Sunday, July 31, 2011

N.Y. ISLANDERS ~ Home Improvement?

The Referendum To Build The Islanders a New Home and Bring Baseball to Nassau County:

At 6:00am - Monday, August 1, 2011 - Residents of Nassau County, Long Island, can begin voting on a referendum to borrow up to $400 million dollars to fund construction of a new arena for the New York Islanders Hockey Club, and a secondary project to build a baseball park for an Atlantic League expansion team.


On the baseball team; it has already been announced the new team will be branded as Long Island. The expanding Atlantic League also has plans to have a team based in Texas and Virginia.   Originally slated to start play in 2012, the League announced the teams will not be ready on time, and therefore will still maintain the ROAD WARRIORS for scheduling purposes until the League's expansions plans are satisfied.


Strictly speaking as a sports fan, I hope the voters get it done and vote YES on the project.  I would gladly make my way to Nassau County for baseball games.  And as a Hockey fan, I would love to see the Islanders get a new home and stay in the area so as to continue the rivalry with the New York Rangers. 


But who am I to say how the people of Long Island should spend their own money.  Knowing they pay one of the most onerous tax rates in the country, I would empathize should they decline to not fund the project.  But I would say very simply, it would be a shame if the Islanders were faced with no other options but to move from Long Island.


We'll see how the vote goes and take it from there.







Mike.BTB

Newark Bears ~ End July With Win

From the desk of:  THE BRICK CITY NINE





NEWARK BEARS: Bears Shut-Out Brockton To Close July Above The .500 Mark.

Second Half - The first place team; Brockton Rox; came into Newark Friday night and had their way with the Bears, defeating them in the first two games of a three game series by a combined score of
24-9.  Today, in the last game of July, the Bears salvaged game three of the series by shutting-out the Rox 5-0 and by doing so, kept themselves above the .500 mark (31-30) and two games out of first place in the second half race.


Newarks' number one starter, Alex Smith, played stopper in shutting down Brockton over his six innings pitched.  He allowed the Rox only three hits, but walked three while only striking out one.  He improved his record to 7-2 on the season which is only two wins behind the CanAm League leader.  His now 2.93 ERA is the League's sixth best.  Three Bear relievers chipped in with an inning apiece to complete the shutout.


The Pittsfield Colonials will be visiting The Den for a three game series to begin the August schedule.  The regular season ends Labor Day Weekend.  The Quebec Capitales have already clinched a spot in the 2011 playoffs.  Thirty-three games remain in the Newark Bears' season.





Mike.BTB

Newark Bears ~ Tough Times In The DEN

From the desk of:  A Newark Bears Fan In Brooklyn



NEWARK BEARS:  How Much Longer Can They Sustain Operations?



When talking about the New York Metropolitan area, I speak of the 50 mile radius around the city. Within this area live approximately 15 million people.  Serving the baseball minded citizens within that population demographic, is an abundance, maybe even an over-abundance of professional baseball teams; be it from the Major Leagues; various levels of Minor League ball; or the Independent Circuits.  On any given day, no one within fifty miles of my laptop is more than just a relatively short trip away from a baseball game.


Some would argue the market (the NorthEast market) is saturated.  Yet, the Atlantic League is hoping to expand with a second team on Long Island (pending a loan from the Nassau County residents).  That will bring the number of teams on Long Island Proper to four; the Mets; Brooklyn Cyclones; Long Island Ducks; and the expansion team in Nassau County.


The Yankees in the Bronx and the Baby Bombers in Staten Island; the Hudson Valley Renegades and the new Rockland Boulders, both just north of the city, round out the nearest New York teams.


Then there are the local New Jersey teams.  The Somerset Patriots; Lakewood Blue Claws; New Jersey Jackals; and of course, the Newark Bears finish a listing of the baseball options a local fan has if they're willing to take a short drive and diversify their baseball experiences.


What's evidently clear in the baseball rich Tri-State/Metropolitan market is there exists an extraordinarily fierce direct competition for the almighty fan dollar.  Leaving the Major League teams out of the rest of this discussion, a look at this season's local attendance figures shows there is rabid interest and devotion to the game of baseball at all levels of play, and that those passions and pursuits of Fandome are reflecting in healthy gate receipts thoughout the area.


Here's a brief look at some of these team's respective success at the gate this season:

* I rounded off numbers for ease.

ATLANTIC LEAGUE:
-  Long Island Ducks ~ ...Will welcome their five-millionth fan in their twelve year history before the start of Saturday's game.  They lead the Atlantic League in attendance as they have every year in the circuit.  After 43 home dates this season, attendance stands at 240,000; an average of 5,500.  They are a resoundingly successful organization.
-  Somerset Patriots ~ ...Another extremely well run organization and a resounding success in their own right as winners of five Atlantic League Championships.  They are number two in attendance this season behind Long Island.  In 42 home dates they've drawn 230,000; an average of 5,400 per game.

* There is great potential for gate success with an expansion team in Nassau County should the residents approve an August 1st referendum to fund a sports complex.

The Bridgeport Bluefish of Connecticut appear to be a franchise struggling and in clear trouble.


NEW YORK - PENN LEAGUE:
Brooklyn Cyclones ~ ...Clearly the largest success story of the Tri-State area baseball scene.  Having broken and set many records in Minor League attendance, after the Mets and Yankees, the Brooklyn team is the undisputed attendance champ.  Many times over their 11 year history 9,000+ fans have packed MCU Park for baseball in Coney Island.  This season marks the three-millionth fan to attend a Cyclones game.  It's the fastest any minor league team has ever achieved that number; and the Cyclones play A-Level Short Season.  But of course that comes with playing in Brooklyn; home of 2.5 million of the 15+ million Tri-Stae area residents.  The Cyclones, like the Long Island Ducks, have led their respective League in attendance every season of their existence.  This season, after 20 home dates, 140,000 fans have come through the gates for an average of 7,000 per game.
-  Staten Island Yankees ~ ...It took a few years to catch on, but catch on it did.  Staten Island is now routinely one of the NY-PL attendance leaders.  This season they rank third in the circuit behind Aberdeen, MD. and Brooklyn.  After 20 home dates 120,000 fans have come through for a 2011 average of 6,000 a game.

-  The Hudson Valley Renegades are a near twenty year old; very vibrant and healthy organization with a strong fan base in Peekskill-NY.



CANADIAN/AMERICAN LEAGUE:
-   Rockland Boulders-NY  ~ ...a first year expansion success of the CanAm League.  They're a new team with a brand new park and attendance wise rank second in the circuit (#1 among the American teams).  In 24 dates 61,000  fans have come through for an averae of  2,500 per game.*
-   New Jersey Jackals  ~ ...A very stable, CanAm success.  They are always among the League leaders in attendance.  In 31 home dates, they've received 56,000 fans for an average of 1,800 fans a game.  It ranks them third.*

*  To put CanAm League attendance in perspective, the Canadian team; Quebec Capitales; lead the League by a wide margin.  In 31 home dates, they've received 88,500 fans for a 2,800 per game average.  Of the American teams, with an average of six fewer home dates than the rest of the League (due to on-going construction of their park to open the season) the Rockland Boulders are having an impressive debut season.

#  The Sussex Skyhawks (Northern NJ) team folded after the 2010 season.



What's evidently clear from these figures, is that even in a saturated market such as this, there seems to be room for everyone to carve out a profitable niche in the area and enjoy a slice of the financial pie.  Most, if not all of the local area teams seem to be doing just fine (relatively speaking) at the gate this season; all except....The Newark Bears; a team which plays in New Jersey's largest city and in the second largest metropolis of the Tri-State/Metropolitan area.


They play a mere 12 miles away from the New Jersey Jackals and 35 miles from the Rockland Boulders.  They are only about 20 minutes away from the Somerset Patriots to the south and a short half-hour drive from my location in Brooklyn ...or Staten Island.


