Saturday, November 17, 2018

PIGSKIN 2018: Week Eleven

Week Eleven

Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight
Week Nine
Week Ten

Week Ten Record:  6-6-1
Overall Record:  54-69-5
Schmear of the Week:  5-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -22

1st and Ten:
  • AFC: Patriots; Texans; Steelers; Chiefs.  #1 Wild Card: Chargers
  • NFC: D.C. Hogs; Saints; Bears; Rams.  #1 Wild Card:  Panthers
  • The Oakland Raiders quest to secure the number one overall pick of next year's draft is in high gear; other #1 picks contenders are the Giants, Cardinals, and 49ers.
  • Halle Berry!  Halle Berry!  hut..Hut...HUT!!
  • Can't wait for Thanksgiving Day!

2nd and Long:
  • Second-hand store: Steelers players raid Le'Veon Bell's locker.
  • Second place teams with losing records: Cowboys and Seahawks.
  • Raiders canceled two practices due to continuing California wildfires/quality of air conditions.  My cousin lives within the affected areas; my concern goes out to all.

No Gain:
  • The Jets need this bye-week to lick their wounds.  Last week's 41-10 embarrassment against the Bills will likely get Todd Bowles fired ... eventually.  I've tried defending him over the past two seasons, although even I can admit much of which transpired last week (especially at home) can be directly attributable to the head coach himself.  However, I would look to upgrade both coordinators first (namely Jeremy Bates) and bring in a reputed quarterback coach for sake of developing Sam Darnold in a manner unlike Todd Bowles can.  Despite Darnold's own foot injury, he seems to be falling victim more so to other injuries occurring around him.  Therefore, not until general manager Mike Maccagnan empties out his war chest and spends money on some premium players should Todd Bowles be held largely responsible for the Jets overwhelming failures.  Give him back some talent.  It was the front office whom stripped down an 11-5 team after the 2015 season, not Todd Bowles.
  • Is it coincidence that the Giants, Packers, (and Ravens), have absurd amounts of their respective salary caps devoted to quarterbacks, meanwhile everything else is collapsing around them (if it hasn't already)?  The Falcons are arguably making the same mistake, as well.  And isn't this precisely what the Steelers are trying to avoid where it concerns Le'Veon Bell?  Young QB's come cheaply.  In turn, that money gets spent elsewhere.  Tom Brady has always worked out deals with the Patriots for sake of greater quality cast turnover.  How has that worked out for them?

  • Le'Veon Bell's 2018 season.  I respect his reasoning.  He's quite literally putting his money where his mouth is.
  • Do I hear Cheese-Heads calling for Mike McCarthy's job?
  • !Ay Caramba! A recent Shakira concert held at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City rendered the playing field unfit for Monday Night's scheduled Chiefs/Rams showdown - since moved back to Los Angeles.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS -2 (Bucs)
The Giants have more problems than a math book.  And, yes, Eli Manning absolutely deserves his fair share of criticism.  But I still trust him.  You get sacked 32 times in just nine games then tell me how you feel about life.  The Niners only sacked Eli once last week.  Perhaps being able to stay on his feet last week in part allows him to throw three TD passes.  That said, the Niners defense is really bad.  Outside from JPP trying to psych himself up for Sunday's game against his former team, the Buccaneers defense is even worse than Frisco's.  Although Giants victories at this point are self-defeating, Big Blue wins their second straight.

Panthers -2 1/2 (LIONS)
The Panthers no doubt are looking to bounce from last week's drubbing against the Steelers.  I've been saying all season how they're such a Jekyll and Hyde team, yet they remain in firm control of the Wild Card standings.  They should be trying their darnedest to keep it that way as there may be no catching up with the Saints in the NFC South.  There's a reason the Lions are in last place, and being forced to practice in the snow may be one of them.  Players are looking at Mat Patricia like WTF?  Detroit's fourth straight loss is most certainly on the docket.

Cowboys +3 (FALCONS)
I suspected a Cowboys win over the Eagles last week, yet still picked against them.  Shame on me.  Look for Dallas to carry their momentum into this clash against the unforeseen hapless Falcons.  Atlanta is still reeling over last week's collapse against the Browns as their defense this season has fallen apart like wet toilet paper.  If they haven't gotten things figured out by now, there's no reason to believe matters will change by Sunday.  Dallas can run, eat clock, and keep Matt Ryan off the field.

Bengals +4 1/2 (RAVENS)
The Ravens defense remains stout, but the team is fading fast.  After starting strong, the Ravens have lost four of their last five games partly because Joe Flacco is playing on a compromised leg, and partly due to a malfunctioning offensive line.  Flacco's availability is presently in question, maybe even in doubt.  The Ravens still rush well, but won't be able to ride the run game all day.  These are prime conditions for a big Bengals win.

BEARS -2 1/2 (Vikings)
See Giants: I'll take a home team laying less than three points almost every time.  Vikings can make this as close as they want just as long as they lose by a field goal.  A potential statement game for the Bears.  If there's a killer instinct within them, they can effectively plant their flag atop the NFC North this week.

Eagles +9 (SAINTS)
Drew Brees and the Saints have put up nearly 100-points over the last two weeks.  I'm just hoping the defending Super Bowl champions play with some pride and cover the spread; nothing more.

Titans +2 (COLTS)
Knee-jerk opinion alert:  Don't look now, but here comes Tennessee's late season display of promise and competence.  When I shun them, the burn me.  When I show them love, they still burn me.  Thus I'm getting a little tired of their crap.  However, last week's dismantling of the Patriots speaks to me.  Their defense is playing well, just ask Tom Brady.  Andrew Luck's turn to see them close up.

Texans -2 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
Houston is undefeated over their last six games, albeit against suspect competition.  Despite their 6-3 mark this season against the spread, my unwavering belief in Washington's inevitable collapse trumps all.  For a first place team, the Hogs only possess a plus-one point differential.  Adrian Peterson means nothing to me.  If the Hogs have problems this week at left tackle as is being reported, expect a bad day getting worse.

CHARGERS -7 (Broncos)
Seven points is a stretch, but Denver does not match up well.  Chargers are getting it done with defense and a red-hot Philip Rivers.

