Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Devils fall to Rangers in season's first Battle of the Hudson

From the desks of:  


Game One Final
Rangers   4
Devils       3

New Jersey Devils: Life After Marty....

Life after Martin Brodeur has begun in Newark.

With Cory Schneider in net, the Devils opened the season with 3 straight victories.  But after last night's O.T. loss to the Rangers, the Devils have now dropped 3 straight.

As a result, the Devils have slipped behind the Islanders and Rangers in the local area standings.

Islanders   4-2-0   8 pts.
Rangers    4-3-0   8 pts.
Devils       3-2-1   7 pts.

The Devils goalie for most of the last 21 seasons, Martin Brodeur is stuck at 688 career victories - just 12 away from an increasingly elusive 700, but with no team to play for.  He is yet to strike a deal with any team, and none seem to be beating down his door for an autograph either.

The latest rumors have Brodeur connected with Colorado.  That would be something, huh? - if Brodeur wound up playing for Patrick Roy (the goalie whose record he broke).

Jaromir Jagr will turn 43-years old in February.  Last season, he played in 82 games for the Devils, averaged 19:10 minutes per game, and scored 24 goals - his most since the 2007-08 season with the Rangers.

Tuesday night against the Rangers, Jagr scored his first goal of the season, and the 707th goal of his career.  He is presently 7th on the NHL all-time list.  Old Rangers favorite Mike Gartner is next at #6 with 708 career goals.  Within potential reach this season, are #5-Phil Esposito (717) and #4-Marcel Dionne (731).

And then there was one....

When the Devils originally came to town in 1982-83, I was 16-yrs old, and all my (Rangers fan) hatred was already directed towards the Islanders.  So, by the Devils arrival, my attention was piqued more than anything.

The Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies failed, which of course opened the door for Mr. John McMullen to buy the franchise and relocate them.

At the time, the Nets were only recently resettled into the Brendan Byrne Arena, the New Jersey Generals (USFL) were kicking off, and the New York Cosmos were immensely popular.  So, it was perhaps a good time to blend into the Meadowlands and greater metropolitan area sports scene.  I merely felt that a big sports metropolis was just getting bigger.

I came to appreciate guys like Pat Verbeek, Brendan Shanahan, Bruce Driver, John MacLean, Kirk Muller, a rookie named Ken Daneyko, then Peter Stastny.

Had the Devils defeated the Rangers in the 1994 conference finals, and not the other way around, I'm sure I would feel very differently about New Jersey's team today.  For instance, my son's hatred is primarily directed at the Devils, and less so towards the Islanders. That's understandable considering both team's respective histories ever since the Isles last competed for the Cup.

The Rangers won the Cup in 1994, and so I saw no harm in continuing to appreciate certain Devils players, and the overall success they enjoyed through 5 Stanley Cup appearances, and 3 Cup victories (just as long as they weren't playing the Rangers, because you can't be great, without great opponents).

Besides, with the Rangers, Devils and Islanders, it was just cool to be able to watch hockey (in general) every night.

The thing is, you just can not discount the Devils as some Mickey Mouse organization, as Wayne Gretzky once famously did.  And if you're a metropolitan area local of my age, then you watched their entire history (unlike the Islanders, whose earliest years escape my knowledgeable range).

Through those years, Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, MacLean, Daneyko, Scott Niedermeyer, and a few others held my respect.

Lou Lamoriello is easily among the greatest executives NY/NJ teams have ever known.  Scott Stevens is perhaps the toughest defensemen I ever saw play.  Martin Brodeur only become the NHL's all-time wins leader, while John MacLean initially set the organization's offensive records.

And then there was one....  

Patrick Elias is the man who broke John MacLean's club records, and continues to reset the organizational bar.  He is perhaps the last Devil I retain an interest for.  He may also be the last.  For me at least, what started with Pat Verbeek, may end once Patrick Elias retires.

Was I ever a Devils fan?  When they play the Islanders, sure.  Otherwise, no.  Regardless, my son is intolerant of whatever I call it.

Devils wins and losses have never, and do not factor in my life, or general disposition the way the Rangers/Giants/Mets can, and do.  

I'm just a guy who enjoys his surroundings.  Heck, I wish the Islanders were good again just to rekindle that rivalry, and elevate area hockey overall.

New York Rangers: Power Play Finally Lights The Lamp...

Yes, my team.


Just the opposite of the Devils, after losing 3 straight, the Rangers have won 3 in a row.  They entered Tuesday's game on the heels of an impressive 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

The Blueshirts scored 3 unanswered goals against the Devils to gain an (elusive) overtime victory.   Of course, that would not have been possible without Rick Nash's game tying goal in the 3rd period. It was his NHL leading 8th goal of the season.

