Monday, April 30, 2012

N.Y. Knicks ~ Total Exposure

From the desk of: DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP




NEW YORK KNICKS:   The Stench Across the Street From Bayside Isn't From Dead Fish Washing Up on the Shores of South Beach.  It's the Knicks.


I told you, the narrative doesn't change with this team.


If I were in the Miami Police Dept., I would have arrested the Knicks for trespassing.  Don't ask me what they were doing there.  I think Game One was the worst forty-eight minutes I watched the Knicks play in the last thirty-five years.  Once Miami gets through with us, we will have gone twelve years without winning a playoff game.  Yeah, they'll dispatch us that quickly.  I expect nothing from this team.  The Knicks do not have any tricks of their sleeves.  And they just got totally exposed.


With a healthier Tyson Chandler (flu) on the floor, playing in his right mind instead of giving LeBron James whiplash, maybe we only lose Saturday by twenty-five points.  But without Iman Shumpert, (what a tough break for the rookie!) expect more of the same thing we saw in Game One - Blowouts.  Because Tyson Chandler is going to be playing defense by himself.


With Shumpert out, that means Landry Fields will be recalled from his exile in a black hole.  It's already been proven, he and Carmelo Anthony have mixed as well as vinegar and oil together.  So good luck with that.


Then there's Amare.  Amare Stoudemire clearly has nothing to offer.   He's a compromised cager.  He  played a majority of the game and was a complete non-factor.  Is there any reason to speculate?  I'm not a big "IF" fan  So, no.  His body has the better of him and ailments like his do not clear up over night.


Jeremy Lin might make it back in time to play in the elimination game.  And even if he played last Saturday, he wouldn't have helped.  I don't believe that.  And I do not believe he can help this team now.  Not with mounting injuries.  If Lin and Chandler were both healthy and playing Saturday, then maybe we only lose by fifteen.


So now that leaves us with Carmelo Anthony.   In Game One's debacle, the Knicks' star was dim. Miami kicked South Beach sand in Melo's face, and big man on campus offered no response.  His eleven points were just wimpy.  But he did have a good game rebounding.  I cede him that.


Hmmm, who's left?  J.R. Smith and Baron Davis?


So like I was saying...., I seriously doubt the Knicks will have a response tonight.  They are a poorly constructed team in the Dolan ideal.


Let's just get on with this.




NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
PLAYOFFS

Quarter-Final Round

TONIGHT


GAME TWO

NEW YORK KNICKS
vs.
Miami Heat
From,
Some Arena They Can't Sell Out
in South Florida








Mike.BTB

Brooklyn Nets ~ As Simple as Black and White

From the desk of: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH









THE BROOKLYN NETS BASKETBALL CLUB
IS NOW ON THE CLOCK.

Proclaim throughout the Borough of Kings, today is the day everything becomes official.  We are now the Brooklyn Nets.  The team unveiled their new look and logo this morning.


First impressions usually mean everything.  And I like what I see.  There is a beauty in the simplicity.  The black and white scheme falls in line with the Hoops of Flatbush - as the Long Island University-Brooklyn Blackbirds, who play just down the Avenue, also sport black and white threads.


I'm not particularly happy "New York" is included in the logo at left.  But it is appropriate, and doesn't subtract from our Brooklyn identity at all.  In fact, it is good, and right.   I also don't mind at all the shield has a certain Oakland Raiders feel to it.  After all, Al Davis was from Brooklyn!  The more I look at thelogos, the more I like them.




 

I approve.  Let's Go Brooklyn!




 
As part of today's festivities, there was a good time to be had at the plaza of the Atlantic Center mall, where a hoop was erected and music filled the downtown air.







 
The Nets also took the next step forward in their advertising campaign around the Borough.  The new ad theme is - HELLO BROOKLYN.  Today's billboard is brought to you from the intersection of Seventh Avenue at Flatbush Avenue.




 

 

Back at the Barclays Center construction site, work continues at a brisk pace.  After buttoning down and concentrating on interior construction over the Winter, with Spring came appreciable progress on the exterior that changes the facade of Barclays Center on a now daily basis.














BROOKLYN NETS

established April 30, 2012









Mike.BTB

Sunday, April 29, 2012

N.Y. Gothams ~ Vintage Base Ball Returns to Brooklyn




Spend Sunday Afternoon Learning Why
Base Ball Became Our National Pastime.




April 29, 2012 ~  10:00 a.m.
ROUND ROBIN ~ TRIPLE HEADER

Featuring


FROM
The Old Stone House
WASHINGTON PARK, BROOKLYN


Gothams vs. Neshanock at the Old Stone House ~ 2010




The history of Vintage Base Ball already gained my interest long ago.  But when the first real recreations of the game came to the Old Stone House in Brooklyn during the Fall of 2009, the club members instantly sparked my fandom.  Suddenly, I found more favorite teams to follow.  Imagine that?

The 2009 season was my initial encounter with the likes of the Brooklyn Atlantics Base Ball Club. That was the year when I also met "Brooklyn" from the Neshanock Club, and "Wickets" of the Gothams.

The New York Gothams BBC and the Flemington Neshanock Club returned to the Old Stone House in 2010, but this time brought along with them the Newark Eurekas BBC.  Together, they spent another late Autumn morning and afternoon participating in round robin play.

Last year's plans to host games in Brooklyn ran into logistical troubles, and so the Vintage season passed us by.  However, I'm very happy to announce, Vintage Base Ball is returning to Brooklyn this Sunday, April 29th.


The locals - NYC's only Vintage team - The Gothams BBC of New York, return along with the Flemington Neshanock BBC.  This season they will be competing along with the Capital Base Ball Club of Columbus, Ohio, in another round robin series to be played again at the Old Stone House at Washington Park.