Yet, in 37 home dates this season, only 29,000 fans have come through their turnstiles; a meager average of 775 fans per game (which is not nearly reflective of the dire straights they really find themselves in.  Their attendance is actually worse than that).  Originally a two-time Champion of the Atlantic League, due to continuing poor attendance figures over the years, the Bears were forced to make a switch into the CanAm League this season in order to slash operating expenses. 


The CanAm League offered the Newark Bears smaller roster sizes; fewer scheduled games; and considerably less travel as ways to cut spending in the face of a years long battle with a dwindling gate.  Former Yankee favorite; catcher-Rick Cerone's vision of Baseball in his home town, once realized, now faces extinction.  The original owner of the Newark Bears has since sold the team.  Today, the Bears are under new ownership and implemented this plan to switch Leagues and possibly save the franchise.


The fan base of the Newark Bears is non-respondent, dormant, or not at all existent these days.  There appears to be no speakable support from the local residents; so crucial to any organization.  Less than 1,000 fans a game will doom this city's legacy so rich in Baseball History.  But on far too many nights, the Bears play before a very sparse, two to three hundred fans a night.


Just five years ago, although their attendance woes were already taking hold, there once was a fully-stocked gift shop with a very handsome variety of team items.  Today there is only a fold out table with nary a souvenir available for purchase.  There are letters missing from the great names mounted on Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium's Ring of Fame adorning the press box and (empty) suite level facade.  The selection of items remaining in concession stands still open for fans have been minimized.  At times, it seems like there is more staff personnel walking the concourse than there are fans attending the game.  Chasing down a foul ball would be a race against yourself or versus two really rambunctious kids who couldn't sit still. 


They no longer have their games broadcast on radio, and similarly ceased web casting this season.  They maintain a web site which currently comprises the total extent of their media reach outside of what the Newark/NJ Star-Ledger may provide.


Centrally located among all these successful teams, as an organization which plays in such a large, downtown environment which Newark provides; with secure parking connected to the park no less; it's hard to believe the Bears can't draw more fans.  The park is clean, very accessible, and sits under the backdrop of the downtown Newark skyline.  And beyond the center field fence, lies a picturesque view of Manhattan.


Newark Bears manager, Tim Raines; a dynamic player in his day; stole many bases over his Hall of Fame worthy career.  But he, along with his player/son; Tim Raines Jr., haven't been able to steal the hearts of the locals; much less spark moderate interest.  On the field, with some Major League veterans on the roster, the Bears sport a rather potent offense.  It's in starting pitching where this team lacks talent.  As such, they've hovered around the .500 mark much of this season.  But even in their most recent Championship season of 2007 (back in the Atlantic League), they struggled mightily at the gate; to include a poor showing during the playoffs and championship round.


The question now is, - How much longer can this organization survive without a change in fortunes and a stark rise in attendance before it's forced to fold operations; or in a best case scenario, remain in the hands of an owner willing to withstand the bleeding?


Anything beyond 2011 is looking bleak at this point.  And that's a tremendous shame.  Outside of the Yankees in N.Y. and the Brooklyn Cyclones/Brooklyn Dodgers connection, there is presently no city within even seventy-five miles of N.Y. Harbor that owns such a mature and rich tradition in Baseball as the City of Newark does.  But alas, the Newark Bears are not the Yankees.  However, Newark's history does own a branch on the family tree as the city once was home to the New York Yankees minor league affiliate; purchased and owned by the late Colonel Jacob Ruppert.  Newark's history is undeniably real and needs...or should have an outlet for Baseball fans throughout the area to learn from; be prideful of; and passionate about.


Additionally, the Negro League liniages of Newark are also something that need to be embraced; celebrated; and promoted as part of an overall experience at a Newark Bears game.  Perhaps the finest "Negro League Baseball Museum" imaginable; perhaps even finer...to rival the Negro League Museum in Kansas City; is in order for the East Coast, and more specifically Newark.  There may be no better or appropriate place than Newark to capture the essence of Baseball's Negro Leagues in all the North East.  It's just a thought.  But the Bears' ownership and the Honorable Mayor Corey Booker; who's always worked hard for, and closely with the Bears; need to think of something in order to keep baseball operations in Newark ongoing and getting fans in the ballpark.


It's too easy for someone who actually writes for a living (unlike me) to take a cold hearted look at demographics and median incomes of the various team locations in the Tri-State area and draw ignorant conclusions from them.  To that method I simply point to a Mr. George Steinbrenner; whom I had no great love for (I'm a Mets Fan), BUT, who is a person I always praised for keeping his team in the South Bronx throughout it's darkest days, and having the patience to outlast various City Administrations until he finally came across one friendly to his cause (unlike Walter O'Malley).  So I would say, save me the crime riddled urban rhetoric and demographic-based determinations of what ails the Newark Bears' market.  Sure, to ignore the stigma Newark has rightfully earned because of a darker past is not possible.  But moving on and separation from the past, is.  That's precisely what Corey Booker is trying to do; forge ahead.


Being surrounded by many more successful teams in the immediate area I think points to fixable reasons why fans aren't showing up to the ball park in Newark.  Somehow, igniting the passion within people to again venture out to the ball park is the first step.  Passion and inspiring people to move....Taking the first step is always hardest when moving from a sedentary position; like the Newark Bears' fan base presently finds itself.  They're out there...; somewhere.


They must be found because Baseball games in Newark really should have a future beyond this season.  The history in this city is worth every feasable effort.




Mike.BTB

Saturday, July 30, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ A Secret To Long Island's Success

From the desk of:  WADDLING THROUGH BROOKLYN




LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  A Sign Things Are Going The Ducks' Way This Season.


Read Friday Night's Game Final and Blog: HERE - Fifty Reasons To Quack For Joy.


Within the Liberty Division, very early this season the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs were stripped of their best two; League leading; hitters when their respective contracts were purchased by affiliated baseball.  The Blue Crabs and Ducks flip-flopped first place during much of the opening portion of the season while the Blue Crabs still employed their sluggers.  It was only after Southern Maryland had those contracts purchased that Long Island pulled away as the first half drew to a close.

Similarly, the Lancaster Barnstormers, as it was noted in last night's Ducks web cast, have lost seven players who's contracts have been purchased and yet still managed to win their division's first half championship (Freedom Division).

The Ducks have had two players in total, who's contracts have been obtained by affiliated clubs.  At the beginning of this Ducks' season, SP-Lenny Dinardo's contract was picked up, opening the door for Mike Loree to get a second crack at the starting rotation and subsequently dominate the League.  Then just recently, Mike Parisi's contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The loss of Parisi is a huge blow, but the Ducks have been fortunate in this respect - that their roster has remained relatively in tact all season long.  It's proven to be a very pleasant development for Duck Fans for sure.  No position player's contract has been sought by affiliated baseball.  But there-in lies the precarious nature of building a contender in the Atlantic League; the loss of a key player, or multiple players at any time.

So far the Long Island Ducks and The Pond, have been relatively free of affiliated predators.  Hey, sometimes you just need things to go your way.  And sometimes, they do.

TODAY

Road Warriors
vs.
LONG ISLAND DUCKS
From Bethpage Park

The 5,000,000th Fan in Ducks' History
will walk through the turnstiles today.




Mike.BTB

L.I. DUCKS ~ Fifty Reasons To Quack For Joy

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  FIRST TO FIFTY!

In the rubber game between the two first-half division champs, the Long Island Ducks won their 50th game of the season Friday night by consistently pushing across two-out runs against opposing pitcher J.D. Durbin and the rest of the Lancaster Barnstormers.

In the second inning, Matt Padgett and Tom Pennino (his first) hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game at two after Lancaster touched-up Ducks' starter Ruddy Lugo for two runs in the top half of the frame.

