Monday, October 31, 2011

BKN Nets ~ David Stern Carves Up Last Season in N.J.

From the desk of:


The 2011-2012 NBA season was supposed to begin on Tuesday, November 1st.  But apparently the NBA Owners and the Player's Union are no closer to figuring out how to split basketball related revenue than they were at the start of this process Lock-Out.  Therefore, still without a Labor deal in place, Commissioner Stern wielded his hammer and cycle a second time and lopped off another two weeks of the regular season. 

No Thanksgiving for you!  Do I hear Christmas?  Christmas anyone?  Going once....?

If there's a bright side to cancelling games through Thanksgiving and the end of November, I know who not to ask for a reaction.  Not only is Kris Humphries officially unemployed come Tuesday, now he ain't got no girl either.  His marriage to Kim Kardashian is over!  Hey, at least he won't have to spend the holidays at his "ex" in-laws house this year.  It's a good thing too because I pitied the fool!  That two month hitch came apart faster than Sinead O'Conner's career.  I feel bad for Bruce Jenner though.  He could have used a backbone around the house.  But for Kris at least, fret no more; crisis averted.  The name on the back of his jersey won't have to be changed to Kardashian after all.  Whew!

But on a much more serious note, I do not begrudge either side in their labor dispute.  When it comes to collective bargaining, this is the way it works.  I do however feel great empathy for the good people of New Jersey who are getting cheated out of a final season together with their NBA representatives.  To begin with, the season was no doubt going to played amongst mixed feelings of apathy and appreciation.  Now the New Jersey Net Fans can't even have that.  Certainly not on time anyway.
Realizing that I, (...Brooklyn), am the beneficiary of the Nets' relocation across New York Harbor, I hope that doesn't come off as a hypocritical piece of verbal peyote I'm pushing.  Faced with losing a team to begin with; albeit the Nets remain in the Metropolitan area; New Jersey's last hurrah gets sadly compromised by the League itself.

Business is a cold cruel world.  Whatever!  Both sides just better get a deal done before the doors to Barclays Center get set to open for the 2012-2013 NBA season.  That's when I'll ultimately have the biggest problem with this Lock-Out - if and when this should get that far.  I can't shake this feeling I have that the Lock-Out and the Nets' move to Brooklyn are akin to two locomotives on the same track headed towards each other at full steam.  That's just me.  But I feel this is a very distressing dynamic for the future Brooklyn sports scene.  

The overall hope though, is everyone will get to watch some Basketball on Christmas Day or maybe by New Year's.

Atlantic Avenue at Sixth Avenue


Happy Halloween

...Brooklyn Style


N.Y. Giants ~ Big Blue Struggles To Net Fish

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

New York Giants...........5-2
Dallas Cowboys..............3-4
Philadelphia Eagles........3-4
Washington Redskins....3-4

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  If Playing Ugly Gets You In First Place, Disgusting Is OK With Me.

I won't be taking time out to tell you how disgusted I am with Sunday's performance in this post.  I'll save that for the week.  There's other more positive things to ponder after Week Eight in light of the Herculean test the Giants are about to face starting next weekend.

Well..., they won, which is the only reason why I'd even consider this tact after an uninspiring performance against the Fish.  So let's start there.  The Giants improved to 5-2 and solidified their lead in the NFC Eastern Division.  The Redskins lost to Buffalo and the Eagles defeated the Cowboys in the Sunday night game.  All that factored into giving the Giants some separation between them, the second place team, and the rest of the pack.  Elsewhere, the Steelers rumbled over the Patriots in New England.  The Giants will be heading to Foxboro for next week's game against the Patriots.  So I'm sure there will be very careful attention paid to this week's film by Coach Coughlin and his staff.

There are two huge reasons why the Giants are in the position there are in today.  First, Eli Manning is continuing to have a stellar season throwing to a receiving corps who are proving more reliable by the week.  And secondly, the Giants consistently come up with huge sacks late in games.  As a matter of fact, the Giants ability to get to the QB in fourth quarters has been the biggest factor in the Giants' success this season by far.

Eli Manning is indeed having a "elite" type season.  And there are many reasons why.  First is his poise.  I don't ever remember seeing him more relaxed inside a crumbling pocket.  Long gone are the happy feet of Weeks One and Two this season, and many seasons prior to this.  He once was one of the least sacked QB's in the League behind a superior O-Line.  But these days he's getting hit far more than he used to behind a transitioning line and yet making better passes.  That comes with maturity.  He knows hits are coming but now the old mis-step of throwing off his back foot appears to be a thing of the past.  Hence, more accurate passes.  His throws are coming in lower and as a result we've seen little to no tipped passed this season; save the Seahawks game.  Overall, his INT's are no where near last season's rate.

While this game was a complete regression for Kevin Gilbride's implementation of the running game;  and I'll be ripping him up later about it; over-all this season, Gilbride has made subtle changes in his play calling.  As a result, the running game has been setting up the pass; which is contrary to Gilbride's usual ops.  This also contributes to bringing down Eli's interceptions because far too many times, Gilbride called for very unnecessary and risky passing when all that was needed was running the ball and better clock management when trying to protect late game leads.

Lastly, credit Eli for leading a consistently changing mix of receivers over the past recent years and turning them into a steady, reliable bunch.  A few years ago, Plaxico Burress was just the first shot in a seemingly on-going string of injuries to the Giants' receivers.  Yet, Eli never ignored an opportunity to throw the ball to whomever was filling the position.  At some point with individuals, games, and seasons, confidence building becomes as paramount to winning as matriculating the ball up the field.  Eli has helped boost the levels of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, and Jake Ballard most recently.  The hope here is that Eli and his Boys are ready to strike against some of the League's more elite teams now.  A quick note - Hakeem Nicks may have injured himself in Sunday's game.

The Giants got to Miami's quarterback five times Sunday.  Four sacks came in the fourth quarter.  And each and every one of them was game critical.  All the usual suspects were involved.  Osi, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Jason Pierre Paul all registered sacks against the Dolphins.  This was Justin Tuck's first game back from a neck-stinger.  But the other three members of Blue Devastation have made it a habit this season of sealing Giant wins in the fourth quarter with a series of sacks.  And without getting too deeply into that aspect of this last game yet, Pierre Paul, Osi, and Kiwanuka have done more to secure the Giants first place position this season than any other aspect of the Giants' game.  Additionally, all that work up from has directly led to the type of season Corey Webster is enjoying so far.

This last game was a win.  It was nothing to be proud of.  But it's still a win.  Even Super Bowl seasons are speckled with games like this.  Did we have problems?  Hell yeah.

We had problems on Offense with the running game and the continued under-utilization of Brandon Jacobs.  The first signs of wear and tear showed up with Ahmad Bradshaw.  The Giants opening drive and giving the ball up on downs was a microcosm of everything that drives me crazy about Kevin Gilbride.  And Hakeem Nicks may be injured.  We also had problems Defensively as the Giants allowed yet another 100-yard rusher which is becoming quite routine now.  Miami rushed for almost 150-yards against the Giants.

