Saturday, April 30, 2011

ATLANTIC LEAGUE ~ Bridgeport Drops Opener To Long Island




ATLANTIC LEAGUE of BASEBALL

OPENING DAY

THE BALLPARK AT HARBOR YARD
Bridgeport, Connecticut



HOME of the BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH







GAME ONE FINAL

LONG ISLAND DUCKS       2
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH  1
11 innings

Bridgeport Lead-Off Batter; Adam Greenberg
Bottom First Inning



I visited the Ballpark at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport,Connecticut last night, where the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish needed extra innings to settle their first game of the 2011 Atlantic League season.  Both teams traded a run in the fourth, but the outcome wasn't decided until the eleventh inning.

In the top half of the fourth inning, Long Island's Javier Colina led-off with a double.  He moved over to third base when Ray Navarrete bounced-out to short.  John Rodriguez then singled to drive in Colina.

In Bridgeport's bottom half of the inning, Adam Greenberg drew a lead-off walk.  Danny Putnam then singled, but when Steve Moss popped to right, Putnam got doubled off first base.  Joe Borchard followed with a single scoring Greenberg to tie the score at one apiece.








Both starting pitchers pitched six quality innings and would draw no-decisions:
(DUCKS) Joselo Diaz - 6 IP; 3 Hits; 1 Earned Run; 3 BB; 6 K 
(BLUEFISH) Pat Ryan - 6 IP; 5 Hits; 1 Earned Run; 0 BB; 5 K

The Ducks scored in the top of the 11th inning.  Kennard Jones led off with a single.  He stole second and  advanced to third on an errant throw (E-2).  The Bluefish committed their second error in the inning when  Bridgeport's pitcher; Will Cunnane, fielded a topper hit by Javier Colina.  After checking the runner at third, he threw wide of first , allowing Colina to reach safely.  Ray Navarrete then doubled, scoring Kennard Jones from third.  Javier Colina was thrown out also trying to score on the play.

Into the game came former Met; Duaner Sanchez...! - to try and close-out the game for Long Island.  He walked one batter and struck out another while achieving his first save of the season for his new club.











Long Island's Bubbie Buzachero earned the victory in relief.  Javier Colina went 3 for 5.  Ray Navarrete had the game-winning RBI; double.

Bridgeport's Will Cunnane took the loss. 




 

"EXTRA-INNINGS"















Mike.BTB

Friday, April 29, 2011

LONG ISLAND DUCKS ~ GAME ONE; 2011 SEASON


ATLANTIC LEAGUE BASEBALL
est. 1998

OPENING DAY
LONG ISLAND DUCKS
SP - Joselo Diaz
vs
BRIDGEPORT BLUEFISH
SP - Pat Ryan

From The Ballpark at Harbor Yard
Bridgeport, Connecticut


LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Looking To Rebound From An Average 2010 Season.

One of the most successful Independent League franchises ever; The Long Island Ducks, are kicking-off their 14th season of Atlantic League Baseball. 

They are managed by an ex-Met farm-hand; Kevin Baez, who played parts of three seasons between 1990-1993 in Flushing.  And, beloved Met Legend; Atlantic League patriarch; and part team owner, Buddy Harrelson returns to his familiar role as Bench Coach.

Many Met fans will recall this name; Duaner Sanchez.  The former Major League pitcher joins Long Island this season.  Other Long Island pitchers sporting Major League experience are:
Valerio De Los Santos
Joselo Diaz
Lenny DiNardo
Ruddy Lugo
Mike Parisi
Heath Phillips 
Ehren Wasserman
and Jeremy Hill.

New Jersey native, Port Washington resident and crowd favorite, Ray Navarrete is returning for his sixth season in a Ducks uniform.  In 2009, he was voted Atlantic League MVP.  And, another minor league veteran Javier Colina - whom I watched have his best season in 2007 while playing for the Bears in Newark, returns for his second season on Long Island.  In 2007, during the Bears last A.L. Championship season, he batted .309, with 26 home runs and 101 RBI in 121 games played.  In Game Three of that Championship Series, Javier Colina tossed me this ball:



Among Long Island's position players with MLB experience are:
Outfielder - Lew Ford
Outfielder and Native New Yorker - John Rodriguez  
Catcher - J.R. House

The Ducks open the season with a three game series versus Bridgeport, then head down to Camden, New Jersey and take on the River Sharks.  Long Island's Opening Day will be Friday, May 6th in a return series against the Bridgeport Bluefish.  Last season, the Bluefish lost the Championship series to the York Revolution.

Far from being bad, the 2010 season didn't go so well for the Quack Attack.  They finished the first half of the season in last place of the Freedom Division 5 games back of first, with a 36-34 (.514) record.  They finished the second half in third place with a .500 record; 34-34, and 12 games back.  Overall, they had a respectable 70-68 record (.507), but did not qualify for the playoffs.

But that hasn't dampened the spirits of their records-setting fan base a bit.  This season, based on early ticket sales, it looks like Long Islanders plan on making sure every home game is a sell out again, and therefore continuing their tradition of exceptionally strong support of the team.

This season, my goal is to make four or five trips out there.  They play 74 miles from my door.  I just hope they have room for one more.

Tonight, I'm headed to Bridgeport.

Let's Go Ducks!

LINKS:
Long Island Ducks
Bridgeport Bluefish
Atlantic League

OTHER OPENING DAY GAMES:
The Road Warriors @ Lancaster Barnstormers
Camden River Sharks @ York Revolution
Somerset Patriots @ Southern Maryland Blue Crabs



Mike.BTB

BASEBALL ~ Meandering Around The Bases

New York Mets
New York Yankees
Atlantic League
Brooklyn Cyclones



NEW YORK METS ~ I didn't see the game tonight because I was in Yankee Stadium paying $9.50 for a bottle-o-brew, $6.00 for an ice cream, $12.00 for two sodas, $35.00 on a program and Yearbook, and $4.50 for a bag of nuts! 

A bag of NUTS I said! 

That's nothing.  My son bought a $7.00 bag of pop-corn and a $30.00 teddy bear for his girl.  Ugh! 
Whatever, ....it's his life.

But after winning six games in a row, there's not much I would have wanted to say about tonight's loss to the Nationals anyway.  And besides, Livan Hernandez was pitching.  That means we had no shot.  When ever he faces us he turns into Greg "freakin" Maddux.  I haven't seen anyone be more successful dealing junk since Sanford and Son was on TV.  He pitched eight innings; walked only one while striking-out five.  That's just another day in La Officina for Senor Hernandez when he pitches against us.  It's Amazin'.