The Rangers also finally scored on the power play - twice in fact, against the Devils.  They broke an 0 for 17 streak, and are now 2 for 20 on the young season.

Next stop, a true test against the Montreal Canadiens.

Derek Stepan has not skated yet.  Dan Girardi was back on the ice.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday ~ Week Seven


Football Sunday
Week Seven


Week 6:  8-4-1
Overall Record:  38-26-2
Schmear of the Week:  2-3
BAGELS in the Basket:  +7

Coin Toss:
  • Has anyone watched the FXFL yet?  The Brooklyn Bolts hosted the first pro football game in the Borough since the Brooklyn Dodgers/Brooklyn Tigers last played in the NFL 70 years ago at Ebbets Field.
1st and 10:
  • All eyes on the Cowboys.
2nd and Short:
  • How shameless was Daniel Snyder for hosting the president of Navajo Nation in his owner's suite?  Brilliant!
No Gain:
  • There is something very suspicious about the Jets acquisition of Percy Harvin from Seattle.  Why the hell would the Seahawks make this trade in mid-season?  Answer?  Pick a source - he became a clubhouse cancer.  New GM - same old Jets though.
  • Read this USA Today article: NFL Refs ruining games with absurd penalties.

Week Seven:
(Friday Line ~ NYDN)

COWBOYS -6 1/2 (Giants)
The Giants did nothing against the Eagles that gives me confidence this week.  And after all, the Boys went into Seattle last week and won.  What's fair is fair.
WIN; 31-21 Cowboys

COLTS -3 (Bengals)
Last week's O.T. tie was the big let down I thought the Bengals were thus far avoiding.  They'll play another close game in Indy, but run into bad LUCK at the end.
WIN; 27-0 Colts

Titans +5 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
I'll take my chances with the inconsistent team on the road against the really bad team at home.
WIN; 19-17 Hogs

Dolphins +3 1/2 (BEARS)
If a Bear can go to Georgia (WK 6 vs. Falcons) and win, then a Dolphin can go to Chicago and win too.
WIN; 27-14 Dolphins

Browns -5 1/2 (JAGUARS)
The crowd in Jacksonville will be the opposing quarterback.
Loss; 24-6 Jaguars

Seahawks -7 (RAMS)
The Seahawks players will rally and win for their GM as a - thank you - for getting rid of Percy Harvin.
Loss; 28-26 Rams

Panthers +7 (PACKERS)
Cam Newton is healthier these days.  I'm merely looking for the Panthers to cover in a high scoring game.
Loss; 38-17 Packers

RAVENS -7 (Falcons)
Sure Flacco is doing well, but the Ravens are getting it done with defense.....again.  For the Falcons, defense is just a theory.
WIN; 29-7 Ravens

BILLS -5 (Vikings)
Because it's the Vikings.  Motivation?  The Bills better win if they wanna keep up with the Pats.
Loss; 17-16 Bills

LIONS -3 (Saints)
Lions are merely getting the respect for being the home team.  They have the NFC's top defense, but they won't hold Drew Brees to 3-points like they did to Minnesota.  But of course, the Saints can't function on the road.
Loss; 24-23 Lions

CHARGERS -4 (Chiefs)
A low scoring game.  The Bolts by 5?
Loss; 23-20 Chiefs

Cardinals -3 1/2 (RAIDERS)
Cards know the Niners are in Denver.  Mr. Spock would say lay the points.
WIN; 24-13 Cardinals

49ers +6 1/2 (BRONCOS)
I'm definitely looking for the Niners to cover.  Outcome more uncertain.
Loss; 42-17 Broncos

Schmear of the Week: (2-3)
Cards -3 1/2

Short ribs, loaded potatoes, and BBQ corn on the cob...  What's on your football menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Post Game:
Week Seven Record:  6-7
Overall Record:  44-33-2
Schmear of the Week:  3-3
BAGELS in the Basket:  +9


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Isles Trample King Henrik's Garden


Tuesday Final:
Islanders   6
Rangers     3

NEW YORK RANGERS: Islanders and Blueshirts headed in opposite directions.

The Islanders haven't moved into Brooklyn yet, but have already started throwing rocks through MSGs windows.

Long Island took 27 shots on net, and 6 of them made it passed Henrik Lundqvist en route to a 6-3 drubbing at the Garden.