Those problems with be dealt with in my next post as I start to examine next week's opponent a little more closely.  For now, it's suffice to say, without Eli carrying the Offense and the pass-rush carrying the Defense, the Giants would not be sitting in first place.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

BKN Aviators ~ Ex-Mates & Outlaws Ruin Hangar Five Opener


BROOKLYN AVIATORS:  New Jersey Outlaws Spoil A's Opening Night.  The Rivalry Is Born!


Veni; Vidi; Puntureri. 

Former Aviators' forwards; Matthew Puntureri and John Goffredo; made their triumphant returns to Brooklyn Saturday night by picking apart their former team, assisting on six of New Jersey's seven goals scored Saturday night against A's starting goalie; Thomas Lee.

The expansion New Jersey Outlaws made their first visit to Hangar Five and proceeded to announce their presence with authority on this, Brooklyn's Opening Night game.  They got to work right away scoring at the 3:38 mark of the first period on a Kevin Cooper goal; with the second assist going to Puntureri.

After KC Timmons got whistled for hooking 5:47 in, with less than twenty seconds left in Brooklyn's penalty kill, Travis Kauffeldt scored for N.J. assisted by Puntureri again, giving them a 2-0 lead.

Almost four and a half minutes later, KC Timmons assisted on Brooklyn's first score when Chris Jones' shot found net, cutting the New Jersey lead to one.

Then the Aviators lost their grip on the first period by surrendering two more New Jersey goals inside the nineteenth minute of play.  They gave up two goals within sixteen seconds of each other to be more exact.  At 19:08, Outlaw-Tyler Barr scored with John Goffredo credited with the sole assist.  Then at 19:28, Travis Kauffeldt scored his second goal of the period as Matthew Puntureri was credited with another assist and his third of the period.  The first session ended with New Jersey staked to a 4-1 lead.

KC Timmons figured into the A's scoring again, making it a 4-2 game by converting a power play goal in the opening minute of the second period.  But New Jersey put themselves up by three again when Luke Flicik score at 16:01 making it a 5-2 game, and remained that way after forty minutes of regulation.

New Jersey took to the ice in the third period intent on finishing off the A's.  And seven seconds into the period, they scored to make it a 6-2 game.  Travis Kauffeldt completed the hat-trick and Matthew Puntureri was credited with his fifth assist of the evening.

When Jesse Felton got whistled for tripping at 5:07, New Jersey's Kevin Cooper converted the man-advantage with his second goal of the game and giving the Outlaws a 7-2 lead.

With the game out of reach, the Aviators still showed a little fight in them before time expired.  Jesse Felton scored a power play goal at 10:12 and at 10:50, Anthony Monte followed up with Brooklyn's fourth goal of the night.

The New Jersey Outlaws took the first game of this new feud 7-4 on Brooklyn's home ice.  That won't sit too well around here.  The rivalry is born.


New Jersey Outlaws  7
Brooklyn Aviators     4


Friday - November 4, 2011

Danbury Whalers


N.Y. Giants ~ Week 8; Needing a Win Before the Storm

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  Big Blue Must Avoid Sleeping With The Fish Before Playing League's Elite Teams.

Health.  Fish.  Health through fish.  Dolphins are not fish.  They're mammals.  And there's roughly fifty-three of them from Miami trained to play football; albeit not very well.

The Giants are slowly gaining health.  They're getting some of their premiere players back for this game.  Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck seem ready to suit up while Chris Snee and the O-Line used the last two weeks to recover from some issues.  But it looks like Prince Amukamara still needs one more week till he returns. 

If Prince does indeed return next week, it won't be too soon as the schedule will take a drastic turn towards some very stiff competition.  So welcome to the last soft spot in the schedule.  That's why the Giants can't do anything stupid this lose to the worst team in the League the way they stumbled against Seattle.  Big Blue just can not be THAT team that lays a Big Egg against the Fish.  OH!  Poseidon help the Giants if they lose this game to a team that more resembles a pack of manatees than the Dolphin emblazoned on their helmets.

The Giants will have the Fearsome Foursome defensive line of JPP, Osi, Tuck, and Tollefson in place and available together for the first time this season.  Just in time too.  They'll have this game against the Dolphins to reacquaint themselves before the Giants start a chain of games against the Patriots; Niners; Eagles; Saints; and Packers - which means a heavy dose of Brady; Vick; Brees; and Rogers.  The Giants have been surviving this season due in large part to their ability to get key, timely sacks.  They'll need a healthy pass rush more than ever now.

The return of Justin Tuck presents it's own possibilities with regard to Mathias Kiwanuka.  There's an opening here for the hybrid to be even more dynamic on the pass rush from linebacker.  I'm very interested to see how Coach Fewell implements him.  Then if Prince Amukamara comes back ready to help next week, and if Kenny Phillips' ribs can do the same, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and the rest of the Secondary and the entire Giants' Defense stand to benefit substantially.  Then maybe we can finally prevent that one big rush against us, and that one big pass play against us from happening on a now near weekly basis.  But in order for that to happen, the Giants need to close that gaping hole in the middle.  That's where Michael Boley needs to re-establish himself, and the area Mathias Kiwanuka and Coach Fewell need to address now.

On the other side of the ball, Brandon Jacobs and his big mouth are back.  Is what he said surprising to you?  It shouldn't be.  That was nothing we haven't heard before.  And you know what?  He's right.  If you've followed me blog about the Giants, then you know how much complaining I've done regarding the Giants' misuse of Brandon Jacobs; the healthy Brandon Jacobs, that is.

He's griped to the media before and no one ever likes that.  But when it comes to the field, he's always been all-in and a good, supportive team mate.  So he can complain if he wants to, because there's large grains of truth in what he says.  Coach Coughlin went as far as admitting Jacobs was under-utilized at the conclusion of last season.  And he did after all renegotiate his contract allowing the Giants to resign his Little Buddy Bradshaw.  But I also understand, Jerry Reese could also have cut him at any time based on an injury history and his inability to catch passes out of the backfield alone.  As unwise in my opinion as cutting him may have been, they still continue misuse Jacobs none the less.  And it remains my contention Brandon Jacobs will be an important factor in December football should Coach Gilbride continue to stay flexible and remain patient with the running game.

I think Jacobs is wrong however in this respect.  I don't think there's another team willing to feature him as their full-time back.  And that's even before bringing age into the conversation.  I believe his home is here with the Giants, in this system with Bradshaw.  Although within this system, he is deserving and correct in asking for more carries.  Jerry Reese hasn't positioned the Giants to make a break from Brandon Jacobs yet.  He'll need another draft for that.  So it's probably best if the Giants just pound him into opposing defenses and soften them up for Bradshaw.