But put the Nationals in the rear-view mirror now like I try and do with my son's girl.  Because we're headed to Philly for a weekend series.  Although he's finally coming off an impressive win his last time out, Mike Pelfrey hasn't been feeling at all well lately, but he said he's fine and ready for tomorrow's series opener.  He'll be followed by Jon Niese and Chris Young this series.  Jon Niese is still looking to find a groove.  But he and I are square.  Chris Young however, who is coming back from a passing arm situation, has looked quite good in his starts.  I'll definitely give him that.  But, I'll be honest with you.  I'm still indifferent to him.  He'll grow on me.

The Mets' win streak might be over, but it doesn't mean their hot-streak needs to take a hit along with it.  They've recovered nicely from a miserable start to the month and regained a large degree of respectability by the way they've rebounded when faced with rapidly mounting adversity.  Terry Collins is another individual who still needs to grow on me.  But just before they went on this latest streak, it looks now, like Panic Mode was just what the Doctor ordered.  Then stir in some wily early-April moves by Sandy Alderson and some late month clutch hitting along the way and.....

......Well, maybe now they can go into Philly and end this month on a most positive note.  They can't achieve a .500 record this month (11-14 with two games left in April), but they can change a lot of opinions about them with a strong showing against the Phillies.




NEW YORK YANKEES ~ As I mentioned, I was at the Stadium tonight for the final game of the Yankees/White Sox series.  It was Cousin's night out.  My cousin and I with our two sons made for a hilarious night.  Trust me on that one.  I was sporting a White Sox jersey.

The Yankees took the last two games of the series after dropping the first two.  Aside from the fun I had, tonight's game also turned into a laugher for the Yankees.  Ozzie Guillen didn't get tossed out this time but I'm sure he wanted to be somewhere else during a 12-3 Yankee undressing.

C.C. Sabathia (2-1) gave up three runs, all in the seventh inning, but non of them earned.  Before that, C.C. shut the ChiSox down over the first six innings he worked.  He only issued one walk and struck out six.  He did however commit a balk.

Brett Gardner hit his second homerun of the series and third of the season.  Nick Swisher also added a shot into the second deck in right.  Derek Jeter had the night off and Jorge Posada still can't hit.  Jorge was 0-4 tonight is now batting .130 for the season. 

Here's the nice part of that; I didn't hear not one person BOO Jorge.  That's a Good Job.




ATLANTIC LEAGUE BASEBALL ~ Friday is Opening Night for the fourteenth season of Atlantic League Baseball:

Road Warriors @ Lancaster Barnstormers
Camden River Sharks @ York Revolution
Somerset Patriots @ South Maryland Blue Crabs
Long Island Ducks @ Bridgeport Bluefish

After work tomorrow, I'll be Jumpin' the Trolley and heading up to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to take in Game One of the season.  The Bridgeport Bluefish will host the Long Island Ducks in the first Atlantic League ballpark ever built; Harbor Yards.



Lover Boy Pookie Bear might tag along because his girl gotta work.  That's fine, just don't hold me up.  When I say it' time to Trolley-up, I'm out.  I have zero problem going by myself; do it all the time.  I just make friends there for the night.

Play Ball!




BROOKLYN CYCLONES
CYCLONES 2011 TICKETS GO ON SALE SUNDAY MORNING!






Mike.BTB

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ Their Sixth Consecutive Win Is In The Books

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


New York Mets:  Riding a Five Game Win Streak.
A winning streak?!  Let the Pigeons Loose!

I was scoreboard watching last night from Yankee Stadium. 

....Easy back there!  I was  there  ...uh ..doing ..research.
Yea that's it.  But when the Mets final was posted on the Out-Of-Town scoreboard, I thought to myself; TEN.

Last night's win was their tenth win of the month.  Alleluia to that.  Without being smarmy about it, I think ten wins is an accomplishment for this team, and with four games left in April, dare I say...things are looking promising before an encounter with Philadelphia?  The Mets are now 10-13 and stand an outside chance of evening their record, or better yet, getting it on the positive side before the month ends.  The Mets' five-game winning streak has Met fans on the happier side of Bi-Polar disorder today despite a rain delay in Washington.

Can we give Josh Thole a round of applause for his three RBI?  He's only hitting .227, but I don't care.  Any chance I get, I'll tell you, that's my Dude.  He' getting Wednesday night off as R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer, makes a start.

Speaking of starts; - there will be none for Dillon Gee.  The Mets plan is to use him in the bullpen.  He remains on the club and has impressed previously based on the strength of his starts.  So why do this?   Suffice to say, I'm not on board!  I'd rather see him get sent back down to Buffalo and let him throw every five days.  So, let the record state ~ I am against this move.

The rain delay has ended.  The Mets versus the Nationals tonight in Washington is underway.


*Big Props to Alex Cora starting at short-stop tonight for the Nationals against the Mets and to Joey Cora up in the Bronx, as the White Sox take on the Yankees.




** My cousin is in Washington visiting my cousin and sent these pics from the game:



Wednesday,  April 27, 2011
Washington D.C.



N.Y. METS vs. Washington Nationals ~ Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Clutch in the Ninth Inning; Sensational After Sixth Win.
With the Mets down 2-0 and one out, Jose Reyes was clearly safe after hitting a triple in the Mets' top half of the eighth inning.  But the third base Ump Marvin Hudson didn't see it that way.  Actually, I don't know what he saw.  The fact that Reyes, who was jumping around like his pants were on fire (and not for nothing, on the verge of doing something stupid) after the blown call, and Terry Collins, who tried it seemed to get thrown out, were both allowed to stay in the game probably admitted to everyone that Blue had blown the call. 

That scoundrel knew what he did!  But the Nationals didn't anticipate the Mets' response afterward.

So, what happens next?  Daniel Murphy smashed a solo pinch-hit home run into the bullpen in right field.  It tied the game at two apiece.  Unbelievable!  But that took R.A. Dickey off the hook, after giving up only two runs in 6 2/3 innings.

In the bottom half of the eighth, Adam LaRoche blooped a double into Jason Bay/David Wright no-man's land.  Jason Bay ran a long way and made a sliding-catch attempt, but the ball dropped out of his glove.  Daniel Murphy was out of position and therefore unable to field a throw that allowed LaRoche to advance to second base on the play.  A Josh Thole passed ball allowed LaRoche to advance to third base.  With no out and Pedro Beato pitching for the Mets, a sacrifice fly by Ramos scored the National's pinch-runner from third for a 3-2 lead.

The Mets defense was showing it's ugly side again and it was costing them.

