 ... to one.

Here we go again.

Brooklyn Nets: Jahlil Okafor Gets New Start With Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Nets Acquire Jahlil Okafor From Philadelphia

Brooklyn Nets: Ticket Out of Philadelphia is Happy Birthday Present for Jahlil Okafor.

General manager Sean Marks traded (30-year old/eight year veteran) forward Trevor Booker this past Thursday to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for center Jahlil Okafor, shooting guard Nik Stauskas, and a much appreciated 2019 second round draft pick.

Philadelphia selected Okafor with the third overall pick of the 2015 draft.  He weighs in at 6'11", 275lbs., and turns 22-years old on Dec. 15.

He averaged thirty minutes, 17.5 points, and seven rebounds, in 53 games as a 20-year old rookie, but had his minutes shaved last season with the arrival of Joel Embiid, whom this season for the Sixers is averaging a double-double, with 23.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Okafor averaged 22.7 minutes, 11.8 points, and 4.8 rebounds, through 50 games playing in Embiid's shadow last season.  Hashtags such as Did Not Play; Did Not Dress; Not With Team; further marred the back of his baseball card.  He has been glued to the bench ever since, making a mere two appearances this season through 25 games.

Although Coach Atkinson runs an up-tempo offense, Okafor should fit into the line-up no differently than did Brook Lopez (or the present cast of characters, for that matter).  Timofey Mozgov and others have proved somewhat inconsequential at center.  While Lopez is a superior outside shooter, it is hoped that Okafor will provide an effective low post presence.  I'm sure Atkinson will coach to his abilities by integrating some isolation because his potential for points is there.  However, his defense is said to be a completely different issue.  He should fit right in, then.  As the Nets are among the NBA leaders in scoring, but rank dead last in points allowed.

I digress...

This is a savvy acquisition by Sean Marks.  Be it coincidence or by design, he has now acquired the second and third overall selections of the 2015 NBA draft.  The Los Angeles Lakers selected Russell, now 21-years old, with the second overall pick ahead of Okafor.  The Nets acquire another young player with high upside, who fits in perfectly with this rebuild - not to mention a second round pick perhaps being the sweetest aspect of this latest deal.

Coach Atkinson and Flatbush fans must first play the waiting game before seeing them share the same floor.  Okafor is no doubt rusty, and will require time before regaining real game conditioning.  Meanwhile, there is still no timetable on D'Angelo Russell's return as he continues recovering from mid-November knee surgery.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Devils vs. Rangers: Battle of the Hudson - II

From the desks of:


Series Tied 1-1
I - NJD 3; NYR 2
II - NYR 5; NJD 2

Devils      2
Rangers  5

If you were like me, just hoping the Rangers poor start would result in Alain Vigneault's dismissal, I'm afraid we'll now need to wait a little longer.

After starting the season 4-7-2 in October, the Blueshirts rebounded to post a 9-3-0 record in November.  They are 3-1-0 so far in December, having recently earned six important points against division foes Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Newark on Friday.  That makes the Rangers 12-4-0 since the 2nd of November, elevating them from the bottom of the Metropolitan Division to within five points of the first place Columbus Blue Jackets.

With Friday's 5-2 victory over the Devils at the Garden, the Rangers now own a 16-11-2 record.

The Rangers remaining nine December games will no doubt test their collective mettle.  They'll be hosting the Stars, Kings, Ducks, Maple Leafs, and Capitals, then travel for games against the Senators, Bruins, Devils, and Red Wings.

The Rangers have excelled at home with a 12-5-2 record, and will now host their first games of the season against Dallas, the Kings, and Ducks.  They'll also be looking to avenge a blowout loss in just the second game of the season against the Maple Leafs, and their recent loss against the Capitals.

The Sens, Bruins, and Red Wings, meanwhile, will all be looking to avenge previous road losses against the visiting Rangers, who own a sub par 4-6-0 record on the road.  They will also be visiting Newark for their third encounter against the Devils.

The Rangers have been surging minus the services of center Mika Zibanejad, who Friday missed his fifth straight game (concussion protocol) stemming from a Nov. 24 hit incurred against the Detroit Red Wings.

That being said, if you regularly follow Raise Gresch With The Greats, you know one of my pet peeves is Mats Zuccarello leading the team in points.  It's always been my contention that points to greater Rangers troubles and needs (lack of a top flight center).  I love Zucs, but my point is he shouldn't be leading a this team in points ahead of Rick Nash and Chris Kreider - two of the teams ultimate underachievers.

Rick Nash routinely leads the Rangers in shots of goal.  He leads again with 91 SOGs, yet has only registered seven goals and eight assists to date.  Kreider is second on the team with 74 SOGs, and at least is one of four Rangers with double-digit goals (10), but is nevertheless lagging behind his skill set with 17 points in 29 games played.  MatZucs, on the other hand, has seven goals and 17 points, and it the only one of the three with a positive +/- rating.

Henrik Lundqvist registered his 419th career victory Friday evening, tying him with Tony Esposito for second most wins by a goalie with one franchise.  With four more victories, Lundqvist will also tie Tony Esposito (423) for eighth place on the NHL's all-time career victory list.


The Devils for much of the first quarter season have surprisingly jockeyed back and forth for first place of the Metropolitan Division with Columbus.  Newark jumped out to an early 8-2-0 record in October, but have trended the other way with an 8-7-4 record since.  They've recently dipped to third place behind the re-emergent Capitals, but still only trail the first place Blue Jackets by three points.

They are 2-3 in December, after losing two straight against the Blue Jackets and Rangers.  However, Friday's lost against the Rangers at the Garden was only Newark's fourth regulation time road loss of the season.  They're lagging with a 6-5-2 record at home, but own a 10-4-2 on the road.