CARDINALS -5 (Raiders)
Raiders players might as well form a picket line and strike.  They've already tuned out John Gruden and effectively shut down on-field operations.  Why go all out and risk potential injury under these conditions?

Steelers -5 (JAGUARS)
Highlighted by a woefully inadequate offense, the Jags have lost five in a row.  It's gotten so bad, that Ereck Flowers (HAH!) is scheduled to start at left tackle this week for Jacksonville.  Their defense in turn has been spending way too much time on the field.  Meanwhile, the Steelers are presently in the midst of a five game win streak in which they've averaged 35.4 points per game.  Overall, they've scored the sixth most points in the NFL.

Schmear of the Week: (5-5)
Texans -2 1/2

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

N.Y. Mets: A Celebration of Jacob deGromination Metsian Podcast

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


Feature Guests
and the man we affectionately call 

98 Minutes


Mets Cy Young Award winners: Seaver, Gooden, Dickey, deGrom
Astonishing statistical comparisons, I promise!
How well does deGrom's season rank among Mets six Cy Young seasons?
Breakdown of deGrom's 2018 record breaking regular season
Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Pennants, Oh My!
Age ~ Contract ~ Arbitration ~ Free Agent ~ Money ~ Commitment
Dave Eiland effect ~ King Cole ~ Mickey Callaway effect
Jerry Grote, Gary Carter, and Jacob's cornucopia of Mets catchers
Steve Somers/WFAN and the lone rogue writer from San Diego,
Dave Kingman, and so much more!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Firing Up the Hot Stove with Another Metsian Podcast

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

with Sam, Rich, and Mike


First, I'm a veteran, but may have exercised poor judgement with regards to a joke said in poor taste.
I know better; guilty as charged.
*         *         *
Changes ~ Pat Roessler ~ Rickey Bones ~ J.P. Ricciardi
Radio Days: The Move to WCBS-88 AM
Howie Rose ~ Josh Lewin ~ Ed Coleman ~ Wayne Randazzo
The Syracuse Mets ~ Since when have there been Cy Young finalists?
Peter Alonso ~ Dominic Smith ~ Dave Kingman
Arizona Fall League ~ Andres Gimenez ~ Desmond Lindsay ~ Ali Sanchez
Jacob deGrom ~ Amed Rosario in Japan Series
BVW expectations ~ What's the New Plan ~ Are Mets Hands Are Tied 
Chris Bryant ~ Corey Kluber ~ Manny Machado ~ Bryce Harper ~ Asdrubal Cabrera
The never ending debate behind the plate ~ a plan for the bullpen
and so much more!

N.Y. Jets: Players Owe Coach Bowles Victory Over Buffalo

From the desk of:  WALT MICHAELS REVENGE

Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

New York Jets: Talk of Blaming Todd Bowles Just a Bunch of Buffalo Patties.  After Week of Venting, Players Owe Their Head Coach Better Performance.

If I'm not mistaken, this is supposed to about progress, right? 

After going 10-6 in Coach Bowles first season as head coach, the team makes a concerted effort to overhaul the roster.  And that's why I say his 13-28 record since 2016 is more reflective of that decision than anything else.  But it is the right decision.

The Jets go on to post back-to-back 5-11 seasons by stitching up their quarterback situation with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown.  The 2016 season actually reflects fairly well upon Bowles, but the 2017 season for some reason not so much. 

This year, the Jets finally draft whom many believe is their long awaited franchise quarterback.  The team enters Sunday's game with an unsettling 3-7 record.  In their three victories this season (against the Lions, Broncos, and Colts), Darnold and the Jets average a whopping 41.3 points per game.  But we all know they're not that good.  In their six losses this season (against the Jaguars, Vikings, Bears, Browns, and two against the Dolphins), the Jets average just 12.3 points per game.  But few believe they're really that bad.  Therefore somewhere in the middle lies the truth.

All coaches have their detractors no matter what.  The media and a growing faction of fans have been busy these last few years listing their every critique of Bowles play calling ability and game management, down to his seeming inability to extinguish repeated and sometimes potentially ruinous mistakes regarding comportment and/or execution.  Now they're insisting Todd Bowles be graded according to his record.  Moreover, they're even saying a loss against Buffalo would be unforgivable.  As if to say his entire narrative will be written during this one game.

That's where the naysayers lose me, because they along with everyone else know damn well Sam Darnold is out this week with a foot injury.  And that the same dude whom helped the Jets to a 5-11 record last season will be the same dude taking snaps this Sunday.  I would also argue some of this vitriol is being fueled by the Jets present three game losing streak, which is completely understandable.  But I think people lose sight of recent injuries to Bilal Powell and center Spencer Long which negatively affect the ground game, not to mention Sam Darnold being deprived of several wide receivers.

Woody and now Christopher Johnson must slam the breaks on their repeated acts of impetuousness.  They are on their fourth head coach and general manager, respectively, of the new century.  That averages out to 4.5 years per tandem.  That's no way to build a winner.  What they need now most of all is patience and to maintain continuity.  Not until Mike Maccagnan reaches deep into his treasure chest of salary cap reserves and starts spending for high-end talent should Todd Bowles be judged for his results.

As an aside, Mark Sanchez had a much better offensive line and a pro-bowl center protecting him than does Sam Darnold.  Something for Maccagnan to consider.  Something else to consider, either Jeremy Bates is offensive coordinator, or quarterback coach.  He shouldn't be both.  Let Bates continue as the OC if they must.  However, Maccagnan might want to seek out a new quarterback coach this off season for his prized player.