That's a total of 12 goals Lundqvist has surrendered in the last two games.  He endured a disastrous 2nd period against Toronto in the home opener before getting pulled.  On Tuesday night, things went awry for Lunqvist in the 3rd period, when he allowed 4 goals.

Making his 2nd start, Jaroslav Halak faced 43 Rangers shots on net, and allowed 3 goals.

The Islanders power play continues to click, but the Rangers unit remained scoreless.  They are now 0 for 11 this season.

The sinking Rangers have now allowed 17 goals over 3 straight (pathetic) losses.

But hey, Rick Nash scored 2 more goals to bring his total up to 6 in only 4 games.

The Isles on the other hand, remain undefeated (3-0) and moved into an early 1st place tie with New Jersey.


N.Y. Mets: Beyond The Right Field Fence

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS: The contrived right field fence will no longer be the Wailing Wall of Willets Point.

Were the original expansive outfield dimensions at Citi Field killing attendance?  That's the real question.

Ownership sure is behaving that way.  Shorten the fences, and hopefully the team does better in their new accommodations.  After all, it's not just chicks who dig the long ball.  That dad spending $450 bucks bringing his family sure would appreciate his kid's favorite player jacking one out too.

More offense, and more exciting games, will make fans flock back to Citi Field, where they'll buy beer, food, and souvenirs,

Basically, improve everyone's quality of life by moving the fences in.

Brilliant, right?

Let this reaffirm what a huge mistake the original dimensions at Citi Field were - (just because the organization keeps messing with them).  They would have showed more guts just sticking with the original layout and concentrated on fielding more suitable players.

But they caved, and by the end of 2011, the organization had no choice but to revisit left field's Great Wall of Flushing.  But, guess what - that wasn't enough.  Now, after the World Series, the Mets will make a second attempt to finally get things right (I use that word very loosely) - this time they'll reconfigure the right field Wailing Wall of Willets Point.

It's yet another example of just how far off the mark ownership was with this park from the very beginning.

We know it's more than just the dimensions - it's the overwhelming tribute to the Dodgers, it was the initial lack of a Mets Hall of Fame; it was hiding the Home Run Apple back by the chop shops; it was the Domino Pizza looking Citi Field logo and patch; it was a place that did more to alienate Mets fans in its first year than it did to welcome them home.

Citi Field's rudimentary alterations only occurred after the outcry.

The fences that robbed David Wright of his power alley, during his prime, weren't deemed too far until their high priced free agent acquisition, Curtis Granderson, couldn't hit them out of Citi either.

Good.  So now they'll move the fences in during a time when they are rebuilding around young pitching.

It's always so reactionary with them.

When you get right down to it, a field built in a giant parking lot has no reason for such idiosyncratic fencing.

The Mets won't be the only players to find Citi Field's dimensions more forgiving either.  The opposition has already endured the prohibitive years.  Hitting there will become easier for them as well.

The fans negative opinion and distrust of ownership is why attendance is down.  The decimation caused by the Madoff scandal, and the team still teetering on near-bankruptcy is why attendance is down.  The limited operating budget is why attendance is down.  False assurances and empty promises are why.  Five straight losing seasons are why.

Win, and they will come.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Rivalry 2014: Islanders vs. Rangers - I

From the desks of:


New York Islanders
33rd Street at 8th Avenue

New York Islanders: Two Steps Forward...

With no Matt Moulson or Thomas Vanek in the stable, the Isles new defensive reinforcement, Johnny Boychuk, is paying immediate dividends.  The team is off to a 2-0 record after completing a home/home sweep of the Hurricanes.  Oh, and this is their last season in Long Island.

Starting next season, the Islanders will call Barclays Center, Brooklyn, home.  Technically on the same slab of real estate carved out by the last ice age, their relocation nonetheless transforms future Isles/Rangers games into an inner city rivalry.

In net, this year's tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson split the first 2 games.

Entering his sophomore season, young center Brock Nelson already has 6 points.

New York Rangers: Two Steps Back..

The Rangers defense has given up 11 goals in the last 2 games; the Columbus Blue Jackets pushed them around while MatsZucs in particular again proved too small in a physical game; the power play hasn't scored in 8 opportunities; Chris Kreider has been locked in the penalty box, and Henrik Lundqvist gave up 6 goals and got pulled in the 2nd period of the home opener.

Otherwise, Rick Nash is off to a fabulous start, isn't he?


N.Y. Giants: Big Blue A No-Show In Philadelphia

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE


Giants         0

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Jon Beason makes inconsequential return; Victor Cruz likely out for season.

It was hard to piss off The Duke.  But, this game surely would have.  This game would have pissed off John's grandfather too.  It was the Eagles.