Prior to Friday's game against the Rangers, Cory Schneider started both games of a home/home series against Columbus.  He limited the Blue Jackets to just one goal on 42 SOGs on Dec. 5, but then allowed five goals on just 28 SOGs three days later.  Keith Kinkaid made his tenth appearance of the season against the Rangers, allowing five goals on 35 shots against.

Since arriving, defensive acquisition Sami Vatanen is leading Newark blueliners with 22:10 average ice time, but is presently a minus-five, with just five SOGs, in five games so far for the Devils.  Centerman Adam Henrique, meanwhile, is thriving with a plus-two, three goals, and three assists, during his five games with Anaheim.

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen

Thanksgiving Day
Week Twelve
Week Thirteen

Week Thirteen Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  72-90-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -13

  • AFC - The battle for the AFC South is still neck and neck between the Titans and Jaguars.  Expect one or the other to secure the first Wild Card spot.  Baltimore (7-5) would presently qualify as the second Wild Card.  There's four teams following the Ravens with 6-6 records.  Then come the Jets, Dolphins, and Bengals, with 5-7 records.  The Patriots and Steelers, meanwhile, continue cruising along in the AFC East and North with respective 10-2 records.
  • NFC - Keep an eye on the Eagles/Rams game.  I said the Seahawks and Rams would expose Philly.  It's now LAR's turn.  Otherwise, the Eagles own a comfortable four game lead in the NFC East.  The Seahawks keep pushing the Rams in the NFC West, leaving first place LAR with little room for error. The Saints are barely clinging to first place in the NFC South after losing Thursday to the Falcons, and dropping two of their last three.  Panthers can force a tie with the Saints with a victory over the Vikings.  The Vikings in turn continue leading the NFC North with little resistance from the Lions and Packers.  The two Wild Cards will likely emerge from the South or West.

  • Gronk got off light for his actions last week against the Bills.  And the optic of Tom Brady screaming at his OC was clearly negative.  They clearly belong in the greater double-standards debate.
  • Roger Goodell wins; Jerry Jones loses.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Cowboys -3 1/2 (GIANTS)
Eli is back in the saddle again, but I'm not so sure that changes much.  The offensive line is still what it is.  The Giants defense played well last week against the underachieving Raiders, but don't count on them having much left in the tank.  Dak Prescott is learning to keep his cool in the absence of Ezekiel Elliott.  Cowboys secondary will need to be completely inept in order for GMen to pull this out.

Jets -1 (BRONCOS)
The Jets are only 5-7 but feeling really good about themselves.  They play hard for Todd Bowles and have indeed exceeded expectations this season.  I like Leonard Williams' chances of getting hold of Trevor Siemian.  After a few days of self-reflection, perhaps Muhammad Wilkerson opts to get naysayers off his back with a redeeming effort.

Lions PK (BUCS)
The Bucs had lofty expectations this season.  How did that work out?  They are 4-8 against the spread.  Straight up, I think the Lions are better.  Stafford has a hand injury, though.  You've been warned.

BENGALS -6 (Bears)
Not comfortable laying six here, but I have zero confidence in the Bears.  This is my stay away game of the week because Bengals have a history under Marvin Lewis for losing huge games at home.

BILLS -7 (Colts)* Saturday Line
This game was Pick Em on Friday.  Weather conditions in Buffalo will put the indoor Colts at a disadvantage.

Seahawks +3 (JAGUARS)
Jags are really good at stopping the run.  Only problem is Seattle has no intention of rushing much.  Experience and Russell Wilson get the Seahawks over.  I like what Russell did last week against the Eagles.

CHIEFS -4 (Raiders)
Look who all of a sudden is in a three way tie for first place!  The Chiefs have lost four straight against somewhat crappy teams.  I'm thinking Andy Reid is too good a coach too allow this streak to hit five.  They really are better than they've shown.  Raiders were woefully unimpressive against a moribund Giants team.  Obviously no surprise if the Raiders win, though.

Vikings -3 (PANTHERS)
Okay, I've tried putting the whammy on Minnesota twice this season and got burned each time.  I get it.  In the meantime, Carolina is obviously good, however, Cam Newton's bipolar season continues...

Packers -3 (BROWNS)
At 6-6, the Packers still have a lot to play for.  They'd love to win and potentially get Aaron Rogers back next week.

TEXANS -3 (49ers)
Pretty standard ... home team laying three points.  But Houston is actually 7-5 vs spread.  I'll take that as Niners still need more than Jimmy Garoppolo.

CHARGERS -6 (D.C. Hogs)
After starting the season 0-4, the Bolts have gone 6-2 since, and are winners of three in a row.  They know the AFC West is now up for grabs especially considering the Chiefs/Raiders game.  So I'm sure the LAC wanna maximize this game against the Hogs, who were a complete a mess last week against the Cowboys.

Titans -3 (CARDINALS)
I've consistently treated the Titans points differential as a red flag.  Yet here they are still tied for first place.  Therefore, I'm going with the team with something to play for over the team with more problems than a math book.  If this game were in Tennessee, the Titans would be favored by at least six.

RAMS -2 1/2 (Eagles)
I said last week the Seahawks and Rams would prove to be Philly's truest test of the regular season.  Eagles failed last week, and they'll fall again this week.

Ravens +5 1/2 (Steelers)
The Steelers should be be favored by -4 at best.  Counting on Baltimore keeping this close in what should be a second straight bar brawl for the Steelers.

Schmear of the Week:
Jets -1

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday, everybody!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Brooklyn Nets: Honorable Carpetbagger Pokes Fun At Fan

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Oklahoma City Thunder
Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets: Correction ... This Mayor de Blasio Thing Isn't Working Out.