The Ducks went ahead 4-2 in the third on RBI singles by John Rodriguez and Lew Ford.  In the fourth inning, Long Island posted another pair of runs to make the score 6-2 Ducks.  Kraig Binick singled home Dan Lyons who doubled; then stole second.  Ray Navarrete singled to drive home Binick.

After a rain delayed start to the game, Ducks' starter Ruddy Lugo put forth a respectable effort after Lancaster got to him in the second inning.  He pitched five innings and threw eighty-five pitches.  Allowing three hits overall, he gave up the two earned runs in the second inning but no more, while walking three batters and striking out four.  Ruddy left the game on the winning side of what stood to be his fifth win against two losses.

Bob Zimmermann entered the game in relief of Lugo in the sixth inning and promptly pitched himself into trouble.  He gave up a home run, a walk, and back-to-back singles before he received a trip to the mound from his pitching coach after Lancaster made it a 6-4 game.  The meeting on the mound didn't work.  Zimmermann gave up another single to make it a 6-5 game with the tying run and go ahead run still on base.  Coach Baez came out of the dugout this time and yanked his pitcher with two outs.

Enter Bubbie Buzachero in a rather early call for him these days.  He hit the first batter he faced to load the bases.  Then, a single by Lancaster's Tommy Everidge drove home two more runs for a 7-6 Lancaster lead.  And so much for Ruddy Lugo's fifth win of the season.  He got stuck with the no-decision after a ruinous five run sixth inning for the Ducks' bullpen.  All five runs were charged to Zimmermann.

With two outs, an RBI double by Kraig Binick in the bottom of the sixth tied the score for the Ducks at seven apiece.  Then all-time Duck, Ray Navarrete, singled home Binick with yet another two out RBI by the Ducks for an 8-7 lead.  All eight runs scored by the Ducks to this point were scored with two outs.

Bubbie Buzachero managed the seventh inning after allowing the lead-off batter to reach base.  He wasn't sharp; pitching behind the count to all batters he faced.  But he kept things very quiet in the eighth inning.  And looking back on the outing, he most certainly earned the win in relief of Friday's game for his 2+ innings of work.


"New" Ducks' closer; Eric Wassermann...(and why not?  He's pitching lights-out).....  came in to pitch the ninth inning.  And in commanding Closer fashion, gave up a hit, but struck out the side to secure his 7th Save and the Long Island Ducks' 50th win of the season.


The Ducks are now the proud owners of an overall League best 50-28 record.  They remain as the only Atlantic League team above .600, playing to a .641 percentage.  In the second-half standings, they gained a game on Camden who lost Friday, and are now just one game behind the River Sharks for first place in the Liberty Division.


On July 30, 2011
vs. the ROAD WARRIORS
The Long Island Ducks Will Welcome Their
5,000,000th Fan To The Ball Park!

Congratulations to my own personal favorite, Buddy Harrelson, and to the entire
LONG ISLAND DUCKS ORGANIZATION.

And,

Congratulations to the Baseball Fans of Long Island.
Pat yourselves and each other on the back Saturday.






Mike.BTB

Friday, July 29, 2011

Newark Bears ~ Taking on Brockton in July Final Series

From the desk of:  GROWLINGS FROM BROOKLYN


NEWARK BEARS:  Open Three Game Series Versus 2nd Half Leader Brockton Rox.

I'm looking forward to listening to this series, because my new favorite broadcaster from Brockton will most likely say something disparaging about the Bears again.  Tonight I'm putting the over/under at two innings.  By the top of the third, I'm betting he will have said something inane; which has been his custom since I started listening to the Bears upon their joining the CanAm League this season. 

He (who shall remain nameless...I'm not looking to out anyone...) has usually done his best critiquing in the first game of each series between these two teams.  And we learned from the first time Brockton came to Newark, Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium isn't exactly his favorite place either.  One of his hang-ups is with the Bears' bullpen.

It should be another fun listen tonight.



Check in after the game.


Mike.BTB

Thursday, July 28, 2011

N.Y. GIANTS ~ Big Summer Time Blues

From the desk of:  My Giants Blog is yet un-named.  Maybe by Opening Day I'll think of one.




NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  The Cold-Hearted Tentacles of Life in the NFL Have Reached Out and Touched Two Giant Greats.

With the Lock-Out officially lifted and an agreement in place, I think I join many fans in a mass feeling of dismay.  Yea, we got Football back.  But every body's situation is a complete mess with little time to fix it.  But in the NFL, he who adjusts best, wins.


Everything I say about the Giants in this post, I must preface by saying - I am an unabashed supporter of GM Jerry Reese; (until further notice).  So whether I like his decisions or not, I support and trust his judgement (until further notice).  So, let's get on with this because after all, it's still only July.


We Giant Fans knew our Offensive Line needed an overhaul.  The units' great stretch together has run it's course.  And well, Jerry Reese said it was time to break them up.  In what can be a cold-hearted League at times, perhaps this shake-up comes a year too late as the Giants for the most part, have always been classy about their long-time employees.  But make no mistake, when it comes time to make a move, the organization moves.  


Slated to be released will be long time Center, and as far as I'm concerned a Giants' All-Time great; Shaun O'Hara.  He, and who I think is/was equally great, Rich Seubert, will both be released this summer.  Admittedly, the Offensive Line has been ravaged by injuries these last few years.  O'Hara only managed six games last season and Rich Seubert's battles with injuries are, if anything, inspiring.


The O-Line's incredible record setting consecutive games played streak which coincided with the Giants' last Super Bowl run, is unfortunately now an ever-distancing memory.  Time stands still for no-one; and cruel more so to Offensive Linemen.  Yet these two have defied the odds of Football longevity.  It was additionally heart-breaking to watch Rich Seubert go down the way he did last year in the last game of the season.  He stepped in to start at Center in place of O'Hara and served as the core of the O-Line; keeping the Giants' running game rumbling throughout the season.  It's a hard way to end careers (maybe).  But then everything in the NFL is.


The Giants have made some preliminary moves.  Shane Andrews; decimated by injuries; also will not return.  They tentatively signed free-agent; David Baas; C/G from San Francisco.  He's twenty-nine years old.  David Diehl will also be switching positions again.  And it appears as if Will Beatty will be given every opportunity to win a job on the O-Line.


As the Offensive Line goes, so goes the Running Game.  I am extremely pleased to hear Brandon Jacobs is open to restructuring his contract.  Coach Coughlin made the (un)enviable, but all too late admission, that he and Coach Gilbride misused Jacobs last season; something I screamed my head off about.  They left off saying they would run Jacobs considerably more this (2011) season.  That was then.  In the NFL, things always change.  But I for one am interested to see if both Coach Coughlin and Gilbride remember what they said.


Being open to restructuring his contract is probably the only way the Giants can retain Brandon's Little Buddy and Partner in Grind; Ahmad Bradshaw.  And I for one, want him back in a big way.  I know he's somewhat injury prone, but he's at the same time durable and resilient.  He also suffers from Worst Case Scenario Fumblitis, but I'll take my chances with him hoping to correct that part of his game.  Retaining Ahmad Bradshaw is high on my list of things to do.


What isn't so high on my list is Plaxico Burress.  This one is fairly easy for me to hash out.  Would I welcome him back?  Yep.  Hey.., if he and Eli can rekindle some of that magic again...sure.  Does the thought of him paired up with Michael Vick in Philly make the hairs on the back of your head tingle with anxiety?  Me too.


The Receiving Corps. has already moved on and readjusted to life after Plax.  So in the scheme of things, Plaxico would be entering camp as a supplementary player until he earns different considerations in the offensive plan.  Steve Smith, a free agent, also throws a wrench into the spokes regarding possible Giant needs.