In the meantime, the education of Sam Darnold continues.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

PIGSKIN 2018: Week Ten

Week Ten

Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight
Week Nine

Week Nine Record:  8-3
Overall Record:  48-63-4
Schmear of the Week:  5-4 
Bagels in the Basket:  -18

1st and Ten:
  • ... and the Rams suffer their first loss of the season.
  • ... and Sam Darnold sustains his first NFL injury.
  • After 0-3 start, Texans are winners of six in a row.
  • Most precarious first place lead: Chicago Bears.
  • Worst first place team: the fading D.C. Hogs. 
  • AFC clearly the better conference, with five teams with six wins or better; NFC have three teams with at at least six wins.
2nd and Long:
  • Defending Super Bowl champs are in second place with a 4-4 record; Miami Dolphins are in second place with a 5-4 record.
  • The Paper Tigers: With six wins, the second place Chargers are begging for attention.  Meanwhile, did you see what the Steelers did to the second place Carolina Panthers?  Yikes!
  • On the Giants having a better second half, Odell Beckham says anything is possible.  Thanks, man.
  • Cornerback Eric Reid, unfairly being targeted by stripes?  Panthers want NFL taking a second look.
No Gain:
  • The Tennessee Titans season.
  • What's happening to the Ravens?
  • Steelers: Le'Veon Bell who?
  • Poor Todd Bowles ...
  • Former Patriot Malcolm Butler faces off against Bill Belichick.  Everyone is till wondering what happened.
  • Next time just send a text: That phone call placed by Saints Michael Thomas cost him $30G.
  • Dez Bryant's game availability: NONE.  Can't blame the Saints for trying, though.
  • Fans are calling for Jason Garrett's dismissal.  But what will it take for Jerry Jones to fire that damn general manager of his?
  • Giants offensive line carnage continues: Right guard Patrick Omameh, cut.
  • Remaining Oakland Raiders players bailing out on John Gruden, and the season.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Bills +7 (JETS)
  ICYMI: Players Owe Coach Bowles This Victory Over Buffalo
It really does get worse before it gets better.  Sam Darnold is out, but Josh McCown has been in this position before.  Not that he'll fair any better.  But what about Buffalo's QB of the day, Matt Barkley?  He's a fresh face but will he pose a new problem?  Jets defense needs to answer that.  Some players have vented their frustrations throughout the week.  This is a show-me game for them.  They owe Todd Bowles better, but I still say the Bills cover.  Both teams are 3-6 against the spread.
WIN; 41-10 Bills

Falcons -4 (BROWNS)
My Spidey sense tells me this will be a blowout.
Loss; 28-16 Browns

Saints -5 1/2 (BENGALS)
Bengals are on pace to surrender the most yards from scrimmage ever(!), and their best receiver is out.  Saints pick up where they left off last week.
WIN; 51-14 Saints

BUCS -3 (D.C. Hogs)
Tampa is prepping for Washington's pass rush.  In the meantime, the Hogs entire offensive line is decimated by injury.  If their offense can not maintain possession, watch for Ryan FITZMagic to pop back out of his hat.
Loss; 16-3 Hogs

Patriots -6 1/2 (TITANS)
Gronk will most likely miss this game, but that does little to sway my opinion of the Titans.
Loss; 34-10 Titans

PACKERS -10 (Dolphins)
I do not lay these points with the greatest of ease.  The Sea Mammals can smell it ... contention, that is.  They enter the week with a 5-4 record, but find themselves this week outside their element at Green Bay.  The Packers are by far the more desperate team.  Aaron Rogers will be on the field; Ryan Tannehill will not.
WIN; 31-12 Packers

COLTS -3 (Jaguars)
Hate this game ... Jags waiting long time for return of Leonard Fournette.  He is still too "iffy" for me.  Jags need him to carry a heavy load otherwise the game is placed right back in the hands of Blake Bortles.  Only three AFC teams have put up more points than the Colts.  Indy averages ten more points per game than the Jags.
PUSH; 29-26 Colts

Lions +6 1/2 (BEARS)
For what ever reason, the Lions play well against the Bears.  Sometimes Matthew Stafford goes a little under spoken (because the Lions are generally a mess).  A victory puts them right back into the NFC North mix.
Loss; 34-22 Bears

Cardinals +16 1/2 (CHIEFS)
There's a lot of guys left on that Cardinals defense who I'm sure feel disrespected.  Go Josh Rosen! Go!
WIN; 26-14 Chiefs

Chargers -10 (RAIDERS)
The Raiders are unplugged.  Take Philip Rivers in your fantasy league.
WIN; 20-6 Chargers

Seahawks +10 (RAMS)
Can't figure out the Seahawks, but I'll certainly take my chances with Russell Wilson and double-digit points.  Rams are only 4-4-1 against the spread.
WIN; 36-31 Rams

EAGLES -7 (Cowboys)
Stay away ... that's what I say.  Both teams can, and will (eventually) overtake the Redskins.  Cowboys can still have that one day when everything goes right.  Seven points is very inviting.  By taking the Eagles, eight points is needed to cover.  Defensively, they might be a wash.  Offensively, Philly appears better.  This game has PUSH stamped all over it.  This is a home team pick all the way.
Loss; 27-20 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week:
Falcons -4

NINERS -3 (Giants) *Monday Night
No comment ... (I'm a NYG fan).  I'll have something up by tomorrow.
Loss; 27-24 Giants

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

Week Ten Record:  6-6-1
Overall Record:  54-69-5
Schmear of the Week:  5-5
Bagels in the Basket:  -22

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

LIU Blackbirds: Defending NEC Champs Open Season With Victory

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


New Rochelle    76
LIU Brooklyn  109

LIU/Brooklyn Blackbirds: Defending NEC Champs Cruise to Season Opening Victory Over College of New Rochelle.

Behind Raiquan Clark's game-high 22-points, the defending NEC champion Blackbirds open the 2018-2019 regular season with a resounding 109-76 victory over the CNR Blue Angels Tuesday evening at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

LIU senior Raiquan Clark finishes with nine boards and five assists while clocking a team high 31-minutes.  However, big man in Flatbush winds up being forward Ty Flowers (a redshirt sophomore coming to LIU from UMass) who leads the floor with six assists, and posts a double-double with ten boards and 21-points.  Raul Frias adds nine boards and 19-points off the bench, as the Blackbirds feature five players in double-digit scoring.

The Blackbirds take a 59-40 lead into halftime en route to a 33-point margin of victory.  They shoot 51.9% from the field, and 32.4% from three-point range.  New Rochelle struggles shooting 31% from the field.  LIU also outscores CNR 48-26 in the battle of the benches, and outworks them 58-45 on the boards.

