Monday, January 31, 2011

BKN CYCLONES ~ Frank Viola Named Pitching Coach for 2011

Brooklyn Cyclones; -

The Brooklyn Cyclones have announced their coaching staff for the upcoming 2011 season.

Rich Donnelly has been named the new manager of the Coney Island Nine.  He has over 25 years experience being a Major League Coach.  In the 1980's he managed in the Texas Rangers farm system and coached on the big club as well.  The majority of his body of his work was spent coaching for Jim Leyland in Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado.  He was a coach for the 1997 Champion Florida Marlins.  He also coached with Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

FRANKIE VIOLA; former 20 game winner for the Mets, Cy Young Winner, and Long Island native, will serve as the team's new Pitching Coach.  He'll be charged with teaching our Brooklyn hurlers how to make sweet music on the mound by the seashore.

The new Hitting Coaching for the Surf Avenue Sluggers will be Bobby Malek.  This 29 year old played 28 games for the Cyclones in 2002.  The Mets selected him in the 4th round in the 2002 Draft.  He comes back where it all started for him to teach the next generation of Lil Bums.

Frank Viola joins, Howard Johnson, Bobby Ojeda, Mookie Wilson, Tim Teufel and Wally Backman as former Mets who came back to coach in Brooklyn.




Mike.BTB

Sunday, January 30, 2011

N.Y. RANGERS ~ More Grinding Awaits The Blueshirts



NEW YORK RANGERS


NYR ALL*STARS
Marc Staal - D
Henrik Lundqvist - G

Record ~ 29-20-3;  61 Points
Third Place - Atlantic Division
Sixth Seed in Eastern Conference

GOALS FOR: 148
In Conference ~ 8th
Overall ~ 12th

GOALS AGAINST: 126
In Conference ~ 4th
Overall ~ 7th



Current Relevant Injuries:

*Ryan Callahan
*Brandon Dubinsky
*Erik Christensen
....They are all due back and should be in good working order.


Apathetic Injuries:

*Alex Frolov - He became the new Nick Zherdev.  He was supposed to come here with a suitcase filled with 20+ goals.  Instead, he showed up with a brown paper bag filled with rocks.   He's done for the season and out of our hair.

*Vinny Prospal - Who knows when he's coming back and he'll turn 36 yrs old in February.  He must never again have the "A" on his jersey.  As a matter of fact, just don't give him his jersey back.  We've washed our hands of him.  Even if he comes back healthy tomorrow, there is no way to incorporate him into the plan now.  The team Vinny Prospal "played on" has moved on.  He should not be able to come back on the ice, (if cleared), and steal minutes from any of the Boys or more importantly, Sean Avery.  That's just rant-talk, but if he does come back, he must be a daily healthy scratch or relegated to the fourth line with Chris Drury.

*Derek Boogaard - He came in out of shape, over-weight, and in his fights he was slow and outmatched.  What happened to this brawling 28 year old Heavyweight Champ?  If you saw him in a WILD uniform, he was a beast.  Then, he came here to become the Least he could be.  I thought this was a great signing at the time!  Unbelievable.  He's most likely done for the season also.



GOALIE:
We love Henrik don't we?  He's our Liege...for sure.  Our All*Star Goalie is indispensable to us.  Well, our KING better get his House in order then.  I know you really can't compare the two sets of numbers, but Marty Biron has a better SV% and GAA than our starter.  That's just a little play on numbers.  But, Our Guy, the modern-day innovator of the Stinker, needs to be a lot more consistent; That's all.  He's had a peeks-and-valleys season.  His 21-16 reflects that.  In his last 5 games tending net, he - Lost-Won-Lost-Won-Lost.

Our inconsistent Goalie does however lead NHL Net Minders in Shut-Outs with seven.  But when he's bad, he completely falls apart.  But in Henrik we trust, and I'm sure we're in agreement that he'll be fine.

Marty Biron, after a hot start, has cooled.  But he should still continue providing us with capable back-up support.  Coach Torts should be able to get what he wants out of Marty, and that's a fresher Henrik Lundqvist in April.



DEFENSE:
The Human Turnover and Blueline Blunder, Michal Rozsival is gone.  Wade Redden, for the moment is safely toiling far away in NHL Siberia.

In the mean-time, Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh continue to learn and impress.  Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy and Dan Girardi (who should be skating again when play resumes) should all be given their due credit for their parts in making the Rangers 7th in the NHL in Goals Against.

Marc Staal has not only emerged as an NHL Star, he's become the Rangers true leader on the ice.  He, and all our current young Defensemen, to include Michael Del Zotto (I heard you boo), have far exceeded the caliber of play in the neutral zone and defensive ends more than any other tandems of Blueliners in the last seven years.

Glen Sather can really do himself and his reputation some justice if he can plunk down a solid Defenseman at or before the trade deadline to reinforce a squad being spread really thin.  The Rangers need someone with size at the position who can Crunch!  Dan Girardi, give him credit, can not be the one sticking-up for Marc Staal when someone lays a questionable hit on him.  Additionally, we're not making teams pay enough of a price for loitering in front of Henrik.  Our Goalie resorted to taking matters into his own hands one game when he got his turf crashed into by Atlanta.

That must stop.  Glen Sather has to find someone that will give other teams something to think about other than taking liberties on our goalie and crashing our net.  We need someone who can stand somebody up and stop a rush cold in their tracks at the defensive blueline.  We need Crunch.

We play defense well.  We control the neutral zone more effectively than we did in the past; we make better outlet passes out of our zone and transition well; and over-all we're just being smarter under Coach Torts.  Offensively speaking, the D can work with what we already have in hand.  What Glen Sather needs to do is get that Cruncher who will stay home waiting for invaders.



FORWARDS:
We might still be waiting for Marian Gaborik to arrive at full force, but their is no denying he's been most effective this season when he's been assigned to a line with Sean Avery at his side.  Gaborik has clearly been putting in his work and has actually been skating well and positioning himself in the right places.  So maybe it's only a matter of a few more games following the All Star break before he'll start to put the puck past goalies at last year's rate.  His opportunities have been there and he's completely healthy now.  He stumbled upon some success earlier in his season with Ruslan Fedotenko at his side.  But he hasn't been better than when he plays with Avery.  And that's exactly where Coach Torts should leave THEM; ....Together. 

Without the aid of hyperbole, I think it's very safe to say, there are fewer players in Hockey today who play better down low and from behind the net than Sean Avery.  I can't express that sentiment enough.  He is at his best from behind the net; not just digging out pucks and winning battles; but by using vision, anticipation and precision, his passes from behind net are killer.  Marian Gaborik now has a new line-mate whom he can greatly benefit from.