Mayor de Blasio was at a Queens town hall meeting on Tuesday where he addressed one particular gentleman wearing a Brooklyn Nets jacket as reported by the NYPost, and told him without solicitation, "I'm from Brooklyn too, but this Brooklyn Nets idea has not been working out as it was planned, so I admire you for sticking with them."

Once the Brooklyn Nets got wind of this, they took to Twitter:

Well said!

I wonder if  he would have uttered such nonsense before the recent election.

In any event, Mayor de Blasio may own property in Park Slope, and he may have lived here for ten years or so.  But make no mistake, Mayor Bill de Blasio is no Brooklynite.  Not by a long shot.

A Boston rooting damn carpetbagger is what he is!

He's taken numerous jabs at our local teams over the years.  It's my opinion you just don't so that.  When you mess with the fandom of NYC's sports teams, you tug at the emotional heartstrings of millions of fans (who probably don't like him to begin with).

Do you think Giants fans ever forgave Mayor Koch for refusing to host a parade after Super Bowl XXI?

I haven't.

The rest of New England has a special name for people from Massachusetts.  I'm sure the Mayor knows what it is.  Since I try running a PG operation here, I'll keep it to myself and let him use his imagination instead.

Now, about that working out thing ...

There are nine NBA teams presently operating at or above full capacity.  The next group of nine are operating within the ninety percentile range, the Knicks being among them, playing before 96% capacity crowds.  That leaves 12 teams operating below 90% capacity.

The Nets are tied for 25th in the league, averaging 15,222 fans through the first ten home games of the season.  That translates to 84% capacity.  That's a slight down tick from last year's 85.2% capacity, when the Nets averaged 15,429 through 41 dates.

I won't lie - it's aggravating as all hell, and even somewhat painful to see the Boston Celtics jumping out to an early Eastern Conference lead, particularly on the heels of his Honor's comments, but primarily because of all those draft picks the Celtics pillaged from the Nets (as part of Billy King's ill conceived Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade).

While I give Mikhail Prokhorov credit for stepping in when he did, and for saying all the right things along the way, his varying levels of commitment have indeed been troubling.

I just don't like hearing it from the Mayor.

Leave that to us.  Thank you very much.

Otherwise, the Nets are still third in the conference in scoring, averaging 109.8 points per game.  However, they still can't get it together defensively.  Flatbush is last in the conference and second to last in the league, having allowed an average of 112.3 points per, through 23 games.

We Brooklynites are generous people, but c'mon.  Defense is an effort thing, and I like Coach Atkinson.  So what is there to say, but to keep at it, continue this rebuild, and keep grinding!

On that note, Bill, the Nets have won three of their last five games.  If you haven't heard by now, they will be in Mexico City representing !Brooklyn! as they play Oklahoma City tonight, then Saturday against Miami.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds Turn Away Stony Brook

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Would the owner of a blue and red bus blocking traffic
at the intersection of Church Avenue and Flatbush Avenue please move!

Stony Brook     71
LIU/Brooklyn  75

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Flatbush Wins Second Straight; Remain Unbeaten At Home.

With Monday's victory over Stony Brook, the LIU Blackbirds improved to 3-3 over their last six games, and 4-6 overall.  Better yet, they've won two straight, and are now 3-0 at home.

Despite trailing 34-38 at halftime, LIU outscored the visiting Seawolves 41-33 in the second half to come away with a 75-71 victory.

A pair of Joel Hernandez free throws put the Blackbirds up by seven with seven minutes left to play.  But a Stony Brook steal and a dunk at the other end tied the score 65-65 with three and a half minutes to go.  Raiquan Clark would later scored on a fast break at the 2:01 mark off a defensive rebound by Julian Batts to put LIU ahead for good.  Jashaun Agosto's three with 0:15 second left would ultimately seal the deal for Brooklyn.

Both teams shot an identical 6/17 (35%) from beyond the three, both scored 42 points in the paint, and both committed 18 turnovers.  The Seawolves pulled down just one more rebound than did the Blackbirds, but outpaced the Blackbirds 21-13 on points off turnovers. 

LIU maintained their composure and closed out the Seawolves by converting five of eight free throw attempts over the final three minutes.

Coach Kellogg ran a tight ship again, going with an eight man rotation for the second time in LIU's last three games.  Four Blackbirds logged over thirty minutes. 

Joel Hernandez led all scorers with 23 points, while Julian Batts led the floor with nine rebounds.  Raiquan Clark added 20 points and six rebounds.

Sophomore forward Julius Van Sauers scored 16 points and secured six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.  He was 6/7 from the floor, connected on a three, and was a perfect 3/3 from the line.


After a well deserved break, the Blackbirds will resume play with two games at Barclays Center against Fairfield University and Saint Peter's University.

N.Y. Giants: Owners Pull Plug On Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Cleaning House!

New York Giants: Owners John Mara and Steve Tisch Decide It's Time To Make Wholesale Changes.

John Mara confirmed what many fans like myself suspected - it was Ben McAdoo's idea to bench Eli Manning all along.

Sure, Mr. Mara acknowledged he could have easily put a stop to it, and took full responsibility for the poor manner in which things were handled.  In fact, he went as far as consulting with partner Steven Tisch, and together they decided it was time to make wholesale changes!

Giants President John Mara announced on Monday Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese have been dismissed respectively as head coach and general manager of the New York Giants.


Heaven forbid Ben McAdoo tailor a system more suitable to Eli Manning's style.

Good coaches do that.  Stubborn, ideological ones, do not.

Since his first day as offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo has been pushing his West Coast dope on Eli Manning, and till the very end sniveled when things went badly.