But, in the Mets ninth, Jason Bay led-off with an infield single.  Ike Davis slapped a liner to left.  The ball was trapped in left field and Jason Bay almost didn't beat out a force play at second base.  The Mets loaded the bases when the Nationals botched Willie Harris' bunt attempt with no outs.

Chin-Lung Hu tied the game with a sacrifice-fly to the warning track in right field scoring Bay from third.  It was Hu's first RBI as a Met.  Ike Davis scored when Josh Thole (inserted into the game on a double switch when Dickey was pulled) grounded to short to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.  Jose Reyes drew an intentional walk.  Then a big two run double by a sizzling Daniel Murphy into the right field corner scored Willie Harris and Reyes to give the Mets a 6-3 lead.

In the bottom of the ninth, Alex Cora (1 for 4) led off for Washington against K-Rod.  He grounded out to Ike Davis; three to one.  The second batter, Bernadina, singled.  Espinosa (0-5) struck out.  Rick Ankiel batted with two outs.  Mr. Hu recovered a ground ball at second base and threw Ankiel out at first to end the ball game.



Four runs were a result of clutch hits; namely by Daniel Murphy, who led the Mets to their sixth win in a row and their eleventh of the season.  The Mets are now only two games shy of .500 for the season.  Tomorrow they'll try and go for the sweep against Washington before starting a series in Philadelphia against their rivals; the Phillies.

It was good to see Justin Turner drive in a run tonight as well as seeing Chin-lung Hu record his first RBI as a Met.  Ike raised his average to .345 after going 2 for 4 tonight. 

Except for an unearned run given up by Beato, the bullpen closed down Washington backing up a good start out of R.A. Dickey who got a no-decision.  K-Rod recorded his sixth save of the season.

Six wins in row.  It's Amazin' !!





Mike.BTB

N.Y. YANKEES ~ ChiSox, Jeter and Hughes...Oh No!

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY


new york YANKEES:  Getting Dusted With White Sox.
Chalk one up for the Front Office.  On tap, more woe courtesy of the relief pitcher Brian Cashman didn't want.  Rafael Soriano coughed up another game for the Bombers.  But he's looking really bad doing it; if not despondent.  But they say that's just him.  Ok then,   ....Uh Oh!

I guess pitching out of roll for relievers fails to trigger something in their brains that doesn't spark the appropriate chemical releases.  It seems former closers acquired to be Eighth Inning Men for another teams can't, or don't usually make the conversion.... Or shall we call it, the demotion?  While on the one-hand a team looks at such an acquisition as enhancing their bullpen,  the acquired pitcher sees it as a personal demotion from his former Alpha-Bullpen role.  It is what it is.  Just remember, Cashman didn't want him.

Paul Kornerko's blast was the latest reason for Soriano's melancholy.  Blowing a save and getting the loss....again, can do that.  But a right fielder named Brent Lillibrand was the reason the White Sox won last night.  Outside of two Bomber home runs by Gardner and Cano, Brent ended the Yankees best chances of winning by making two game saving catches.  The first was a catch while crashing into the wall off a deep fly to right by ARod, then two, making a diving catch off Robbie Cano's low sinking liner to end the game.

But, why did the Yankees lose?  Because they haven't been able to hit ChiSox pitching over the first two games of this four game series.  They Yanks were outdone by former Mets' farmhand Philip Humber, who no-hit the Bombers over the first six innings in game one of the series.  The Yankees managed four hits before losing 3-2 Monday night.  Then Tuesday night, The Bombers were held to the same numbers.  Two runs scored off four hits (two solo home runs) is all they managed off Gavin Floyd over eight innings.

Game three is Wednesday night.  Mark Buehrle faces off against Bartolo Colon.  For the moment, Bartolo Colon seems like the more effective of the two (remarkable), as Mark Buehrle is off to another sluggish start.



DEREK JETER:
I'll keep this brief because I've said it many times before.

Right now, Derek Jeter's 2011 batting average is at .259 and climbing.  He started the season with a lifetime batting average of .314, and twenty games into the Bombers 2011 season, he caused it to slip to .313 due to a rough start.  That may not seem like such a disaster, but when you think about him being signed for three more years, he may stick around too long and ruin his lifetime .300 average just like the legendary Mickey Mantle did.

What I'm about to say isn't Anit-Yankee of me.  I'm trying to protect him.  He is fifty-three hits away from the magical three-thousand plateau.  I say when he achieves that milestone, he should retire post-haste!  I mean that.  Unless he demonstrates he's capable of sustaining a .300 average for another 2 1/2 years...over the next three months, which I don't think he can, he should take his 3,000 hits and his lifetime .300 batting average and retire; get married; ride off into the sunset; and start a family while his greatness is at it's most legendary.

It is my sincere hope that he surprises everyone, and mostly the Yankees, by taking this step towards protecting what would be an attractive combination of  career numbers.  And he's actually that self-aware and cunning enough to do it while not let anyone in on the secret.  Do not forget the bitterness Derek Jeter expressed towards some of the negotiating tactics Cashman and the Yankees employed.  Maybe he was just playing hardball with the Yankees based on principle and though maybe he deserved the respect of an overly-representative offer.

Why else should he pull off such a startling move?  Because over most of his career, through the days of Tejada, ARod and Garciapara, Ripken,  etc....; and all the years of knocking Jeter's defense,  -  Derek Jeter has always had his naysayers.  And they'll never go away.  If Jeter ruins his .300 lifetime average, those same naysayers (writers and fans alike) will be emboldened to diminish what Jeter has accomplished even more.  If Derek can retire with over 3,000 hits and still end his career with a batting average above .300, that would be BLING for LIFE and make him, a without-a-doubt untouchable in the barber shop debates across America!

Think about it.


However, This IS...Yankee Bashing:
Again, this is something I've said many times before.  But things continually happen that reinforce my notion. 

What happened this time?  PHIL HUGHES.  But it's more than just about him.  This is about Joba, and if you can remember...Ian Kennedy also.

The Yankees acted like spoiled brats when they opened up all their gift prospects too early.  When it came time to open presents, all the Yankees had left were broken toys.  They should have left the three much-hyped pitchers below in the minors from the start.  Joba was promoted after only 88 minor league innings pitched.

That's Folly! 

No..., Brian Cashman’s whole plan for pitcher development has been complete folly!  All three pitchers?  All three injured?  All three rendered ineffective?  If I were those three, I'd hire a lawyer and sue Brian Cashaman for Wreckage of Career!  (I'm KIDDING!..of course.)