Derek Kellogg enters his second season as head coach at LIU.  His first season went very well, leading the Blackbirds to an 18-17 overall record, and a 10-8 conference finish.  In the conference tourney, they dispatch St. Francis College of Brooklyn and Fairleigh Dickinson University, then overcome favored Wagner to capture last season's NEC title.

The Blackbirds pick up where they left off last season.  Tuesday night's victory is their fourth straight at the Wellness Center.  LIU posted a 12-4 home record last season, winning their final two regular season home games, then their first round conference match-up against FDU at Brooklyn. 

LIU/Brooklyn was just 5-11 last season playing away from home, and 8-9 in non-conference games.

Next on the docket, the Blackbirds host Brown University on Friday.  These teams last met last year on Nov. 25, at Providence, where Brown prevails by a 94-86 margin of victory over LIU.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

N.Y. Mets: The Not So Strange New World of Brodie Van Wagenen

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

The Brodie Van Wagenen Era Begins.

New York Mets: Another Pledge of the Wilpon Collegial Front Office School of Baseball?

I previously offered my opinion regarding the hiring of Brodie Van Wagenen, but through an ownership polluted point of view.

Consider this PART II.

Brodie Van Wagenen is a (super) agent by trade.  As co-founder of CAA Baseball, he is undoubtedly intelligent, and practiced in the art of business development and administration.  He now becomes the 13th general manager of the New York Mets.

There are instances of agents taking on executive positions in the NBA.  However, outside of the college draft, international scouting, and the recently established G-League, the scope of basketball operations palls in comparison to the multi-layered minor/major league operations of baseball.  

However, the full weight of Queens is not necessarily being thrown in Brodie's lap.  Both he and Jeff Wilpon reiterate numerous times during the introductory press conference how both look forward towards developing a more refined system of collaboration within a greater front office enterprise (which Jeff Wilpon is holding out hope will include Omar Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi, and John Ricco).  This strikes me as being no different than Fred's and Jeff's self-described collegial system - shared responsibility among colleagues.  Therefore, is Brodie Van Wagenen coming in to implement his own plan, or is he merely here to help Jeff Wilpon realize his?

We know agents lurk in the shadows during high school and college.  The minute these athletes turn pro, agents spring into action (if not sooner).  They have unique insight into player's needs, and understand how to get their clients noticed, and paid.  In turn, they have knowledge into the thoughts and minds of scouts and general managers.  After all, they spend time gathering the same type of information as front offices do.  Good agents collect insight into varying organizational philosophies throughout baseball.  They are able to compare, contrast, and contemplate a club's respective effectiveness of lack thereof.  Being an agent these days also requires a comprehensive understanding of baseball analytics, and knowledge into its practical applications.  With all that being said, it appears Brodie Van Wagenen has already convinced Jeff Wilpon into expanding the club's analytics staff.  Now he must stress the need for doubling their scouting efforts both domestically and internationally.

Brodie Van Wagenen just happens to represent several clients presently employed by the Mets.  A potential conflict of interest immediately comes into question.  Although Jeff Wilpon seems to have satisfactorily settled such issues with both MLB and the Player's Union, I still foresee this impacting (in some form) future negotiations involving Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, etc.  But to what extent remains to be seen.  In any event, he's on the other side of the negotiation table now.  The decision is his now to either extend deGrom or trade him - just as he petitioned the Mets this past season.  I also wonder as a newly minted organizational man, if he now views any differently the respective contracts he helped secure for Yoenis Cespedes or Todd Frazier.

What is one of the major criticisms presently being levied against the Mets?

They spend money, just not wisely.  

I would argue Jeff Wilpon hired Brodie with this very criticism foremost in his mind.  If Van Wagenen uplifts the Mets public perception by indeed spending more wisely and effectively, that in turn makes Jeff look good.

The general managers meetings are right around the corner.  But outside of acquiring a catcher and/or upgrading the bullpen, the Mets hands are somewhat tied due to the existing contracts of Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Vargas, Anthony Swarzak, etc.  And not until 2020 will the Mets have finally paid off all their remaining Madoff related debt.  Flexibility is coming, just not yet.  I'm just trying to exercise some pragmatism.

In the meantime, the next two seasons at the very least will test Brodie's financial creativity.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

N.Y. Mets: The Four-Headed New World Order

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


New York Mets: Meet the New Boss, Son of the Old Boss.

Ponder this if you will ...

Fred Wilpon never hired a general manager who he didn't previously know personally well.  Now his son is following in his footsteps.

On very good advice, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday upon purchasing the team in 1980 hand over their baseball operations to Frank Cashen.  By the end of his tenure in 1991, Cashen cultivates a crop of front office executives (Al Harazin, Joe McIlvaine, Jerry Hunsicker, and junior member Steve Phillips) that at the time become the envy of the league despite their growing reputation as notorious infighters.

Entering the 1992 season, Frank Cashen and Fred Wilpon promote Al Harazin (the least qualified of the lot) to the rank of general manager.  Angered at being passed over, both Hunsicker and McIlvaine leave the organization.  Jerry Hunsicker becomes general manager of the Houston Astros; Joe McIlvaine accepts the San Diego Padres position.  Fred realizes his mistake two years too late, and phones Jerry Hunsicker pleading for his return, but is rebuffed.  Fred then dials-up Joe McIlvaine, who agrees to rejoin the Mets and succeed Harazin as its next general manager.

After McIlvaine is fired, Fred promotes Steve Phillips, who in turn is responsible for bringing into the Mets front office fold Jim Duquette and Omar Minaya.  However, Minaya soon accepts the Montreal Expos' general manager position.  When Fred Wilpon fires Phillips, he turns to his lone remaining in-house front office executive, Jim Duquette.  However, his time in office is short-lived.  Duquette is replaced when Fred reverts to past practice, and dials up old friend Omar Minaya, who gladly returns to the Mets.