McAdoo seemingly didn't have much to say last season when Eli led the Giants to an 11-5 record and a return to the playoffs.  He somehow had even less to say regarding his wide receivers' ill advised trip to South Beach just before said playoff game, then offered absolutely nothing during the post-game in response to Odell turning in his worst performance as a professional.

He once again refused this season to take up issue with Beckham after infamously impersonating a dog peeing in the end zone during a game against Philadelphia.  McAdoo has also steadfastly refused to acknowledge any hints of poor play on behalf of the offensive line, and tried minimizing the numerous injuries among the receivers at every turn.

Instead, McAdoo used his words to levy criticism after criticism against Eli Manning.  He even seemly threw his proverbial hands in the air by handing off play calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.  But at no time did McAdoo ever once claim responsibility for his own flawed methodology.  He'd much rather have blamed Eli Manning for not carrying the Giants offense like Aaron Rogers carries that of the Packers ... when Rogers is on the field, that is.

Eli, on the other hand, started 210 straight games until Ben McAdoo stepped in.

Once the Giants were mathematically eliminated from this year's playoffs, Ben the Outsider with no real connection to Giants tradition and history, thought it wise to suggest benching the organization's greatest ever quarterback in favor of Geno Smith, or perhaps more accurately, someone better suited to play his awkward style of West Coast nonsense.

All that being said, Jerry Reese signed off on McAdoo's folly.  Generally speaking, though, he put Ben McAdoo in a position to fail, just as he put Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin in positions to fail during their latter days as OC and head coach of the New York Giants.

What started well for Jerry Reese has ended horribly.  The organizational torch was passed to him after the 2006 season by former general manager Ernie Accorsi.  After a fruitful 2007 draft the Giants promptly won a Super Bowl.  Four years later Reese squeezed out the last bit of goodness from the fruits of Ernie Accorsi's labors in capturing yet another Super Bowl.  After which, Jerry Reese failed to sustain the organization's competitiveness.

The Giants indeed spiraled out of relevance.  Ineffective drafting, prohibitive manipulation of the salary cap, and Jerry Reese's over-reliance on free agency have cost the organization dearly.  His inability to replenish and resupply the roster with representative talent has resulted in a 41-51 record since 2012 through the present time, three times posting double-digit losses.

Ben McAdoo deserved to get fired based on the merits of his own shortcomings.  Jerry Reese, because he set the conditions.


That's what the billboard along Route 80 in New Jersey said, and John Mara heard it loud and clear. 

I'll hold off on critiquing his performance during all this for another post. 

In the mean time, Mara is a business man.  Four games remain in the Giants season, and three are at home.  Mara is no fool either, and knew better to stave off a Big Blue maelstrom.  Prominent former Giants players were threatening to parade the sidelines this week wearing Eli Manning #10 jerseys.  Ownership also ran the risk of season ticket holders selling the balance of their games, thus turning MetLife Stadium into the Big Blue Pit of Misery.  It may already be too late for some.  I'm sure in the coming games there will be more Cowboys and Redskins jerseys than usual. 

The question now becomes, how many more than usual?

Monday, December 04, 2017

N.Y. Yankees: Brian Cashman Selects Aaron Boone To Lead New Generation

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Joe Girardi was last major vestige of the old Evil Empire

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone Named First Manager In Brian Cashman's New Bronx Order.

Aaron Boone Becomes 33rd Manager in History of the Yankees

Future baseball historians may look back on Joe Girardi's dismissal as the day the old Evil Empire exhausted its final breath.

Girardi was not oblivious to the transforming realities encircling him.  Game fundamentals and the science of baseball itself have been undergoing changes throughout this new millennium.  The former Yankees manager was living it, thinking he was up to speed, and that everything was just fine.

Why wouldn't he?

As the former catcher for a modern dynasty, who other than Girardi understood the pressures of having to meet the Boss' high expectations, or performing to Bronx Cheer for that matter?  Who among available candidates could match his wealth of first hand knowledge and practical experience?

After managing the Yankees through ten straight winning seasons, overseeing the organization's lone member of the 3,000 hit club, a Rookie of the Year winner, first ballot Hall of Famers, capturing the 2009 World Series championship, and most recently knocking off the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians, who among the pool of potentially available managerial candidates could possibly have been more qualified to replace Joe?

In more recent years, Girardi also believes he had sufficiently demonstrated an ability to not only evolve with the pace of baseball's changing trends with a willingness to embrace and apply front office metrics, but had also expressed his openness for continuing in the redefining of 21st century operational relationships between front office and field managing.

Ironically, as it relates to this off-season's turn of events, Joe also won Manager of the Year honors in 2006 for the way he guided Miami's young players.  It's no wonder, then, he ended the 2017 season under the impression that he'd been establishing positive relationships and communicating quite well with the Yankees younger players.

Joe Girardi's resume can otherwise be captured in three words: The perfect fit.

Only he wasn't; not here; not anymore.

In my opinion, Brian Cashman decided to move on two years ago.  The optic emanating from the dugout spoke volumes.  Girardi was suddenly a granite symbol of the old imperial system; a lingering relic of the old republic; an immovable triumphal arch smack in the middle of a modern dugout; and ultimately something very ancient and somewhat strange to an even newer generation of players whom no longer understood Latin.  Fairly or not, everything on Joe Girardi's resume screamed old school.

Generations have passed.  My parents were Baby Boomers, making me a Generation X'er.  I in turn brought a Millennial into the world.  While the new manager of the Yankees will be dealing with many of those, he more importantly will be inheriting Generation Z - teenagers, and those presently old enough to serve in the military, but still too young to legally drink.  These are the upcoming players Aaron Boone is specifically being asked to manage ... in a kinder, gentler way, that many of of old fools from the old school don't quite understand.