As far as Plax clashing with Coach Coughlin's discipline again?  Plax recently said things were better between them when Coach implemented the Leadership Counsel, and pointed out how the relationship between them deteriorated after Coach disbanded it.  Frankly, who knows if they can get along if reunited.  They (Plax and Coach) are reportedly having a meeting today to discuss a possible reunion.  Who knows if and how jail changed Plax's frame of mind.  But because the Giants are not dependent (per se) on Plax, he'll exist initially as a spare part in search of a larger role.  That, perhaps will humble him more than jail might have.  The Giants stand to gain much and lose very little taking a chance on Plax because he's no longer part of the plan....if you get what I'm saying.  Keeping him out of Philly might also run through their minds....but how do the Giants afford that in the (resumed) Cap Era?


It's a mute point right now because Osi is throwing a sissy-fit over his contract and supposed promises Jerry Reese might have made in the way of redoing his deal.  He is now a potential hold-out if the Giants don't re-work his contract or trade him.  Strictly speaking as a fan here, don't you just hate when your favorite players take this tact with your team?  But that's the Old School in me talking; isn't it?  I've heard along the way trading him for a Number Two or Three Draft Pick.  I'm not listening to that!  Just get a deal done.  And someone please advise Osi to clam up and conduct his business more privately.


I'm glad the Giants struck a deal to keep Mathias Kiwanuka.  I'm hopeful for health and a considerable up-tick in his game this season.  But I'm sorry to see Barry Cofield leave Big Blue.  The memory of that hit on Tom Brady to close out the Super Bowl will last a long time.  As a free agent, he received his market value from the rival Redskins.  He became too expensive to retain here.


Are you ready for some Football?  Uh...right now, this is a bit too much in July for my tastes.  But this will no doubt be one of the most interesting summers in recent Football history...for every body.






Mike.BTB

L.I. DUCKS ~ Moving On Without Mike Parisi

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  A Ripple in the Pond or a Tidal Wave of Trouble?

As July winds down and I settle in for the second half of the season, the first half Champion Ducks are already 14 games into the tail end with a match against the Lancaster Barnstormers tonight in game two of a three game series; kicking off a six game home stand at Bethpage Park.

The Ducks are 9-4 in their first 13 second half games.  But that places them behind a suddenly hot Camden River Sharks in the Liberty Division, who have started 11-3 thus far.  Long Island is still the overall Atlantic League leader with a 49-27 record.

The biggest concern for the Ducks moving forward has to be the purchase of Atlantic League All-Star, Mike Parisi's contract by the L.A. Dodgers.  He and Mike Loree combined to create a formidable one-two punch at the top of the starting rotation for Long Island.  Parisi still ranks among the League leaders in strikeouts and ERA even 10 days after his acquisition by the Dodgers.

While I for one don't think Camden will keep up their recent play, and think South Maryland will still continue to pester Long Island in the division, the Ducks continued winning hints they will survive Parisi's departure. 

I say not so fast.  Come playoff time, everything changes.  We all know that.  But I think the York Revolution may have a clear edge in starting pitching now.  Of course time will tell.

Veteran hurler, Shane Youman however, has stepped in marvelously for Long Island since his Ducks' debut on June 8th.  He easily won the the third spot in the rotation prior to Parisi's departure.  He has appeared in eleven games thus far and started five.  While compiling a 5-1 record, he's done it sustaining a very low 0.87 ERA.


Tonight's starter for Long Island is Joselo Diaz.  Much more is needed from him.  He's struggled all season and is currently sporting an ERA above the 6.00 mark.  Between him, Mark Diapoulis, Heath Phillips, and Ruddy Lugo, the Ducks must hope they will be enough to get through a short series. 


I'm afraid the loss of Mike Parisi is very compromising to the Ducks' post-season picture.  Long Island GM Michael Pfaff has a lot of work ahead of him trying to sure-up his starting rotation before September's playoffs roll around.


The Ducks' potent offense is now required to remain just that; potent.  Once teams face the Ducks' fourth and fifth starters of this rotation, the Long Islanders will most likely have to slug their way through them.


The loss of Parisi also alters the way Coach Baez utilizes his (very solid) bullpen now.  Clearly, they will be handling a bit of a larger load.  They will be called upon more often without that solid one-two punch Loree and Parisi provided..., and giving the Pen a night off from time to time.


While the good times are rolling in Bethpage Park this season with a first half championship in their back pockets, the Ducks have officially entered a very interesting portion of the season.


NOTE:  The Long Island Ducks' 5,000,000th fan will pass through the turnstiles for a game during this home stand.




Mike.BTB

Friday, July 15, 2011

Newark Bears ~ Looking To Finish 1st Half Strong

From the desk of:  GROWLINGS FROM BROOKLYN


NEWARK BEARS:  Still Trying To Get A Piece Of
Fourth Place.


The Bears will end the season's first half against none other than the CanAm's first half clincher; Quebec Capitales in a three game series at The Den in Newark.


A hot start by the Bears this season turned into a tail spin which dropped them below .500 at times.  They've been hovering around that mark ever since.  Facing the League's first place club Thursday, the Newark Bears gained an inconsequential game on Quebec, and scratched their way to a game above .500 again.


The Bears tail-spin came on the heals of rising to second place with an 18-11 record.  Since then they have gone 5-11 and currently sit in fifth place; and after tonight, drew within 10.5 games of Quebec.


In game one of this last first half series, Tim Raines Jr. and Daryle Ward both homered, supplying Bears' starter, Alex Smith, with all six runs he'd need tonight.  They gave him an early 2-0 in the first when Tim Raines Jr. hit the Capitales' Matthew Rusch's seventh pitch of the inning out for his 8th home run, scoring Brandon Watson who singled to lead off the game.


In the sixth inning, Daryle Ward blasted a two run homer, scoring Tim Raines Jr., to give the Bears a 4-0 lead.  The lead became 6-0 in the seventh when Daryle Ward drove in two more unearned runs with a single.


Starter, Alex Smith gave Coach Raines what this team has needed so desperately; a starting pitcher who can pitch into the late innings of a game.  Thursday evening, Alex Smith gave his team 7.2 innings against the League's best team.  He walked five batters to give the Capitales hope.  But he surrendered only one hit.  They scored twice off him, but only one run was earned.


The bullpen preserved the Bears' twenty-second victory of the season versus twenty-one losses.


Matt Fitton pitched 0.2 innings following Smith.  He gave up three hits and allowed Quebec's third run of the game.  But Mikey Mehlich was called on to close the game.  After taking a tough loss Wednesday night against New York, he pitched the final 0.2 innings; no runs; no hits; no walks; one strikeout - earning him his seventh Save of the season.


Pittsfield sits 0.5 games ahead of Newark; in fourth place.  The Bears with try and gain way against Quebec again tomorrow in game two of this series, while the Pittsfield Colonials will play at Rockland.  Newark is 2.5 games behind third place Brockton.




Mike.BTB

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Last Word on the All-Star Game

....Or should I say, The Almost All-the-Stars Game?


I’ll be honest; I haven’t cared about the All*Star Game since the early 90′s.  But I'm a passionate Baseball fan who still cares enough that it be done right and players come correct.  So in light of Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit, I thought he should go to Arizona if only just to tip his cap.  It’s a simple matter of respecting the fans who foot the bill for everything; to include these parks and mega-million dollar salaries. 


Baseball, more than any other sport lives in its' past as well as it’s present.   And because Baseball clings so dearly to it’s history, I feel Jeter should have recognized the significance of his achievement and shared it on a grander stage by managing an appearance.   Sometimes there’s a thing called living up to responsibilities even when we don’t feel like it.   It’s called being an adult.   If he was OK to go 5 for 5 the other day and tip-toe up the dugout steps for a curtain call, then he’s OK enough to say hello in Arizona.  