The Gothams have played four matches so far, and are winners of three.  They opened their season with victories over the Atlantic Base Ball Club, and the Flemington Neshanocks.  Most recently, they defeated the Manetto Hill Surprise by a score of 22-4 in the NY/NJ Cup tournament played last week at Old Bethpage Restoration Village.  Their lone loss of the season came during last week's Cup play at the hands of the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York by an unsightly 19-3 score.


This season's New York-New Jersey Cup didn't go the Gothams way, as did last season's when they were declared winners of the tourney.  This season, it was the Mutuals Base Ball Club of New York who secured the Cup with a defeat of the Gothams, and an 8-7 victory over the Flemington Neshanocks.


The Flemington Neshanocks are suffering through a troubling start to their season.  After losing a pair of Opening Day games, the Elizabeth Resolutes handed them their third loss a week later.  They'd suffer yet a fourth loss against the Mutuals during last week's Cup play.


The Capital Base Ball Club of Columbus; established in 1998;  are  fine standing members of the Vintage Base Ball Association.  The original club itself, dates back to 1866.  Wickets tells me the Capitals were created by a former Gothams player who moved away.


I'd imagine, only an unyielding group of men dedicated to the art and craft of vintage base ball would travel as extensively as these gentlemen are renown for.  I'm delighted they are kicking off their 2012 season with a trip east to our parts of the woods here in New York.  Columbus opened up Saturday with a pair of matches versus the Brooklyn Atlantics Base Ball Club out in Long Island.  Unfortunately for them, they dropped both contests.  The Capitals Club have a quick turn around playing on consecutive days upon their arrival in Brooklyn Sunday.


Wear a sweater, bring a chair, pack a lunch, and come out the Old Stone House" at Washington Park on 3rd Street, between 4th and 5th Avenues.  The park is the modern day grounds where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play before they built Ebbets Field prior to the 1912 season.  Come out Sunday, and the Neshanock Club, the Capital Club, and the home town Gothams, will take you to a time that precedes even the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Come see what the game really looked like in its infancy.  And come see them play in the place where Base Ball History was born; Brooklyn.


There's a loose yet interesting connection between the Capitals Base Ball Club of Columbus, the city of Brooklyn, and Base Ball history.  The following excerpt is from the Capitals' website regarding the team's Vintage history.  Their complete history is linked - HERE



Just 15 months after its founding, the Capitals played the Washington Nationals - one of the finest clubs in the nation at that time.  The Nationals were travelling on a six city, ten game tour with Columbus being the first stop on their "western" trek.  The match was held at City Park (now Schiller Park) and drew a sizable crowd.  The Nationals had assembled a strong club in 1867 prior to their monumental tour.  The starting “nine” consisted of pitchers Will Williams, considered by many as one of the swiftest pitchers in the country.  George Wright did the catching.  Wright was the best player not only on the Nationals, but at the time perhaps in the country.  The infield was manned by first baseman George Fletcher formerly of Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, second base was occupied by Ed Parker, third base was played by George Chadwick - today known as the "Father of Baseball" - was the pre-eminent baseball writer of his day and authority on the rules.  He is credited with developing the box score and promoting the game as our national pastime.  In addition to Chadwick, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938, two other future Hall-of-Famers were in the field that day.

When Mr. Chadwick passed away, he was buried in Brooklyn's historic Green Wood Cemetery.  His plot is identified by a non-ostentatious white column topped with a marble baseball.  Mounted on one side of the column, is a diamond shaped plaque with the dedication.  On the left side, are crossed bats with a catchers mitt centered.  On the right, are crossed bats with a catcher's mask.  The immediate grounds are landscaped to form a baseball diamond with stone bases.  His plaque indeed reads "The Father of Baseball", as he was certainly the games first true historian.  This month marked the 104th year of Mr. Chadwick's passing.  Before that, he brilliantly chronicled the games roughly 60 year old history.  And that is why it is said, Brooklyn is where Base Ball History, was born.



















To the Capitals Base Ball Club of Columbus, welcome to the city of Brooklyn.  And to Brad of the Flemington BBC, and to Wickets, Bugs, and Scratch and the rest of the home town Gothams BBC, welcome back!


Play Ball!






Mike.BTB

Saturday, April 28, 2012

L.I. Ducks ~ Off "Two" a Good Start

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE







Atlantic League
of Professional Baseball
Fifteenth Anniversary Season




LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  March of the Ducks Is On.


So far, two games, two wins.  That's how Duck fans like it.  The march towards another division title is on.

Long Island helped the Somerset Patriots open their 15th season of Atlantic League Baseball by handing their hosts a pair of defeats.  Game Three of their Opening Day four game series is tonight with the series concluding Sunday.

Last night, the big bat of Brandon Sing finally said hello with a double off the center field wall.  The knock was his first hit as a Long Island Duck.  And his RBI count is now up to three. Ryan Garko was the only Duck with multiple hits in the game, and Lew Ford hit his first home run for the visitors.

Coach Baez tabbed Dan Meyer as starter number two.  Last night he threw five innings of four hit ball.  Dan allowed one earned run, walked three, and struck out four to earn his first win of the season.  Making his second appearance, John Meloan pitched a shaky ninth inning, but still posted his first save in a 6-4 final.

On Thursday, Long Island opened the season with a resounding 9-4 win over the Patriots as Ray Navarrete started his 2012 campaign with a boom.  Long Island's long time second baseman went 5 for 5, with a double, two RBI, and a ninth inning home run to put the Ducks' first win of the season safely out of Somerset's reach.

Mike Loree resumed his role as staff ace, and pitched 5.1 innings in the opener.  He struck out six batters and only walked one, but got touched for six hits and three earned runs.  Loree was removed in the sixth inning with the score tied at three apiece.  He'd get a no decision for his efforts.  Jeff Lyman entered the game and kept Somerset where they were.  He earned his first win in doing so.  Jeremy Hill was touched for a run in the eighth, while Jon Meloan finished the game in a non-save situation.