The main point to be taken away from all this is, familiarity.  Firing Omar Minaya ends Fred Wilpon's run of in-house general managers.  All Fred's previous hires are selections from house stock furnished by Frank Cashen and Steve Phillips, and he exhausts them all.  For the first time since purchasing the team and handing over operations to Frank Cashen, the Wilpons are forced to seek out a new general manager through their own volition.

After receiving professional consultation, both Fred and Jeff Wilpon conduct a rather ineffectual search that leaves them no closer to hiring a legitimate executive than when they first begin.  Not until Bud Selig intervenes by making Sandy Alderson (working for MLB in Dominican Republic) available do the Mets reconcile their front office.  I would also argue Alderson is more than just a friendly recommendation.  His primary function (IMO) is to keep MLB's National League club in an operational state while ownership attends to their unfolding financial calamity.  In any event, the Mets fruitless search for a general manager ends post haste.  What should have been a joint decision involving Fred Wilpon making his last hire, and Jeff Wilpon making his first general manager hire, turns out being neither.

Sandy Alderson stepping down this past summer due to health reasons puts the Mets back in the same situation they found themselves in 2010, only this time the way is finally clear for what will certainly be Jeff Wilpon's first effectual hire.

Before even formulating a list of potential candidates, Jeff Wilpon in no uncertain terms sets preconditions for the team's next executive.  Both he and Fred want Mickey Callaway back to start the 2019 season.  Jeff, meanwhile, prefers Omar Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi, and John Ricco, be retained as part of a greater front office enterprise.

This makes me wonder what right-minded, confident, and qualified executive of high regard (with a backbone) would accept such preconditions particularly coming from an ownership which promises autonomy, but who's reputation for being overly sensitive, reactive, and meddlesome, precedes them.  I also question Jeff Wilpon's decision regarding John Ricco's involvement through the first round of screening.

It's not unreasonable of me to say being general manager of New York City's National League club should be one of baseball's most highly sought out positions, but it's not.  Once the likes of Ben Cherington, Thad Levine, and Mike Chernoff express little to no interest, I sense the Mets are in big trouble.  The remaining list of candidates itself is not overly impressive: Gary LaRocque; DeJon Watson; Casey Close; Dave Littlefield; Kim Ng; Doug Melvin; Chaim Bloom; Brodie Van Wagenen; etc.

All the while an internal struggle is simmering between Fred and Jeff Wilpon.  Fred wants to hire an old school executive with a traditional background in scouting and development.  However, Jeff wants the Mets veering off in a new direction and catching up with 21st century analytics.  Ben Cherington was my main consideration, but I would have been agreeable with Kim Ng.  Her resume speaks for itself.  However, the list of candidates is whittled down to three finalists: Doug Melvin, Chaim Bloom, and Brodie Van Wagenen.  Melvin initially emerges as the favorite, but then is suddenly declared out of the running. 

That leads me to believe one thing: Jeff wins the tug-o-war with his father.  If you were unsure before, know this now: Jeff Wilpon is firmly in control of the New York Mets.  And I submit to you he is making the same mistake as his father.

At first glance, hiring Brodie Van Wagenen appears out of the box.  I beg to differ.  Above all else, Ben Cherington, Kim Ng, Doug Melvin, Mike Chernoff, Chaim Bloom, et al, are all unknowns.  They all also represent contrarian opinions and ideas.  Outside of Frank Cashen, hiring Van Wagenen is no different than Fred hiring Harazin, McIlvaine, Phillips, Duquette, or Minaya, because they were all friends to Fred first, and executives second.  Likewise, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon are friends.  They've formed quite a relationship over the years.  That gives Van Wagenen a great personal understanding into Jeff (and his father).  Said another way, Jeff ensures himself of having a compassionate friend by his side.  Chaim Bloom would truly have been thinking outside the box.  But he's a stranger, and a contrarian.  Now we go from a three-headed monster, to a four-headed monster.  Lest we forget Jeff Wilpon's stipulations.

Never once did Fred willingly go out of his comfort zone.  Sandy Alderson was the lone exception.  By hiring Brodie Van Wagenen, Jeff Wilpon gets to remain in his.

Like father, like son.

The organization now moves forward according to Jeff's vision.

PIGSKIN 2018: Week Nine

Week Nine

Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight

Week Eight Record:  8-4
Overall Record: 40-60-4
Schmear of the Week:  4-4
Bagels in the Basket:  -26

1st and Ten:
  • First half of the season is done ... no surprises.
  • Rams remain lone undefeated team.  Other first place teams: Patriots; Texans; Steelers; Chiefs; D.C. Hogs; Saints; Bears.
  • Browns are first team this season to fire their head coach and offensive coordinator, putting all eyes squarely are on Baker Mayfield.
2nd and Long:
  • Let the second half begin!
  • Second place teams with five wins: Panthers, Bengals, Chargers.
  • Cowboys are the second team to fire a coach (offensive line).
No Gain:
  • Although Todd Bowles is off to his third straight 3-5 start, he doesn't deserve to be solely graded on this roster (or that of the last few years).  Sure, he makes in-game management mistakes, and hasn't been able to stop players from doing stupid things, but he's never been handed a playoff caliber roster, yet.  That's up to Mike Maccagnan, who's priority has been clearing cap space.  Once Maccagnan does get around to spending that money, Sam Darnold will have had a full season under his belt.  Next year Todd Bowles is fair game.  Until then, the Brothers Johnson might want to exercise something called, continuity.
  • Cardinals released Sam Bradford.
  • Eli Manning has been sacked 31 times this season.  With half a season to go, he is only eight away from tying his career record.
  • Giants back-up QB-Kyle Lauletta, who in the weeks to come was slated for playing time in relief of Eli Manning, got arrested for stupid driving tricks on his way to work.  He now faces a short suspension by the Giants.
  • You are what you're record says you are: with respective 1-7 records, the Raiders and Giants are the worst teams in football.  The battle for the first overall draft pick is on.  That said, John Gruden is acting with conviction by gutting his team with haste.  In his latest move, he just released his leading pass rusher, Bruce Irvin.  The Giants on the other hand have been wishy-washy (and somewhat delusional).  Once again, I question their lack of activity with the passing of the league's trading deadline.  Despite earlier trades of Snacks Harrison and Eli Apple, the front office (or John Mara) still seems tepid about initiating a full blown rebuild.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