Sunday's loss puts the Giants 2 games behind both Philadelphia and Dallas (whom defeated the Seahawks in Seattle).  But we all know that's only scratching the surface.

This was a demoralizing straight up beat down.

The offensive line, starting their 6th straight game together, and seemingly improving, failed to get the running game going, and allowed an amateurish 8 sacks (6 Manning; 2 Nassib).  Justin Pugh was the culprit in 3 of those.

Steve Weatherford almost doubled the Giants offensive output with his foot.

And of course, there's the obvious bad news: It looks as if Victor Cruz is out for the remainder of the season.

The return of Jon Beason didn't help at all.  Defensively, they allowed 200+ yards on the ground (149 of that to LeSean McCoy), and another 248 yards through the air via 7 different receivers.

Demontre Moore recorded the only sack on Nick Foles, and was the only Giant to touch him all game.

Special teams have been absolutely atrocious since Week One.

This isn't my line - I heard it on TV, but it's true.  The Eagles looked faster than the Giants in every aspect of the game.

On Monday, it is clear they are not as good as 3 consecutive victories led us to believe.

Unless they rebound in Week 7 against the Cowboys, the Giants will sped their bye week listening to everyone list everything wrong with them.

The lists are long, but they'll get the benefit of one more week to figure this out.

I'll only say that the more Jerry Reese has relied on free agency, the worse this team has gotten.


Monday, October 13, 2014

N.Y. Yankees: So Long Mr. November

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Jeter's final series at Yankee Stadium against Baltimore

New York Yankees: At night, mild mannered Derek Jeter turned into the notorious Gotham Hitman.

The 20-year playing career of Derek Jeter has ended.

It goes without saying, Derek was a professional on and off the field - always in total control of his affairs.  He stayed humble, but more importantly remained his own man, which in NYC can be difficult to do.  When GM Brian Cashman chose to callously negotiate Jeter's final extension through the media, the Captain chastised the organization for it.  In a blue collar town, that was endearing.

Derek Jeter was my son's favorite.  He's all my son has ever known.  I was saddened for him upon Jeter's final game.

Me?  I'm more practiced at seeing players come and go.  Being older and a little more jaded, it's rare I get attached to singular players anymore.  As a younger man, the advent of free agency helped ruin things somewhat.  Some players have come close in my adult years, but I always knew Jeter was different from most players in my life as a New Yorker.

Suffice to say, my son had better luck with his childhood hero than I did with mine.

He was different - a throwback.  His class stood out.

He transcends 3 different centuries of baseball. Jeter would have been as supremely respected in the Murray Hill clubhouse of the 1840s New York Knickerbockers as he was in modern day Yankee Stadium.

In New York City, obviously steeped in baseball history since its earliest day, rich with legendary teams and players of all eras, Derek Jeter will go down as one of its titans.

If you remember, there was a time Derek Jeter placed behind contemporary shortstops Nomar Garciapara, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Tejada, on statistical, as well as popularity lists.  He may not have been the best to ever play shortstop, but Jeter was great throughout.

That said, let Derek Jeter be a lesson and reminder of what it really takes to be a Hall of Famer.

The entirety of his career was a relentless storm of hits, right through his 18th season when he led the American League with the second highest mark of his career.  In the post-season, in short series competition, Mr. November's bat flashed with lightning and roared with thunder.

In the 139 years of professional baseball, only 5 players have more hits than Derek Jeter.

No other Yankee, no Met player, Giant or Dodger - no other New York City player even comes remotely close; not Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Zack Wheat, Mel Ott, DiMaggio or Gehrig, the Duke of Flatbush, Pee Wee, the Scooter, et al...  no one has more hits in this city than Jeter.

If you're old enough to have seen his whole career, like I did, then you had the opportunity to watch, listen or witness all 3,465 of them.

I only caught the 2nd half of Pete Rose's career, and the tail of Hank Aaron's career.  So, in my life as a baseball fan, Derek Jeter is indeed the hit king.

At the time Derek Jeter signed his final contract extension, he owned a career .314 batting average. Going forward, my worry was that he would jeopardize his average, and fall below .300 like Mickey Mantle did.

Missing most of the 2013 regular season with an injury turned out to be a mixed bag of goods.  In the end, Jeter started 2014 with a ,312 average, and finished the season with a career .310 batting average.  I feel that adds much more polish to a career, than say a .307 average would have.