TONIGHT

LONG ISLAND DUCKS
SP - Joe Esposito
vs.
Somerset Patriots
From
Somewhere in New Jersey







ATLANTIC LEAGUE:   Welcome to Texas Gentlemen.


Fans in Sugar Land didn't have to wait too long for their first taste of victory over Atlantic League competition.  The organization's first ever victory came Friday night via an overwhelming effort against the York Revolution.  The Sugar Land Skeeters inaugurated their season and new ballpark with a split of two games played so far.  But the tremendous fan turn out has made their weekend an outstanding success already.  On both Opening Night and Friday as well, 7,500 fans packed brand new Constellation Field each time.

In Texas fashion, the Skeeters went about their first victory in a big way.  The League's newest team corralled the visiting Revolution and gave the defending Atlantic League champs a good ol' 10-1 branding.

With a 3-0 lead, starting pitcher; Ryan McKeller was relieved after four innings.  He surrendered no runs, one hit, one walk, and struck out one.  For trivia sake, he is credited with the Skeeters' first win.  Will Startup and the bullpen took over, covering the remaining five innings.

The long-time Somerset Patriots' stand-out and crowd favorite; Josh Pressley; is now a member of the Sugar Land Skeeters.  Friday night, he said hello to his new home crowd with a two run home run in the first inning.  Josh then singled in the fourth, and scored on Colt Morton's home run.  Things went down hill fast for York after that.

Congratulations to Gary Gaetti and the Sugar Land Skeeters on their first every victory.






Mike.BTB

N.Y. Knicks ~ Melo Brings Own Sizzle to South Beach; Game One

From the desk of:   DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP




2011-2012
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
PLAYOFFS


EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTER FINALS


TODAY

#7 - NEW YORK KNICKS
vs.
# 2 - Miami Heat
From
The Land of Pink Flamingos
Miami, Florida






NEW YORK KNICKS:  Dolan, Melo, and the Knicks City Players Taking Their Gig to South Beach.


When it comes to the Knicks and I, the narrative hasn't changed much.  It's Melo's world.  We just live in it.  I'm not going to be a hypocrite and start extolling the wondrous exploits of Carmelo Anthony now.  I have made it plainly clear in this blog, I'm not his biggest fan.  But I'm willing to work through my skewed view of the forward for the sake of getting on with this.


I'll start this way - In a text message exchange with my cousin, he lamented over not being able to play Chicago in the first round and instead drawing Miami.  And I said for what?  Putting off the inevitable?  I totally get why Knick fans share his sentiment.  I'd otherwise be right there with you.  But as of now, I feel there is no difference between losing in the first or second round, when I am already confident they will not make it to the Eastern Conference finals.


Can we get by the Heat?  Perhaps.  Can we get by the Bulls?  Maybe.  But in the Knicks present state, can they get through both?  I doubt it very much.  The Knicks played competitively against both teams in the regular season.  There is definitely cause for optimism.  I just do no think they will last a series, much less two, against the Conference's elite teams.  And to be even more honest with you, elite is a very loosely used term.


At guard, I'd prefer if Coach Woodson didn't commit to either Bibby or Baron Davis.  I believe an equal dose of both will work better and keep them fresher as the series wears on - because I do think this series can go six games.  Miami owns only a slight advantage here.  While it's still undetermined if Tyson Chandler plays tonight, ideally, he, Amare, and Melo will all be on the floor again.  If the Knicks are to exorcise their disharmony from the point in Jeremy Lin's absence, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis need to figure out how to incorporate Amare and Chandler while still adhering to the mandates of playing in Melo's World.


But then, which Amare Stoudemire are we getting?  Last season's weak-side-shot blocking, and dunking machine?  Or will we be getting the guy who settles on perimeter shooting with no attempts to rebound?  Of course everything hinges on the health status of Amare's back.  No pain will be the Knicks' gain.  Anything less, it will be the Melo System, or bust.


Tyson Chandler is no stranger to the Heat.  They remember him well from last season's championship series.  This year, he's been everything the Knicks wanted since they signed him, and more.  He is the undisputed defensive leader of this team.  No Tyson Chandler on the floor equals no strong will of the Knicks to play defense.  He's the one guy on the Knicks that keeps Melo from utterly dominating the court.  Like gravity does, Chandler exerts a force that keeps the Knicks and Melo's World somewhat in orbit together.  And even though he was third-in after Amare and Melo's arrival, without Tyson Chandler, there are no playoffs.  If his knee doesn't hold up, the Knicks are surely done.


That's a lot of Melo Bashing.  I know.  To paraphrase a previous post of mine:

Melo has been The Man over the last month due to a simple matter of attrition.  The same problems the Knicks had before, will be revisited once Amare comes back, or, tries to come back, and will worsen should the Knicks still be playing by the time Jeremy Lin gets back.  In the mean time, with everyone out of his way, including Mike D'Antoni, Melo is free to rule his world as he sees fit. Because outside of guys like Amare and Chandler, Melo's team mates know exactly where their bread is being buttered now.


That's not to say Melo hasn't been doing everything he can to help his team win lately; to include playing defense.  He has.  He has been every bit the star he is advertised to be.  He most definitely carried this team through April.  But it took the elimination of a few players from the floor in order for the real Melo to take effect.  It also took the elimination of a stubborn coach - stubborn only when it came to Melo that is.  Carmelo is in full effect now and leading the Knicks - his way.  And that's where I have a problem.


My hang-ups aside, that doesn't mean he, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith haven't stumbled upon some cohesiveness and effective play together.  Because they have.  And if Shumpert and Smith play big, well then the Heat will definitely have a problem on their hands.  Those two are the Knicks' x-factors.