The truth remains, the new York Yankees don’t know how to groom pitchers, and  they never have in the last 36 years.  They'd rather pay the premium for another team's pitcher.  That's just the way it's been.  After Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, and Andy Pettitte (I’ll be kind and throw in Wang, Doug Drabek, and Jose Rijo), name the home grown starter who has done anything credible in Pinstripes worthy of our mentioning?   I'll wait.

: /

Stumped, aren't you?

Right.

Like I was saying, three young, hurt pitchers is not a coincidence.  It's a pattern....of destruction.




First Game Of the Year:
Tuesday night was my first baseball game of the season.  But it wasn't my first opportunity.  Regardless, there I was, back at the Old Ball Game.  There is something very right about that, even if it was a Yankee game.  But then again, any game in any park is fine with me.  Now with the Rangers and Knicks out of the Playoffs, this was my Opening Day.  Let the Games begin!


YANKEE STADIUM














Mike.BTB

N.Y. KNICKS ~ SWEPT!! But Not Under The Rug.


N.Y. Knicks
Barclays Center
All-Time Playoff List; LINK



NEW YORK KNICKS:  My Four Point Play.

In no particular order,  these are the points I believe to be most important to the Knicks heading into the off-season:

1) - Re-Sign Donnie Walsh

2) - Maintain Salary Cap Flexibility

3) - Building A Bench

4) - D'Antoni, Amare, and Melo Need A New Plan



SWEPT....,
You saw what happened at Madison Square Garden in games three and four versus Boston.  There's no need to rehash everything...is there? 

Just know, the Knicks needed to play at their absolute best while Boston needed merely to hang-around in games one and two.  And in the closing minutes of both games, the Celtics were able to pull out late victories because they knew how to finish and the Knicks didn't.  Then, when the series shifted to New York, it seemed as if the Knicks took two steps backwards while the Celtics took three leaps forward. 

....Under The Bench.
Like in the first two games, the Knicks also made runs in games three and four that might lead you to believe they are closer to the Celtics than they really are.  Just don't believe it, because they're not.  And I'll give you seven reasons why. - Toney Douglas; Roger Mason; Anthony Carter; Shawne Williams; Bill Walker; Jared Jefferies; and Ronny Turiaf are not the stuff dream seasons are made of.  They're just not.  Nor is anyone else you care to throw into the mix.  I don't mean to come down hard on these guys.  Some of them are serviceable.  But just take a look at Boston's depth and bench alone, and you know what I mean.

We didn't win the series against Boston because those players were getting extraordinarily more time than they should rightfully expect to play.  But that's what happens when your owner agrees to trade away a bus-load of players for Melo; you lose Chauncey Billups for the series, Landry Fields disappears, and you play with a compromised Amare Stoudemire since game two.

So clearly, finding complementary players to fit around Melo and Amare is Donnie Walsh's next mission.  So, the sooner the Knicks resign him the better.  Needs for a rebounder/Center; addressing Landry Fields; and possibilities at Point Guard are matters to be talked about as the Knicks lurch forward.  But it starts with Donnie.


Donnie Walsh Still Has Work To Do.....,
But, there were Knick Fans who thought this team was a championship contender heading into the playoffs.  I was never one of them.  Instead, I think the Knicks are a not-so-well mixed bag of goods heading into the off-season.  This team is still obviously a work in progress and the playoffs should have nailed that notion home for everybody by now.

This is Donnie Walsh's work in progress, so let's take this from the top. 

Donnie Walsh is yet to have a contract extension offered to him.  I most definitely want him back but there's speculation Donnie may not want to come back.  And of course, there is always the Dolan Effect that needs to be factored in when talking about the Knicks' Front Office.  According to James Dolan by his own spoken word at the Melo press conference, Donnie Walsh and him would address a contract extension after the buzz of the Melo trade subsided.  Why are we now done with the regular season and the playoffs, yet, here we are in the off-season and still no offer?

.....And Coach D'Antoni Should Be Allowed to Return.
I also hear many fans calling for Coach D'Antoni's job.  Many fans called for his job last season also.  As a matter of fact, fans were calling for his job after his first season in New York too.  I detect a not so subtle pattern here.  But, rest assured, he will be the New York Knicks' coach again to start the 2011-2012 season.

I concur Coach D'Antoni got woefully out-coached by Doc Rivers on most counts.  Now let's leave Boston out of this.  There is no one available to replace Coach D at the moment, and it's unlikely a better coach will become available before next season starts.  The recurring names of speculation replacing D'Antoni continue to be Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers.  Even if there was a grain of believability there, that chance is still well over a calendar year away from being theoretically possible. 

But then that begs the question as to whether the Knicks should extend D'Antoni?  Ah....What to do?  Answer - Tack on a year to his present deal so he isn't a lame duck coach next season and take it from there.  But of course, easier said than done.

I'm not completely sold on Mike D'Antoni, but I am not against him.  I believe he deserves to come back next season because after all, this team did make the playoffs after undergoing a complete renovation over the prior two years.  And in that time, Coach D never had a consistent or quality roster to work with until this season.   But I won't commit beyond that. 


....But Coach And His Two Stars Need A Brand New Plan.
We have a Coach and a system being carried out by incompatible players.  On the court, the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and a roster full of question marks. Coach D and Amare Stoudemire play one way, while Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony play another.  Additionally, Melo and Stoudemire have still yet to prove they can play together on the same court.  What we saw since the trade were spurts and pops, but nothing resembling something which was clearly cohesive, unified, and meshing.  Going forward, the Knicks either need a system that better adapts to the players, or we need players that better adapt to the Coach.  In that regard, something has got to give and it involves everyone the Knicks plan on surrounding Melo and Amare with.


Maintain Cap Flexibility!  Buy-Out Billups.
And speaking of giving...., the Knicks should not give Chauncey Billups $14 million+ to return next season.  Donnie Walsh damn near performed a miracle clearing out Cap-Space in the short time he did.  I don't believe the Knicks should handcuff themselves with a player I believe will continue to decline and be even more susceptible to injuries.  We've played more games without him than with him since the trade, and he isn't a good fit in D'Antoni's system anyway.  The Knicks are playerS (plural) away from greatness; not lacking one player to put them over the top.  Therefore, I'd rather free-up the point guard position for competition and be in a position to make a trade-deadline deal next season.  Then, we'll see if next season's free-agent class is needed to provide a solution.  My mind is on getting younger and better; not getting older and hanging on.  Maintaining our cap flexibility is a major part of that.





Elsewhere on the Local Basketball Scene:  Construction of Barclays Center in Brooklyn.