DOLPHINS -3 (Jets)
This is partly bad timing, and partly bad luck for the beleaguered Coach Bowles.  If anyone needs a victory here, it's him.  On any other day, the Jets are the better team, at least when healthy.  Unfortunately, Sam Darnold is in for another long day.  Like last week, he will not be receiving much support again this Sunday at Miami.  Let's just say the Jets offense right now is a little shy of complimentary players, too much for the rookie to overcome.  The Jets defense could still keep this reasonably close.  With Ryan Tannehill out, they can perhaps pressure Brock Osweiler into making mistakes.  Even then, something about this game says PUSH.
WIN; 13-6 Dolphins

VIKINGS -4 1/2 (Lions)
The NFC North is tightening like a tourniquet.  Both teams are coming off big losses.  The Vikings have a tie-game on their record, and therefore need a victory in order to keep pace with the Bears.  The Lions got neutered at home by the Seahawks last week, and just traded Golden Tate.  Yet, I'm still dying to take the points..!  But even if Detroit were playing at home and laying a point and a half to the Vikings, I'd still take Minnesota.  Wouldn't you? (Sunday: Vikings now laying five).
WIN; 24-9 Vikings

Chiefs -8 1/2 (BROWNS)
Steady as she goes.  If the Chiefs play mistake free football, everything should be fine.  Andy Reid is  coaching too long for him to allow the Chiefs succumbing to a trap game.  They may go about Sunday's game in a more methodical manner considering their opponent, but Reid knows very well the perils of playing down to the competition.  Cleveland has coaching issues.  A generous Kansas City defense could make this game an entertaining watch for Brownie fans, but I doubt it. (Sunday: Chiefs only laying -7 1/2).
WIN; 37-21 Chiefs

Steelers +3 (RAVENS)
The PAYBACK BOWL:  Two teams heading in different directions passing each other by.  Since losing to the Ravens in Week Four, the Steelers have won three in a row (averaging 34-points a game, while allowing just 18-points against).  The Ravens are 1-3 since defeating the Steelers.  They enter this game having allowed back-to-back 20+ point games for the first time all season. (Sunday: Ravens now -2 1/2).
WIN; 23-16 Steelers

PANTHERS -6 1/2 (Bucs)
I called the Panthers bluff last week, and got burned.  However, I refuse getting caught up in this cyclone of Ryan Fitzpatrick mania.  The Jekyll and Hyde Panthers last week took themselves seriously for a change, and it showed. They enter Sunday trailing the Saints by a game, and so I expect and even greater effort on both sides of the ball.  Carolina keeping the ball on the ground would be a good way of keeping FitzMAGIC off the field.
WIN; 42-28 Panthers

Falcons +1 1/2 (D.C. HOGS)
Talk about a desperate team ... what happened to the Falcons?  If Atlanta's defense shows up for a change, the Falcons should come away with a victory.  The Hogs are so unimpressive. (Sunday, WASH now favored by two).
WIN; 38-14 Falcons

BILLS +10 (Bears)
Khalil Mack is hobbling on a bad ankle, and the Bills have done stranger things this season.  I'll take my chances with Nathan Peterman and double-digit points.
Loss; 41-9 Bears

Texans +1 (BRONCOS)
I like the match-up.  Big day for Houston's defense.
WIN; 19-17 Texans

SEAHAWKS -1 1/2 (Chargers)
Are reports of the Seahawks demise premature?  Very intriguing match-up between Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers.  Looking forward to a defensive grudge match with the home team edging out the Chargers. (Sunday: this game is now PK).
Loss; 25-17 Chargers

Rams +2 (SAINTS)
I do not believe the Rams will finish the regular season undefeated.  This would certainly be a good week to pick against them.  However, Todd Gurley forces the Saints into playing a more honest brand of defense.  If the Rams accomplish that, Jared Goff exploits Eli Apple and the Saints secondary.  I have more faith in L.A.'s defensive ability to thwart a last minute drive than I do New Orleans' given the same situation.  (As of Sunday morning, the Rams are now -2 1/2 favorites, a 4 1/2 point swing).
Loss; 45-35 Saints

PATRIOTS -5 1/2 (Packers)
As usual, everyone on the Patriots is listed as questionable.  That means they're in mid-season form.  Matt Patricia, who?  The Patriots continue adjusting and adapting; it's what they do best.  The next best thing they do is win at home.  Meanwhile the Packers last week almost become the first team to defeat the Rams, but arguably fell two-points short due to a mental gaffe.  Although Green Bay is desperate for a win, Bill Belichick knows Aaron Rogers is hobbling on a bum knee, and is less likely to flee the pocket.  Look for Belichick's classic bend-don't break preventing Green Bay from covering this one.
WIN; 31-17 Patriots

**I'm not changing picks in light of Sunday line changes.  It is what it is.

Schmear of the Week:
Chiefs -8 1/2

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

Week Nine Record:  8-3
Overall Record:  48-63-4
Schmear of the Week:  5-4

Bagels in the Basket:  -18

Friday, November 02, 2018

Meet the New Boss Metsian Podcast Special

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

This is your mess now, Brodie.

with Sam, Rich, and Mike

Brodie Van Wagenen is Named 
13th General Manager in Mets History
Sam, Rich, and I offer three very different perspectives.

Sixty-Five Minutes

Willie McCovey

Other Stuff
Jeff Wilpon ~ Brodie Van Wagenen ~ Fred Wilpon
New Direction ~ Father vs. Son ~ The 18-yr old Baseball Man
Manny Machado ~ Bobby Bonilla ~ Bryce Harper ~ Kei Igawa
Frank Cashen ~ Joe McIlvaine ~ Steve Phillips ~ Omar Minaya
Catcher ~ Bullpen ~ First Base ~ Money Matters
The Four-Header Monster ~ one eff word ~ and more...!