We'll never know what type of 2013 season he could have produced, but we do know it cost him an opportunity at finishing 5th on the all-time hit list.  Only 2 American Leaguers have more.  Tris Speaker ended his career with 3,515 hits. Jeter was just 50 hits away.

He'll go down as one of the city's elite: with Jim Creighton Jr., Christy Mathewson, Jackie Robinson, Tom Seaver, and numerous others including Lou Gehrig and the Highlander/Yankee legends of the last 100+ years.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Time To Silence All That Chirping

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE


Philadelphia Eagles
The City of Thuggery Love

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Big Beaks Demand An Answer.

That's a lot of crap coming out of Philly.  I can smell it from here.  And nothing too kind has been coming out of the Eagles mouths either.

So, who's in charge of the Eagles Twitter account anyway?  Nickelodeon?

Was that video filmed inside the jail at Lincoln Financial Field?

In truth, the only thing Eli Manning needs to worry about in Philadelphia, is Philadelphia itself.

#BlackSunday (?)  Really?

Hey, I know...   Hash tag this ya bunch of filthy birds..!  Here comes the blimp!!  ....crashing into the Eagles Super Bowl aspirations - Oh the humanity!

They got math jokes too?  Here's a problem for their text book - Let's see how many Big Blue sacks Jason Kelce can count to.  I know Tom Coughlin can count to 2....ssssssUPER Bowls.

Although I despise playing on Sunday/Monday/Thursday night, this is actually going to be a great day for football.  Two teams with hate for each other - I wouldn't have it any other way.

For a change, this game actually means something (to the Giants) for the first time in 2 seasons.  And if you're like me, then you appreciate when this division is at its best - that's if the Giants are up to par, of course.

That's what we're about to find out.

Remember, this is an Eagles/Giants game, which means zany shit happens. So, expect it.

But what about the Eagles?  Simple..., I'm unimpressed with their victories over the last place Jaguars, last place D.C. Hogs, and last place Rams.  I'll cede them the Colts.

Even without Rashad Jennings, I think the Giants will do more against Philly's defense, than Philly will manage against the Giants defense.  This will be the offensive line's 6th straight game together. There's gotta be a reward for that.  Scientific..., I know.  And despite Beason still out, the Giants have gotten good play from their linebackers, and the secondary.

There is much to like heading into this game.


Friday, October 10, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday ~ Week Six


Football Sunday
Week Six

Week 5 ~ Vacation

Week 4 Record:  7-3-1
Overall Record:  30-22-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  +7

Coin Toss:
  • Football in Los Angeles is back on the table again, but with the same old tired plan they always propose.  L.A.'s chance of landing a team have never been better than 50/50.
1st and 10:
  • Head to head division games with 1st place implications ~ Patriots/Bills and Giants/Eagles
No Gain:
  • There are no undefeated teams remaining in the NFL.  The race is now on to see which team earns their 1st victory of the season: Oakland or Jacksonville.
3rd and Long:
  • The Jets are losing altitude fast!
  • Adrian Peterson is in even bigger trouble now.  Someone get that man some help.

(Friday Line ~ NYDN)

Giants +3 (EAGLES)
The Birds -3 at home doesn't say much.  The Giants have handled LaSean McCoy well in the past.

Broncos -9 (JETS)
Sorry Rex, there are no miracles in sight.
WIN; 31-17 Broncos

BROWNS -2 (Steelers)
There's a new sheriff in this rivalry, and his name is Johnny Manziel.
WIN; 31-10 Browns

Jaguars +5 (TITANS)
Because the Titans deserve to be crapped on.
WIN; 16-14 Titans

FALCONS -3 (Bears)
Georgia is no place for a northern bear.
Loss; 27-13 Bears

Packers -3 (DOLPHINS)
This is another of this week's conservative 3-point spreads.  C'mon Vegas, show some nuts.  A 1/2 point would have been nice.
PUSH; 27-24 Packers

Lions -1 1/2 (VIKINGS)
Why wouldn't you take the Lions?
WIN; 17-3 Lions

Panthers +5 1/2 (BENGALS)
I think the Bengals bounce back with a victory, but I'm shooting for the Panthers to cover.
WIN; 37-37 O.T. Tie

Patriots -3 (BILLS)
See Packers game - otherwise, this is an early battle for 1st place.  I'll go with killer instinct and take the Pats.
WIN; 37-22 Patriots

Ravens -3 (BUCS)
See Packers and Patriots - The Bucs have been playing better of late, but not that much better.
WIN; 48-17 Ravens

Chargers -7 (RAIDERS)
This is going to be a sparing session.  Be on the lookout for a blowout in the Black Hole.
Loss; 31-28 Chargers

SEAHAWKS -8 (Cowboys)
Did you see how happy Tony Romo looked last week?  That means he's due to have a miserable day against the LOB.
Loss; 30-23 Cowboys

CARDINALS -3 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
Who made this week's lines, Ebenezer Scrooge?  What a tight ass.
WIN; 30-20 Cardinals

Schmear of the Week: (2-2)
Chargers -7

Chicken kabobs, garlic shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, zucchini fries, and a big salad...   What's on your football menu?