View From Flatbush Avenue at 4th Avenue.




View From Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue.






And for those of you who enjoy debating over a
List of All-Time Playoff Greats, check out this LINK: 
The Ten Best NBA Playoff Players of All-Time; by TopOnlineColleges.com






Mike.BTB

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Can/Am League Welcomes The NEWARK BEARS ~ 2011

In the Midst of Financially Trying Times, the Independent NEWARK BEARS Baseball Club Switches to the Canadian/American League as a More Cost Effective Alternative to the Atlantic League.

This year marks the seventh season of CanAm League operations.  The Canadian/American League is the reorganized version of the old NorthEastern League which formed back in 1995.

For the 1999 season, the NorthEastern League merged with the elder Northern League; formed back in 1993; and operated as a Northern League Eastern Division.  The two leagues split apart again after the 2002 season.  The Northeastern League resumed independent operations and in 2005, reorganized as the CanAm League.  But, in name, the CanAm League actually has a history that traces all the way back to 1936 when it was originally tailored to be an Upstate New York and Ontario, Canada circuit. 

This League plays a shorter schedule than does the Atlantic League of Baseball.  On average, they play ninety-four games a season.  This season kicks off on Thursday, May 26th.  The healthiest organizations; - the Broxton Rox and the Quebec Capitales have consistently lead the League in attendance averaging crowds of well over three-thousand per game.



Last season, Quebec defeated Pittsfield to win their second consecutive title and the team's third
CanAm Championship.


PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS:
2005 ~ Worcester Tornadoes
2006 ~ Quebec Capitales
2007 ~ Nashua Pride
2008 ~ Sussex SkyHawks
2009 ~ Quebec Capitales
2010 ~ Quebec Capitales


This season's returning teams include the Quebec Capitales; Pittsfield Colonials; Brockton Rox; New Jersey Jackals; and the Worcester Tornadoes.  Gone are the Sussex Skyhawks of New Jersey after five years of operation.  They will be replaced by a new team making a debut in the CanAm League; the Rockland Boulders of New York.

Additionally, the CanAm League will be an eight team circuit again due to the Newark Bears switching over from the Atlantic League (and utilization of a road team).  For the last two seasons, the CanAm League only fielded six teams; marking their lowest total.  For the 2005, 2006, and 2008 seasons, they managed to field the customary eight teams.  The circuit sported a League-high ten teams during the 2007 season.

Managed by former MLB star Tim Raines, the Newark Bears will make their CanAm debut this season after operating in the Atlantic League for the last thirteen years.  Because the CanAm League indeed plays a shorter schedule than the Atlantic League, the Newark Bears made the switch to a shorter schedule in order to lower the operating costs of their struggling franchise.

In the past, other teams have taken similar measures as the Newark Bears.  The Atlantic City Surf were originally an Atlantic League team which crossed over after the 2006 season.  However, despite representative crowds of twenty-five hundred plus, they ultimately folded after the 2008 season.  The Nashua Pride likewise came over from the Atlantic League and were suffering crippling attendance figures like the Newark Bears face today.  But they were reorganized after the 2009 season and exist today as current member, the Pittsfield Colonials. 

The addition of the Newark Bears now places three teams in the NY/NJ area; three teams in Massachusetts; and the one team in Quebec, Canada.  In addition to a shorter schedule, this alignment should also help Newark bring their travel expenses down.  In the Atlantic League, the Newark Bears' competitors were more widely dispersed.  Aside from the nearby Somerset Club and Camden down the turnpike, the Bears travelled to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and eastern Long Island.  They now have a team 40 miles away in Rockland, N.Y., and a second team literally, right next door.

Their newest and closest rival will be the New Jersey Jackals who play twelve miles away next to Montclair St. University.  That's also where the Yogi Berra Baseball Museum is located.  They are an old Northeastern League hold-over from the Northern League days and won back-to-back Championships during the 2001-2002 seasons. 

To date, the Jackals are the only CanAm League team I have visited.  But that changes this season as I will continue to root for the Bears while they get accustomed to their new environment.  I, like the Newark Bears, look forward to learning a new League and visiting their parks.

It's my sincere hope changing leagues helps the Newark Bears and new management better control costs, and that they may enjoy a promising season at the gate.  There's a rich history connected with Newark Baseball that predates even the New York Mets and stretches back to the 1930's.  It would be a travesty should a city so intertwined in Baseball History have it's current team go dormant due to financial reasons. 

I met Newark Mayor, the Honorable Cory Booker, just as a fan shaking hands during the Bear's winning Championship game in 2007.  I wish him well, as I did then, in all his endeavours and hope the Newark Bears remain a part of the local, but crowded Baseball landscape for years to come.  I will try and do my part to help by hopping over from Brooklyn and attending several games a year like I've done for over a decade.

Jackals and Boulders...., consider this your fair warning.


**NOTE: 
For scheduling purposes, it is still undetermined as to whether the NEW YORK FEDERALS will serve as a road team to even the number of teams at eight.



LINKS:
CanAmLeague.com
AtlanticLeague.com


RELATED POST:
Atlantic League 2011  ~ Mike.BTB






Mike.BTB

Monday, April 25, 2011

ATLANTIC LEAGUE ~ 2011 Changes and Opening Day


Atlantic League Opening Day
Friday, April 29, 2011

The independent Atlantic League of Baseball kicks off their fourteenth season this Friday night but not without changes to the circuit.  The Road Warriors are back and the Newark Bears are out.

The Newark Bears Baseball Club ended their affiliation after thirteen years in the Atlantic League where they previously won two Championships in 2002 and 2007.  They will be switching to the Canadian/American (CanAm League) this season.  The move is an attempt by the Bears to cut operating costs.  The Bears have tried for years to boost attendance with little success.  So now they must take the step to reduce their expenses by playing a shorter schedule.  The Atlantic League plays a 140 game schedule while the CanAm League limits itself to a 94 game schedule which starts in May.

The same has been done before.  One time Atlantic League teams; The Atlantic City Surf and Nashua Pride were two clubs which made moves to the CanAm League.  The Atlantic City team won the inaugural Atlantic League Championship back in 1998 but would eventually fold after switching Leagues.  But the Nashua club, who won the Atlantic League Championship in 2000, reorganized and became the Pittsfield Colonials of the CanAm League.

In the Bears place and to protect schedule integrity by maintaining eight teams, the Road Warriors will make a return to the Atlantic League.  It's their first appearance in the League since 2007 when they played prior to Southern Maryland joining the League.  The Road Warriors are a road-team-only with no home games.  They will be managed by former MLB'er Roy Howell, who played from 1974 to 1984 with Texas, Toronto, and Milwaukee.