The Giants must absolutely take advantage of this match-up against the Dolphins and solidify their precarious lead they have in the NFC East.  Philly and Dallas square off Sunday as well, with the loser getting smaller in the division's rear-view mirror.  The Redskins in my opinion, look ready to fall from the race like a piano out of the sky.  Therefore a Giant win Sunday against the Dolphins will go a long way towards creating space between Big Blue, and the Cowboys, and Eagles.

We've been here before...with the Cardinals game.  And don't forget, the Skins, Cowboys, and Eagles play all the crappy teams the Giants did.  Just sayin'.

Let's Go Giants!


BKN Aviators ~ A's Touch Down in Brooklyn Tonight




Air tower, clear the landing strip at Floyd Bennett Field.  The Aviators are finally coming home.  After opening the season in Lewiston , Maine on Thursday and playing in Hyannis, Massachusetts on Friday night, it's time for the local blades to take to their home ice off Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Aviators took Game One of the season in a return match scheduled in Maine against the defending FHL champion, Akwesasne Warriors.  Two goals in the third period and playing shut-down defense over the last forty minutes Thursday, along with Thomas Lee's 29 saves helped the A's gain victory.

However, in Friday night's game against the Cape Cod Bluefins, two goals by Casey Mignone were good enough to get the A's into overtime.  But they couldn't manage to score another in the extra session.   Cape Cod beat them to it when Dan Gordon scored the winning goal past Brooklyn's starting goalie on this night, Pete Dundovich.

Although they were hard luck over-time losers Friday, the name of the game is points.  And the A's are making a five point landing as they arrive in Brooklyn.  Five points in their first two games puts the A's in an early season lead over the circuit as they head into their first game at home.

Opening Night at Hangar Five will be against the expansion New Jersey Outlaws who now sport two former Aviator players and fan favorites; Mattew Puntureri and John Goffredo.  New Jersey won their Friday night game against the Danbury Whalers at home after dropping their first game in Danbury as part of a home-and-home opening series.



New Jersey Outlaws





Friday, October 28, 2011

PIGSKIN ~ Football Sunday; Week Eight




WEEK SIX  5-6-1
WEEK FIVE  4-8-0
WEEK FOUR  8-7-0
WEEK TWO  10-4-1
WEEK ONE  4-7-2

SHMEAR of the WEEK:  2-5

BAGELS in the BASKET:  -13

WEEK EIGHT  ~  Big Bagel Roll Out:
(Friday Line; NYDN)

GIANTS -10 (Dolphins)
Boy do I hate the Giants coming off the bye.  All I know is they better not be THAT team against the Fish.  Look for my Giants preview.
LOSS - 20-17; Giants

Colts +8 (TITANS)
I only like the Colts to cover this game.  I still think the Panthers will win.
LOSS - 27-10; Titans

TEXANS -9 1/2 (Jaguars)
I don't care what the Jaguars did last week.  Texans have been stumbling a bit.  This is a good game to get back on track.
WIN - 24-14; Texans

Vikings +3 1/2 (PANTHERS)
The Vikings are figuring out what other teams figured out; they're better when McNabb isn't starting.  I'm just looking for a really close game here.
WIN - 24-21; Vikings

Saints -13 (RAMS)
If there is indeed something to momentum, the Saints should keep marching in.
LOSS - 31-21; Rams

RAVENS -12 1/2 (Cardinals)
I think the Ravens are going to be really, really, really, angry Sunday after last week's whooping.
LOSS - 30-27; Ravens

*BILLS -6 (Redskins)  from Toronto, Canada
...Because the truth is I think the Redskins are a mess.
WIN - 23-0; Bills

Lions -3 (BRONCOS)
Ya mule!  Ride on.  I'm looking for the Lions to hunt them down some Tebow meat.
WIN - 45-10; Lions

STEELERS +3 (Patriots)
I know the Pats have owned the Steelers recently.  The only reason why I like the points is because the Patriots can be scored on.  And if anyone can score on them, it will be Pitt.  The Steelers will get to Brady a few times also.
WIN - 25-17; Steelers

49ERS -8 1/2 (Browns)
I've finally weened myself off the Browns.  They're horrible.  It took me a while.  But I see the light now.  But more than that, the Niners are actually a solid team now.
WIN - 20-10; 49ers

SEAHAWKS +3 (Bengals)
...Because the Bengals have used up their October rations for looking like a decent team.  They're too inconsistent and it's time for another stinker.
LOSS - 34-12; Bengals

EAGLES -3 1/2 (Cowboys)
Who's more desperate?  And who's more talented?
WIN - 34-7; Eagles

49ERS -8 1/2

That's twelve Bagels, and the SHMEAR makes fifteen Bagels into the oven.

Post Game:

SHMEAR of the WEEK:  3-5

BAGELS in the BASKET:  -8

Happy Football Sunday everyone!


BKN Aviators ~ Flyin' High; Win Game One


BROOKLYN AVIATORS:  Comeback Against Defending Champs In Season Opener With Disciplined Play and Composure.

For the Aviators, the memory of losing and watching the Warriors hoist the Championship Trophy on home ice to end Brooklyn's most previous season no doubt rushed back to their minds upon taking the ice Thursday night in Lewiston, Maine for a return engagement against Akwesasne.  But for a night, the Aviators displayed more discipline and composure than did the defending FHL champions.  And for Coach Miller, watching both characteristics play directly into their Opening night victory must have been especially satisfying considering many of his players are still learning how to play together.  For their efforts in the season's first game, they adhered to many key fundamental values.  The A's won Thursday night by grinding the game out a little longer than the Warriors did, and playing an increasingly cleaner and sharper game against the Warriors the longer the contest went on.

It seemed over the first two and one half periods, the A's carried the play; spent less time in the box; got more shots on net; and appeared to be the more disciplined team.  Yet Akwesasne and the scoreboard were unyielding, reflecting a 2-1 score in the Warriors' favor after fifty minutes of regulation time.

Over that span, Akwesasne even put Brooklyn on the man-advantage three times as many as the A's allowed the Warriors.  Both teams combined to go a woeful 0-12 on the PP to that point.  And frustratingly, the Aviators accounted for 0-9 of that.  Chris Ferazolli wound up scoring the first goal of the Aviators' season at even strength.  At the time, his score only served to cut a 2-0 Akwesasne lead in half.  But the defense and Thomas Lee set about ensuring Ferazolli's goal would factor into the outcome.

The Warriors opened the FHL's 2011-2012 scoring this season at 15:55 of the first period on a Miguel Delisle goal past A's starting net minder; Thomas Lee.  And that's how the initial period ended.  Brooklyn managed thirteen shots on goal in the period as Akwesasne unleashed seventeen with one finding net.  Penalties put Brooklyn on the PK three times but they held the Warriors scoreless during the man advantages.