But not so much with Jeter; he's generally cool with me.  My ire really rests with players as a whole.   I really put blame on the players (the guilty ones who ruin it for the others...like steroids did!) becoming bigger than the game of baseball itself, rather than the other way around.  And yes, it's because of their salaries.  Once, players wouldn't even think of missing the All*Star Game because of the bonuses involved.  This year, an all-time high number of players missed or skipped out on the game.  But players of the past also thought of it as a privilege to represent their respective cities; yes, back when players were bound, and yet in most cases loyal, to few teams in their careers and before agents decided what was in players' best interests.


But when I say they've become bigger than the game, it's because of the overall apathy the players feel towards the A.S. game itself.  I see the All*Star Game as part of their work place environment and as such, attendance is of the utmost importance.   But being a ballplayer is living a somewhat charmed life, and there is simply no structure when they don’t want structure.   Structure is OK when they decide upon it.   And so because the inmates are running the asylum in Selig's zany world of Baseball, we get stupid, impotent rules like making the All-Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series.  Why?  Because there is no such thing as making a player feel guilty about not going as long as he's getting paid guaranteed money.


Being a player is hard work with long hours.  They get days off only after every twenty-something consecutive days with grueling travel in between.  I get that.  But this is part of the job description and the fact of the matter is the All-Star Game is, or should be, above the player and more about the fan; just like it was originally intended to be back in the 1930's.  Everything is great when it comes to taking our money.  But the All-Star Game is about giving back. 


So yes, because of the money ballplayers make, in the name of Henry Chadwick, humble yourselves and show up.  I'm not asking them to do anything that hasn't been done before them, and by many who were genuinely happy to be there.


It’s a jaded view; I know.  But it's also the truth.




Mike.BTB

BKN/NJ NETS ~ Jay-Z Takes His Place Over Flatbush


From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

 
 
BROOKLYN NETS:  "H.O.V.A" Playing a More Prominent Role For Nets At Barclays Center.

Over the last year, Nets' guard, Deron Williams, has been featured most prominently around downtown Brooklyn in the team's signage campaign.  It now seems as if the Nets are entering a new phase in their billboard blitz.

In now, the second summer of construction on Barclays Center; which officially puts Barclays' opening at one year away as the arena is scheduled to hold events in the Summer of 2012; - the team's minority share owner, Jay-Z, is taking on a more visible role in his team's transition to Brooklyn; ....a much more visible role.



POST SCRIPT ~ NetsDaily.com via Twitter, told me the reson why Deron Williams was pulled from the billboard campaign was due to the Lock-Out.  And added...,

"....Jay-Z was ideal and necessary."


Above Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, and across the street from the construction site of the Nets' future home, Jigga Man himself now sounds the call...,



WELCOME TO BROOKLYN









BARCLAYS CENTER
July 14, 2011


Views from Flatbush Avenue.






Looking towards 6th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue from Dean Street.





View from 6th Avenue.



Mike.BTB

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BKN Cyclones ~ Sandy Bobble-head Night; NYPD Appreciation

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



BROOKLYN CYCLONES:  The Coney Island Nine dropped below the .500 mark tonight with a loss to the Auburn Doubledays.

The Cyclones are in the middle of a rough stretch as they have now dropped eight of their last eleven games.  Auburn jumped out to an early first inning lead and never looked back.  They only managed four hits for the game.  A couple of errors and some bad base running by the Cyclones made their night look worse.  And getting hit by four pitches made this game hurt.  The final score was 9-3 in favor of Auburn.


*  *  *  *  *


The gang from SNY and WFAN were in Coney Island tonight to call the Brooklyn Cyclones game against the Auburn Doubledays.  It was NYPD Appreciation Night and the home crowd was treated to a Sandy the Seagull Bobble-head adorned in full NYPD uniform.



Visiting Auburn takes infield and batting practice.


 


Today's line-up and New York-Penn League stats.


 



SNY's Bob Ojeda during pre-game takes.


 

660 WFAN's Adam the Bull and John Minko were on hand to broadcast the game
with the help from John Franco.


Before the game, BROOKLYN BURGER sponsored a hamburger eating contest.
The winner was Gentleman Joe;
who surpassed his own record by eating 16 hamburgers in five minutes.


The Burger Champ showed off his team autographed jersey
during a photo-op with Pee Wee.



 
Tonight was NYPD Appreciation Night at MCU Park.
Sandy the Seagull bobble-heads, in full NYPD uniform were given out to the crowd.


 


 

Mike.BTB

N.Y. METS ~ Stealthy Alderson Strikes In The Night

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




NEW YORK METS: Sandy Alderson Has Now Purged $23 Million Dollars of Minaya Money in 2011.   Rescuing the Wilpons From Their Closer's $17.5 Million Dollar Option Is His Biggest Save to Date.

Sandy Alderson may have just recorded the biggest Save of next season for the Mets' Front Office by finding a team willing to take on the albatross of Francisco Rodriguez' looming 2012 option for a whopping $17.5 million dollars.


Milwaukee, not averse to taking chances these last few years, will hide their best minor leaguers from a prospecting Sandy Alderson, who will be given a list of players to choose two returnees from.  Or, in other words, this was a straight up salary dump and the Mets were less interested in getting players back than they were just ridding themselves of K-Rod and next years' salary.  But the Milwaukee Brewers have drafted extremely well over the last five to seven years and I'm sure Sandy Alderson; DePodesta; and Ricciardi will find something of worth within Milwaukee's system to satisfy the trade.


I'm not calling this the official start of Cleaning House.  This is a deal that needed to be done regardless of the Mets position in the standings.  But the fact is with no trade rumors circulating and no hints or leaks this deal was in the works, it means Sandy Alderson is working the phones furiously and doing it smartly.


I guess the biggest question is... Is this really the start of the Grand Purge?  The trading of Carlos Beltran will go a long way towards answering that question.  In order to be in contention for a playoff spot, the Mets need Carlos Beltran in the line-up.  And, they and need to supplement him with an additional bat.  And quite honestly folks, I don't think that's happening; not when the Mets are paying people to leave Flushing.


It's no big stretch to say Money is dictating what the Mets do between now and the end of the season.  The official purge of (Omar) Minaya Money is now up to $23 million dollars in 2011.  The Mets sent $5 million dollars to Milwaukee as part of the K-Rod deal.  When you factor in the $12 million they ate with Oliver Perez, and the $6 million dollars they swallowed on Luis Castillo, there is no smart way the Mets can justify taking on more salary now to supplement the team with a slugger.  Besides, paying their way out of 2011 just might clear up enough dollars to resign Jose Reyes next year; however doubtful.


If anything, this should serve as notice; A Plan; ...The Plan is in place.  I believe Sandy Alderson did his research upon being named Mets' GM and came to Flushing with a plan in mind but was open and willing to let events on the field perhaps reshape his vision of the team.  But I'm afraid on July 13th, one game over .500 (46-45); isn't enough to reshape a lump of Play-Do.


Changes are coming for sure.  But I don't think they may be as drastic as we all think.  I said in my last posting, injuries have thwarted a full scale shake up of this team.  Injuries may very well keep most of these players together heading into next season; save Jose Reyes and his pending free agency.


After a potential trade of Carlos Beltran, that's all the Mets can realistically pull off; unless other teams find value in some periphery players and are willing to part with raw minor leaguers for a player who can supplement their bench or serve a utility roll.  But again, just like the trading of K-Rod, a trade of Beltran is being precipitated by other, more pressing factors than just being competitive or not.


In some far from blockbuster deals, I'm looking for teams to have interest in R.A. Dickey, Daniel Murphy; and Izzy.  Izzy is already on the block per Sandy Alderson.  But we need to come to grips that Daniel Murphy simple doesn't have a job on this team when Ike Davis and David Wright are on the field.  And the results of his outfield play speak for themselves.  I like Murph; who doesn't?  We all know he can hit a baseball well.  But perhaps he'd be better suited to play in the American League where he can DH more often.  His bat can potentially garner a good prospect in return.