Going into the break, Coach Torts had Avery's minutes cranked up to 22 a game.  But that was born of necessity.  Otherwise, Coach Torts has consistently limited him to about 6 minutes this season.  At this point, it's not a Man-Crush I have, it's just that Avery has been that good and well behaved to boot.  Sure his penalty minutes are astronomical.  But are they really?  Please!...ok?  Take away from his PIM the fact that he can't catch a break from the whistle blowers and his PIM time goes down to a more respectable and less detrimental "high" number.

Michal Rozsival Wojtek Wolski has paid-off handsomely since being acquired.  Artem Anisimov has been a little up and down, but mostly good.  He along with Wolski, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello have provided the Rangers with youthful enthusiasm and inspired, hungry play.

And who are we without Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle?!  We'd quite literally be an ECHL level club without those two.  All conversations about this team's backbone and guts stop right here with them.  It wasn't the intended plan.  That's just the way it is.  And thank goodness!  Coach Torts has juggled every single player on his forward lines like bowling pins, flaming torches, and canteloupes; everyone except Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle that is.  They have been superlative together and Coach never even gets close to tampering with the pair.

The biggest dilemma facing the Rangers right now is not having Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky on the ice.  We've pulled out some gutsy wins in their absence, but they are the core, along with Marc Staal, of this team.  Not until their return can Coach Torts get some normalcy back into the lives of his Forward Lines.  That will go a long way towards eeking out more W's.



...AND

This may hurt, but it's the truth; - Chris Drury has become an outright drain on the system.  He is our least effective forward right now and he's bcome the most inconsequential player on the team.  Yet...! - this continues to go unspoken about by the Media experts.

Well folks, I have news for them.  I said this already once before.  It's time to take the C off Chris Drury's jersey and sew it on Marc Staal's.  He's your Captain now.  And when Brandon Dubinsky returns to action, he should do so with an A sewed on his jersey to go along with Ryan Callahan.

It's high-time the team made these changes to better reflect their identity.  Those three are the core of this team.  They should be made to wear the letters on their jerseys.  The way things stand right now with the Captain buried on the fourth line and Vinny Prospal's A out since forever...things remain skewed.

Make the change.



....So?

We've played 52 games... and in spite of our injuries, it looks like we are a playoff contender.  We are certainly a Top-10 NHL team.  In our conference we are presently 6th and of course only 8 make the tourney.  Montreal is in the 7th slot with 59 points and Atlanta is holding on to the 8th slot with 57 points.  The top team on the outside looking in would be Carolina.  The Carolina Hurricanes give me the creeps!  If any team is going to make life uncomfortable for us down the stretch, it's going to be them.

I think what we have now is what we'll go with after the trade deadline passes.  What can Glen Sather realistically do that won't cost too much in the way of losing players?  Which of our players would you make available?  I'm struggling with that aspect of the trade deadline as we speak.  And then does he try to secure a  defenseman or another forward, or both?

Coach Torts says this is more about building from the ground..up.  Glen Sather?  His original plan was such a complete failure.  And now thankfully to that failure, we have a very gritty, likeable, hard working, bunch of kids who apparently can play Hockey and can win games too!  Glen Sather's original plan was so bad, it's got us all buzzing about the playoffs on the back end of his mistakes.  Necessity was the Mother of this invention; Not Glen Sather; - So go figure.  But the reality is that if Sather's plan hadn't gotten injured in-mass, we wouldn't have been able to call up these kids and see how well they play together.

The hope here is that Coach Torts continues to exert his influence on Sather, and he continues to steer these kids the right way; which he has.  Is it safe to say Coach Torts has been the biggest influence on this entire club since he was brought in, but more particularly this season?  Yes indeed.  It's accurate and a fact.

He's cracking a hard whip.  And this team seems to like it.  Then he cracks it harder and they ask for another one.  That's the kind of team we have.  It's tough and gritty.  It's almost Spartan like how Coach Torts has brought them along.  They're just trying to out-work other teams while rising up to the challenges and adversity of playing physical Hockey without a reliable high-powered scoring threat.

The season will continue to be a hard grind towards April.  And now at the All*Star Break, I think everybody; Coach, Players and Fans alike, have finally grown comfortable in our own skin.  We know who we are and how we need to be in order to succeed.  That definitely means us fans too.

We've been a damn good Hockey club on the road.  But the Rangers need to be a better team at home.  If that means we fans have to make the place a little more nuts and hostile than usual for the visitors, then that's what we have to do!  It's not like we can't.  But all kidding aside, we do need to improve upon our home-ice record.

...And speaking of improvement, can anything be done to improve our Power Play?  Who knows!  It goes to show we're not a great team.  But we are a very good team and a tight bunch.

Being a 6th seeded team is a matter of perception as to whether you think that's the mark of a good team or not.  I guess that all depends which way your team is headed.  In our case, we've put in a lot of hard work and effort to earn our position.

More grinding awaits.



Tuesday night we host the Penguins who are still without Sid The Slew Crosby, as he still suffers from the affects of a concussion.  Then Thursday night, The Battle of the Hudson resumes against the suddenly resurgent New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.


Let's Go Rangers!






Mike.BTB

N.Y. Mets ~ Sunday Morning Read; Managers

These are the managers of my lifetime.  There have been 15 men appointed the task of leading the Mets since I was cruelly brought into this world and became a Met Fan.


Gil Hodges
I never saw him manage the Mets.  So why start with Gil Hodges? 

Back in the early and mid-70's I lived on a block (a dead-end block as we call it ~ GREAT For Stick Ball!! - I digress..) that bordered Holy Cross Cemetery.  I don't remember being there (I was), but my neighbors in the years after 72' told me of the incredible sight of his funeral procession bringing Gil to Holy Cross.  It passed our block. I was 5 yrs old when he left us.

Growing up in Brooklyn, I played games at Gil Hodges Little League Field on Shell Road.  I used to hang out as a teenager and "actually Bowl" (just because it was close to the house I suppose) at Gil Hodges Lanes when it was still located on Ralph Avenue.  Upon entering the Bowling Alley immediately on the left was a display case with some memorabilia including one of Gil's Gold Glove Awards.  I still enjoy going to Jacob Riis Park/Beach in the Rockaways.  It's just on the other side of the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. That bridge connects Brooklyn with the Rockaways.  So, as you see, Gil Hodges still remains a tangible part of our lives in Brooklyn.  Drives down Bedford Aveneue, renamed Gil Hodges Way reaffirms that.

Joan Hodges, his wife and still the First Lady of Brooklyn, manages to attend a Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM-A class) game in Coney Island every once in a while. Gil Hodges' number 14 is proudly retired and displayed over the 2nd level boxes at MCU Park along with some other of Dem Bums.