Monday, October 29, 2018

World Series Redux: Dodgers vs. Red Sox



It's been 102-years since the Dodgers and Red Sox last met in baseball's Fall Classic.  Back in 1916 the Brooklyn club is known as the Robins (nicknamed after manager Wilbert Robinson), while the series itself is split between Ebbets Field and Boston's Braves Field - not Fenway Park - due to its greater seating capacity.

Charles Ebbets' now four year old partnership with brothers Stephen and Edward McKeever is paying off.  The influx of capital provided by them initially helps facilitate the completion and grand opening of Ebbets Field.  By 1916, additional investitures in talent return early dividends both on the field, and at the gate.  With a 94-60 (.610) record, the first place Robins finish 2.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies en route to claiming the organization's second ever National League pennant, and their first of the new century.  In return, a franchise record 447,747 fans spin the turnstiles in support of their club.

1916 National League Champions

Brooklyn veteran, standout first baseman, and two-time batting champ Jake Daubert finishes second in the season hitting race with a .316 average.  Zack Wheat, now in his eighth year with the club, leads the team with nine home runs and 73 RBI, and moreover leads the National League with 32 doubles, a .461 slugging average, and 262 total bases.  In his fifth season with Brooklyn, a 25-year old Casey Stengel plays 127 games in right field, batting .279 with 27 doubles, eight triples, and 53 RBI, while finishing second behind Daubert with eight home runs.

However, Wilbert Robinson does not hold off the Phillies were it not for his pitching.  Brooklyn boasts three starters with ERAs under two, led by staff ace Jeff Pfeffer, who posts a 25-11 record with a 1.92 ERA through 328.2 innings pitched.  Larry Cheney goes 18-12 and mirrors Pfeffer's ERA.  A rejuvenated Rube Marquard pitching in his first full season for Brooklyn makes 21 starts/36 appearances, posting a 13-6 record with a fine 1.58 ERA through 205 innings pitched.

The Boston Red Sox own the distinction of being baseball's first ever World Series champion of the modern era, when in 1903 they defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first agreed upon playoff between the National and American leagues.  Just don't say that in front of John McGraw.  It offends him.  He dismisses outright Ban Johnson's upstart league, much less the 1903 series.  As luck would have it, the Red Sox wind up defeating McGraw's Giants in 1912, then go on to capture their third ever title in 1915 over the Philadelphia Athletics.  By 1916, the Red Sox set their sights on becoming the first ever major league team to achieve four World Series victories.

Defending World Series Champions

Like the Robins, the first place Red Sox clinch the American League pennant with a 91-63 (.591) record, barely outlasting the Chicago White Sox by a two game margin - but not without a hint of apathy in the summer air.  To the dismay of Red Sox fans, the revered Tris Speaker is sold away to the Cleveland Indians.  This perhaps explains Boston fans' recoil at the gate, where in 1915 they lead the league in attendance then fall to third in 1916 despite fielding another championship caliber club.

In the meantime, a 21-year old southpaw pitcher named George "Babe" Ruth authors the finest season of his dominant, albeit brief five-plus year pitching career.  In 1916, George leads the league both with 40 starts and a 1.75 ERA.  He posts a 23-12 record with nine shutouts and a 4.7 K/9 average, while walking 118 batters and surrendering just 230 hits over 323.2 innings pitched for a 1.075 WHiP.  He is also the only major league pitcher to not surrender a home run all season.

In between starts, Ruth likes playing right field so as to get a few more at-bats.  The Red Sox oblige, but to mixed results.  In 136 regular season at-bats, Ruth slashes .272/.322/.419, with five doubles, three home runs, and 16 RBI.  Although he indeed, albeit strangely ties for the team lead in home runs, his future is clearly destined to play itself out on a pitcher's mound.  But that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of outfielders Tillie Walker or Duffy Lewis - Harry Hooper withstanding.

Ruth, however, is only scratching the surface.  The Red Sox are defending champions for a reason. Manager Bill Carrigan is prepared to throw any one of his five young superlative starters at Brooklyn, not to mention the spillover of quality pitching awaiting in his bullpen.  Second year Red Sox Carl Mays, and four year Sox pitchers Rube Foster and Dutch Leonard, along with Giants import Ernie Shore, and Sad Sam Jones and Herb Pennock waiting in the wings, all stand poised to turn back the 1916 National League challengers from Brooklyn.

Rube Marquard  vs.  Ernie Shore
Robins     5
Red Sox   6

Two former New York Giants hurlers face off in Game One at Braves Field.  Ernie Shore toes the rubber for the Boston Red Sox, and is opposed by three-time 20-game winner Rube Marquard.

Boston strikes first with consecutive extra-base hits in the third inning.  With two outs, first baseman Dick Hoblitzell triples to right, then scores on left fielder Duffy Lewis' double to left.  But Brooklyn answers right back.  Casey Stengel singles leading off the fourth, then scampers home on Zack Wheat's triple to right.

Red Sox right fielder Harry Hooper doubles leading off the bottom of the fifth.  Hooper is successfully sacrificed over to third base, then is delivered home on center fielder Tillie Walker's base hit, giving Boston a 2-1 advantage.  The game goes awry for Brooklyn in the seventh.  Marquard surrenders a lead-off double to second baseman Hal Janvrin.  After which, two infield errors and good situational hitting on behalf of Boston result in a 1-5 Robins deficit.  In relief of Marquard, manager Wilbert Robinson calls upon staff ace Jeff Pfeffer to pitch the eighth.  However, Brooklyn's fourth error of the game leads to yet another tack-on run for Boston.  Brooklyn rallies off Ernie Shore for four runs in the top of the ninth.  But Red Sox manager Carrigan summons Carl Mays from the bullpen to halt Brooklyn's comeback bid one run short.

The Red Sox take Game One over Brooklyn by a 6-5 final at Braves Field, Boston.

Rube Marquard pitches seven innings in a losing effort, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks, with six strikeouts.  Ernie Shore surrenders five runs (three earned) on nine hits and three walks, with five strikeouts through 8.2 innings for the win.  Carl Mays gets credit with a save.