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!

Post Game:
Week Six Record:  8-4-1
Overall Record:  38-26-2
Schmear of the Week:  2-3
BAGELS in the Basket:  +7


N.Y. Rangers: Rick Nash TKOs St. Louis Blues In Opener


NEW YORK RANGERS: Was that a fresh start or salt in our wounds?

Is there such a thing as an exasperating opening night victory?

When Rick Nash is involved, yes.

He scored the 1st Rangers goal of the new season, and wound up depositing the game winner in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis.
  • Nash - 2 goals, assist
  • Kreider - goal, assist
  • St. Louis - 2 assists
Chalk one up to a fresh start?  Unlike how last season ended, last night the Rangers got that one last 3rd period goal they so desperately needed to avoid overtime - a small consolation, I know.

Rick Nash?  Well..., he continues to perpetuate his own growing myth by proving to be a great regular season player who disappears in the playoffs.  He already has more goals than he did in all of May and June.

An opening night goal by Kreider is a very positive sign.  In fact, with (center) Derek Stepan out, we have to like what we saw out of the {Nash, St. Louis, Kreider} line.

On to Columbus:

The Rangers 1st Metropolitan Division showdown....

Rangers vs. Blue Jackets has quickly become a very nice rivalry.  On Saturday, one team will leave the ice with their 1st defeat of the season.

This should be a particularly fun game for Rick Nash (again), as well as being another chance for Ranger fans to watch old friends (who now have it out for their former team).

There's a lot of stored energy in these Dubinsky players, and old scores to settle.  Although it's early, the Clash in Columbus should be very entertaining indeed.

Singing the Blues...

Down goes Boyle!

So much for making his Rangers debut - defenseman Dan Boyle will miss the next 4 to 6 weeks with a broken hand suffered while blocking a shot against the Blues.

That could spell trouble.  Defensive depth is supposed to be the Rangers strength.  Although he's 38-years old and one of the smaller blueliners on the team, he's smart and still very effective.

Boyle joins Derek Stepan on DL.


N.Y. Giants: Look Out, McAdoo's Blue Crew Coming Through

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

3rd place NFC East

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: Wins and Losses Follow a Common Theme.

What do you know - three in a row!

After 2 opening losses, the Giants followed with 3 consecutive victories.  That means it's time to play our favorite game - WTF!

Here's the gist:

In each loss the Giants allowed 25 points or more, and only averaged 14 points themselves.  They lost the turnover battle, and failed to rush for 100 yards.
  • Game One against the Lions was obviously an ugly affair, especially defensively.  However, it bears noting they only managed to rush for 53 yards on 22 carries, and turned the ball over twice.
  • In Game Two's loss to the Cardinals, they rushed for 81 yards on 27 carries, and turned the ball over an inexcusable 4 times.
In each of their 3 consecutive victories, the Giants limited their opponent to 20 points or less, won the turnover battle, and rushed the ball well over 100 yards each time.
  • Game Three vs. Houston - 193 yards in 42 rushing attempts.  The Texans turned the ball over 3 times.
  • Game Four vs. Washington - 154 yards on 38 rushing attempts.  The Hogs turned the ball over 6 times.
  • Game Five vs. Atlanta - 124 yards on 34 rushing attempts.  The Falcons turned the ball over once (but the Giants twice).
Throughout the 5 games, Coach McAdoo's shorter passing scheme has been a definite departure from Kevin Gilbride's style, which consistently led the league in most attempted yards per pass play - and to his credit, it's working.

In truth, ever since Eli turned things around midway through Week Two against the Cardinals, he's been stellar,  When Eli is on, he usually makes his receivers better - just ask Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randal, Preston Parker, and Larry Donnell (and the litany of tight ends that preceded him).

In the last 3 games, Eli has thrown 8 TD passes, with just 1 interception.

The scoreboard has reflected their recent offensive proficiency.  The Giants have scored at least 30 points in each of their last 3 games.

Of course, everything starts up front.  So far, the offensive line has done admirable work.  They've created enough daylight for Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, and limited the opposition to a manageable 7 sacks in 5 games.  They've already proven themselves to be a better unit than last year's version.  So, the hope is they continue to improve and gel together.