I do no think anyone will be leaving Steve Novak all alone anymore.  When he steps on the court, it is for one reason only.  So when he does enter games, Miami will guard him.  Landry Fields still has not returned any one's calls.  Last seen, he was circling around the perimeter of a galactic black hole.  His game has long since been torn apart at the seams.


That's just the way I see things.


Last point - Dwayne Wade and LeBron James can be dealt with.  But do the  Knicks have an answer for Chris Bosh?  Maybe Tyson Chandler changes things in a seven game series.  But Bosh, like Ray Allen in last year's playoffs against the Celtics, have been the real phantom menaces in the Knicks recent encounters with either team.  Playing in the background for most of the game, both of them have been fourth quarter killers against the Knicks.  I'd be paying him serious attention late in games this series.


Let's Go Knicks!





Mike.BTB

N.J. Devils ~ Renaissance Men

From the desk of:   THE BRICK CITY DEMONS







The Battle of I-95 is On ~ Bring on the Flyers!


NEW JERSEY DEVILS:  Ain't No Sunshine In Florida!

Panthers Fall in Double Overtime.
Rookie Saves Marty and the Devs.

ROUND ONE
GAME SEVEN FINAL:

New Jersey Devils   3
Florida Panthers      2
2 O.T.



Look what the Devils did to the Panthers..., again! For the second consecutive game, and facing elimination for the second consecutive time, the New Jersey Devils snatched destiny away from a resilient Florida club, and pulled off back to back overtime victories to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals where they will face their un-brotherly neighbors to the south; the Philadelphia Flyers.


In Game Six, it was the relatively inexperienced Steve Bernier who got New Jersey's night started right, until Travis Zajac was able to seal the deal in overtime.  Needing another hero in Game Seven, Adam Henrique showed up to get all the Devils' main cast of demons off the hook.


Adam Henrique, the rookie center, stepped up and delivered his undisciplined band of Devils a step closer towards the promised land ice.  Why were the Devils in trouble in the first place?  Because they continued to stab themselves in the foot by accumulating whistles, and there-by kept letting Florida get back up after putting them down early.


In the third period, New Jersey's omens began to reappear.  They let yet another lead get away from them.  Following their series trend, New Jersey reverted to putting themselves in the box.  And Florida made them pay.  With three PP opportunities in the game, Florida cashed in twice during the final period of regulation.  Their first goal came at the 5:02 mark, when Stephen Weiss slapped a puck past Martin Brodeuer.  Then the Panthers scored a second time on Marcel Goc's wrist shot to tie the game at two apiece with less than five minutes left in the regulation.


The lead New Jersey lost came about when Adam Henrique put his team ahead with an early first period goal.  Then Stephan Gionta made it a two goal game half way through the second period.


Florida peppered Martin Brodeur with twelve shots in the first overtime session.  New Jersey took nine shots.  But another twenty minutes had elapsed without a score.  New Jersey and Florida needed a second overtime to decide who would advance to play the Flyers.


Inside the eighty-third minute of Game Seven, the Devils' fore check forced a turnover in Florida's zone.  Devils' rookie Adam Henrique snatched a chipped puck out of the air, placed it on the ice, and wristed the game winning shot passed Jose Theodore.


Overall, Marty Brodeur faced forty-five shots.  At even strength, he was 37/37 on the night, and also stopped one short-handed opportunity.  The Devils wound up surviving Round One in spite of continually putting themselves on the penalty kill.  But heading in the next series against the Flyers, the biggest concern for Devil fans would be which Marty Brodeur will show up; as the first round was marred by too many peeks and valleys in his play.


It's off to Philadelphia now for the series opener on Sunday afternoon.



STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS  ~  EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS

SUNDAY
GAME ONE
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
vs.
Philadelphia Flyers
From
Broad Street
PHILLY


* Graffiti - Devil's Playground; Bushwick, Brooklyn
Mike.BTB

Friday, April 27, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Bring on the Capitals!

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS




2012
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI FINALS



SATURDAY


GAME ONE

Washington Capitals
vs.
NEW YORK RANGERS
From
33rd Street at 7th Avenue
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
NYC




Here We Go Again!
Alex Ovechkin during warm-ups,  2008-2009 Playoffs versus Rangers.


2008-2009 Quarter Finals:
Washington Wins Series 4-3

2010-2011 Quarter Finals:
Washington Wins Series 4-1






NEW YORK RANGERS:  The Kids Are Alright!  Eliminate Ottawa in Game Seven.  On to the Semi-Finals Versus Our Recent Playoff Nemesis.



Dan Girardi will be twenty-eight years old in two more days.  Marc Staal just turned twenty-five.  They are still relatively young.  But ask some of the younger member of the Rangers, and they're liable to tell you Staal and Girardi have been protecting the Rangers' back lines forever.  At this point in their careers, that assessment might not be too far off; in Ranger years that is.  They are now both veterans of five complete regular seasons in a Blueshirt.


To the second wave of younger Blueshirts, Dan Giardi and Marc Staal are unofficially the savvy veterans.  Girardi and Staal came up as part of the new wave of 21st century Blueshirts along with Ryan Callahan, and Brandon Dubinsky.  They, along with Staal and Girardi, are completing their fifth full seasons as Rangers together.  Ryan Callahan is now the Rangers' Captain, while Brandon Dubinsky is representative of the team's soul.


And then there is Henrik Lundqvist; the goalie.  He must seem like Father Time to more than just a few of the newer Rangers.  But most of us just refer to him as The King.  Henrik was here before Callahan, and Dubby, and Staal, and Girardi.  Henrik was here before them all.


Against Ottawa in Game Seven of the quarter-final round, Marc Staal struck first.  Five minutes into the second period, Staal's five year team mate; Ryan Callahan; along with Second-Gen Ranger; Derek Stepan; assisted on the Rangers' first goal of the game.