As a 5 year old and a 6,7,8 and 9 year old, quite literally in a sense, I couldn't have been any closer to him or him to me.  And he remained a part of my life as I previously explained as is the case with many Brooklyn boys.  Growing up here, there is no escaping his impact still felt by the Borough.  This will forever be home of
The Quiet Man.


Yogi Berra
Not so much 1973, but by 1974 and 1975, the images are clearer for me.  I remember Little Yogi fairly well.  The Met uniforms were a little bluer, a little bit more orange and were a bit more ivory.  The Mets' coaching staff was a quick lesson in the city's baseball history back then.  With the help from neighbors on the block, I came to learn quickly about them.  Lindsay Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner were my teachers and I hung on their every word.  ...And then I learned about Yogi Berra's Yankee past.  I didn't understand, but I was probably better off.  Then I suffered my first bout of anger as a Met fan when Tug McGraw and Rusty Staub were traded away.

Joe Frazier ~ 1976
Joe presided over my first "Most Favorite Years".  By 1976, as a baseball fan, I had everything clicking by this time.  I was nine years old now.  I was collecting and flipping baseball cards in the school yard and reading the newspaper and Baseball Digest.  I watched every game on TV and learned how to tune-in out of town games on the radio at night.  A third place finish for the Mets that year wasn't necessarily such a bad place to be for me back then.  The season was a thrill for me and I was going to a lot of games.  The team was still gloriously Amazin' to me.  Seaver, Koosman, Buddy, Grote, Garret and Kranepool were still around.  Felix Millan, Jon Matlack. John Milner, Dave Kingman and Skip Lockwood were big time favorites of mine.  As a Met fan, life was great for me.  I loved this team and Big Beautiful Shea with all the colored panels decorating the outside of the Stadium.

Joe Torre ~ 1977-1981
The darnedest thing happened; Joe Torre was named Player/Manager.  I didn't know you could do that; not yet anyway..  I remember when he called upon himself to pinch-hit for his last MLB at-bat.  I also didn't know why they had to dismantle the team I fell so in love with over the last three years.  But who's trying to hear anything when you're 11 years old?  If you made it through these years and were one of the 7,000 people there any given game like I was, First ~ I'm sorry; and Second; We should receive medals for our Courage and Loyalty.  You have my unyielding respect.  From this era, my favorites were of course Lee Mazzilli.., John Stearns and Joel Youngblood.  But there was no mistaking these years for anything other than the Dark Years they were.  Joe Torre was managing a team mandated to not spend any money on free-agents or make costly trades.  The team was stripped bare and being prepared to be sold.  Joe Torre did get the team to .500 one mid-summer day.  It really was a big deal.  Then they fell to the bottom of the division like a rock.  That's as far as they got during the Torre years.  There was nothing he could do to make those teams better.



George Bamberger ~ 1982-1983..
He was Frank Cashen's bud from their Oriole days together.  He was asked to mind the store while the farm worked on growing some players.  Bamberger did it more as a favor to Cashen than anything else.  He only lasted (less than) two years because he grew too tired of the losing and at his age, who needed it?  But from these days, came a great little bunch of back-ups who earned a nickname for themselves; Bamby's Bandits - their Leader was none other than Ron Hodges.  However impatient he seemed on the outside, I actually thought Bamberger could be a very good manager for us at the time.  But he just wanted to go home and retire so he quit.  Health problems didn't help.

Frank Howard ~ ..1983
Hondo was such a big guy, and such an old-time, fun loving but hard-nosed Baseball guy.  He actually did a rather good job and garnered much respect for his efforts finishing up the 1983 season for the Mets.  Of course by that time, he was penciling Kieth Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry into the line-up and Jesse Oroscoe was emerging.  Many of the prospects former GM Joe McDonald left behind were starting to show their worth and some would be used in key transactions.  We all knew,  for a bad season, 1983 finished off on a good note and things were turning around for us.


Davey Johnson ~ 1984-1990...
He was another one of Frank Cashen's guys from their Baltimore days together.  He was down on the farm with the prospects Cashen drafted and acquired, and were all promoted to the big club together in 1984.  He was a man of few rules and probably the cockiest of that group; telling his team they would dominate the League before games ever got started in 1986.  Other than Gil Hodges, he is the only Mets Manager to guide us to a Title.  That being said, his teams also underachieved.  The Mets should have plunked down at least one more title during that span.  And thank him...!  He's one of the people most responsible for the 5-man rotation Baseball employs today.

Bud Harrelson ~ ...1990-1991
BUDDY!  He seemed like a natural and I really liked him.  1990 was a fun season, all be it a season that started to change the face of the Mets.  They never could over take Pittsburgh that year.  But that was in no way Buddy's fault in my opinion.  1991 was another story.  Things were starting to go sour in Flushing and Buddy was taking a pounding in the Media.  It never did get better for us when the club decided to fire him.  I was just happy Buddy didn't have to go through a meat-grinder anymore.

Jeff Torborg ~ 1992-1993...
Jeff Torborg, GM Al Harazin, the team, and these two years were unmitigated disasters!  Jeff Torborg was a human study in the Art of The Meltdown.  That Cat literally came apart at the seams.  Like a cheap sweater, he got snagged once and just unravelled in a continuous Media undressing.  He just could not help himself from sticking his foot in his mouth it seemed on a daily basis.

Dallas Green ~ 1994-1996...
I liked Dallas Green.  I thought he'd be the right guy for GM Joe McIlvaine's plan to thoroughly rebuild the club through our farm system.  This was all hinged on the three pitchers dubbed, Generation-K.  I was totally on board with the rebuilding process.  I was thrilled Joe McIlvaine instituted a real plan.  The plan turned out to be an unabashed failure for numerous reasons, including injury to all members of Generation-K.  It turned out to be the last REAL plan any GM (minus Alderson) has had for this team since.  Then Joe McIlvaine developed a habit of disappearing during tough times and not returning the Owner's calls.  He in essence became a Front Office Rogue.  Once, when he actually showed up to the office one day, he was booted out the door, and the crusty and cranky Dallas Green was asked to follow close behind.

Bobby Valentine ~ ...1997-2002
There are few smarter Baseball minds in the Milky Way.  He certainly got the very most out of his players for several years before things went rotten for him too.  He is every bit Good, Bad, and Ugly.  He was even in disguise once.  He was as responsible for the Mets winning a N.L. Title as he was responsible his own unemployment.  His act wears thin.  Just ask Fred Wilpon.  The two do not "like" each other; - No secret there.  That's why I laughed anytime someone clamoured for his return.  Bobby and Steve Phillips forced the Wilpons to decide who gets to keep their job.  Initially Phillips won that battle and Valentine was let go.  Then the Wilpons re-thunk the situation and told Steve Phillips to beat it too.


Art Howe ~ 2003-2004
WTF?! C'mon!?  What was that all about?