Brooklyn clamped down and limited the Warriors to just four shots on goal the entire second period.  Yet one shot still managed to find net behind Thomas Lee.  At the 7:03 mark of the second session, Akwsasne's Pierre Dagenais scored to make it a 2-0 game. 

Then, just under four minutes later at the 10:50 mark, Chris Ferazzoli's first goal of the season finally put Brooklyn on the scoreboard.  He was assisted by Jordan Bernier and Chris Jones.  Brooklyn put fifteen shots on goal during the second period and behind their defense, the A's game started to gel.  But the second period ended with the A's still down by a 2-1 score.

While the teams traded second period goals, they traded second period punches as well.  Things began to get chippy back when Akwesasne's Carter Trevisani and Brooklyn's Jordan Bernier closed out the first period with roughing penalties.  Then tempers flared between Akwesasne's Ahmed Mahfouz and Brooklyn's Anthony Iaquinto when they dropped the gloves at the 10:58 mark of the second session.  Both received five for fighting.  And bad attitudes prevailed the rest of the period.

Midway through the third period and two power play opportunities later, the Aviators' tying goal still remained elusive.  Then, at 13:23 of the third, Brooklyn's patience was rewarded.  Their attention to detail finally paid off when Anthony Iaquinto scored for Brooklyn and tied the game at two apiece.  The assists came from Andrew Owsiak and Jarrett Rush.

At the 14:14 mark, Akwesasne's penchant for penalties this night opened the door to another Hangar-sized opportunity.  Brooklyn cashed in as the power play finally hit pay dirt when Jordan Bernier buried the go-ahead goal to make it a 3-2 game.  The goal was assisted by Andrew Scampoli.

After allowing seventeen shots on goal in the first period, the defense kept the number of shots against goalie Thomas Lee relatively low the rest of the way.  Four shots in the second period and eight in the third were all Akwesasne could muster.  Meanwhile, Brooklyn peppered Warriors' goalie David Plouffe with fourteen shots in the third period and forty-two overall.  Additionally, the Aviators did very well to stay out of the box.  And even though Brooklyn's power play was 1-10 Thursday night, they scored on the one opportunity that mattered most; their last.

And so Aviators' victory number one came in rather dramatic fashion Thursday night.  If this game is an indication, then it's going to be a fun Winter folks.

Game two of the new season will be Friday night in Cape Cod against the Blue Fins before the Coolest Guys In Brooklyn come home for their Saturday Night Showdown against their newest rival, the New Jersey Outlaws, who now feature former A's fan favorites, Matthew Puntureri and John Goffredo.


Cape Cod Bluefins

Somewhere in Massachusetts


Thursday, October 27, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Home, Home on the Rink


NEW YORK RANGERS:  The Long Road Home For Tex's Rangers Ends Tonight. 

You can take the Rangers out of Canada, but the schedule makers aren't letting Canada get away from the Rangers just yet..  After a four game tour of the Great White North, the Toronto Maple Leafs will help the Rangers re-christen their partially renovated, old arena tonight in the Blueshirts' home-ice opener. 

Finally, right?  Now let's just hope the 7th Avenue road-warriors don't become strangers in their own house.  Maybe with a new look to the place, they can start a new trend of playing better Hockey at home.  Because if they don't, even with a sprucing up of the joint, the jeering will still sound the same, if not angrier because fans would now be anteing up even more cash to see them stumble at home.

Making a welcome return to the blue line tonight should be Michael Sauer who's been out with a bum shoulder.  And while Marc Staal remains sidelined, maybe the Rangers can get back to utilizing more traditional pairings with Sauer back on ice; not to say that we've been defensively challenged lately...

...The Rangers are still waiting for their forward lines to punch through.  Punch through?  They couldn't stick their way through a wet paper bag right now.  So the second call from this blog goes out again:  Calling all Forwards!  Calling all Forwards!  Come in Forward Lines?  We need you.  Over.

Three things come to mind regarding tonight's first game at MSG-4 1/2.  We get to see Ryan Callahan sporting the C on his jersey for the first time.  It's been a nice ascension through the ranks from Rookie to Captain for him and for us fans to watch. 

Secondly, it's probably best for Brad Richards if this game gets played and put behind him as quickly as possible.  He's still yet to provide a glimpse of the play-maker we hopefully signed to a ridonkulously lengthy contract.  But having to prove his worth all in one night; the first night at home after seven games of pedestrian play on the road; is probably sixty-minutes I'd rather fast-forward.  Then in home-game two with all the extra-fan fare and pomp out of the way, maybe he can finally get around to commanding the first-line and power play for us.  But of course in order to make that happen, we must stop committing dumb penalties ourselves.  I digress.

The last item to ponder is Marian Gaborik.  Is he the scorer from what seems like the ancient past?  Or is he still the apparition from last season?  And what frame of mind will the fans be in with regard to their phantom forward?  Will the Ranger fans show up ready to pounce if he provides flashbacks of the Invisible Man?  Will the home crowd make him feel as if he's skating in soup if he looks even slightly ineffective?  Or, will True Blue fans attend this home stand with an open mind and risk being pleasantly surprised by letting him play with something to prove without us dumping on him?  Then again, since when did four goals in seven games (one of those goals came on the PP) stop Ranger fans from... anything?

We'll see.  In the mean time, Calling all Forwards!  Your Liege needs help.

The Blueshirts' Odysseus-like odyssey to get home finally ends tonight indeed.  But instead of Odysseus reclaiming his queen, the Rangers get us. 


Let's go Rangers!

SLAP SHOT:  Hey!  With an almost one billion dollar renovation under way and the lower bowl work complete, I hope the historically atrocious ice surface at MSG was also studied and addressed.  With all that money being spent, and taking into consideration all the reconfiguring MSG's ground floor must undergo to accommodate all the events it hosts, the hope is some new method has been adopted to keep the puck from bouncing around like a Harlem Globe Trotter's prop.  Because while what the Globe Trotters do is intended to be funny and entertain millions, many times the old ice surface at MSG just made the Rangers look plain stupid in front of us.

Last Shots of What We Can Officially Now Call - The Old Garden:


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BKN Aviators ~ Season Opens Thursday


BROOKLYN AVIATORS:  Cleared For Take-Off!  Time to Drop the Puck.

The Brooklyn Aviators were involved in another trade.  On October 24th, the League announced Brooklyn center John Goffredo was part of a three team trade that ultimately landed Goffredo in New Jersey with the expansion Outlaws.  The trade reunites John Goffredo with former Aviator team mate; Matthew Puntureri; who was traded to the Outlaws over the summer.  John Goffredo was originally dealt to the Danbury Whalers for right-winger Anthony Monte.  Danbury then turned and traded Goffredo to New Jersey completing the three team deal.

Anthony Monte will join another off-season acquisition, Chris Ferazzoli.  Chris Ferazzoli played in the SPHL last season.  The thirty-one year old last appeared at Hangar Five in 2009-2010 when he visited with the N.J. Rock Hoppers who played the then Brooklyn Aces of the old ECHL circuit.