Funny ... like me, Girardi and Boone are both Gen-X'ers.  Boone is only nine years younger than Girardi.  I'm somewhere in the middle.  I know Aaron comes a lot cheaper than Girardi does.

Just saying ...

Baseball no doubt courses through Aaron Boone's veins.  His grandfather, father, and brother, all major league players - his pedigree is impeccable.  His coaching and/or managerial experience, however, is nonexistent.

So what's he gonna do, hand out cans of Dr. Pepper?

Six candidates interviewed for the Yankees post: Carlos Beltran, Eric Wedge, Bobby Thompson, Hensley Meulens, Chris Woodward, and Aaron Boone, whom apparently out-shined them all.  In fact, Boone's former colleagues at ESPN are only some of the many that have done nothing but rave about him.

In any event, Brian Cashman continues steering the organization into new uncharted territory.  But make no mistake, the energy of the old empire is not dead.  It is merely being transformed.

This is Brian Cashman's New Bronx Order.

It needn't to make sense to us.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Long Road Home Ends With Victory Over Hartford

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Steinberg Wellness Center

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Home Seemingly Is Where The Wins Are ...

After stumbling out of the gate with consecutive road losses against Tulane and Fordham, the Blackbirds defeated New Rochelle rather handily during their Nov. 14 home opener at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

From there is was off to the Caribbean, where they split a pair of games in the Jamaican Classic at Montego Bay.

LIU then ventured back north into New England, where they dropped games against the University of Massachusetts/Lowell, and Brown University.  After which, a third straight road game ended similarly as the Blackbirds dropped their sixth game of the season this time to NJIT at Newark, New Jersey.

The Blackbirds finally returned home where they defeated the University of Hartford for a second time this season on Thursday.  LIU previously escaped with an 86-84 win at Montego Bay, then once again edged out the Hawks by an even closer one point margin of victory.

Joel Hernandez' short range jumper put the Blackbirds up by six with 01:30 left in the game.  But a Hartford layup and a pair of free throws pulled the Hawks within two points by the 00:27 second mark. 

After Jashaun Agosto's free throw put the Blackbirds up three again, Hartford's Travi Weatherington's three-pointer tied the game with just five seconds left in the game.  But with just one second left, Joel Hernandez connected on one two free throws, sealing LIU's 79-78 victory over Hartford.

Joel Hernandez posted a double-double, leading the floor with a game high 27 points, to go along with ten rebounds.

Next up: The Blackbirds host the Stony Brook Seawolves on Monday at the Steinberg Wellness Center.  LIU will then shift base camp over Barclays Center for a Dec. 10 game against Fair field, and a Dec. 17 game against Saint Peter's.

They'll travel to play Binghamton, then return back to the Steinberg Wellness Center where they'll kick off their NEC schedule with games against Fairleigh Dickinson, and Mount St, Mary's.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Thirteen

Week Thirteen

Thanksgiving Day
Week Twelve

Week Twelve Record:  6-9
Overall Record:  67-81-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

1st and Ten:
  • It's gut check time for Philadelphia.  Since they're not experiencing any resistance from within their own division, we now get to see what the 10-1 Eagles are really all about.  This week and next, they will be facing their toughest competition of the season to date.  Their performance against the Seahawks and Rams, both on the road, will either validate their season, or start emboldening naysayers.  In turn, the Eagles next two games will also go a long way towards deciding the NFC West.  Seattle beat the Rams earlier this season, and the two face off again in three weeks.
  • The Battle for the NFC South is on!  With 8-3 records, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers are tied for first place.  Saints are favored by four.  They previously defeated the Panthers 34-13 in Week Three.
  • It's time for the Jacksonville Jaguars to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South.  Tied with the Jags with a 7-4 record, the Titans sport a -24 point differential.  The Jaguars on the other hand, have allowed the fewest points in the NFL, and are fourth in the AFC in scoring.
  • The Patriots, Steelers, and Vikings, continue traveling along paths of least resistance.

2nd and Long:
  • With five games remaining in the regular season, the second place Bills, Ravens, and Lions, are all three games behind their respective division leaders.

No Gain:
  • The AFC West is an absolute mess.  Despite losing five of their last six games, the Chiefs still lead the division with a 6-5 record.  With no shot at winning a Wild Card spot, the Chargers and Raiders, both with 5-6 records, can still emerge as division winners.

  • After making 210 consecutive starts at quarterback, the head coach and front office of the New York Giants have decided to bench Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith.  Giants owner John Mara said he underestimated the backlash.  C'mon, man!
ICYMI: Giants Decide Eli No Longer The Mann..

Friday Line ~ NYDN

RAIDERS -9 (Giants)
Two words: Geno Smith.  Giants front office is gonna learn a sad lesson in bad karma.
Loss  24-17 Raiders

Chiefs -3 (JETS)
The free falling Chiefs need to pull themselves together, and fast.  Therefore, I'll base this pick on desperation.  As well(?) as the Jets have battled this season, they are coming off a very disheartening loss.  Any Jets win would be very counter-productive at this point, and that's exactly why I wouldn't bet against them.  Stay away!
Loss  38-31 Jets

Lions +3 (RAVENS)
Blame this one on NFL scheduling.  Lions should have worked off all that Thanksgiving turkey by now.  Ravens are coming off a Monday night game.  Never know which Joe Flacco shows up these days.
Loss  44-20 Ravens

BEARS -3 1/2 (49ers)
Jimmy Garoppolo will start for the Niners!  So what.  Bears should still be able to muster a win at home.
Loss  15-14 Niners

FALCONS -3 (Vikings)
Tough call ... toughest of the day.  I like Minny in my heart; they've won seven in a row.  But the Falcons are finally starting to click again.  They've won three in a row.  I'll go with the home team and a little luck.
Loss  14-9 Vikings