Willie Randolph ~ 2005-2008..
Poor Willie.  He was too paranoid.  Then, he delved too deeply into a racially-tinted opinion he held regarding Fred Wilpon on the Boss' own TV Network.  That was his biggest and last mistake.  Shortly after his comments, he got axed in the middle of the night, in a hotel room on the West Coast.  Michael Kay flat out accuses Carlos Delgado of laying down on Willie over a mutual dislike for each other.  Forget what I think.  I think those bold words should stand on their own and let Kay deal with that.  Many said Willie was wound-up too tightly and it caused friction in the dugout.  That is fair.  But the tension was never more thicker and snippy than with the Media.  Willie always referred to His Guys when speaking of the players.  But His Guys apparently didn't always have his back.  There came a point when they heard him.  They just weren't listening.  And no Met Fan will ever forget Willie's decision NOT TO BUNT!  You know what I mean!

Jerry Manuel ~ ..2008-2010
The Rodney Dangerfield of Managers; he didn't get no respect and he kept the Media laughing.  He more-so than Willie was deprived of a completely healthy team for most of his tenure as manager.  His record aside, his future was tethered to Omar Minaya's fate anyway.  If Omar was gone, surly Manuel would follow.  If Manuel was gone, surly Omar would follow.  They were both doomed.  The fan uproar and apathy were two forces that caused the Wilpons to enact changes at the conclusion of last season.  Jerry had his moments; just not enough of them.  He and Willie both are proud owners of Major Chokes, but only Willie brought the Mets to the Playoffs.  Jerry Manuel watched the Mets fall and hurt themselves.., but left the Media in stitches.


Terry Collins ~ 2011 -
This guy wasn't exactly my first choice...Or my second choice.  It's still hard to gauge how much stock Sandy Alderson puts into managers when you take the MoneyBall aspect into account.  Truth is, we just don't know yet.  Collins has proven adept at 2nd place finishes and even has a Player Mutiny against him to his credit.  That's impressive.  His favorite word to describe himself is ENERGY.  I wonder if he spells energy with one trouble or two?  I can't wait for the first player to not run-out a pop-up or the player who jogs down to first-base.  I'm curious to see Terry Collins' Energy at work.  And I'm dying to see his Energy wow the Media during Q&A's!  For better or worse, it's going to make for some great nights of Head-Butting Mr. Met.



** Roy McMillan, Mike Cubbage.  There!


Let's Go Mets!




Mike.BTB

Friday, January 28, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ The Saul B. Katz Dilemma Rides Again

Head-Butting Mr. Met:



The SAUL B. KATZ Dilemma:

 - Refers to the State of Chaos we find our beloved METS in, ever since Nelson Doubleday found his Partner so insufferable, (with even less regard for his Son), ...to the point he felt he had no choice but to sell his half of the Team.
 - Refers to the Age of Wilponianism; as Majority Owner in the MET YEARS 1 through 9 A.D. -
(A.D. = After Doubleday).  We are now entering MET YEAR 9 A.D.

 - The Saul B. Katz Dilemma IS...Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon.
 - Saul's Dilemma is being a Minority Owner under the Wilpons.
 - His Quandary IS - The SAUL B. KATZ Dilemma!

Poor Saul.

And now, The Saul B. Katz Dilemma is - Our Problem!  Again.


After all that hard work William Shea put in, to include being Party to a Body threatening Major League Baseball's grip on the American Game with the creation of a third Professional Baseball League named the Continental League ~ Through all his diligent work, and with the help of an Old New York Giants former season ticket holder's passion for Baseball; Joan Payson...,  The New York Metropolitans were born into the National League of Baseball in 1962.  Joan Payson would be our owner.

In 1980, ownership of the New York Mets was purchased by and transferred to Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon.

From that point, all the way to the year 2003, of all the things we've learned and know about our team, there are three most interesting factoids we should be reminded of because after Frank Cashen retired as our GM, Order was lost.

*Recall how Joe McIlvaine said one of the reasons he fled the Mets to take the S.D. Padres GM job, and why he tired of waiting for the Mets GM position, was because of all the In-Fighting that took place within the Mets' Front Office behind the scenes.

*Of course, remember how badly the Partnership between Doubleday and Wilpon deteriorated, and how little respect Nelson Doubleday had for Fred and Jeff on the way out; saying - almost guaranteeing, Fred Wilpon would run the team into the ground AND how laughable Jeff and his want to be a Baseball Man was; even comparing him once to Pharaoh.

*And then there was Steve Phillips.  What he told us wasn't a complete revelation to us, but what Phillips did was describe in detail, Wilpon's dysfunctional Front Office Business Model and their collegial system.

Those three little tidbits speak of the mayhem that has permeated the hallways of the Front Office for a very long time.  It's a motif that has played out at length, repeatedly; consistently since 1991.

....And now we can pick up the story again after Doubleday, Cashen, Harazin, McIlvaine, (Hunsicker), and Phillips were all gone.  Since 2003, The Wilpons have been operating without a net.  They exhausted the last two vestiges of familiarity within the organization when they hired and fired Jim Duquette and Omar Minaya.

For Met Year 9 A.D., the Mets' Ownership opted for change.  Enter Sandy Alderson as the first executive hire the Mets Organization made that has not been previously familiar with the Wilpons since 1980.   Alderson represents the first time the Club went "OFF CAMPUS" to fill their GM position since they hired Frank Cashen to be their first.  Every GM after Frank Cashen has been a legacy hire.

And Mets Fans said, "FINALLY!"  We thought we had someone who knew a thing or two about running an entire organization, and succeeding at it.

In this Blog I made a Peace with Fred and Jeff.  I laid down my arms.  I thought after a job well done, it was high time I left the Wilpons alone.  I thought 2011 was shaping-up as a season where I wouldn't have to resort back to LiL Jeffery at Mets R Us jokes and Son of 'PON barbs. 

I thought I had finally laid The Saul B. Katz Dilemma to rest.

Shame on me, because I should have known better.

The Wilpons are now looking into relinquishing up to 25% of the team to hedge themselves against the Bernie Madoff related lawsuit, and to ensure the continued operational competitiveness of the team.  In other words, they are looking to get about $250 million dollars to take on a very silent partner because the S.S. Wilpon is going down.


The NEW YORK TIMES reported Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz could be in for as much as
ONE BILLION DOLLARS!