Just under five minutes later, the other ancient blue liner; Dan Girardi; gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead, with assists from old guard forward; Brandon Dubinsky; and from Brandon Prust; the beloved adoptive member of the Blueshirt Family whom the Rangers rescued from Phoenix during the 2009-2010 trade deadline.


Two goals were all the Rangers needed to defeat the Ottawa Senators.  Henrik Lundqvist took care of the rest.  And with their Game Seven victory, they gained another crack at the Washington Capitals.


The King, and member Rangers who roughly started their odyssey together back during the 2007-2008 season know the Washington Capitals far too well.  The core of players Coach Torts said he would build the Rangers' future around - Henrik, Callahan; Dubinsky, Staal, and Girardi, will all tell us, it is time for them to seize the moment by finally overwhelming their 21st century playoff nemesis.


But didn't they just seize the moment in Game Seven against Ottawa?  Indeed.  But now it is time for the Rangers to have their day over the Capitals just like Washington has enjoyed against the Rangers in playoffs rounds of yore.  The biggest difference between now and the last two encounters against Washington is this time, the Rangers' Core Five will be the one's leading their Band of Blueshirts onto the ice.  For they are followers no more.  Long gone are the days of Jagr, Gomez, Drury, and having the young-lings follow their lead.  Today, the club members imported from other places to be Rangers fall in line with The Core, Coach Torts, and the new Rangers' Way.


Seven games against Ottawa may just have been exactly what this team needed - Adversity.  Being pushed to the limit was a quick and effective way to grow up.  Having faced adversity and won, the Second-Gen Boys in Blueshirts are now men.  The younger Rangers might be follicular challenged with regards to growing playoff beards.  But upon closer inspection, they may have sprouted a gray hair or two after facing elimination in consecutive games against Ottawa.  Their gruff however, is undeniable.  Even the youngest Blueshirt Blue Chipper; Chris Kreider; played like a grizzled vet.


Guys like Fedotenko, Brad Richards and Coach Torts, have experience winning a Stanley Cup together elsewhere, and can draw from their experiences, and even guide these young, and even younger Rangers, through the ensuing round(s).  They can..., with CAN being the key word.  Aside from Coach Torts who is the perfect Alpha-male for this young hungry pack of players, I honestly do not think there is much Richards or Feds can impart on this group, and not for lack of intangibles or credibility.  Instead, this Rangers team seems intent on forging ahead their own way; the Blueshirt Way; the only way they know how.  It's heads down and push forward.


All these Blueshirts will now set out together, and try to exorcise the organization's largest demon of the last few years, the Washington Capitals.


Dale Hunter versus John Tortorella.  This is going to be good!


Every player on the Capitals is responsible for getting Coach Bruce Boudreau fired.  Why?  For trying to get them to play a more defensive oriented style of hockey, similar to the style John Tortorella has ingrained into the Rangers.  After being nothing short of resistive, what the Caps wouldn't do early in the season for Boudreau, they are finally doing for Dale Hunter.  They rode a late regular season surge to gain one of the last playoff spots the way the Rangers used to prior to this season.


It is the Rangers who come into the series as the dominant seed now.  But that only reads well on paper.  Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Jason Chimera remain major scoring threats.  But even by Washington's standards, their overall goal scoring was down in the recently concluded regular season; finishing with 220 goals scored.  That's the price they had to pay for a better defense.  That's what Boudreau was trying to tell them.  However, his dictates fell on deaf ears.


Alex Ovechkin ended the regular season with thirty-eight goals.  He scored two goals and assisted on three others against the Bruins.  Alexander Semin is Washington's leading playoff scorer so far with three goals.  A new comer to this playoff rivalry; Troy Brouwer; scored twice against Boston.  He was also Washington's fourth leading goal scorer with eighteen, while appearing in all eighty-two games of the regular season.


The Rangers should be able to match that.  If you're a Rangers fan, there's no need to delve into our stats.  You should know them already.  But what's closer to the truth is, the Rangers, Coach Torts, and most of us fans, don't really care.  Blueshirt Hockey is all about winning the moment.


So, Let's Go Rangers!





Mike.BTB

Thursday, April 26, 2012

N.J. Devils ~ Game Seven In Martin Brodeur's Hands

From the desk of:   THE BRICK CITY DEMONS






STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS  ~  2012  ~  QUARTER FINAL ROUND


TONIGHT

GAME SEVEN

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
vs.
Florida Panthers
From
Sunrise, Florida



SERIES TIED 3-3
I  -  NJD 3;  FLA 2
II  -  FLA 4;  NJD 2
III  -  FLA 4;  NJD 3
IV  -  NJD 4;  FLA 0
V  -  FLA 3;  NJD 0
VI  -  NJD 3;  FLA 2*
*overtime







NEW JERSEY DEVILS:  Game Seven is Hell.


Game Six was a mixed bag of goods.  On the one hand, the Devils earned a hard fought overtime win on home ice to stave off elimination for at least one more game.


On the other hand, they needed overtime after blowing a 2-0 second period lead.  You might say the Devils won in spite of Martin Brodeur.  In a game in which the Devils peppered the former Devil back-up goalie; Scott Clemmensen; with forty-two shots on goal, Martin Brodeur was charged with handling all of sixteen shots by Florida.  Yet, he still allowed two of those pucks to get by, erasing New Jersey's two goal lead.  If that didn't bring back flashes of Game Three, it should have.


Who exactly are the Devils going to get between the pipes tonight?  Will it be the one who got pulled after allowing Florida to erase a three goal deficit in Game Three?  Will they get the goalie who opened the door for overtime in Game Six?  Or will they get the future Hall of Fame goalie who shut out the Panthers in Game Four?