Patriots -9 (BILLS)
Patriots are averaging 13 points allowed over their last seven games.  Bills won't be breaking that trend.
WIN  23-3 Patriots

DOLPHINS +1 1/2 (Broncos)
There's bad, then there's worse.  Miami has lost five in a row, but the Broncos have lost seven in a row.  This boils down to which team cares less, or more, or at all?  A game otherwise perfectly suited for London.  Jay Cutler is back for the Sea Mammals.  Be sure and bet the children's college fund.
WIN  35-9 Dolphins

Texans +7 (TITANS)
I still say the Titans are pretenders.  We'll see.
Loss  24-13 Titans

JAGUARS -10 (Colts)
See Titans game ... Jags will take over sole possession of the AFC South.  Colts and Hogs are the only two teams so far to have surrendered over 300 points this season.
WIN  30-10 Jaguars

Bucs +1 (PACKERS)
When the Packers are only laying one point, at home, in December, you know there's something wrong.
Loss  26-20 Packers

SAINTS -4 (Panthers)
Panthers still look like they're sipping on the cat nip.  Take the Saints with confidence.
WIN  31-21 Saints

CHARGERS -14 (Browns)
After two big wins, the Bolts are suddenly energized again.  I'll take the hot hand against the Browns who are just 2-9 against the spread this season.  Duh!
Loss  19-10 Chargers

Arizona is good at stopping the run.  But I can't come up with two reasons why the Cardinals might make this close.
WIN  32-16 Rams

Eagles -6 (SEAHAWKS)
Vegas is daring people to overlook the Seahawks.  I believe Philly gets it done this week on defense.  If they keep Russell Wilson trapped in the pocket, Seattle's noise pollution issues won't matter.
Loss  24-10 Seahawks

Schmear of the Week:
Rams -7

There will be no Guten Appetit this week.  Too many chores.

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday, everyone.

Post Game:
Week Thirteen Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  72-90-4
Schmear of the Week:  8-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -13

Thursday, November 30, 2017

N.J. Devils: Adam Henrique Traded For Anaheim Blue Liner Sami Vatanen

From the desk of:  THE BRICK CITY STYX

Play of centermen Hischier and Gibbons 
allows Ray Shero to shore-up defense.

New Jersey Devils: Ray Shero Acquires Defenseman Sami Vatanen From Anaheim Ducks In Exchange For Crowd Favorite Adam Henrique.

Savvy transaction by general manager Ray Shero - center Adam Henrique and winger Joseph Blandisi are heading to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Sami Vatanen.

I'm sure Devils fans were just as surprised upon hearing about the trade as Henrique was reported to be.  Adam, a team alternate captain who turns 28-years old in February, played six full seasons in a Devils uniform after being selected by Newark in the third round of the 2008 entry draft.  He posted a career high 30 goals and 50 points just two seasons ago. 

His departure leaves team captain Andy Greene, and Travis Zajac, as the last two remaining members of the Devils 2011-12 playoff team.  Newark has not qualified for the playoffs since.

Despite losing Kyle Palmieri (foot) for six weeks, the emergence of last year's number one overall selection, Nico Hischier, and the return to the ice of center Travis Zajac, arguably rendered Adam Henrique somewhat expendable.  Newark has been getting good efforts up the middle.  Hischier has five goals and 18 points through 24 games thus far, while Brian Gibbons has netted a team leading 11 goals (15 points).  Overall, the Devils are currently ninth in the league in scoring, while Henrique has only accounted for four goals (and ten assists) in 24 games.

Joseph Blandini has split time between Newark and Binghamton over the last two seasons.  As part of the deal, the Devils will also send their 2018 third round pick to Anaheim.  If the Ducks are able to re-sign Henrique, the Devils will receive Anaheim's 2019 third round pick.

In return, the Devils receive 26-year old Sami Vatanen, considered a top-four defenseman.  New Jersey is currently 17th in goals against.  Vatanen is someone Ray Shero believes can add an offensive element from the blue line.  Anaheim's fourth round selection of the 2009 entry draft, Sami Vatanen posted a career high 12 goals in 2014-15, and a career high 29 assists and 38 points the following season.  He owns a career +22 with 126 points over 280 games played.

The move comes on the heels of Newark's Nov. 12 setback, with defenseman Mirco Mueller suffering a broken clavicle.  He underwent surgery, and is not expected back until February.  Ray Shero acquired Mueller during the off-season from San Jose in exchange for the Devils 2017 second and fourth round picks.

The Devils have spent much of the first-quarter regular season in first place, but have slipped of late.  After jumping out to an 8-2-0 record in October, they stumbled to a 6-4-4 mark in November, highlighted by four straight loses against Calgary, St. Louis, and a pair against Edmonton.

New Jersey and the New York Islanders are presently tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 32 points, one point behind the leading Columbus Blue Jackets.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

N.Y. Giants: Ben McAdoo Decides Eli No Longer The Mann

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Ben McAdoo twice watched Eli Manning defeat his Green Bay Packers 
en route to winning the Super Bowl and being named MVP each time.

New York Giants: In What I Can Only Describe As An Act of Supreme Folly, Head Coach Ben McAdoo Culminates Season Long Criticisms of Eli Manning By Benching Greatest Quarterback in Team History.

Ben McAdoo served as the Green Bay Packers tight ends coach between 2006 through 2011, then served as quarterbacks coach through the 2013 season.  During his time there, he won a ring and enjoyed a daily up-close look at two of the games all-time great quarterbacks.

As tight ends coach, McAdoo was in Green Bay for Brett Favre's final two seasons with the Packers.  His arrival, however, came the season after Favre led the NFL with 29 interceptions.  So perhaps that matter escaped him once bewitched by the likes of Aaron Rogers.  Only Ben McAdoo was still tight ends coach when Rogers led Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory in 2010 over Pittsburgh.