My biggest problem with the Wilpons during the Bernie Madoff scandal was what I perceived to be their lack of forthrightness with the fan base.  In Baseball matters, we just wanted better decisions and a coherent plan to follow.  But we never had one and they were never honest with us to compound matters.
The impact of the Madoff Scandal must have been hampering the Mets since the earliest days of the news initially breaking. New onerous debt on Citi Field was offset somewhat by the Naming Rights fees, but they incurred massive debt none-the-less on construction of the park. Abundant injuries to key players resulting in lower than expected attendance levels must also be affecting their bottom line.  And without a doubt, Omar Minaya hampered the Mets with numerous crippling contracts.  Factor in the obvious ~ their actions spoke much louder than their words, with other signs of impending doom and they may have created the perfect storm from which the S.S. Wilpon "may not last till dawn".  It now seems as if this Madoff matter could be a determining factor that may trigger a selling of the Mets, and not just a minor stake in the team.

I've been one of their toughest critics.  But I never really entertained the thought of the Wilpons selling the team.  Even on my angriest day, I never really considered it.  He's frustrated me often and is responsible for many grey hairs over the years.  But I do have a soft spot for the Big Guy.  I actually like the Family Ownership "thing" they readily confess to.  I just wanted them to make better decisions; That's all.  He's an old Brooklyn Kid, and I guess there's a sense of loyalty there.  He's from my neighborhood.  However, I was as upset as any Mets fan about his Owed-To-the-Brooklyn Dodgers-Park thing, coming at the expense of our Mets, along with other such matters like our Hall of Fame and those stupid uniform combos; etc.

The Wilpons are so down right now, and in a big, bad way.  ONE BILLION DOLLARS?!  If that's the amount this lawsuit is looking to secure from the Wilpons and Mr. Katz, I don't even think Freakin' Sharks with Lasers can help them out of this one.

As far as who they will find to purchase a 20% stake in the team...For What?  What kind of return or what value for their investment will they realize by doing so?  If anyone does step up, will they be doing it for the clout and prestige of it all and not because it will garner appreciative value?  Someone may intercede and do it as a favor to Fred.  After that, the only other candidate I can think of is a SUCKER.  There's one born everyday, so there's always that chance. 

The Mets have said they will remain as majority owners and stay in operational control of the team.  They also said under no circumstances will they sell the team.  When someone says NEVER, the opposite is usually just around the corner.

The shuffling of the Front Office without a doubt, still needed to happen.  We know the Front Office moves were far from being cosmetic and lacking substance.  The fan base voiced wide-spread approval.  And now the Wilpons will have to come through in the clutch again to save, not just their fan base this time, but the entire team.  This isn't the beginning of their troubles.  This has been a calamity in the making.  This small sell-off is a desperate measure.  The revelation is probably quite late coming to our attention regarding just how dire the situation facing the Wilpons really is.  This, if we suspected correctly all along, has been brewing and worsening the whole time.  Then, I'm asking if the Wilpons knew what they were up against, did Sandy Alderson know what they were up against?

But just when we thought improvement was the new order of the day, DOOM decided to tap Fred Wilpon on the shoulder and serve him with papers.  Now our Mets are faced with a precarious situation and an uncertain future.  We are supposed to be a stable franchise and we were supposed to be turning a page this season  Instead, we're getting the book thrown at us.

Even to my own dismay....,

The Saul B. Katz Dilemma Rides Again!





Mike.BTB

A Gust of Windy City Baseball in Brooklyn: UNO Chicago Grill

TROLLEY RIDIN' Chicago Style:  PIZZERIA UNO Brings Chicago's Rich Baseball History to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.


All this snow is the pits!  Today in the city, our Baseball Diamonds are Fields of White.  So I hitched up a plow to the 'Ol Trolley in order to bring you a warm sunny day; some Baseball History; and a little something for those hearty appetites that you no doubt built-up shovelling all that snow Mother Nature dumped on us last night.

We're Trolley Ridin' to the corner of 92nd Street and 4th Avenue in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, where Chicago's own PIZZERIA UNO is satisfying the appetites of some of the most hardened Native Brooklynites, deli connoisseurs, and pizza experts, while surrounding them with a comfortable sports atmosphere filled with Chicago Themes and the Windy City's great, rich and lengthy Baseball History.

Brooklyn is the supreme place to marry two of my most favorite joys in life; good food and Baseball.  When ever I come across an opportunity to partake in these two joys together and present them to you, the reader and faithful Riders of my neighborhood Trolley, I respectfully ask permission from these establishments for an opportunity to photo essay them.  I have not been denied yet and the good people at PIZZAREIA UNO were more than happy to oblige.  Chalk another one up for having Good Neighbors! 

I usually stick to Brooklyn Dodger themes with my Trolley Rides; pulling up on places where the spirit and essence of Dem Bums still remain alive and well.  But because Chicago's Baseball history is so long, rich and varied, and UNO's does such a great job presenting a near complete photo history display in their restaurant, the decision to ask them for permission to feature their collection on my Blog was a no-brainer.





I visited The Friendly Confines once in my life; back in 1991.  It was one of the better Baseball experiences I've ever had despite my old Mets' hatred for the Cubs.  But, I am a lover of Baseball as a whole and can appreciate any team for a day.  I'm just happy to be traveling around and being able to see teams in their own parks.  And the Cubbie's home is quite special.  Old Weegham Park was a Baseball Park built to house Chicago's team in the Federal League back in 1914-15.  That park survives today as Wrigley Field.



I also have a little personal connection with the SouthSiders; Chicago White Sox.  My cousin is a coach on that team.  Six years ago the ChiSox won the World Series.  It was their first title in 88 years.  Another other cousin who went to all the World Series games against the Astros mailed me all her ticket stubs.   My other cousin played for the Red Sox that same year and taking the drive to Boston to see them face off against each other in the ALDS was pretty damn cool.  And if you were wondering, I drove to Boston with yet another cousin of mine.

So that's my small connection to ChiTown.  But this is really about Pizzeria Uno and their fine collection of Chicago Baseball History In Pictures.  I actually had this planned for late summer.  With their permission, I took the pictures on a stellar Saturday morning.  Then work started taking more of my time, and this escaped me.

So, with all the bad weather we've been getting and being that Giants and Jets fans having nothing left to do but wait for Baseball, I figured this would be a good way to start getting that Baseball Feel back in your fingers after shovelling snow.




PIZZERIA UNO's
CHICAGO BASEBALL PHOTO COLLECTION


Click on all images to enlarge.










































There it is.  A little bit of Chicago in Brooklyn, New York.
But if you'd like to sit amidst something more familiar and a little more local,
Sit in the METS Section!


All Hail SKY KING ~ Kong!


Ya Gotta Believe!!






And yes Yankee fans, there's room for you too.









And because.., well, this is Brooklyn ya know..

Our Beloved Bums







And that's how Chicago and New York came together for some
Baseball, on a corner in Brooklyn.



Thank You,
PIZZERIA UNO
9201  4th Avenue, Bay Ridge
BROOKLYN


Thank you for this Windy City (and snowy) Blast of Baseball
and for helping us get through a long Winter.