This can potentially mark the last game for Zach Parise in a Devils uniform.  The future unrestricted free agent is unlikely to continue playing for New Jersey come next season.  That's just not in the Devils' economics right now.  Not while owner Jeff Vanderbeek is snagged in a financial bear trap with the city of Newark.


This might also mark the end of a career for Martin Brodeur as well.  He will shortly turn forty years old.  But for the moment, he and Zach Parise have the power within them to put those matters aside for at least another two weeks with a series clinching Game Seven victory tonight in Sunrise, Florida against the gutsy Panthers.


The Devils come into tonight's game with as much Game Seven savvy and experience as one can admire.  So they'll have that on their side this evening.  But they need to stop tripping over themselves and spending time in the box.


Additionally, the Devils can hardly depend on Steve Bermier to continue scoring for them.  He scored his second of the playoffs in Game Six.  But every Devils fan knows damn well who needs to rise and deliver.  Ilya Kovalchuck scored goal number three during game Six as well.  Like I say in any huge situation - the team's biggest players need to step up and take the game into their hands.  That could be Kovalchuck.  That could also be Parise, or even David Clarkson.  But if I'm playing hunches and theorizing who might step up to be tonight's hero, I'm thinking Patrick Elias.  Like Game One.


There are still players on this team who know how to win championships.











Mike.BTB

L.I. Ducks ~ The Pond Hurlers; 2012 Ducks Pitching

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE










LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  The Ducks' Ace Pitcher and 2011 Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year, Returns for a Second Season in the Pond.



Last season, if there were questions regarding the Ducks' pitching, it centered around Mike Parisi and Mike Loree.  And the question was - How long would they last?  With the fine seasons both were having, it was only a matter of time before affiliated baseball came seeking their services.  And sure enough, Mike Parisi was the first to go.  Mike Loree followed.  Only, Mike Loree came back for the playoffs, and pitched Long Island into the championship round against York.


After Mike and Mike, the Ducks were desperately thin at starting pitching last season.  But Long Island possessed a rather remarkable bullpen that over came many deficiencies in the starting rotation.  In the end, Long Island's pitching held up.  It was the offense that disappeared against the York Revolution in the Finals.


That's all behind us now.  The 2012 season is here.



Last season's Atlantic League Pitcher of the Season; Mike Loree; returns to the Long Island Ducks for his second season.  He won the League's pitching triple crown last season with 14 wins, 131 strikeouts, and sported a league low 1.98 era.  Mike will start the season off against the Somerset Patriots this evening.


Gustavo Chacin will most likely serve as the number two starter behind Loree.  In 2005, he went 13-9 with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Over 58 major league starts, the 31 year old owns a 27-17 overall record.  Last year, he split time between AAA-Buffalo, and Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League.


Jason Monti returns to the club after pitching in 20 games out of the bullpen for the Ducks last year. He did not start a game last season, but in his two previous seasons; one with Somerset, and one spent in the Frontier League, he made 36 starts in 45 appearances.


Eric Niesen is no stranger to me.  Drafted by the New York Mets, he played his first season in Brooklyn with the Cyclones; A-NYPL.  Raised through the Mets' system as a starter, in 2011, he appeared in 51 games, all in relief.




Randy Keisler is a 36 year old lefty.  He played for Long Island in 2010, and is a veteran of 13 seasons mostly in AAA.  Last season he played in the L.A. Dodgers organization.  He made 19 starts and posted a 7-7 win/loss record.


Joe Esposito started 14 games for Reading of the Eastern League last season.  But the 33 year old is most likely headed for the Ducks' bullpen.  In 375 career minor league innings pitched, he has amassed 405 strikeouts.


Connor Graham spent the last two seasons playing for the Cleveland Indians' affiliate in AA-Akron.  He appeared in 43 games last season; 39 came in relief.  In 79 innings, he struck out 65 batters, and posted a 3.43 era.



Jeff Lyman started the 2011 season playing Rookie Ball, and eventually made his way to AA-Springfield.  The 25 year old made 35 appearances, all in relief.  In 49 innings pitched, he struck out 39 batters, but also walked 32 batters as well.


Jon Meloan comes to the Ducks with loads of AAA experience.  This may be Long Island's closer this season.  Over 372 innings pitched in his 6 year minor league career, he has amassed 433 strikeouts, while issuing 180 base on balls.


Dan Meyer will be another potential high strikeout pitcher.  But he walks far too many batters.  He has 103 games, and 113 innings pitched worth of MLB experience.


Travis Minix appeared in 11 games for the Somerset Patriots last season.  He also pitched for Somerset's 2008 and 2009 championship teams.  He has 6 seasons of AAA experience.


Retuning from last season to bolster the bullpen once again, will be the dependable duo of Jeremy Hill and Bob Zimmerman.  Hill, the ten year baseball veteran posted an 8-2 record with a 2.91 era for the Ducks out of the pen last season.





Mike.BTB

N.Y. Rangers ~ GAME SEVEN TONIGHT

From the desk of:   RAISE GRESCH WITH THE GREATS








STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS - 2012 - QUARTER FINAL ROUND

Series Tied 3-3

I - NYR 4;  OTT 2
II - OTT 3;  NYR 2
III - NYR 1;  OTT 0
IV - OTT 3;  NYR 2
V - OTT 2;  NYR 0
VI - NYR 3;  OTT 2



TONIGHT

GAME SEVEN

Ottawa Senators
vs.
NEW YORK RANGERS







NEW YORK RANGERS:   In Game Six, the Blueshirts Showed Their Way Still Works Just Fine.


Thank you Brandon Prust.  Someone needed to finally take-on Chris Neil.  And it was long overdue.  I thought Mike Rupp would have been the one to drop gloves with that degenerate; as, in the grand scheme of things, Rupp is the more expendable forward.  But Rupp never even tried.  So all hail Prust for doing what needed to be done.