Rogers had been starting for four seasons prior to McAdoo's promotion to quarterbacks coach.  Therefore, how much did he actually contribute towards Rogers' continuing development during their two years working together?

By 2012 and 2013, Jerry Reese's failures as Giants general manager were making desperate people out of head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.  The latter would become the first scapegoat, and after the 2013 season was replaced as offensive coordinator with Ben McAdoo.

At that point, Eli Manning was coming off the third season of his career in which he led NFL in interceptions.  I chalk up most of that to Kevin Gilbride's aggressive down field passing.  He and Eli routinely led the league in most yards attempted per pass play.

Enter Ben McAdoo, who institutes a rather awkward style of West Coast offense.  During his two seasons as coordinator, Eli set career highs in pass attempts (albeit much shorter attempts), career highs in yardage, career highs in completion percentage, and in 2015 threw a career high 35 TD passes.

That's all fine and well.  But Jerry Reese's continuing failures as general manager nonetheless resulted in back-to-back 6-10 seasons requiring a second scapegoat, namely Tom Coughlin.

Ben McAdoo was then elevated to the position of head coach following the 2015 season.  And as we know, Jerry Reese spent money like a drunken sailor trying to reinvigorate a moribund defense.  And for a season, it worked.  The Giants actually fielded one of the league's best defenses, and carried over Super Bowl aspirations heading into the preseason.

McAdoo, however, would inevitably become the latest victim of Jerry Reese's machinations as were Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride before him.  Much of the Giants present situation indeed falls on the general manager.

So why was it that Ben McAdoo would unleash harsh criticisms towards Eli Manning during the opening weeks of this season?  In fact, he's implied in more ways than one how Eli doesn't quite fit his system.

And there's the rub ...

When your quarterback is getting sacked within three seconds or less, when he's been sacked at least 50 times in his last 28 games, there is no freakin system!

When the general manager has no interest in rebuilding the offensive line and reestablishing a respectable rushing threat, there's no system.

When you're the second head coach guilty of turning a blind eye every time Odell Beckham insults the 90-plus years of Giants tradition and lifts his leg to decorum, there is no system.  How could there be with faux suspensions, and no repercussions for players guilty of giving up?  Ben McAdoo lost his locker room.  He did.  There's no disputing that fact.  Massage the situation all you want.  There are players whom quit on him.  It is what it is.

If the Giants are 2-9 this season, Jerry Reese is certainly to blame.  All other attempts at change have failed.  And so at the end of this season, he must go.

McAdoo must surely follow because Tuesday's decision to bench Eli Manning is just absurd.  If I'm not mistaken, he watched up close as Eli Manning and the Giants beat Farve and his Green Bay Packers in that epic arctic NFC championship game of 2007, then watched Eli Manning and the Giants defeat his precious Aaron Rogers and the Packers again four years later.  Each time Eli went on to win Super Bowl MVP honors.  Yet, McAdoo has determined benching Eli Manning is in the best interest of the team, and a Giant first step towards a better tomorrow.

He is benching Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith of all people, which is complete folly.  Davis Webb is expected to get some reps over the final weeks of the season as well.  But what can be learned about him when he will most certainly be playing under extreme duress due to the Giants inept offensive line?  Not to mention, if the Giants indeed continue their losing ways, they will surely utilize what could end up being a top four draft pick on an available quarterback.  So what exactly is the point?

Eli Manning, who this season became only the seventh quarterback in NFL history to surpass 50,000 yards passing, whose streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts is second only to Brett Farve, is being pushed aside in favor of Geno Smith?


Dan Reeves was an outsider who once dictated when the Giants career of Phil Simms would end.  Now we have another outsider, Ben McAdoo, triggering the demise of Eli Manning.

Week thirteen ... Eli ... clip board duty.


Damn tight ends coach.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Twelve

Week Twelve

Thanksgiving Day

Week Eleven Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  61-72-4
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

  • NFC Showdown Alert: Drew Brees and the first place Saints vs. Jared Goff and the first place Los Angeles Rams.
  • Eagles lead NFL with 320 PPG; Rams are 2nd with 303 ppg; Saints are third with 302ppg.  The Patriots are fourth, and lead the AFC with 290 points.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Panthers -4 1/2 (JETS)
Both teams are coming off their bye week.  If this were a little earlier in the season, I would have given the Jets a better chance.  Even if Gang Green bottlenecks Carolina's run game, bipolar Cam is coming on strong of late.
WIN  35-27 Panthers

Browns +8 (BENGALS)
The Bengals usually destroy the Browns, but getting Marvin Lewis fired still seems to be their season long priority.  The Bengals are additionally right on schedule for their annual colossally disappointing losses at home, only this season they have little left to play for.  The Browns may be 0-10 this season, but they have not gone down without a fight.  I'll take the points.  A Browns victory should surprise no one.
Loss  30-16 Bengals

EAGLES -13 1/2 (Bears)
Chicago's offense will give the ball back to the Eagles, who in turn will steamroll the Bears overtaxed defense.  Repeat process several times.
WIN  31-3 Eagles

PATRIOTS -16 1/2 (Dolphins)
The Patriots are back home after playing in Mexico City.  Jet lag may slow them down a little.  Then again, they've been home all week.  In any event, we're getting into the time of year when Team Belichick likes to run up the score against opponents ... just because.  Oh, and Jay Cutler is out for Chicago.
WIN  35-17 Patriots

Bills +10 (CHIEFS)
There's reason to believe Andy Reid can fix what ails the Chiefs lately.  The Bills are just plain stupid (see QB situation), and injured to boot.  Amazingly, Buffalo is still in the Wild Card picture.  They'll play desperately, but lose nonetheless.
WIN  16-10 Bills