Thanks for Ridin' folks.

Mike.BTB

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ Head Butting Mr. MET 2011


BASEBALL ?



Have you seen it outside?





Head Butting Mr. MET  is almost ready to take the field again.  

That's right; Head Butting Mr. Met. ~ That's the Mets portion of this Blog.  And I'm taking my first official Winter Stretch. 

With the NFL Championship Games over, I am now officially suffering NFL withdrawal.  I don't need to wait till the Super Bowl as my team isn't in it.  So I want to start purging Football from my system a little early this year.  My N.Y. Rangers will start getting more blog time and my Basketball posts should pick up now.  And of course, I like to do my occasional Brooklyn Features.

But when I started this blog, it was originally intended to be a Mets/Baseball exclusive site only.  Obviously, you see how that turned out.  I intentionally stayed a little ambiguous with The BTB and didn't name this site HEAD BUTTING MR. MET.  That name is actually sitting dormant as another blog for me in case I should ever decide to roll it out.

Baseball is my true passion in life; that and Brooklyn itself.  My Blog's name TheBrooklynTrolleyBlogger, is just a spin of the Old Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers.  There, that's the secret.  It's a name I grew an affinity for and I went with it.  I like the ambiguity of it, if you aren't familiar to my site and don't know this is a sports blog, because I can go off in any direction that interests me at the moment.


So now, it's time for this Blog to start paying attention to the joy of my life again; Baseball.  It's time to start Butting-Heads with Mr. Met again.  Me?  I'm turning 44 years old this season, and I remember everything about the Mets since 1974-75.


QUICK KEY FACTS:

* I AM A METS FAN!
* First Game at Shea Stadium ~ 1974; Tom Seaver vs. San Diego Padres.
* First ever Foul Ball at Shea Stadium ~ 1992.
* My brick at Citi Field says, "1977 Still Hurts!"  honest... Was that wrong of me?




Greetings and Salutations to all my Roosevelt Avenue Neighbors and Fellow Fans.


WELCOME TO MET YEAR 9 A.D.
(AFTER DOUBLEDAY)





New York Mets:  Third Straight Winter Mets Get Snowed-In.

I'll be honest, after we hired Terry Collins, I tuned out.  Now I need to do some homework and see who some of these losers we signed are.  That's right!  I said it!

What's the difference between the winter of 2009, 2010 and 2011?  The course of action has been the same, only now it's Sandy Alderson pushing the low cost, rehabbing from injury, come-back player, no risk-high reward type players.  Yes, I'm saying Alderson is picking up right where Omar left off.

Without admitting it, Jeff, Son of 'PON has set the Mets' Salary Cap somewhere in the neighborhood between $140 and $150 million.  And it seems to be a Hard Cap too.

In Spanish, we have an expression ~ Doble Sentimiento ~ it means Double Sentiment.  Everything I just said should be taken in that manner.  I said it all in jest, but there is some sentiment behind it.

However, I have what I've wanted for this team for years now, and that was an off-campus influence on the Wilpons.  Well, I have that now and am quite satisfied with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, and whom he hired as his lieutenants.  So don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining.  I totally get this will be a season of shedding the rest of our old skin and expiring contracts, while continuing to see where many of these kids fit into the Mets' future.  And I certainly concur with the plan.  Like many fans, it's what I wanted too.

I took the jab at the club because Jeff Wilpon still refuses to be transparent about the operations of this club and his extent of involvement.  We are told the owners are completely flexible with regard to payroll, yet they have Do-Not-Cross barrier tape wrapped around $145 million.  We all know what the deal is.  I just want to hear it from him for a change.

Listening to Sandy Alderson champion-up some if the signings he recently made just rang a little hollow for me.  I know what the plan is.  I just didn't like his spin.  It's just a repackaged version of what Omar had to resort to after burdening the Wilpons with bad contracts (in the first place).

So consider this just a warm up folks.  But that's what I'm thinking.  It's still too damn cold outside for this.  But starting soon, it will be time to start HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET full time again.

For now...,  All is well.  You may go back to your farms now.  There's nothing more to see here.

Let's Go Mets !!




Mike.BTB

N.Y. JETS ~ REX's JETS get Grounded and Pounded

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL ~  Pittsburgh Steelers 24;  NEW YORK JETS 19


Bad ROAD TRIP:   Mind If We Dance With Your Dates? 

Not only didn't Otis Day and the Knights not "love" the Jets - They didn't even recognize the Jets when they walked in.  Showing up to that club was a bad idea from the start.  As soon as they walked in, the music stopped and all eyes were on them.  They settled in anyway for what was most likely going to be a very weird night. 

Once the music kicked-up again, one patron made it very clear he didn't want to talk and that he didn't go to college.  Another guy pulled out a switch-blade.  They had their tabled ripped out of the floor in front of them and to top it all off, had their dates taken away from them for a dance with strangers. 

When LEAVING! became the smart thing to do, they smacked up the car, along with a few others in the parking lot, in their attempt to flee and left the girls from Dickinson College behind to walk home alone.

Yes, the night was an unmitigated disaster; we know.


It's over Man; (Big Ben) Dean Wormer dropped the big one!  For Coach Rex Blutarsky and his Green Fraternity, I guess it IS seven years of College down the drain after all.  The Jets wound up tripping over their own marbles - all 10,000 of them.  The DeathMobile was really a Green Edsel in disguise.  And now,  there's no breaking beer bottles over Coach Blutarsky's head trying to cheer-up Flounder and getting him to stop crying about wrecking his brother's '64 Lincoln.

I think BOONE said it best and spoke for all, when he so eloquently said,

"You F%?#ed Up!...You Trusted Us!"


OK - So college was a complete waist of time for everybody, but Man! - wasn't it fun while it lasted?  Many of those characters from the movie all left Faber College behind to lead very different lives, just as free-agency will disperse some of this team's current players.  But the memory of their mayhem never went away and the memory of two great games against the Colts and Pats shouldn't either.  What the Boys achieved in one semester was Classic and something we who saw it, will remember for the rest of our lives.  When the pain subsides from this loss, Jet fans will look back on this season with endearment and acknowledge it for the Classic that IT was.

The horse, the toga party, the Mayor's daughter, the food fight, Dean Wormer's wife...  They were all worth it in the end even if they never got a chance to graduate.  So to Coach Blutarsky and the Boys..., Thanks for a great time.




NEW YORK JETS:  A Final Quiet Flight Home.

With a Better First Half, They Could Have Been
The TITANS of N.Y. Again!

So what happened out there?

Rex elected to defer the Kick-Off as is his custom.