Final rosters were due to be submitted to the League this afternoon.  Team rosters are limited to eighteen dressed players with two additional inactive players.  The Aviators last day cuts were as follows:

C - Michael Guera
C - Joseph Harcharik
G - Jeremy Dupont
G - Michael Younes
LW - Anthony Longo

The face of the Aviators is taking on a very different look heading into this season.  Local favorite and Staten Islander; Anthony Longo; makes another very popular player from last season who will not be on this year's Opening Day roster.  His release comes in addition to the fore-mentioned trades of Matthew Puntureri and John Goffredo.  Additionally, last season's League stand-out goalie Kevin Druce also will not be returning.

One more player's appearance will merely be delayed in a manner of speaking.  Returning right winger, Michael Thompson won't be ready right away.  Coach Miller suspended the forward for twenty games.  What ever the case may be, that must have been no small infraction to warrant twenty games.

Coach Miller went down south in search of much needed defensemen.  He came back with a pair; James Rettig and Brian Dunford.  They will join returnees, Jarrett Rush and KC Timmons, along with acquired Nicholas Kuqali on the blue line.

The second Federal Hockey League season kicks off tomorrow when the Brooklyn Aviators and the defending champion Akwesasne Warriors square off from Maine.  The A's will then play Cape Cod before coming back to Brooklyn for their home ice opener this Saturday against the New Jersey Outlaws.

Federal Hockey League


Akwesasne Warriors

Lewiston, Maine


N.Y. Mets ~ State of METropolis Report; Part II

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

METropolis; YEAR 9 A.D. (After Doubleday)

NEW YORK METS:  At The Roosevelt Avenue Crossroads.


The future seems bright.  But forget the sunglasses.  Should we be looking through binoculars to see it?  The Mets now have three minor league pitching prospects that routinely get mentioned with positive reviews.  If you want to include Henrry Mejia while he rehabs from surgery, then make it four pitchers.   But Zach Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeuyrs Famiglia are the three pitching prospects on the tips of Mets Fans' tongues these days.  And if you throw in Chris Schwinden along with some others, the Mets actually have a sudden quantity of quality hopefulls in hand which is a far cry over the previous decade-plus when crickets dominated board meetings whenever Met pitching prospects became topic one. 

But how far away are they?  Harvey, Famiglia and Wheeler all got a very limited taste of AA-Binghampton last season.  Chris Schwinden was promoted up to AAA-Buffalo mid-season.  And of course, Jenrry Mejia pitched for the Mets some in 2010 and was having a fine year in Buffalo before needing Tommy John surgery.  Former Brooklyn Cyclone, Dylan Owen, since promoted to Buffalo, is one more pitcher I'm still quite hopeful about but hasn't progressed as quickly as I thought.

Dillon Gee was asked to grow up a little early.  Needs of the big club necessitated his early call up from Buffalo.  He responded better than anyone could have expected; even anchoring the staff for a time and achieving double digit wins.  He has a variety of pitches that Dan Warthen is still teaching him how to trust.  That caused a late season communication breakdown between Gee and Warthen. And I sided with Warthen at the time as Gee needs to work on better game management.  He's young and still needs tutelage.  But he's a confidant, poised, and composed pitcher on the mound.  The former Brooklyn Cyclone is definitely a keeper.

Jonathan Niese also has a fan in me.  His problems are the big inning and endurance.  Both of which I think are correctable.  He's not over-powering, but his curveball is good enough to make his fastball very effective.  He and Dillon Gee are very fine and solid pieces to build a starting rotation with.  They are not aces, or number two pitchers yet.  But guys like these give a rotation (...potentially) amazing depth against all the other three, four, and five starters in the league.  As Jon Niese's frame fills out a little more and he gets a little more mass on his bones, he'll be that much better for it.  Like Gee, he's a definite keeper.  I'm just a sucker for a good curve ball.

Mike Pelfrey; Man-Child; Hand-Licker; Head Case; Enigma.  -  He has a sound arm.  There's no question about that.  He's proven healthy over the years and gobbles up innings.  It's all the anxiety that comes with those innings that concerns Met Fans.  With nothing apparently wrong with him, his once pounding sinker, rising fastball, change of pace curve ball, and change-up, all shared the same two characteristics last season.  Either they were out of the strike zone, or were getting smashed somewhere in fair territory.  His problem is he has no reliable out-pitch.  Batters routinely foul off pitches in bunches against Pelfrey, and he usually winds up paying a price for that.  He makes good pitches.  But batters seem to always get just enough of them to stay alive till something better comes their way or draw a walk.

The time is rapidly approaching when Mike Pelfrey and the Mets will have to talk money. - Or not.  Sandy Alderson just might very well deem him expendable.  Pelfrey did little to distinguish himself as a top rate pitcher this past season.  Speaking as a fan, I'm in for one more year where hopefully Mike Pelfrey can finally live up to some of his potential.  I do not believe having a 2011 "ace" tag branded on him played any part in his inconsistencies from 2010 to last season.  The truth is, so far in his career he has just simply under-achieved.  He's still a very likable Met however.  It's a strange dynamic because he's no doubt at the point of having to producing now or never - at least for the Mets.

Johan Santana remains the largest X-Factor this side of Simon Cowell's ego.  What pitcher will the Mets be getting if and when he returns to the mound next season?  Will he still flash an old familiar form?  Or will he need to reinvent himself in order to remain a successful pitcher?  What ever the difference is between his fastball and change-up will determine everything.  And his surgically repaired arm is at the heart of it all.  If we're not talking about a seven or eight mile-per-hour difference in those two pitches, a lot of Johan's offerings will become souvenirs.  The Mets have an awful lot of money invested in what is clearly their biggest question mark going into next season; even more troublesome than the Jose Reyes dilemma.

R.A. Dickey - the official 2011 Hard-Luck Pitcher of the Year.  Oh, what the back of his baseball card could have looked like with just a little support these last two seasons?  This past campaign, the line-up was particularly stingy with him.  What I like most about Dickey is his accountability and ability to convey his message clearly and effectively.  He demonstrates how much one can actually say if one exercises tact.  Dickey gets that.  He says quasi-controversial things but with tact.  And that makes all the difference.

As good and reliable a pitcher he turned out to be for the Mets, I'd trade him in a New York Minute for a nice respectable return.  Although the club won't say it, the Mets are rebuilding.  So if Dickey is attractive enough to a contending team which has another prospect to spare, I'd welcome that.  Of course it's nothing personal, but R.A. Dickey is not part of our future and I'd like to maximize any kind of return while he still clearly has reasonable value.

Chris Capuano was a nice come-back story for him personally I guess.  He bombed a few times, but pitched well to very well last season when healthy and finished strong.  Overall, he was consistent and stabilized the back end of the rotation.  At the right price, I wouldn't mind keeping him around.  But if some one calls inquiring about a trade involving Capuano..., hell yeah I'm listening.