As a fan of this League, I followed and cheered for Newark because of their proximity to Brooklyn.  I'll still follow them in the CanAm League, but I am now forced to chose a new A.L. team to pledge my allegiance to.  It's an easy and logical choice to make. 

I am now a Long Island Ducks fan.  I'll definitely be talking Ducks Baseball here.  The Atlantic League's 2004 Champions are quite a success story in their own right.  After the New York Yankees, the Mets, and the Brooklyn Cyclones, I'd venture to say the Long Island Ducks are the most stable and successful baseball franchise (based on fan attendance) within fifty miles of the New York City line.  They've certainly carved out a niche for themselves out in eastern Long Island and routinely have 6,000 fans per game.  The Long Island Ducks organization was originally the brain-child of former N.Y. Mets great Bud Harrelson.  Buddy was also a lead figure in the creation of the Atlantic League itself.

One of Pennsylvania's two teams; the York Revolution; won last year's Atlantic League Championship by defeating Connecticut's Bridgeport Bluefish.  It was their first title.  Bridgeport's lone title came in 1999.  The other Pennsylvania team is the Lancaster Barnstormers who won a title in 2006.

But the power house of the league, and owners of the most hardware would be New Jersey's Somerset Patriots.  Managed by former great New York Yankee relief pitcher Sparky Lyle, the Patriots have won five of the Atlantic League's thirteen trophies.  In 2008 and 2009, they won back-to-back titles.  And now as a Ducks fan or as a Bears fan prior to this season, the Somerset Patriots are quite simply, the enemy to me.  But rival or no rival, they are still an easy drive from Brooklyn for the motivated fan such as myself.

I've travelled to all the Atlantic League member team's home parks but two.  I'm yet to go to York's and Southern Maryland's home fields.  This season might very well be the season for some Blue Crab's Baseball.  I'll see about that.  But as far as parks I have been to, Campbell's Field, home of the Camden River Sharks, has by far the most picturesque setting in the league; sitting at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge on the banks of the Delaware River and over looking downtown Philadelphia.  And the park itself is indeed very handsome.

The Atlantic League is a great escape for those times I want to venture outside the city to satisfy my Baseball fix.  In year fourteen, the League now has well over a decade's worth of history and solid foundations on-which traditions are being built upon.

This coming Friday, April 29, 2011 - the Atlantic League kicks off another season of convenient, affordable, entertaining, and Professional,  ...Baseball.

See you there!


Atlantic League Champions:
1998 ~ Atlantic City Surf
1999 ~ Bridgeport Bluefish
2000 ~ Nashua Pride
2001 ~ Somerset Patriots
2002 ~ Newark Bears
2003 ~ Somerset Patriots
2004 ~ Long Island Ducks
2005 ~ Somerset Patriots
2006 ~ Lancaster Barnstormers
2007 ~ Newark Bears
2008 ~ Somerset Patriots
2009 ~ Somerset Patriots
2010 ~ York Revolution

 

LINKS:
AtlanticLeague.com
CanAmLeague.com

RELATED POST:
CanAm League Welcomes The Newark Bears ~ Mike.BTB



Mike.BTB

Sunday, April 24, 2011

N.J./BKN NETS ~ An Off-Season of More Rebuilding & Construction

From the desk of:  The Hoops of Flatbush

New Jersey Nets ~ Barclays Center and Brooklyn's Future Team.


I don't know many who are willing to call a 24-58 season a resounding success.  But in terms of rebuilding the club as they lurch forward towards an Opening Night in Brooklyn, in the Basketball Nets' case, it is just that.  Considering they finished with only twelve wins the season before, the team only had one direction to go.  But their strides towards success should be described in a broader scope than just by what transpired on the court.  The local area has heard more from the Nets over the last year than they have over perhaps the last decade.

Even more so than just Bruce Ratner's original announcement to move the Nets to Brooklyn, Mikhail Prokhorov's arrival on the scene can be said, without a doubt, to have caused a dramatic upheaval in the local Basketball market.  Determined and direct competition from Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets' move to Brooklyn, which is only one season away from being realized, have stimulated the other team in town to enact dramatic changes of their own.

Mikhail Prokhorov kicked everything off with, The Battle of the Billboards, in where Mikhail Prokhorov fired the first shot by placing a advertising mural within blocks of Madison Square Garden.  Then twice, the Knickerbockers found themselves in direct competition with the Nets over players.   First, they competed for the services of LeBron James last summer, and then at the trade deadline for the services of Carmelo Anthony.  Unable to acquire Lebron and losing Carmelo to the Knicks, the Nets quietly dealt for one of the best point guards in the NBA today; Deron Williams.  To maximize on their acquisition, the Nets quickly relaunched a new ad-campaign promoting their upcoming move into the five boroughs.


Flatbush Avenue at 8th Avenue.


The construction of the Nets' new arena has also instigated the Knicks' owner to make renovations to his own house in preparation for what will surely become a Battle for the Fan Dollar.

So, it's obvious, direct competition between the teams has already fostered dramatic change that has so far upgraded both Knicks' fan's, and Nets' fan's products and both team's outlooks for the near future.

For them to further upgrade the product on the court, the Nets' are well under the salary cap, and have a surplus of picks leading into the next NBA Draft.  New coach Avery Johnson having completed his first season, guided a very young team to a doubling of their win totals from the year prior, while imploring defense and demanding they compete the whole time.  Kris Humphries became a monster on the glass.  His resigning will be a priority for the club.  Brook Lopez established himself as a legitimate NBA scorer.  And of course, there are the hopes Deron Williams will extend his contract and lead the Nets into Brooklyn.



The 2010-2011 NBA Playoffs are in full swing.  And construction on the arena that Brooklynites hope will one day soon host playoff basketball has been full steam ahead for over a year now.  Groundbreaking for Barclays Center took place last year in March.  Most work has been concentrated along Atlantic Avenue and 6th Avenue.  The first year's construction effort was capped off with Arching Beams over Atlantic Avenue,  which caused the arena to start revealing it's personality, as opposed to just being another over sized erector set.  View more construction through March 21st, HERE.




As April comes to an end, construction is currently concentrated along Flatbush Avenue
at Dean Street and 5th Avenue.


APRIL 21, 2011









Flatbush Avenue at 5th Avenue and Dean Street; Downtown Brooklyn.