Then, the Steelers proceeded to pounded out massive yardage running the ball and Big Ben capitalized on key downs by rumbling outside the Pocket. The Steelers went on a 9:06 minute drive ending in an opening possession touchdown.  Things went down hill from there for the Jets.  A Mark Sanchez fumble and return for a touchdown by Pittsburgh exacerbated the score and everybody went into halftime with the Steelers leading 24-3. 

The Jets Defense was plagued by poor tackling allowing over 100 yards rushing in the first half alone.  Offensively, the Jets could only gain ONE net positive yard running the ball and could not capitalize on a Big Ben interception.

In the second half, they gained back respectability.  Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene and the Defense worked to get 16 more points on the scoreboard making the contest a 24-19 affair.  The Defense held the Steelers scoreless in the second half and scored two points of their own with a Safety.

And then the biggest point of contention of the night would be Coach Schottenheimer and what happened at the goal line.  Because after that, the Steelers got the ball back and Big Ben rolled out one final time to get one more first down and secure the win for Pittsburgh.

That's the game, basically in a nut-shell.


Of note is, in spite of a horrible QB Rating, Big Ben had a most remarkable and disruptive game out of the pocket.  He not only ran for yardage, he rolled out and threw accurately on the run and controlled third down for the Steelers.

He dared throwing Darrelle Revis' way, which I thought he would.  And Revis really should have come down with an interception.  But two Big Ben interceptions, in the end, didn't come back and doom the Steelers.  Instead, all his other work outshines the numbers he's credited with in the box-score.

The Steelers' Defensive performance in the second half?  How much of the Jets comeback can be attributed to Pittsburgh sitting on a 24-3 lead?  It's hard to say.  Rex said the Jets made zero half-time adjustments because he thought things would turn around as it was.  Well, they did.  I'd like to think Shonn Greene made a difference and again, Sanchez had a great game.  You can say...If It Weren't For The Fumble-6 and What Went Wrong Down On The Goal Line..., the Steelers' Defense could have potentially blown it also.  So, I do believe the Jets comeback was real and not something the Steelers allowed for the sake of an expiring clock.


BUT, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED OUT THERE?

Well, I'll start with my own Preview: ~ Steel City Showdown.  If you take a second and go through it, it's still what I feel today and now I'm just questioning why Schotty wasn't as aggressive as I think they needed to be.

These teams almost mirrored each other.  I thought both defenses would remain stout, tough and stingy.  I knew Sanchez and Big Ben would be main reasons either team won.  And we all knew both teams would try to impose the running game on each other.  Actually...blah blah blah.  I didn't anticipate the Jets tackling so poorly in the first half and that's as much the reason why they lost as any.  You can point to a myriad of things actually.

You want a short list?

* The Goal Line Stand
* the Roughing the Kicker penalty
* a huge Cotchery drop
* a Mark Sanchez fumble that went for 6 points the other way
* not capitalizing on the first Big Ben INT.
* Pittsburgh rushing for over 100 yards in the first half and the Jets only gaining ONE
* poor first half tackling
* continued devotion and false-hope in LaDainian Tomlinson and not pounding with Shonn Greene
* not one pass to Braylon Edwards for nearly the first three quarters of the game
* etc  etc

** But they did hold the Steelers scoreless in the second half.

Here's the real point I want to bring out of my Preview.  I thought the Jets needed to take numerous chances down field in order to shake loose the running game for them. 

Here's some of what I said in my preview:

"And now, against the Steelers, Mark Sanchez has to win a game for the Jets by his lonesome. Mark and his Receivers will become the focal point of the Jets Offense because I think the Steelers will hold true, and limit the Jets' running game to low yardage. Mark is going to be responsible for managing 1st and 3rd downs while they try and squeeze something out of their running game. This is not to say they shouldn't be trying to enforce the run-first tact, but I do think they'll be managed.

So how do you combat the Steelers defense?  Well, they are very aggressive.  So I say you meet it with aggression.  I say be bold.  You have to make then back off the run other wise they will take it away from the Jets and tee-off on Sanchez.

I think Schotty is going to have to get a little West Coast on Pittsburgh.  Use the Steelers' aggression against them.  Screen passes, draw plays, scatter-passes to Shonn Greene out of the back-field, and a whole bunch of slant and crossing patterns.  But I really think Schotty and Sanchez need to take a lot of chances over the top. As a matter of fact, the very first play the Jets have from scrimmage should be "The Bomb".  Honest!  I would take multiple gambles going over the top.  That's what you're going to have to do if the Jets want to shake their running game loose.  Then hopefully by the 2nd half, the running game can find some daylight and run with power.
.....So, against the Steelers, this Offense may have to get out of it's element.  What Jet fans can hope for is that Schotty's play sheet has everything on it that Mark does best and that a few of those plays find their way.  Because even though the Jets beat the Steelers in the regular season, remember two points came on a Safety and another touchdown was scored on a kick-return. So, Mark Sanchez will have to engineer more than 13-points this time around.
........On Offense, Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained.  If I'm Rex I'm playing this game ultra-aggressively.  This is for the AFC Championship. Rex wants to win this time.  The Team wants to win this time. Their fans want them to win this time.

So I say TAKE IT! I say try and overwhelm them. I say launch a couple a balls deep early, and see if Braylon Edwards or Holmes can pull down a pass and inflict an early body blow. Because that's the way this has to be.   It has to hurt. The Jets need to make the Steelers think about something else other than the run......"

Well, that's what I said.  That's how they scored on Holmes' touchdown.  They tried only a few down-field passes in the first half.  Braylon Edwards I believe blew a route on one of them but more glaring is the fact he didn't have a reception for most of the first three quarters of the game.  But Coach Schottenheimer never really gave the deep threat a chance while the play was there waiting for them all night!  The Steelers secondary isn't great aside from that guy with a lot of hair.  And so what happened?  The Steelers took the run away from the Jets allowing them ONE yard rushing in the 1st half and they tee-d of on Sanchez causing a fumble-6.  Coach Schottenheimer didn't do enough to make the Steelers' defense think differently.  He needed to be more aggressive and pick on their corners with deep passes.  Why else did Mike Tannenbaum bring in Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes in the first place?  This was supposed to be the game where they improved upon the Offensive disappearance in last years' Championship game.  This was the game; not any other before this!

Then, there was The Goal-Line Stand.  Again, I believe Coach Schottenheimer got it all wrong.  Of course he got it all wrong.  People in Mongolia knew he got it wrong.  Every unborn Jet Fan will come to learn how wrong he got four plays that ran his team into the ground and kept them out of the Super Bowl.  Say what you will about the first half.  Yes it went bad, but too often we are reminded it's not how you start; it's how you finish.  Ask the Giants for a lesson in that (See Eagles). 