Adding payroll to significantly bolster the pitching is highly unlikely.  And any talk about picking up recently released Roy Oswalt is not only futile, but unwise.  I think we all understand that by now.  So with no big free-agent import on the horizon, and a trade of any magnitude equally unlikely, it looks like the Mets will keep employing the old method of trying to strike lightning in a bottle as they did with Dickey; - and unlike they did with Kelvim Escobar.

Shortly after the World Series, the Hot Stove will get lit and the GM Meetings will take place.  It's hard to say if, how, or when, Sandy Alderson will be able to make improvements to the starting rotation for next season.  And while nothing can be said with any certainty until Johan Santana starts winning MLB games again, his is one of the contracts Sandy Alderson loathes, and if given an opportunity I'm sure he would love to rid the organization of such.


This is clearly the weakest link in the Mets' chain.  The necessary trading of Francisco Rodriguez left a void at Closer, which an open competition between Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato failed to settle before 2011 was through.

Pedro Beato has a live arm and is a keeper.  But I am still not convinced Bobby Parnell can not win the Closer's job.  There's been too many instances within this organization alone when being a little too impatient with high-powered arms haunted the organization.  The obvious name is Nolan Ryan.  But Jeff Reardon; Mike Scott; Randy Meyers; and Heath Bell also come to mind.  He, like Pelfrey, needs to perfect an out pitch.  And Parnell needs to learn his craft just a little better also.  He's still too much of a thrower and it shows up in his walks allowed.  Dan Warthen has been working with him for two seasons now.  He, like many players promoted recently, has been pressed into on-the-job-training.  So I still have a lot of hope for Parnell.  Perhaps the experience of last season provided lessons towards perfecting his craft.  He's been nagged by injuries but seemed to shake them off towards season's end.  I just beg patience from the organization with Bobby Parnell.

In the absence of a proven closer, those are the Mets two main options heading into the winter.  Whether we go into the Spring similarly remains to be seen.  The Mets' bullpen, like most bullpens around Baseball, is a yearly construction project.  Who's to say in October what the unit will look like next season?

Along with Parnell and Beato, - D.J. Carrasco; Manny Acosta; Tim Byrdak; Taylor Buchholz; and Izzy blew a lot of games together.  But I won't be hammering them about it.  The bullpen is obviously a department in need of a renovation.    Aside from Izzy who retired, some relievers may or may not be back.  Buchholz ended his season on the long-term DL.  Ryota Igarashi has already been let go.  But Josh Stinson should figure more into the mix next season.  And Chris Schwinden will most likely end up coming out of next year's pen as well.  Then?  Who knows.

NEXT - The Positional Players.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Hello Winnipeg; Good-Bye Canada


NEW YORK RANGERS:  Canadian Turn Around Sets Up a Grand Opening Night at the Garden.

For ol' Tex's New York Rangers - The Blueshirt World Tour, is finally over.  The Boys are finally coming home.  After seven games in three different countries, the Rangers will get a few nights off before they open MSG Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Some stops on the world tour were very familiar to the Rangers like Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary.  Some places - not so familiar; like Sweden.  One place may not be around much longer (see Long Island).  And one place in particular needs getting used to again as the Rangers made their first trip back to Winnipeg since the last incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets up and moved to Phoenix. 

Because Atlanta failed to support it's second chance with an NHL franchise, the Thrashers packed up and moved to the reinvigorated Winnipeg area.  And hence, the Jets are reborn.  For Atlanta, that makes two teams that found Canada more desirable than Georgia.  Once, the Flames also found Atlanta lacking the proper fire and moved operations to Calgary.

Since I went there, and as Phoenix is in dire straights....again, so much for Gary Bettman's expedition into the Belt Ways and Valleys of the Sun, not to mention his dreams of parity and organizational stability.  And by the way, Quebec is still screaming for a team too.  In the face of a poorly schemed plan to give Hockey a tan, the NHL is undergoing a correction brought on by pure market place physics and a recall from the Great White North.

Congratulations Winnipeg.  I'm glad you have a team again.  The town has a unique Hockey history after being involved with the old WHA, and subsequently being one of the teams merged into the NHL.  It's a shame the Jets ever left Winnipeg in the first place.

But enough with the pleasantries.  What about the Rangers?

After seven road games to start the season, the Blueshirts have amassed eight points.  That's not bad at all considering the way they sputtered along with weird scheduling.  The season got off on the wrong skate until they arrived in Vancouver.  It was finally in Canada where the Rangers picked up their first three wins of the season. 

But considering Marc Staal is yet to play and Michael Saurer made two top bodies missing from the blue line, I guess eight points is a rather good thing.  It's hard to hold the rust-riddled effort against the Islanders against them.  I don't.  And I'll take a pass on the games and whole swing through Europe.

Henrik Lundqvist started the first six games of the season.  Truth be told, he could have used more support.  And where have we heard that before?  He already posted his first shut-out of the season.  But he left last game's third period prematurely.  So after getting called in from the bullpen during their 2-0 shut-out loss to Edmonton, Marty Biron made his first start of the season Monday against Winnipeg.

Biron (and the post) tended net marvelously Monday, especially in the third period when Winnipeg unleashed an all out assault in the Ranger zone.  Somehow the Rangers held on until they managed an inadvertent goal off a Jets skater during a Rangers power play that was credited to Callahan, for a 2-1 Rangers lead.  Then with a minute left, Winnipeg unleash a second furious attack this time with a sixth skater after pulling the goalie.  But the Rangers and Biron held on to their second lead of the night for a win.

The Blueshirts improved their record to 3-2-2.  The recovery after tripping out of the gate is complete.  All that lies ahead is what Coach Torts and the Rangers build upon from Thursday night's opener, on.  Logistically speaking and travel wise, the most difficult portion of their schedule may very well be behind them.  And it's safe to say, after crossing Canada, they should have their Hockey legs firmly under them by now.  Let the season start in earnest now.

It's time to come home.


Monday, October 24, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ State of METropolis Report; Part I

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

METropolis; Year 9 A.D. - (After Doubleday)

NEW YORK METS:  At The Roosevelt Avenue Crossroads.

Unless you're watching the Cardinals and the Rangers on TV, Baseball in NYC is finished for the year.  Another season in the Age of Wilponianism is done.  For the Boys of Flushing, and without poking fun, things were pretty much wrapped up by mid-August.  And there's a problem with that - An ever growing problem with that.  Although they were a strike away in 2006, the Mets haven't been to the World Series in over a decade, and haven't won one since 1986; now twenty five plus years ago. 