Mike.BTB

Saturday, April 23, 2011

N.Y. RANGERS ~ Facing Elimination; Game Five



BLUESHIRTS FACING ELIMINATION

SATURDAY AFTERNOON
April 23, 2011


GAME FIVE
NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
ROUND ONE



NEW YORK RANGERS (1-3)
vs
Washington Capitals (3-1)

FROM
The Twilight Zone, D.C.



NEW YORK RANGERS:  Be Afraid.  Be Very Afraid.
The Boogieman doesn't live in children's closets.  That was a myth perpetrated by older brothers and sisters across the country and used to extort and blackmail their younger siblings into silence for having witnessed activities Mommy and Daddy would surely get upset about.  Rather, the Boogieman is a Hockey player.  And he wears #10 for the New York Rangers.  He will haunt us and torture us with nightmares all summer long if the Rangers don't stage a miraculous comeback.

The New Yor.....

 
New York Rangers:  Take Two; Slipping Into The Abyss.


Three second period goals had Ranger fans dreaming of a tied series and beyond.  They chanted "Can You Hear Us" at Capital's Coach Bruce Boudreau.  Three third period Washington goals later, the MSG crowd slipped into a coma.  Thirty-two minutes and thirty-six seconds into overtime, the Blueshirt fans were dead.  No one could "Hear Them Anymore" because one of our own, Marian Gaborik pulled the plug on them.  There will be no recovery from this double-overtime killer.  Flatline is eminent...  The bodies are scheduled to arrive in Washington at 3pm this afternoon for the......

STOP.


TAKE THREE:   PONDEROUS!!
Wednesday night still haunts me a full three days later.  What I saw was ponderous!  Yea, that's it.

PONDEROUS!
They didn't play a good first period and had a horrific third period.

But, in the losing moment, the lone Capital player to whiz across my TV screen was covered and out of the picture.  There was only Gaborik; the puck; and Henrik Lundqvist left to watch.  Henrik Lundqvist came out of net and was on all-fours about to recover a loose puck in front of him when Marian Gaborik swooped in and committed what I can only describe as an act of sabotage in the second overtime session.  He poked at the puck just as Lundqvist was about to cover it, causing a deflection which resulted in a Washington goal to win the game.  There was nary a Capital player near the play.  The winning goal was one of the damnedest things I ever saw.  The fact that the puck would eventually bounce off a Washington player and into the net is purely aftermath.  The damage was done.

Why Gaborik would interfere with the goalie's primary objective and function on the ice, I'll never know.  What motivation he had to deflect that puck away from Henrik Lundqvist is something we all perhaps will never understand.  But even should we agree with Gaborik's decision to play the puck, he still went about it all wrong.  You don't take a feeble stab at the puck in that situation.  You're supposed to nail that puck into the corner or side boards.  But for this fleeting moment, Marian Gaborik mistakes Hockey with Shuffleboard and weakly pokes at the puck.  He was wrong on two counts in that last play.  No one will remember he scored a goal back in the second period.


PONDEROUS!




The Rangers' Power Play Is A Complete Short Circuit.
If you want to throw blame around, start with the power play.  To include the manner in which they finished off the regular season, they are now TWO for Infinity with a man-advantage; sometimes even two-man advantages.  Sometimes it's one shot and out.  Sometimes they gain the zone without ever really establishing possession.  Other times they never gain the zone at all. 

What I saw Wednesday night infuriated me.  Watching a Ranger skater dump the puck in the zone, with three Blueshirts behind him, and no one following through on the chase part of that equation had me looking for something to break.  The fact that we were dumping and chasing on the power play left my eye sockets sore due to being so wide eyed with astonishment over what I was watching.  So if you want to go somewhere, go there.  Brian McCabe looks like he's skating in a cage!  The Rangers were on seven power plays Wednesday night and ended the night with an equal number of shots-on-goal during those advantages.

That's Ponderous!




HENRIK LUNDQVIST and FACING POSSIBLE ELIMINATION:
I understand the point trying to be made, but I am not among the people who place blame for this game and the series on Henrik Lundqvist.  Nor am I among those who place a heaping portion of blame on Henrik for previous Ranger playoff let-downs.  If Henrik had given up four goals on 25 to 30 shots on goal, you'd have a substantially good argument.  But that wasn't the case Wednesday night especially after 50+ shots on goal by Washington.  We are in the playoffs because of him; not in-spite of him.  Tampa Bay helped us out.  Don't forget that.  But we've been riding Henrik like a mule and he's done his part.


The Rangers now have to go back to Washington trailing this series three games to one and face possible elimination from the playoffs.  Before the start of the eleventh season under Glen Sather, the Rangers have advanced to the second round only once; and lost. They now must win three in a row in order to have a chance at changing that.

Of course they can win this afternoon.  That's not an issue with me.  They also need to win-out.  There-in lies the problem.  And it's probably better for the Rangers and me if I let Game Five formulate any further opinions I might have at this point.

There's little more I want to say after a loss like that anyway.  I'm still not sure which tone to take.  This is a young team on the up-tick and to out-and-out bash them would be wrong even if they blew a three goals to none lead.  You live with young defensemen, and you die with young defensemen.  And when they learn how to make better decisions on the ice, a lot of what transpired during the third period of Game Four can be avoided.





 
 
 
Mike.BTB

Friday, April 22, 2011

N.Y. KNICKS ~ In A Deflating Game Two Loss, A Knick Was Born


TONIGHT
Friday,  April 22,  2011


NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS
ROUND ONE


GAME THREE

Boston Celtics (2-0)
vs
NEW YORK KNICKS (0-2)

From
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN



After Seven Long Years, NBA Playoff Basketball Is
BACK in NEW YORK CITY




NEW YORK KNICKS: GAME TWO; Another Bitter Ending For The 'Bockers.


It started out as a bad first quarter for the Knicks. Rondo was running wild and helped get Boston out to an early 18-11 lead. Eventually, Rondo needed a break as he tired and asked out for a rest. That's when the Knicks tightened things up. They recovered and played a good last four minutes however trailing after one quarter. Meanwhile, Amare Stoudemire was already getting wrapped in bandages because his back was cramping up.

At 9:50 of the second quarter, the Knicks took their first lead of the game; 26-24. Carmelo Anthony was the hot, and only hand on deck for the Knicks. Word was received that Amare Stoudemire would not return in this game. So, Melo went on to score 16 points by half-time, with 10 rebounds; 4 assists; and 2 blocked shots.

A foul by Big Baby Davis with 01.2 seconds left in the half put the Knicks at the line. They'd make both free-throws and go the the locker room leading 45-44.