Why did this team and Coordinator rely so heavily on LaDainian Tomlinson based on greatness from years gone by?  Shonn Greene has been the young legs propelling the Jets running game ever since LT began to disappear mid-way through the season.  He should have been featured, not only in the first half, but on the goal-line hand-off that went to LT instead.  There were for downs, one yard, three feet and Glory to go.  Shonn Greene should have been choice one, two, three and four.  But Coach Schottenheimer elected to hand the ball off to someone who once upon a time would have flown over the pile, but this time couldn't use his walking cane to pole-vault onto a sidewalk.  Do we have to rehash the two pass calls?  Let's not, right?

Execution during the most critical, crucial moments of a game is the mark of a Champion.  But even great players need help.  Winners are still needy of a Coach putting them into position where-by they can make greatness transpire on the field.  Sanchez had himself a great day regardless of his coach and in that critical time, the QB needed and demanded more and better from his Coordinator.

Brian Schottenheimer didn't do that.  Instead, during those critical four downs near the goal line, I felt, I observed, someone who operated with a complete lack of urgency and didn't rise up to the challenge of the moment.  The play selection is a wholly different matter for which he deserves his very well deserved criticism.

I'm not a Jets fan so I'm perhaps not qualified to fan-dump someone's job.  But I do know you Jet fans have been complaining for years about this guy.  He drives you as crazy as Kevin Gilbride does me...and I don't blame you.



And what to make of the season now?

There's alot of opinions about players, Rex and the season to occupy space with.  Maybe a lot of that gets dealt with in the future. 

For now, I'll leave it at this:

If the Jets had not beaten the Colts in the first playoff game, Coach Rex and the Jets would have been pointed at, laughed at, ridiculed and mocked.  A decades' worth of new jokes and immature, but funny ways to manipulate J-E-T-S would have been arming a new generation of 13-year-olds' ridicule towards the team to use against their friends for a decade to come.

Had they lost to the Patriots, their fortitude would have been questioned; everything would have been questioned.  They, the verbal participants of Trash Talk Week, would have gotten destroyed by the media.  As a matter of fact, the whole thing would have been a complete disaster.  We'd still be sheltering ourselves from the fall-out.  A comprehensive, all-out media Blitz would have be brought upon JetsNation with a loss in Foxborough.

And now that the Playoff run has ended with a loss to the Steelers, I just want to reach into my pocket, pull out a pack of candy Life-Savers, and offer you one.  There's nothing to be embarrassed about.  No one should be receiving any more criticism than the routine Blah Blah blah...that usually follows a season that doesn't end with a Super Bowl.

Don't be so hard on yourselves.  Being in the Final Four is fun and the ride was great.  Sports, after-all, are more about failure, than anything else.



Mike.BTB

Monday, January 24, 2011

NJ-BKN NETS ~ BARCLAYS CENTER Construction Jan.24th



CONSTRUCTION OF
BARCLAYS CENTER
Brooklyn, New York

January 24, 2011

Future Home of the Nets Basketball Franchise






Huge downward sloping I-Beams lowered into position by a sky-scapping red crane are being assembled into bending sections that are starting to reveal the framing which will support the multi-tiered seating levels as construction work on Barclays Center continues in Downtown Brooklyn.  For the first time actually, recognizable details in the structure hint that an arena is being built. Unmistakable characteristics are taking on a familiar form now making my anticipation of Professional Basketball in Brooklyn grow with every steel beam and rivet applied to the structure.






Contending with single digit temperatures today, tethered iron-workers gingerly guided a massive support beam in place when I arrived this afternoon to snap some photos.










New Jersey Nets:
Mikhail Prokhorov proves again why he will matter in the NBA

David Stern or No David Stern, the league is facing an expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement rife with give-backs the owners want and are adamant about.  The League still has franchises who've floundered continuously for decades and who care nothing about trying to change a losing culture (see Clippers!).  There is still more potential franchise shifting, perhaps to secure Seattle another team.  Of course this includes the local change of address for the Nets happening in the near future.  However, the Nets' relocation is not a matter of desperation like it may be for another franchise on the financial bubble. 

When Mikhail Prokhorov assumed his NET'S ownership, one of his first observations was how Star driven the League is and how little control the owner's actually had over their enterprise.

In this League,  contract demands are almost always met,  owners seem unwilling to wait nor exercise patience and usually rush to sign the check to most unworthy recipients.  Then two or three years down the line, they go snivelling to the Commissioner about it.

Prokhorov nailed the problem on the head when, in declaring the team's new official disinterest in Carmelo Anthony,  he suggested patience is far more prudent than over-paying (through a virtual emptying of the cupboards) for a mistake that may take four to six years to rectify.  And besides, while it is true, they will need a star attraction to help fill their new Brooklyn arena, they are still organizationally in fine shape and in a position to improve their situation and near future in quick fashion.  Draft picks, salary-cap room, youthful talent and an emerging star in Lopez combined with an owner with financial resources and basketball passion, still all figure into a positive outlook for the team.

Until Carmelo Anthony, the Draft and LeBron James were just matters of percentages, luck, and a break in which Prokhorov was just being part of the over-all team effort.  When Prokhorov put the kibosh on the 'Melo negotiations, he stepped out as the leader and man in charge of his enterprise.

On the one hand you have an owner like Mark Cuban who makes no secret saying you have to spend large amounts of money to compete and make money (ala Boss George).  And now you have a new owner; a new foreign owner (first for the NBA); a new principled owner who apparently thinks he will stay in control of his enterprise and not have his affairs dictated by an employee.

There will be owners who will side with Cuban, there will be other's who follow Prokhorov's lead.  The Buss Family and the Reinsdorfs will still sway their power, but it's the other owners who swim in circles that follow the most persuasive fellow owner.

Prokhorov is here and free from associations to the Rich Guy's Network of League owners.  He's a loner.  And he just might be even more of a Maverick than Mark Cuban.

It's no secret David Stern dislikes Mark Cuban.  In Mikhail Prokhorov, the Commissioner just may have found the Number Thee Hitter in his Line-up.  Prokhorov speaks what Stern has been afraid to say in plain English for years; - That the owners want their League back or realistically, some teams may have to go; be sold, keep moving to new cities, or fold.  OR they can just take money back from the players.

Good luck...to everybody!

All the owners may be in for a costly fight against the players for each other's piece of the pie.  Mikhail Prokhorov has shown that he's not going to be one of those owners who gets pushed around in the process.


Enjoy the rest of the season....And Then?   Who knows!






Associated Links:

From - NetsDaily.com
http://www.netsdaily.com/2011/1/25/1954929/as-steel-reaches-new-level-brooklyn-fan-anticipates-new-kind-of-owner

Last night's game re-cap against the CAVS.
http://www.netsdaily.com/2011/1/24/1954396/nets-escape-with-narrow-win-over-cavs



Mike.BTB