Game Six was the exact type game Ottawa played against us in Game Two.  In each case, and for both teams, that kind of effort made all the difference.  Ottawa was able to parlay Game Two into another pair of wins.  The Rangers are now in a position to parlay Game Six into a home-ice, Game Seven series clincher at Madison Square Garden.


There may be more men in these boys than we might have given them credit for.  Game Six was a prime game to lose.  Monday would have been the right way to crash and burn.  Instead, the Blueshirts came back with a strong, convincing, game in which they imposed Ranger Hockey upon Ottawa on their ice.  It was not the clinging to 1-0 lead late in the game affair that are as predictable as a coin flip.  In Game Six, they faced elimination and rose to the challenge.  That's very telling.  The Rangers showed their way still works just fine.


Similar to the manner Henrik Lundqvist related his disgust after Game Six to the Media, I think most Rangers; and why not - Ottawa fans too; are fed up with the Stripes.  I'm still wanting to know who Mike Rupp's first period roughing penalty was against.  He basically earned a trip to the box for roughing a mirage.  With thirteen minutes left in the first period, the Sens capitalized during the ensuing power play with a (who else) Chris Neil goal, putting Ottawa ahead by one.  That Chris Neil was even on the ice to begin with was a slap in the face by the NHL and Brendan Shanahan. 


And another thing - Henrik never saw that power play shot coming.  But we on TV saw that goal coming from a mile away.  Ottawa had TWO skaters camped right in front of Henrik, without so much as a tap, a push, or an "excuse me" from a Blueshirt player.  Whether on the penalty kill, or at even-strength, the Rangers need to do a substantially better job of clearing out all that traffic in front of Henrik in Game Seven.  In that regard, Marc Staal needs to have a renaissance game and throw his body around a little more.


For their part, the Rangers were two of seven on the power play.  Two goals are better than no goals.  In the playoffs, we all know PP scoring is paramount.  How Boston won a Cup without scoring a power play goal last season is beyond me.  But in Game Seven, the Rangers must make Ottawa pay for mistakes.  The Blueshirts most definitely need at least a goal, if not a pair, from their special teams.  If the Rangers just stay ferocious on the body and relentless on the fore check, the Rangers can goad Sens into the box.  Once we let them skate around freely, we'll be the ones in the box wasting time.  And we can't let them stretch-pass their way out of their defensive zone either.


The Rangers rode a huge second period to victory Monday night.  At nearly the nine minute mark, Derek Stepan scored the first of New York's PP goals to tie the game at one.  Later in the period, the Rangers discovered the knockout punch they've been searching within themselves for.  At 17:08, Brad Richards showed up to have a big moment upon scoring the Rangers' second PP goal of the evening for a 2-1 Rangers' lead.  Just before the period ended, the Blueshirt Blue Chip; Chris Kreider: finally broke through and scored his first goal as an NHL player.  After being turned away after numerous high quality opportunities, his first goal since joining the Rangers came at the 19:19 mark.


Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, and Brad Richards; the younger gents of this team plus one; all either scored or assisted on the Rangers' three second period goals.  Absent from the Game Six roll call are Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan.  In the biggest game for the Rangers to this point in their remarkable season, they'll need their best players to show up and be factors in Game Seven.


The only real matter of the third period in Monday's game was whether Jason Spezza kicked in Ottawa's second goal of the game, or not.  The questionable goal came with just thirty seconds left in regulation time. Incredulously, the Toronto offices said the goal, which to me was clearly scored via a distinct kicking motion, counted.  With the way the series has been called so far, who can blame Henrik Lundqvist for being so hot as to speak his mind, for him, in an uncharacteristic fashion.  Just add that goal to the long list of horrific calls over the course of this series.


The King faced twenty-seven shots Monday and stopped twenty-five.  Ottawa ended the game with five more shots-on-goal than the Rangers took against Craig Anderson; who for a change, looked a little more human between the pipes.


Especially after Game Two, the Senators now seem to revel playing in MSG.  That must change tonight!  With Carkner and Neil around, the Rangers know they'll need eyes in the backs of their heads.  Compromised by a concussion or not, who isn't paying attention to Daniel Alfredsson?  But the skater that troubles me is Nick Foligno.  I want a set of eyes on him at all times.  In Game Six, Nick Foligno, Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson, and Jason Spezza, accounted for fourteen shots on goal.  Foligno had four.


For the Rangers, Brad Richards led the Rangers with three shots on goal.  Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan accounted for two shots each, as did a few others.  If I include Derek Stepan - two shots; and Carl Hagelin - two shots; the five together still do not add up to the Senators top four shot takers.  So just shoot!  And be in front to clean up any loose pucks.


Otherwise, just go out there and play Rangers' Hockey.  And believe, for our boys just may have learned how to seize the moment.







Mike.BTB

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ Few Came Out to See Jose's Return

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




Johan Santana vs. Jose Reyes





NEW YORK METS:  The Return of Jose Reyes Was a Rather Uneventful....Event.




The Return of Jose Reyes was also.....underwhelming.  The reason?  Citi Field was more than half empty.  A more representative response to Jose's return necessitated a much larger crowd than the one that ventured out Tuesday night.  As fate would have it, the hype and anticipation of Jose's return to the Big Apple came and went without much of the bravado declared by many fans over the week leading up to the game.



But this is how it went down between the former Mets shortstop and the fans in attendance.



The evening started when Jose Reyes first popped out of the Marlins' dugout for pre-game stretching.  Fans gathered by the left field tarp who noticed Jose first, immediately rendered cheers for the former Mets' shortstop.  The booing followed within seconds to gain a fifty percent share of air space.  During stretching and wind sprints, Jose engaged with the crowd while sporting his usual wide smile.