In fact, over the next 2 weeks, we'll get to see how good this team really is.

The true battle for the NFC East starts Sunday night in Philadelphia, and continues the following week in Dallas.

Prior to the Giants facing the Eagles in Sunday night's game, the Cowboys will have already faced off against the Legion of Boom in Seattle.

If Big Blue takes care of business against the Eagles, and the Cowboys oblige with a crushing defeat in Seattle, we'll have a 3-way tie for the division lead by Monday.

Then with a Week 7 victory in Dallas, the Giants can conceivably tilt the division in their favor in time for their Bye - pending the Eagles outcome in Arizona that is.

Perchance to dream.....


Thursday, October 09, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Break On Through


Tex's Rangers 88th Season

St. Louis Blues
The Gateway to the West

NEW YORK RANGERS: They've stepped to the door.  Last season they knocked on the door.  Is 2014-15 finally the season the Rangers break down the damn door?


All hail the new Captain - Ryan McDonagh.  He becomes the 27th Blueshirt to hold the title, and the Rangers 4th youngest player to ever wear the C.

McDonagh, 25, has gained valuable experience over his 4 seasons. But last season he really elevated his game to another level.  Ryan indeed has become the Rangers most valuable skater, and getting better with the shift.  A young, talented, and experienced player such as McDonagh will be exciting to watch.

His confidence, strength of character, sense of accountability, intensity and demeanor presently make him the ideal Ranger to set examples and demand his mates follow.

Let us also take quick pause to thank Scott Gomez for being so bad.  How Glen Sather managed to pull off the deal that sent Gomez to Montreal in exchange for McDonagh will forever remain classified.

The Rangers assigned an A to Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, and Derek Stepan.  I have no arguments with these selections, but the obvious omission was Rick Nash.

There will be no "A" for him.  Although he gets an E for effort in last year's playoffs, he does not get to wear one on his sweater.  He skated the mile in each and every game but consistently came up an inch short of success.  Fans were frustrated for him.

That said, we're prepared for another robust regular season from the team's most expensive important scorer - aren't we?  After that, we'll just have to wait and see.

Here we go again!

These Rangers are pretty much last year's Rangers.  And many of these Rangers played under John Tortorella when they faced the Devils in the Conference Finals a few years ago.

So in a manner of speaking, they've been to the door.  Last season they knocked on the door.  This year marks the 20th anniversary since they last won a Stanley Cup.  Is 2014-15 finally the season the Rangers break down the damn door again?

On that note Henrik isn't getting any younger.  Just saying.

Let's drop the puck and then we'll start tackling the details of this thing we call New York Rangers Hockey...,

and the defending Eastern Conference champions.


Today For Rising Apple - Curtis Granderson: Season In Review

Here's my latest for 


Catching Up With #1: Michael Conforto

Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Bring On Them Dirty Birds

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Week Five
Atlanta Falcons
Giants Stadium

New York Giants Football: Remember December 16, 2012?

...That's when the Falcons beat up on the then defending Super Bowl champion Giants by a whopping 34-0 final score.

And that's why I'm putting this game on Coach Fewell's and the defense's shoulders to control, and to make Sunday's game an unpleasant affair for Matt Ryan.

The Giants are 22nd against the pass, and that needs to change pronto.  They caused a lot of turnovers in the last two games, and that's exactly the kind football this defense needs to play.  A repeat of Week One against the Lions will not do.

On that note, will the real JPP please stand up!  He put a lot of pressure on the Texans, and had 7 tackles against the Hogs.  But, we need sacks.  Jason needs more than 2 games in order to reestablish his reputation as a game changer.  Just sayin'.  With Osi long gone, and Justin Tuck out of the fold, it is indeed up to JPP to strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks.

Yes, on the other side of the ball we say hello to old friend Osi Umenyiora.  Will Beaty will be the one getting up close and personal with him though.  I'm sure Giants fans will give him a nice hand.

The Cowboys and Eagles are both 3-1 now.  The Jints need to take care of the Falcons because trips to face the Eagles and Cowboys immediately follow Week 5.

Lets see if the Giants learned any lessons after last year's start from which they could never recover.

Sorry for an abbreviated version.  I'll be watching the game while on vacation.  WooHoo!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Coach McAdoo's Offense Pulling Themselves Together

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

2 - 2

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: The Houston Texans and D.C. Hogs gave Ben McAdoo's offense a ton of extra possessions.  Eli and the Boys cashed in.