Once born into the National League, this organization was and remained a NYC sensation.  Several years of support through some awfully bad seasons of baseball paid off when The AMAZINs won a title and then taught us again Ya Gotta Believe in this team a few years later.  Even during the late 70's down-turn, there was still always a little Magic you felt in being a Mets fan.  Then seventeen years after their first World Series title, METropolis was awarded with another thanks to a real raucous bunch of very lovable and skilled, yet wild Metropolitans.  And fourteen years after that in the year 2000, the New York Mets made their fourth and last trip back to the World Series.

If there was a pattern to their four World Series appearances, they all came after grass-roots efforts in minor league development.  After fooling around with old NYC baseball heroes and aging vets, Joe McDonald finally got the organization serious about development in c.1966.  He then initiated the second wholesale rebuilding that Frank Cashen continued.  The third was instigated by Joe McIlvaine.  The remnants of his efforts were parlayed into a WS appearance in 2000 during the Valentine/Phillips regime.  Those methods were vastly different from the tactics employed by Omar Minaya which got the Mets to within a strike of another WS appearance.  However, five complete seasons later, that season stands out as an aberration.

For the 1969 team there was a follow up 1973 season.  For the 1986 Champs, there was a follow-up 1988 season.  At least with the 2000 N.L. Champs, there was a lead-in 1999 season.  The 2006 team had no such follow-up nor lead-in.  That season stands by itself as an island because it was patch-worked together.  With the club's minor league production at a stand still, that was a team for the moment that caught lightning in a bottle.

In today's times, the Media insists a NYC team can not risk a full blown rebuilding.  And while I find that notion wholly absurd and idiotic for such learned persons to say, "Rebuilding" has however become a dirty word best not mentioning around these parts.

That's too bad, because sometime in the early to mid 1990's and before that last trip to the World Series, the Mets lost the town they owned over the cross-town Yankees.  And since the partnership between Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon deteriorated, the organization has quite literally been a "How To" owner's manual for dysfunction.

Hopefully Sandy Alderson is here to change that.  But thirty plus years after the sale of the New York Mets eventually led to putting this organization within the sole hands of Wilpon and Son, it's high time someone declare an official Fourth Rebuilding of METropolis.  The condition exists already so there's no fooling anybody.  So please, the treatise with the Fans need merely be signed in order to move on.  After all, there's been much done to alienate them already.

It's not a stretch to say the Saul B. Katz Dilemma is now a full blown crisis.  Therefore the next logical question is where does the Saul B. Katz Dilemma go from here?


Money issues still rule the day.  If the Madoff resolution turns out horribly for the Wilpons, or even if things end more positively for them as may be the case, either way it's going to cost them money; lots of money - enough money to initiate a major salary retraction for next season and beyond.  They've also claimed to have lost around $70 million this past season in Citi Field related revenue.  And the forecast is for more losses next season.  Attendance has steadily gone down since the opening of Citi Field.  And while no coincidence, there's been an equally rapid decline in on-field performance and the standings.

So how would you characterize an owner, that once, in a slightly lesser capacity part owned Thee Team in town, but as sole owner is now besieged by a financial scandal and staring ruin in the face; is laden in stadium debt; is fielding a poorly performing team; has a rapidly growing apathetic fan base who were partly disenfranchised by exorbitant ticket prices and what I call Coliseum-Style Segregation; and yet plays in the third largest city in the world, the largest city in America, and the nation's number one market?

Get back to me on that.

After a long line of Frank Cashen and Steve Phillips protegees, the Wilpons finally went off campus to hire their current General Manager.  He's the first executive hire from outside the organization since Frank Cashen himself.  Sandy Alderson is the seventh GM over the thirty years since Fred Wilpon (and Nelson Doubleday) purchased the team prior to the 1980 season. 

The 2011 season completes nine years of sole ownership under Fred Wilpon and Family since buying out-going partner Nelson Doubleday's share of the Mets.  And with Mr. Doubleday, I believe went this organization's better upper-level Baseball acumen. 

The record speaks for itself.  From the beginning trouble abounded.  Then GM Steve Phillips was embroiled in a front office situation involving unbecoming conduct.  Once the Bobby Valentine/Steve Phillips feud was finally resolved as both were fired, Fred Wilpon found himself with the highest payroll in the N.L. and a last place club.

Fred promoted Phillips' understudy; Jim Duquette.  Duquette was given the proverbial cease and desist orders from the top.  Wilpon cut off expenditures.  Before Wilpon ever fired Duquette, Fred begged Omar Minaya to come back to the organization.  And for a short time at the tail end of 2004, this organization maintained a two headed GM monster.  It turned out to be a very amateurish way to fire Duquette.

By now, we understand the Omar years a little better.  But with no more understudies.  After thirty-years of executives being put in place for Wilpon's usage, there were none.  The Commissioner of Baseball was needed to suggest Sandy Alderson as a candidate.  So Jeff Wilpon conducted an interview process ruse before announcing Alderson's hire.


What GM Sandy Alderson is not, is wishy-washy.   There is no paralysis by analysis with him.   He's brutally honest, quite methodical in his approach, and doesn't let situations linger.  

Five members of Omar's old guard were effectively purged this past season.   John Maine was allowed to hail a cab and leave.   Decisions to release Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo came decisively early in the season.   Likewise, another early season situation at second base was not allowed to fester.   And ultimately, a solution presented itself in the form of Justin Turner. 

Sandy played his hand in the Carlos Beltran transaction as best he could and landed a top-quality pitching prospect in return from the Giants.   In the Francisco Rodriguez deal, I don't think the Mets nor KRod's agent ever even considered the 2012 option in his contract as being negotiable.   I think that aspect of KRod's settlement with Milwaukee was born strictly because the Brewers are small market and forced to be creative, and in this case bold enough, to suggest such an opt-out.   The bottom line however, was KRod's potential balloon salary for 2012 was strictly out of the question in Fred's operating budget and Sandy managed two minor league bodies in return. 

This General Manager is still driving Omar's ride however.   We don't know what will become of Jose Reyes.   But Omar's other inheritance; David Wright; still has a year on his deal.  And the latest rumor is the Mets are now openly shopping David.   The other contractual hold-overs such as Johan Santana, Jason Bay, and Angel Pagan remain.   Dillon Gee; Mike Pelfrey: Jon Niese; Bobby Parnell; Ike Davis; Lucas Duda; Ruben Tejada; Josh Thole; etc.. and most if not all minor leaguers from Binghampton to Buffalo are all Omar's. 

Sandy Alderson's greatest accomplishment thus far has been getting the Wilpons to budge from MLB's suggested slotting system.  The signing of Brandon Nimmo and others after the most recent June Amateur Draft was a welcome departure from the club's prior practice of not over-paying bonuses to prospects, and instead concentrating on Latin free-agents not subjected to the draft, and in effect being less costly. 

Sandy Alderson's front office imports, Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi, are in charge of such matters now.  And the fan base appears satisfied the operations have been put in very capable hands.  I for one would concur.  It's becoming very clear to this Met Fan, the organization is making a welcome return to being a developmental based organization again. 