As good as R.A. Dickey has been for the Mets, they should consider selling high with him.  Next years rotation will include a returning Johan Santana, and now young regulars, Niese and Gee.  I'll assume the Mets still have loads of patience with Mike Pelfrey and so that leaves one starting spot left, which I think Sandy Alderson is content with promoting another arm from the farm.  And there are a few arms to chose from.


The trade deadline is eighteen days away.  Sandy Alderson just traded the first big name of the season.  No one saw it coming although we all knew it would happen.  That's a good GM move.  Now we can officially expect more to come.





Mike.BTB

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Atlantic League ~ Long Island To Get A Second Team?

Professional Baseball has committed themselves to Nassau County.  Now the question is if Nassau County is committed to Baseball.


The Atlantic League has already struck a deal to expand to Nassau County, Long Island, pending approval of a $400 million dollar loan from the taxpayers in order to fund construction of a new baseball park, and a new arena for the New York Islanders Hockey Club.  The vote to approve a tax hike will take place on August 1st.  Raising taxes has always been a volatile subject on Long Island.  The County's return will come from revenue sharing.  But the project also needs approval from New York State as well, ever since they took over control of Nassau County's check book.  So, a Yes Vote on this spending package isn't a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.


Frank Boulton; Long Island Ducks owner; Founder and CEO of the Atlantic League; would own the new team as well.  His group was approved by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano over another group which included Sterling Equities; i.e. - The Wilpons (N.Y. Mets).  This is the second time the Mets looked into relocating or placing a minor league team in Nassau County and failed.  Just a few years ago they looked into relocating their AA-club to Long Island.


In the July 12th edition of the N.Y. Post, writer Kieran Crowley reported,

"....Frank Boulton said he will bring the already-approved, but dormant, Newark team of the Atlantic League to Nassau...."


I'm not quite sure I follow.  The Newark Bears are currently under new ownership and are participating in their first season in the Canadian/American League; coming after twelve years in, and being one of the original Atlantic League teams from 1998.

But that little perceived inaccuracy on my part, doesn't preclude the Bears from being sold again, or just moving the team to Nassau County under their current ownership.  Except for all the rich tradition and history Newark Baseball represents, which they'd potentially be leaving behind, the move would actually make sense for them considering their poor attendance figures over the years.  The reasons they switched over to the CanAm League in the first place were for cost-cutting purposes.


A new team in Long Island would of course create an instant rivalry between Suffolk County and Nassau County.  It's already being dubbed, "the Expressway Series."  The Ducks have been wildly successful out in eastern Long Island; routinely playing to near, if not sold out games.  And Mr. Frank Boulton is assuring the County that success can be had in Nassau as well.



The people will decide on August 1st.


...And decide they will.  Baseball aside, this is probably the last chance to keep the New York Islanders from moving out of the Metropolitan area.  Islanders' owner; Charles Wang; is hemorrhaging cash and has had it with County officials.  He went from proposing to build a privately funded Lighthouse project to waiting on the residents of Nassau County for a loan. 


For Long Island; this is...ponderous!  What were they thinking?  They went from having someone looking to foot the bill on a new arena with an adjacent entertainment and retail destination, to polluting the plan with a baseball team and asking the residents to pick up the tab.  But one thing is sure; the Islanders and Charles Wang can not remain NHL viable for much longer in the present Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum.  And if this loan isn't passed, kiss Hockey on Long Island good-bye.  The best case scenario is Wang sells the team and the new owner then inherits the same migraine headache and problems.  Sounds promising. 


Brooklyn's Barclays Center has already been ruled out as a potential landing spot for the Islanders.


My personal opinion?  I hope they get it right and approve the deal.  Build it and they will come.  I would definitely make the relatively short drive out to see a baseball team in Nassau County.  And as far as the Islanders are concerned, I'd look forward to continuing the Ranger/Isles rivalry against a healthy and thriving Long Island team.  But in the Islanders' case, that comes with a new arena.





Mike.BTB

Monday, July 11, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ First Half Situational Report

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


NEW YORK METS:  State Of METropolis at the Break.

Heading into the All*Star break, the Mets are a game above average.  It's better than one game below to be sure, but it's not where they need to be.  Over the next twenty days and nights, the Mets need to get in a position by where to leap-frog Atlanta in the standings for a Wild Card spot.  That means they need to be no more than 2.5 or 3 games behind the Wild Card leader; be it Atlanta; Arizona; or whomever, by the time July draws to a close.  Or, most people's thinking is that Sandy Alderson will blow the roster up.  They are 7.5 games behind the Braves.  So let's just say they need to gain five games on Atlanta before the month is through to prevent that from happening.


Over the first half of the season, pitching has kept the Mets in the position they find themselves in today.  And that should be taken at face value.  The Mets are a third place team in the N.L. East because of their pitching; not for a lack of.  But no, they won't be over-taking the Phillies any time soon.  However they've achieved a .500+ record without Johan Santana as their Ace.


Dillon Gee; the Buffalo call-up, has stepped in to surprise and mesmerize the opposition and is as responsible as any player on this roster for the Mets' modest success.  He and Jon Niese have been given doses of tough love by Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, and they have responded.  R.A. Dickey remains his own man and like all Met starters, could have stood to benefit from more offense in many games this season.  He continues to serve as a steadying force in the Mets' young rotation.  Additionally, I think any team would have taken what Chris Capuano has offered so far, running away.  As a fourth or fifth guy, any team would be glad to have him. 


And that leaves Mike Pelfrey.  Let's just say with a reasonable progression in his abilities and skill from last season to this one; or even something along the line of last year's Pelfrey; with even the slightest expectations being met..... the Amazin's could in fact be a few games or three behind Atlanta as we speak.  But even in spite of an inconsistent Mike Pelfrey, the starting pitching has been everything it's needed to be while carrying this club.  To Pelfrey's credit, he did pitch a good game against the Giants Sunday, but was victimized by an impotent offense yet again.


As far as this team being buyers or sellers at the deadline; - If the Mets turn out to be buyers, will they be looking to secure another starting pitcher?  They say you can never have enough pitching.  But the Mets biggest problem has been a lack of overall power and low offensive production.  So where the Mets, like any team, can always use another arm, they'll probably look to add some slugging to the
line-up first.


Should the Mets turn out to be sellers, I can definitely see R.A. Dickey being in demand.  I think he's done enough to dispel any notions last season was a fluke.  And at his age, he's not exactly pinned to the Mets' future like a diaper on the rest of the Met KidsBut the knuckleball is a forgiving pitch on aging rotator cuffs and so R.A. Dickey can dependably help any and all teams right now.  Chris Capuano is another pitcher that a contender might have interest in.  Just think in terms of movable parts in the event Sandy Alderson does blow this this up.


Dillon Gee; Jon Niese; and yes, even Mike Pelfrey are all most likely part of Sandy Alderson's future plans for Flushing.  However, keep in mind, we've all seen pitchers like Mike Pelfrey test the patience of General Managers before, and lose in a test of wills.


The bullpen, as we've learned from Sandy Alderson, is an entirely different story.  Whether the Mets are in contention or not, Sandy already announced he's having a bullpen garage sale and that everyone is welcome to take a look around.  Just keep your eyes away from Bobby Parnell is all I ask.


If Francisco Rodriguez is a mosquito, that makes his 2012 contract option, Malaria.  There isn't enough OFF in the Western Hemisphere the Wilpons can spray at KRod to make him go away and not suck the blood out of their books.  The Wilpons have already broken out in hives as Coach Collins gets him steadily closer to the magic number that makes his 2012 option kick in.  So it's easy to conclude the Mets want to get rid of Francisco at all costs, and regardless of their place in the standings.  This expensive contract option is fair to dump back into the lap of Omar Minaya; which leads us right back to the reason why Sandy Alderson is here in the first place.