In the fourth quarter, the Refs resumed hating on Melo again by blowing two quick whistles in succession on him as Boston held a 76-74 lead with 9:08 left.

There was still 2:30 left in the game as the teams were throwing up more bricks than a medieval Freemason's convention.

When a time out was called with 0:49 seconds left, it was Knick ball as Boston held a 92-91 lead. After missing a lay-up, Jared Jeffries followed himself to make a lay-up off a pass from a double-teamed Melo making the score 93-92 Knicks, with 19 seconds left. With 0.13 seconds left in the game, Coach Rivers called Kevin Garnett's name down the stretch just as he had in Game One. Garnett posted and backed up Jefferies, then hit a soft right-handed hook in the paint. There was no double team by the Knicks.

The Knicks used their last time-out. On the ensuing in-bounds, Melo received the pass and saw the double-team coming. He found Jefferies down low and to the left of the paint and passed to him. Jefferies looked to pass to an open Bill Walker in the paint, but would have been better served going hard to the basket himself. Jared Jefferies was being defended by Kevin Garnett who caused him to cough it up. Garnett recovered the ball and Boston called time-out. The New York Knicks no longer had any time-outs and it was Boston's ball with 4.1 seconds in the game. The Knicks fouled with only 0.6 left. On the inbounds, Melo let his man run into the back-court with the ball killing precious seconds off the clock. The Knicks got caught starring or were just too tired. Boston made both free throws to make the score 96-93.

That's the way it would end.

Boston now leads the series two games to none. Next stop ~ MSG.




THE NEW YORK KNICKS ARE KNOCKING AT THE DOOR


Old School

With no Chauncey Billups; Ronny Turiaf nursing late occurring bum knees; and Amare Stoudemire lost to back-spasms in the first half, the Knicks had to play everyone from the Butcher and the Baker, to the Candlestick Maker.  Coach Mike D'Antoni was forced to recover more trash from his bench than an American Pickers episode.  Shawne Williams; Jared Jefferies; Roger Mason; Anthony Carter; Bill Walker ALL received more minutes than anyone would have anticipated.  And they all contributed to another great Knicks over-all effort.

But what an incredible loss! It was an absolute 96-93 killer.

Calling on Kevin Garnett to take Boston's last shot was logical.  He had a total mismatch against a helpless Jeffeies; helpless against Garnett that is.  But no double team?  Doc Rivers doesn't have a problem double-teaming.  Then again, it was easier for Coach Rivers to double-up anyone considering the Knicks were running out of options faster than Fred Wilpon.  I would much have rathered to take my chances on Boston hitting from outside again.  A Garnett hook in the paint carries with it too high a percentage of being made.

But if you're inclined to pick on Jared Jefferies for botching up the play in the last seconds of the game, remember how and why Jared Jefferies was brought here in the first place.  He is here because the Knicks traded a roster full of players to acquire Melo.  But even before the trade, we still had no viable center.  After the trade, the Knicks were in desperate need of a body and not that he even fit the bill.  He was just.....there.  But it should remind everyone this team is still a work in progress.  Next season, my expectations will increase.

In the end though, Yes, - the Knicks lose because Jared Jefferies was in a position of paramount importance to end the game.  No Coach dares draw up a last second play for Jefferies and remains employed to talk about it.  That's why Coach D is off the hook....again, even though he got out-coached in the closing moments of the game for the second consecutive time.  Coach D had limited options in that situation.  Melo chose to pass to Jefferies.  Melo said so and we all know it - That was the right play.  However, Jefferies should have gone straight to the basket looking for two and a foul.

In defense of Jefferies, so much for me thinking Toney Douglas was going to play with Rondo.  That situation was a total fail.  So, it's all relative.

But after the way the Knicks played in Boston, we should be upbeat about their chances to win at Madison Square Garden.  They've sustained intense defensive efforts in the first two games.  That more than their points totals have kept them in both games.

Chauncey Billups will be a game-time decision.  The hope is Amare Stoudemire returns at full strength after suffering back spasms.  And Ronny Turiaf needs to return to game one form also.  His knee hobbled him late in game two.  His presence on the floor could have certainly helped late in the game against Garnett.

While Amare was dominating in game one, Melo was off his game.  In game two, Melo played like a player possessed while Amare sat out.  If the Knicks can get these two on the floor and have them play to their capabilities together, with a little support, the score should creep towards 100 points come game three. Coach D said as much that it's necessary to get to the century mark next time out.  It's a sound thought considering the Celtics were not a high scoring team during the regular season.  I still think if the Knicks can run early, Boston's legs will be spent late in the game.  And by Boston, I really mean Pierce.  I don't want him beating us.

Ray Allen had the touch in game one but was quiet in game two.  Rondo likewise, had an off and on two games.  Garnett has been Boston's most consistent player.  That leaves Paul Pierce.  He's been somewhat dormant but won't be staying quiet for long.  He's the one who loves playing in MSG and maybe he's been saving himself these last two games?  Nah.  But, I'm afraid he'll show up at a very inopportune time for the Knicks.  We'll find out.  That's why we play the games.

Make that two games now, Boston seemed interested in losing but found a way to pull out in the end.  For the Knicks, they were two games we failed close out.  But the Knicks are knocking at the door.  Maybe by playing on our home court,  they can bust it open.  I think we still can survive without Chauncey, but obviously we need Amare playing at one hundred percent.  The rest of the cast needs to continue their surprisingly spirited efforts.  Meanwhile, a good game by Amare and Melo at the same time and continued emphasis on defense might get them over this hump.






Earning His Knickerbockers:  CARMELO ANTHONY
Coming off a sub-par opening game in the series, game two was a superlative effort on Melo's part.  After Amare went down, he took anyone who was left on the Knicks' bench and pulled them along to within a few seconds of victory.  But last game makes two tough luck loses in which Melo has been directly involved in the outcome.  Regardless, after his performance in Game Two, Carmelo Anthony is now officially home.  By the end of the first half he had 16 points.  He ended the game with 42 points to lead all scorers.  Throw in 17 rebounds; 6 assists and some blocked shots; and what you have is exactly what the Knicks thought they were getting; his big game potential.  But after Game two, I think all Melo's naysayers finally have to settle in for what is sure to be an interesting relationship together.  Even though it came in a loss, he still offered up a great performance.  But because we did in fact lose in game two, his performance will only remain a glimpse of what the Knicks can be, instead of making it the stuff of Knick Legend.  In the mean time, Carmelo Anthony officially became a Knick to the people it matters most.  He can start working on the rest of the story tonight.





Finally got my internet connection back!  That means we're going to win!

Mike.BTB