Bucs +10 (FALCONS)
I've been waiting for the Falcons to snap out of their funk all season.  They played a depleted Seattle defense last week making it tough determining whether they've truly awoken.  Bucs have been a general disappointment this season, and are coming off dubious victories over the NYJ and Miami Mammals.  This is a division game with major implications for both.  The Bucs will be without QB Winston, but I think they can still play representative defense here, and stay close enough to cover.
Loss  34-20 Falcons

COLTS +3 (Titans)
Time to write the Titans off.  The Colts get their revenge for an earlier loss at Tennessee.  In their last two games, Indy beat the Texans, then barley lost against the Steelers.  The Titans on the other hand were recently blown out 40-17 by the Steelers.
Loss  20-16 Titans

49ERS +6 1/2 (Seahawks)
In nine games prior to their victory over the Giants, the Niners average margin of defeat was 10.6 points per game.  Consider three of those losses resulted in blowouts of 20 point margins or more.  However, in five of their nine losses, the Niners lost by an average of just 2.6 points per game.
Loss  24-13 Seahawks

Saints +2 1/2 (RAMS)
The Rams have partly benefited from a light schedule.  Some would say they were exposed during last week's game against Minnesota.  The Saints also lost to Minnesota way back in Week One, then fell to the Pats in Week Two.  They are 8-0 since, and will roll to their ninth straight victory.
Loss  26-20 Rams

Jaguars -5 (CARDINALS)
Yuck!  I'd stay away from this game.  Either way you look at this, one pick-six and POOF! there goes an otherwise no-brainer.
Loss  27-24 Cardinals

RAIDERS -5 (Broncos)
At least the Raiders still have something to play for.  I'd even consider this a best bet.
WIN  21-14 Raiders

STEELERS -14 (Packers)
Outside of two early seasons losses against the Bears and Jaguars, the Steelers have defeated everyone they were supposed to beat.  If they feed off the home crowd, they should easily cover.  They've put up 109 points in their last four games.  Meanwhile, the Packers have allowed 96 points in their last four games.
Loss  31-28 Steelers

Schmear of the Week: (6-5)
Panthers -4 1/2

Guten Appetit:
Food ... really?

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday, everyone!

Week Twelve Record (w/Thanksgiving):  6-9
Overall Record:  67-81-4
Schmear of the Week:  7-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Thanksgiving Day


Week Twelve


Week Eleven Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  61-72-4
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -12

LIONS +3 (Vikings)
Never bet against the Lions, at home, on Thanksgiving Day.  It's been that way since I'm a kid.  I have a hunch the Lions win if their defense shows up hungry.

FLAG on the Pick!

Upon further review, I'll be siding with the Vikings instead.  I know the Lions beat the Vikes earlier this season.  But the Lions followed that up with consecutive losses against the Panthers, Saints, and Steelers.  Then went on to defeat Green Bay minus Aaron Rogers, the lowly Browns, and the sickly Bears.  Not impressed ... the Vikings should indeed be three-point favorites, damn it!  They've earned that respect.  I'm taking Vikings laying three on the road.
WIN  30-23 Vikings

COWBOYS Pick'em (Chargers)
The Chargers stuck some voltage into Buffalo, didn't they?  About that - Generally speaking, the AFC is the weaker conference.  There are only five teams playing above .500 and LAC isn't one of them.  Instead, they're among six AFC teams with a 4-6 record entering Week Twelve.  Meanwhile the depleted Cowboys got all clawed up last week by the Eagles at Dallas.  Without Ezekiel Elliott, the Boys have fallen to 5-5 and are fading fast.  In fact, they have been outscored 68-16 in their last two games.  The NFC boasts eight teams above the .500 mark, with Philadelphia leading the way.  Therefore, I'll take the team representing the tougher conference.  Dallas still has that offensive line to work with.  It's up to Dak Prescott to put his big boy pants on and prevail with, or without Dez Bryant's help.  With Jason Witten, there's always way.
Loss  28-6 Chargers

Giants +7 (D.C. HOGS)
The Giants still have many good players on the field.  If they commit to Orleans Darkwa and let him rush more than 20 times, that can open up play-action for Eli Manning and the Anonymous Four.  As was the case against the Chiefs, however, the Giants defense will once again need to propel them to victory.  The Hogs are just way too beat up on defense to have any chance of influencing the Giants into playing catch-up football.  I think.  I'm a fan, so what do I know?  All we want is for Big Blue to cover.  Of course we do.  Careful, though, this game could just as easily make you feel sick to your stomach.
Loss  20-10 Hogs

And The Big Blue Film Award Goes To ...
The final six games of the season will determine whether Ben McAdoo has truly thwarted a rebellion (not that it matters, as Jerry Reese and McAdoo are both seemingly in their final games with the Giants).  In the meantime, their Week Eleven performance against the free-falling Chiefs would suggest, for the moment, McAdoo at least has the team's attention.

Well done by him.  When all else fails, break from routine; audible.  It only took him ten weeks, but he did just that after the Giants humiliating Week Ten loss against the Niners.  He made the entire team watch the game film together, as opposed to the offense and defense going their respective ways.

That can be humbling because players were no longer being evaluated by their coach, per se.  The head coach left the players exposed to being judged by the entirety of their piers.  The overall effort in Week Eleven demonstrated a tangible result in McAdoo's tactic.  Smart move; perhaps desperate; maybe even lucky.  If he somehow inspired the Giants into playing for their fellow man again ... freaking brilliant.

I'm very thankful for everyone who has ever spent time visiting this thing I call 
The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, and especially appreciative of those who continue frequenting despite all my flaws and failures as a writer.  Thank You.