But to what extent can Sandy Alderson realistically transform this club..., this month, assuming we become sellers at the deadline?


In their present conditions, Johan Santana and David Wright aren't going anywhere.  At one time, trading Jose Reyes seemed almost certain.  Then that turned into unlikely.  And now that he's injured yet again with a recurring bum leg, the prospects of trading him at current are remote.  Jason Bay and that contract aren't going anywhere; at least not yet.


So of the Mets big ticket items, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the lone, realistic big fish a team might want to hook from out of the Mets talent pool.  If the Mets drop out of contention, the scuttlebutt is Beltran lands in San Francisco.  Where ever he winds up, getting something for him is better than getting nothing.  The Mets can not offer him arbitration; therefore will get no compensatory draft picks in return should he sign elsewhere as a free agent.  Knowing the Mets are motivated sellers, the return on Beltran might be minimal.  Once again, thank Omar for that contract stipulation which brings us back to why Sandy Alderson is here in the first place. ...Right.  Either way, Beltran comes off the books after this season which is what the Wilpons really want anyway.  If Sandy Alderson trades Carlos Beltran sooner than later, then we'll know for sure the fire sale is on and that all bets on contending are off.


But if the Mets are in real contention, real soon, it's simple; Beltran stays.  Then, the Mets will need all the offense they can muster.  In that event, it means they'd be buyers.  Where do the Mets need an immediate upgrade?  Answer; - Left Field.  Obviously, a player or players will have to be moved out. And what the Mets need in return is a power bat.  Who would they target?  What would it cost? They're the same questions we'd ask if the Mets wanted to solidify their pitching first.


Should guys like Justin Turner; Daniel Murphy; Angel Pagan; Lucas Duda; etc., be worried about getting packaged into a deal to improve the club?  My answer is why?


If names like Reyes; Wright; Bay; Beltran; Santana; and Francisco Rodriguez aren't involved, then what are we really talking about here?  Let's face it; we all knew about a possible scenario where if, Wright; Reyes; and Santana were all healthy, there would be a distinct possibility the fire sale would indeed be on.  Reyes and Wright were and still are the two quickest and most effective ways to recoup high level talent in a trade.  That fact has Met Fans divided.  And of all things; injuries; this team's demise; may be the very factor that keeps them all together; as many of them have become un-movable just in time to thwart any plans Sandy Alderson might have had of blowing this up.


Amazin'ly the Omar Minaya Doctrine lives on.  Outside of eliminating Oliver Perez; Luis Castillo; tinkering with second base and finally settling on Justin Turner; and signing Capuano; this is Omar's team and still runs according to his timeline.


The contracts of Reyes; Beltran; and Wright were all designed to come due roughly in order over a two year period.  Concurrently, the acquisition of Delgado; and the revolving players at catcher, second base, and left field were all preventative measures, synchronized to last until the emergence of Omar Minaya's prospects from his first two years of amateur drafting hit the parent club.

Niese; Pelfrey; Gee; Parnell; Thole; Duda; Murphy; Tejada; Ike; Henrry Mejia; Nieve; Fernando Martinez; etc., were all part of the first wave of draftees and international/Dominican free agents to reach the big club.  Others like Dylan Owen; Reese Havens; Kirk Nieuwenhuis; Jon Malo; and a few more from Omar's early drafts are still making their way up.  There are more names worth mentioning which is good news.  They may or may not pan out.  But the point is, evidence of the Minaya Plan abounds.  His problem was the Boss' son; bad luck; crippling injuries; a reliance on Glavine, Perez, and Maine; and a plan that came together too late; if at all.  The signings of Bay and KRod were wholly reactionary moves that had their genesis in a Front Office state of panic.

However, now missing is the chaos which permeated this Front Office and the constant flipping, juggling and side shows performed by our three resident clowns; Omar Minaya; John Ricco; and Lil Jeff.  Today there is one voice and one direction (though still yet to be unveiled, but in the planning none-the-less); or so we hope.  And something very important in the Land of Perceptions, there is no cornering of the GM, nor the manager, into compromising situations by the Media.  Back on June 1st, Terry Collins told them all what he thought of that tactic and advised them he wasn't the right guy for that.  They haven't crossed him since.  And Sandy Alderson?  I don't think they'd be stupid enough to try.


Jose Reyes might be topic one in Flushing these days.  But the uncertainty surrounding Jose Reyes' status as a Met has never been made an issue where-by it led to questioning Sandy Alderson's acumen.  There is no inclination, even by the fan base, to start calling Sandy Alderson a fool, similar to when things of that nature came so easily to us in recent years under the old regime.


As a man practiced in the art of team building, I personally don't think Sandy Alderson is here to pick up where Omar Minaya left off.  However, another round of debilitating injuries makes it seem so.  To be fair, keep in mind this is Omar's team that is battling to stay above .500 and make a run at a Wild Card.  Sandy Alderson just has to decide what to do with it.  Unforeseen factors may have derailed Sandy's plans somewhat also; just like it seemed everything worked against Omar.  But this time, it seems like half the Mets fan base is happy about it if it means keeping their favorite player.


We don't know what July 31st and Sandy Alderson have in store.  But we do know this has been an enjoyable first half to the season.


To be continued....


Let's Go Mets!






Mike.BTB

Sunday, July 10, 2011

L.I. DUCKS ~ Enter Break as League's Top Team

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  ....and that makes Forty Wins for the 1st Half Champs as the League heads into the All*Star Break.


NOTE: This Posting Is In Between Games of a Double-Header vs. Somerset Patriots.


Except for one game scheduled to be played tomorrow, the Atlantic League has hit it's mid-point of the season.  And while already having clinched a first half title, Sunday's win against the Somerset Patriots was the Long Island Ducks' 40th of the season.


Winners of their last three games, they wrap up the first half with an Atlantic League best 40-22 record and are the only team playing above a .600 winning percentage (.645); three games better than the Freedom Division winner; Lancaster Barnstormers.


As they enter the All*Star break, J.R. House is the new League leader in RBI with 47; while he and Ray Navarrete have crept-up on the League leader in home runs with 11 each.


Matt DeSalvo of York is the new League leader in strikeouts, but Long Island's Mike Loree still dominates the Atlantic League mound.  He's leading the League in wins with 10 and is the only pitcher with an ERA below 2.00, claiming a 1.71 mark.


The York Revolution and the Ducks will have the most players representing their teams in the Atlantic League All*Star Game.  They have seven selections each.  Two teams comprised of twenty-two Freedom Division and Liberty Division players square off in the Atlantic League's Mid-Season exhibition.


From the Ducks, pitchers Mike Loree and Mike Parisi will be making well deserved trips to the Game.  John Rodriguez was selected but has been hampered with a thumb injury and is unlikely to play in Wednesday night's game.  The rest of the positional players selected to go to the All-Star Game are Matt Esquivel; Javier Colina; Kraig Binick (second in the League in Batting Avg.); and J.R House.


The season will resume Friday when the reset button starts the divisional races a-new for the second half.  But then, the Ducks don't have to worry about that...., do they?



Mike.BTB

N.Y. YANKEES ~ Jeter's Home Run Trot Into 3000 Club

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY





new york YANKEES:  Deeds Speak Louder Than Words.  It's Why Some People Get It.  And Some People Don't.



Stop and think before you speak.  The persona you save may be your own.  Or, you can hope nobody reads GQ Magazine.  "He doesn't hit home runs like me."  Maybe not.  He just knows how to rise to the occasion.  But that was only the very beginning.  And days like today are why silence; even cold, immature silence; is golden....(and smart).




I INTERRUPT THIS BLOG TO SAVE MYSELF FROM....ME:

I know.  That's the direction I was headed.  Most of what followed, I deleted.  It wasn't what this should have been about.  Read on.




DEREK JETER:  Al Capone Would Have Been Proud.