The season started with 2 opening losses followed by 2 convincing victories.  In plain English, a 2-2 record wreaks of inconsistency.

But, as with most everything, the first quarter of Big Blue's season is a matter of perspective.  Two opening losses raised red flags.  A pair of follow-up victories meant adjustments and improvements were made.

I guess then, it is time to revisit the original question of - who are the 2014 Giants?

For most of the first 2 weeks Eli Manning was looking a lot like skiddish Eli.  With the emergence of Donnell, Eli looked like a Super Bowl MVP again.  There's the rub.

So much of Eli's previous success came with an effective tight end at his disposal.  In recent years, I sometimes found it difficult to assess which adversely affected Eli more - an ineffective offensive line, or lack of a quality tight end.  Yeah, the running game fits into this equation as well - but you get the gist.

Larry Donnell had a game - a good game - a hat trick.  Nice!  He had 6 catches against the Texans too.  Way to make the most of your chance kid.

But, Donnell obviously went un-drafted, was relegated to the practice squad, and was limited to special teams last year for a reason.

He's getting a chance because so many have come before him and failed to retain the job.  He's just the next in line.  If you think I'm being harsh..., that's football.  Plus, I probably haven't sufficiently forgotten about his fumble against the Texans.

However, I hope, like every other Giants fan, that Larry Donnell continues to make the most of this opportunity.

At the same time, I'm not trying to sell Eli short.  After an abysmal Week 1, and poor start to Week 2, he recovered, and has been on point since.  Eli played an excellent game against the Texans before Donnell jumped into the spotlight against the DC Hogs, and continued playing like Champion Eli through Week 4.

After Victor Cruz, Eli Manning's group of receivers still have much to prove though.  I'll leave it at that.

Coach McAdoo has quickly endeared himself to me (as if) over the last 2 weeks because we actually ran the ball noticeably more than Eli threw it.

For 2 weeks now, the offensive line, Rashad Jennings (and Andre Williams) have not disappointed. Behind the O-Line, Jennings rushed for 176 rushing yards against Houston, and the running game rushed for another 153 yards against the Hogs.

You can do that when you play with the lead.....

It's all symbiotic.

Let's see who they chose to be over the next quarter of the season.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Four


Football Sunday
Week Four


Week 3 Record:  10-5
Overall Record:  23-19
Schmear of the Week:  2-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  +6

Coin Toss:
  • Every game is make or break for Rex Ryan.  But he really really needs this one against the Lions.
1st and 10:
  • Arizona is 3-0, and on a mission.
No Gain:
  • Fans in London attending the Dolphins/Raiders Toilet Bowl should boo them off the field before they even start.  Good day Sir!
3rd and Long:
  • Philly will not travel to the west coast and improve to 4-0.
  • Roger Goodell still has a job?

(Friday Line ~ NYDN)

Lions -1 1/2 (JETS)
Yeah, this is going to be real close.  At face value, I have to give the Lions the edge.
WIN - 24-17 Lions

Dolphins -4 (Raiders) *London, ENG
If the NFL insists on promoting itself in Europe, why send these scrubs?  The Raiders are scrubbier than the Fish.
WIN - 38-14 Dolphins

Packers -1 1/2 (BEARS)
I actually don't like this game.  Have a feeling "parity" is going to crash the party.
WIN - 38-17 Packers

Bills +3 (TEXANS)
What's up with the Texans?  They're feeling a little woozy - Bill should take advantage.
Loss - 23-17 Texans

COLTS -7 (Titans)
The Titans had me fooled for a week.
WIN - 41-17 Colts

RAVENS -3 (Panthers)
3 points for the home team. This game is obviously a risk. So, why do I smell a blowout?
WIN - 38-10 Ravens

STEELERS -7 1/2 (Bucs)
the Bucs suck.
Loss - 27-24 Bucs

CHARGERS -13 (Jaguars)
The Jaguars suck too.
WIN - 33-14 Chargers

49ERS -5 (Eagles)
A team like the Niners bounces back from a brutal defeat the week prior.
PUSH - 26-21 49ers

Falcons -3 (VIKINGS)
The Falcons should blow them out.
Loss- 41-28 Vikings

COWBOYS +3 (Saints)
Just because.....I'm counting on the Saints continued road woes to give the Cowboys false hope.
WIN - 38-17 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week:  (2-1)

Falcons -3

Got a pork shoulder seasoning over night - slappin' that bad boy in the oven tomorrow morning, serving with rice.  What's on your menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday!

Week 4 Record:  7-3-1
Overall Record:  30-22-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  +6