In the years between the promotions of Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Scott Kazmir, and the current crop of prospects who've been promoted over the last two seasons, the Mets' minor league system became a barren waste land.  What had been a very fertile system for forty years, continually producing prospects since 1966, was nothing but a dust bowl by the 2005 season.  It took several years after Omar Minaya's appointment for his scouting and development to produce the current Met youngsters pressed into action these last two seasons. 

While this young likable group is fine for the moment, DePodesta and Riciarrdi are about to take scouting and development into the much needed "grass-roots" levels of which this organization removed itself long ago after the days of Joe McIlvaine and Gen-K, and which were started way back with Joe McDonald in the 60's.  However, there will be a few year's wait before we see tangible results from DePodesta's and Riciarrdi's handy work. 

The team's payroll is projected to be around $100 to $115 million dollars next season.  The likelihood of major roster enhancements through free agency is zero.  And that's a shame as this is one of the more deeper crops of potential free agents of the last few years.  With this GM however, that seems to be a moot point.  In my words, he finds it ludicrous the Mets will have half of next year's projected payroll wrapped up in just a few players.  But if you're an older Met Fan, you know the Mets do not have a positive history with regards to free-agency.  What we always did well was develop through the minor league system and make smart timely trades.  It appears as if Sandy Alderson is bringing back that philosophy to Flushing. 

Then there is the matter of our own Type-A free agent; Jose Reyes.  Over the course of the 2011 season, he did much to change the GM's perceptions of him as a team leader and as being someone capable of carrying the club over stretches at a time.  The eventual 2011 National League batting champ was undoubtedly having the best season of his career right up until his arch nemesis; pulled hamstring; re-entered his daily life again.  And now truth be told, Jose Reyes can never be looked at the same way again.  It is becoming more evident by the season, he plays on permanently compromised legs.  All eyes of Met Fans are on Sandy Alderson to see which direction he will take this team and if it will be with or without Jose Reyes playing shortstop. 

The Reyes situation also has the owner in a bind.  Let us not forget the mildly disparaging comments Fred Wilpon made about his shortstop during an April interview which came to our attention much later in the season.  Then ponder, no Jose Reyes probably translates into even less fans showing up at Citi Field next season.  That's why rebuilding is such a dirty word around here I guess.  The question remains, will the Owners exert pressure on their GM to sign Reyes?  I believe the answer is no.  I'm confident this call with be 100% Sandy's.  The growing rumor is the Mets will let him walk away.


As a field manager and strategists, I had no problems with Terry Collins.  The Mets don't finish as well as they did without Terry Collins imploring them day in and day out to keep at it like he did.  While the Mets end of season record says one thing, the way the players responded to Terry said another.  Tenacious Terry was rewarded somewhat by his players by being very resilient. 

What I liked most about Coach Collins was how matter of factly he told the Media, you won't do to me, what you did to those other saps before me.  He served them notice back in June. - Don't try and make him look stupid.  Willie Randolph was wound too tight and Jerry Manuel kept the Media in stitches with jokes.  But when either former managers were pressed during Media interrogations and put on the hot seat for answers, what you usually got was Ralph Cramden trying to answer the $64,000 Question.

Terry doesn't pull any punches.  And the Media took his advice at face value.  They were much more benign with Terry than they ever were with Willie, and on and off with Manuel. 

After the effort he put in last season, the first year Met manager overwhelmingly earned a longer stay in Flushing.  And his familiarity with the Mets' young players probably had a lot to do with that.  Far from being the ogre of years past in Houston and Anaheim, Terry was very supportive of his players and they of him.  It was the media if they weren't careful that would earn his wrath.  And that's perfectly fine with me.


Upheaval has come to the coaching staff.  Gone are third base coach Chip Hale; first base coach Mookie Wilson; bench coach Ken Oberkfell; and bullpen coach Jon Debus.

Chip Hale has already found employment.  There's talk Mookie is headed to Binghampton.  And while Jon Debus is a non-issue for me, the fact Ken Oberkfell is gone from the organization is welcome news.  It's my opinion he's been part of the brick wall our prospects have been hitting midway through our system.  For a decade plus, too many otherwise good looking prospects stalled and faded in AA - Binghampton and Oberkfell was part of a constant in the system throughout that time. 

Tim Teufel replaces Mookie Wilson as the 1986 representative.  But I feel Sandy will be equally unimpressed with Teufel's style just as he found Mookie's.  I watched each man manage a season for the Brooklyn Cyclones.  And neither did anything worth mentioning to distinguish oneself from the other.

Former MLB pitcher, Rickey Bones gets a promotion and is now the bullpen coach.  Sandy Alderson described the switch as wanting more of a pitching presence from that roll, as Jon Debus brought a catcher's perspective. 

By far, the most intriguing hire is new bench coach, Bob Geren.  When I was a kid, he played on the Yankees.  So I don't like him already.  If Terry Collins was once considered to be the steel wool of managers, well Bob Geren definitely qualifies as a cheese grater.  Geren wasn't exactly a smoothie with his players which makes this appointment odd.  He has managerial experience which is a good quality to have as bench coach.  But he's accused of having the interpersonal and communicative skills of Rowdy Roddy Piper with a microphone in one hand and a bottle of Johnnie Walker in the other.  To say I am displeased with this hire is an under-statement.

Dan Warthen has been deemed a keeper as Pitching Coach by Sandy Alderson.  I wasn't a Warthen fan at first, but he has handled certain pitchers this season in a manner I appreciated very much.  I was quite surprised and pleased with A) - his tough love stances taken with Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, and B) - his re-introduction of the curveball to the Mets staff.  R.A. Dickey, and hopefully Johan Santana next season, do not need much coaching.  Those two merely need a watchful eye.  And I am not about to put Mike Pelfrey on Warthen unless he can perform lobotomies also.

Niese and Gee have clearly been Warthen's projects.  And there are a few farm hands who will be trickling up the ladder soon whom Dan Warthen will be asked to mentor. At some point, I fully expect the Mets to explore options with designs of ridding themselves of Johan Santana.  The point is the starting staff may soon be filled predominantly by Met products which places the onus on Dan Warthen to teach these kids well.  Sooner than later, he may be charged with a very inexperienced staff.  If Niese and Gee can be used as a gauge, then maybe, in the absence of Dave Duncan falling into our laps, Dan Warthen might be a good man and fine choice moving forward. 

Wally Backman continues to be over looked by the big club.  He may accept the job to be Buffalo's manager.  That matter is still pending.  An appointment as coach on the big club would have recreated a Willie Randolph/Jerry Manuel type feel in the dugout.  As Terry was just extended, if Wally is to be manager of the Mets one day, he'll have to take the Buffalo job and continue to play good soldier.  I'm not sure, but I don't think Sandy Alderson appreciates bats flying out of the dugout.

Lastly, I've always been a proponent of bringing John Stearns back as a coach within the organization.