Fairly or not, once upon a time he was a player who once stood in line behind two; three; and even four other shortstops around Baseball for his share of respect.  Astonishingly, that came during the dynasty years and the prime of his career.


If you're old enough to have followed Derek Jeter's entire career, you'll know how his was never the first name to roll off the tongues of conversationalists debating the best shortstops of the game.   Guys like Miguel Tejada; Nomar Garciapara; and present teammate Alex Rodriguez were almost always mentioned ahead of him.  Even Barry Larkin often times skipped the line when they were issuing out props for the position's biggest stars.


He was routinely voted by his piers amongst the game's Most Over-Rated Players and in spite of Gold Gloves, was constantly being undermined by some defensive computation or NASA metric revealing how bad of an infielder he really was; - Or so they say.


"How many times do we need to watch him bounce into a double play?"
"Girardi should bat him ninth!"
"He's nothing but a glorified singles hitter!"
"If the ball isn't hit right to him, he's not fielding it."


Some of those shouts and criticisms are new; some are old.  There's a little merit in them, but a lot of nonsense in all of them. Why? - Because you can't qualify everything in Baseball.   And unfortunately, we now live in an age where we feel the need to quantify everything.


Even his Captaincy has come under attack at various times over his tenure.  He felt compelled to back Jason Giambi during his steroids plight, but took a more ambivalent approach when A-Rod went through his.  This isn't pick on A-Rod day, but Derek Jeter was equally criticized for pairing up with; at the time his good buddy; Alex during the most intense moments of the old Yankees/Mariners rivalry. 


In practically always having the right thing to say, the Media sometimes felt cheated of something they wanted to hear from the mostly stoic Captain.  During all those Yankee/Red Sox battles, the Media always wanted more from him and criticized The Captain when they didn't get it. 


Outside of feeling slandered by Alex Rodriguez back in the day, and feeling slighted by Brian Cashman this past off-season, Derek Jeter has been a model of comportment.  And what he felt about those respective situations still manifested itself in a high degree of; albeit passive-aggressive; professionalism.


That job description; Captain; was thrust upon him by the late George Steinbrenner.  Captains; leaders; aren't necessarily appointed, so much as they are born?  Derek Jeter pulled it off because his parents raised a fine young man.  Nothing more; nothing less.  But the Boss knew Jeter would never let down the brand.  And till this day; this special day in Yankee History; he remains correct; - just as Derek Jeter has always stood correct and upright, in Pinstripes.


But when you've amassed a resume like Derek Jeter's, these may seem like paltry critiques and minor issues that come with the territory. 


So be it then.


This afternoon, Derek Jeter took a bat to the doors of the Immortal Club and with five precision swings, bashed the doors open with a delight even Al Capone (Robert DiNiro/Untouchables) would have been proud of. 


Today, Derek Jeter stands as the Godfather before all his contemporaries with more hits than Tejada; Garciapara; the guy who plays to his right; and any other shortstop who's ever played this game outside of Rogers Hornsby.  And with five rings on one hand for them to kiss, and a wad of hits in the other, Derek Jeter hammered home the last word today on any lingering debate about who the era's Don of Shortstops is.


Derek Jeter has outlasted Nomar and Tejada.  And let's be honest, Alex Rodriguez outgrew the body-type of a shortstop long ago and is probably in his rightful position anyway.  But that's the price Alex paid to become a Yankee.  He deferred shortstop to The Yankee Captain just as he should have. 


Derek was never as slick a fielder as Omar Vizquel.  But then again who was?  But he outlasted him too.  There was no living in the shadow of the great Cal Ripken Jr. and his breaking of The Iron Horse's consecutive games played record.  Today, when you look around the landscape of Baseball, none of his contemporaries have sustained their careers like Derek Jeter has (save A-Rod).  The Baseball Writers of America are currently struggling as to whether Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer or not.  When Derek Jeter's name comes up on the ballot for the first time, there will be no debate outside of by what percentage does he get in?


No.  For Derek Jeter, starting in 1996, there were Championships and the matters of playing shortstop for a dynasty.  And today, it was about accomplishing what no Yankee ever has; not even the great Lou Gehrig; or Babe Ruth.  Joe D., the Mick; Yogi; ....no one; no Yankee ever.


There is Yankee lure; too much to capture here.  There's also been famous tags.  One is Mr. October; Reggie Jackson; esteemed and revered for World Series greatness on three pitches.  And then there are players stuck with monthly monikers for more dubious reasons.  Alex Rodriguez has a lock on Mr. March and of course, Dave Winfield was labeled Mr. May by the Boss back when....   


But Derek Jeter is Mr. November.  He is the owner of one singular moment no baseball player will ever get a chance to live out again; so help us God.  But for the very solemn reasons that moment became possible, there is no better player in baseball to embody what those times meant and why Baseball always plays a part in our Lives.


Prior to 2:00pm this afternoon, one hit and ninety feet were all that separated Derek Jeter from the Immortal Club.  In his second at bat, he introduced himself with a three hundred and sixty-foot trot around the joint.  Career hit number 3,000 did not come on a single to right.  Instead it came on a home run pulled to left and into the first row of the bleachers.


Jorge Posada was the first to hug him at home plate.  Mariano Rivera was the last.  The two exchanges were by far, the most noticeably heartfelt on-field embraces.  And so in the manner in which Derek Jeter has gone about his career, his most notable achievement happened and ended with an expected correctness.  Only in the world of Derek Jeter can it work out so perfectly; with a home run to boot.


The game of Baseball is grand and Derek Jeter reaffirmed it.




Mike.BTB

Saturday, July 09, 2011

BKN/NJ NETS ~ Talking Turkey As Barclays Center Rises

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH






BROOKLYN/NJ NETS:  Deron Williams Off To Turkey?

If you're Nets' GM; Billy King; you can't be happy about your "meal ticket" potentially hauling off to Turkey to play basketball while the NBA lockout runs it's course back here in the USA.  And if Billy King does have a problem with it, he should take it up with David Stern; not that it will help any.


Everything the Nets have done so far, as far as marketing and laying the groundwork for their relocation to Brooklyn has been presented high over the streets of the greater Flatbush Avenue area with Deron Williams as it's central theme.  So much of their drawing power, it is hoped by the Nets Front Office, will hinge on him.  Of course they still need to strike a contact extension with the star Guard.  But so far, Williams seems intrigued by a future in Brooklyn.


For the Nets, there will be nothing but anxiety filled nights and daily worries regarding their star point-guard playing European Basketball.  Obviously, the top concern is injury.  Quite frankly, the Nets can't afford to have anything coming between them; a healthy and signed Deron Williams; on the court or in the pocketbook for that matter.


There's no doubt, the Nets are one of the twenty two organizations David Stern claims have lost money; and therefore why he is instigating this Lock-Out.  The construction of a billion dollar arena; a re-branding in Brooklyn; and a Lock-Out ~ do not good bed fellows make.  How a Lock-Out may trigger future apathy towards the League while trying to sell yourself to a semi-new fan base is something the Nets will have to negotiate very carefully.


Any and all players who opt to play in Europe put all parties; the League; Owners; and Players themselves; in precarious situations that can be avoided with a settlement.


As a fan, I wouldn't ordinarily be so preoccupied with injuries and players playing elsewhere; especially as it applies to Williams.  As a baseball fan, I enjoy the World Classic and MLB players participation in Winter Leagues.  So to say Deron Williams shouldn't play in Turkey would be somewhat hypocritical of me; No?


But I now, like the Club, am more concerned with building towards having the best Opening Night in Brooklyn possible.  As of right now, that means having a healthy Deron Williams signed to a new contract.  Turkey, to all concerned, is just undue stress and works contrary to everything the Nets are trying to achieve; all brought on by this very unnecessary Lock-Out.


BARCLAYS CENTER
June 16th through July 6th



 








 


 


 





 


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Mike.BTB