Sherry Smith  vs.  Babe Ruth
Robins    1
Red Sox  2

The Robins come out swinging against Boston starter Babe Ruth.  Leading off the game, Jimmy Johnston's fly to deep center eventually comes to rest 420-feet away from home plate in the patiently waiting hands of Red Sox Tillie Walker.  Keep this in mind: if at Ebbets Field, Johnston's blow carries up, out, and onto Bedford Avenue.  Thus, welcome to new Braves Field (opened August 1915), where there exists between home plate and the center field fence roughly 550-feet of playing surface.  In order to simulate such dimensions Brooklyn would need to close off Bedford Avenue and extend the center field fences to the north/east corner of Montgomery Street.

After first baseman Jake Daubert grounds out to third, Hi Myers squares up another Babe Ruth offering high, deep, and this time beyond the reach of Tillie Walker and right fielder Harry Hooper for an inside the park home run, and an early 1-0 Robins lead.

So begins Game Two of the 1916 World Series ...

Bostons evens the game in the bottom of the third.  Shortstop Everett Scott opens with a triple to the left/center field gap.  After which, Babe Ruth helps his own cause with a ground ball to second base, scoring Scott from third.

Things stay this way through the ninth, and into extra innings they go.  Neither starting pitcher yields to the bullpen.  Brooklyn's Sherry Smith and Boston's Babe Ruth duel pitch for pitch through 13 innings of play.  However, Smith breaks a cardinal rule in the bottom of the 14th inning by walking the lead-off batter.  Boston's Duffy Lewis successfully sacrifices Dick Hoblitzell to second, whom then scores the game winning run on pinch-hitter Dale Gainer's hit to left.

Babe Ruth pitches 14 full innings for the victory, surrendering just one earned run on six hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.  Sherry Smith surrenders two earned runs on seven hits and six walks, the last of which obviously comes back to haunt him.  He fans two batters through 13.2 innings in a hard-luck losing effort.

Carl Mays vs. Jack Coombs
Red Sox  3
Robins    4

Four-year old Ebbets Field hosts its first ever World Series game.  However, thousands of seats go unsold as Charles Ebbets scandalously raises ticket prices to five dollars.  The backlash is severe as a mere 21,087 spectators - nearly 9,000 shy of capacity - witness their Robins hold on to win Game Three by a slim 4-3 margin.

The Brooks jump out to an early lead when Jack Daubert scores on second baseman George Cutshaw's two-out base hit to right.  Brooklyn starting pitcher Jack Coombs helps his own cause with a base hit in the fifth which plates shortstop Ivy Olson for a 2-0 lead.  Olson then drives in two more runs in the sixth with a triple to right.

Undeterred, runs batted in by Boston's Harry Hooper and center fielder Chick Shorten in the top of the sixth cut Brooklyn's lead by half.  The Red Sox then close to within one run on third baseman Larry Gardner's seventh inning home run.  That inspires Wilbert Robinson into making a pitching change.  Jack Coombs exits on the winning side of a 4-3 game, after allowing three earned runs on seven hits and just one walk through 6.1 innings pitched.  Just as Brooklyn's manager had done in Game One, Robinson turns to his staff ace Jeff Pfeffer for relief, whom tosses 2.2 scoreless innings of no-hit ball with three strikeouts.

Boston starter Carl Mays in a losing effort surrenders four earned runs on seven hits and three walks through five innings.  Rube Foster follows with three scoreless innings in relief of Mays.

Game Four @ Ebbets Field
Dutch Leonard vs. Rube Marquard
Red Sox   6
Robins     2

Despite the Robins victory in Game Three, Brooklyn's backlash at the gate continues for a second straight game as nearly a third of all seats again go unsold.  Due to hiked-up ticket prices, just under 22,000 spectators witness the Robins fall behind in the series three games to one.

For a third straight game, Brooklyn jumps out to an early lead.  Facing Boston's Dutch Leonard,  Jimmy Johnston leading off the home first inning triples to the right/center field gap.  Hi Myers follows with an RBI single to right, and shortly thereafter scores when Red Sox Hal Janvrin mishandles George Cutshaw's ground ball to second.

However, Boston quickly turns the tables on Brooklyn starter Rube Marquard and the Robins.  Dick Hoblitzell draws a walk leading off the second.  Duffy Lewis then doubles to right.  Next up, Larry Gardner strikes a fly to deep left/center for an inside the park home run - his second of the series - giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.  Boston adds to their lead in the fourth on catcher Bill Carrigan's base hit, and again in the fifth on a run scoring double by Hoblitzell, whom later caps off the scoring with another run scoring hit in the seventh.

Dutch Leonard goes the distance for Boston, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks, with three strikeouts.  Rube Marquard lasts just four innings in a losing effort, allowing four earned runs on five hits and two walks, with three strikeouts.  Larry Cheney and Nap Rucker join to pitch the final five innings.

Game Five @ Braves Field
Jeff Pfeffer vs. Ernie Shore
Robins     1
Red Sox   4

Boston's Ernie Shore makes his second start of the series.  He is opposed by Brooklyn ace Jeff Pfeffer, whom makes his first and only start of the series, as Coach Robinson prefers instead utilizing Pfeffer out of the bullpen in games One and Three.

The Robins take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, when George Cutshaw scores from third on a passed ball charged to Red Sox catcher Hick Cady.  The lead is short lived as Boston answers in the bottom half of the frame.  With one out, Duffy Lewis strokes a triple to left, then scores on Larry Gardner's sac-fly.

In the bottom of the third, two errors by Robins shortstop Ivy Olson lead to a pair of unearned runs, and a 1-3 Brooklyn deficit.  Hal Janvrin's run scoring double in the fifth then extends Boston's lead to three.

Ernie Shore takes care of the rest.  The Red Sox starter pitches a nine inning gem, allowing just one unearned run on three hits and one walk, with four strikeouts for the series clinching victory.  Jeff Pfeffer takes the loss after allowing four runs (two earned ) through seven innings on six hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.

The 43,620 fans in attendance at Braves Field witness the Boston Red Sox clinch their second of back-to-back championships, and their fourth World Series title overall - the most of any club since 1903.

Plaque at site of Braves Field

Boston Red Sox defeat Los Angeles Dodgers