Then at about 6:56 p.m., without any forewarning; without any prepared PA announcement; without any request to turn our attention to the scoreboard; the video tribute to Jose Reyes commenced.  The presentation was appropriately short.  But the video itself lacked many of the images I personally retain of Jose Reyes.  When the video tribute ended, there was a light spattering of cheers.




Before the call to Play Ball! - Jose Reyes stopped over to that left field line crowd, and spent a handsome amount of time signing autographs.  From my vantage point, Jose was being received rather well.








In his first at-bat of the evening, he was both cheered and booed with more volume than during the pregame reception he recieved.  When he drove a pitch off Johan Santana to the left-center field wall, there was a collective gasp from the crowd.  A resounding cheer let out when Kirk Nieuwenhuis tracked down the fly.









With each ensuing Jose Reyes at-bat, the booing became louder.  By his last at-bat of night, any cheering was mute.  Boos rained.  And Jose's night at the plate facing Johan Santana yielded no fruit, and just as well.




And that's all it really was.  To be quite honest, aside from the Mets' win itself, the night, and reaction to Jose Reyes, was a mere fraction of the event Darryl Strawberry's return to Shea Stadium was.






Mike.BTB

L.I. Ducks ~ 2012 Positional Players Preview

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE








LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Many New Faces Will Be Wielding a Bat for the Ducks This Season.  But Can the New Members be as Formidable as Last Year's Line-Up?


L.I. Ducks - Gearing Up for Another Run at Title




CATCHER  - J.R. House  .305 AVG  19 HR  81 RBI  ~  GONE.

 Replacements:
1) - The Ducks will primarily go with JOSH JOHNSON behind the dish.  He's 29 years old with AAA experience.  He played last season for the Road Warriors.  Last season, his nine home runs and forty-six rbi were career bests.
2) - SHAWN WILLIAMS is a twenty-eight year old switch hitter who played with the Brockton Rox last season where he batted .316 in 69 games.  He has A-level experience.

Analysis:  The Ducks will clearly not be getting the same production out of their backstop they received last season.





FIRST BASE/DH - John Rodriguez  .313 AVG  18 HR  81 RBI  ~  GONE.

Replacements:

1) - Freddie Thon returns from last season and will see action at first base.
2) - BRANDON SING has resoundingly been considered the American Association's top slugger over the last four seasons.  The 31 year old's best season came in A-ball when he batted .270, stroked 32 home runs, and drove in 94 runs.

Analysis:  John Rodriguez wielded a very productive bat last season.  But he was injured far too often.  What better we to replace him than with independent ball's top slugger.





SECOND BASE - Ray Navarrete will be back.  He has been a Long Island Duck for the majority of the last six seasons.  Ray will turn thirty-four years old in May.  Last year he tied his career best with twenty-seven home runs.  However, he posted his lowest career batting average as a Duck.  Last season Ray Navarrete continued to etch his name into Long Island's record books.  During the 2011 season, Ray became the Ducks' all-time hits leader as well as becoming the team's all-time runs scored leader.  He also lays claim to being the team's all-time home run leader and all-time rbi leader.  For a single season, he holds their record for doubles and games played.  And he also holds the Ducks' record for hits in a single game, and rbi in a single game.  The long time Ducks favorite will be a pleasant sight for Duck fans when this new look team takes the field.





SHORTSTOP - Javier Colina  .309 AVG  25 HR  90 RBI  ~  GONE.
THIRD BASE - Matt Padgett   .282 AVG  11 HR  67 RBI  ~  GONE.

Infield Replacements:

1) - BRYANT NELSON is 38 years old and will serve as a middle infielder off the bench.  This will be his third season with the Ducks.  He gained MLB experience with the Red Sox.  With eighteen years of minor league experience, he is a career .285 hitter.
2) - WILBERTO ORTIZ has six years as a pro with AAA experience.  He's 27 years old and comes to the Ducks from the L.A. Dodgers organization.  Signed more for his glove than his bat, he possesses no real power to speak of, and is a .265 career minor league hitter.
3) - RYAN GARKO has six years of MLB experience. He is 31 years old. His best seasons came in 2007 and 2008. He's a .275 career hitter, with 55 home runs, and 250 rbi on his pro resume.

Analysis:  Dan Lyons also will be back for another season.  But the new infielders will be hard pressed to replicate the kind of offense last season's Ducks generated.  Matt Garko may have something to say about that however.





CENTER FIELD - Kraig Binick returns for his second season in the Pond.  He was last season's Atlantic League's batting champion.  Kraig split time leading off, and hitting in the sixth and seventh spots in the order.  Prior to suffering a facial injury in a collision at second base, Kraig was off to a blazing start batting as high as .409 as of June 6th.





LEFT FIELD - Kennard Jones   .292 AVG  8 HR  54 RBI  ~  GONE.
RIGHT FIELD - Matt Esquivel   .328 AVG  15 HR  69 RBI  ~  GONE.

Outfield Replacements:

1) - REID GORECKI is a nine year AAA pro.  He is 32 years old with a career .267 average.  Doubles to the gap is his thing.  But he has no real power to speak of.
2) - PAUL KARMAS is a 22 year old who is fresh out of Rookie ball.  Prior to that, he was a .300 hitter for St. John's.
3) - JAMES McOWEN is 27 years old with AA experience.  If he can keep his strikeouts down, he'll be another doubles machine with occasional home run power.  In five seasons, he's a career .289 minor league hitter.

Analysis:  Most of the Ducks' power last season came from the infield.  But Matt Esquivel's numbers will be hard to make-up.  The spotlight seems to be on James McOwen.  Lew Ford will turn thirty-six in August.  This will be his third season in the Pond.




2012

ATLANTIC LEAGUE SEASON

GAME ONE


LONG ISLAND DUCKS
vs.
Somerset Patriots
From
TD Bank Ballpark
New Jersey


OPENING DAY










Mike.BTB