Saturday, October 31, 2015

PIGSKIN 2015: Week Eight



PIGSKIN

FOOTBALL SUNDAY
Week Eight

RESULTS
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven

Scoreboard:
Week Seven Record:  6-5
Overall Record:  50-36-2
Schmear of the Week: 4-3
Bagels in the Basket:  +15


1st and Ten:
  • Deflate This!  The Patriots are trampling the competition like Godzilla going through Tokyo.   Boy, are they playing pissed off pigskin.  Every one of their AFC leading touchdowns has been like a middle finger raised at the NFL.
  • The Bengals are out of the cage, and hot on New England's trail for Conference supremacy.
  • Someone must lose: Broncos vs. Packers > One team will remain undefeated, the other will experience their first bitter taste of defeat.

2nd and Long:
  • No secret which team will be keeping their eyes peeled on the score in Denver.  Wanna bet the Falcons wished they played in the NFC East?
  • The Jets must survive the Black Hole in order to keep within striking distance of the Patriots.
  • Who would have though the Vikes would be poised to go 5-3 in the first half?
No Gain:
  • Stalemate: They'll be no movement in the NFC West this week, except for the 49ers that is, as they'll fall further behind the pack.  I expect the Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks, all to win Sunday.
  • The Giants are in first place, but do not seem to handle success well.  Look for the them to get dumped in the Dome.
PUNT!
  • The NFL is straight pimping with Fan Duel/Draft Kings, etc., aren't they...


Week Eight:
Friday Line ~ NYDN


SAINTS -3 (Giants)
To date, Drew Brees will be the best QB the Giants will have faced this season.  Take a look back at what Tony Romo, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins, Colin Kaepernick, and Matt Ryan all did to them. Even Matt Cassel had his moments against the Giants defense/secondary.  You think Brees will do any less?  I didn't think so.
Push; 52-49 Saints

Jets -3 (RAIDERS)
Jets estimated time of arrival in the Black Hole = not soon enough.  After last week, the Jets are chomping at the bit.  First, what a great rivalry revisited!  Raiders fans are having fun again - just not this week.  I'm not one for moral victories, but, look back at who the Patriots have played and you'll find the Jets have arguably given them the best run for their money. Good defense and an effective running are not fluke happenings in the NFL.  I know the Jets are a little banged up.  But, I still do not foresee Latavius Murray doing much running against the Jets front seven, nor do I foresee a pleasant day for Derek Carr and Amari Cooper against the Jets secondary.
Loss; 32-20 Raiders

CHIEFS -4 (LIONS) *LONDON
Once upon a time, a waitress in London called me a colonist.  I told her London was no place for a Street Fightin' Man.  True story.  That said, the NFL continues to export its trash across the Pond.   The Lions are one of only two teams to have allowed 200-points this season. One might think this an assault upon an Englishman's senses - considering they're more accustomed to one-nil matches and all...   Just saying.
WIN; 45-10 Chiefs

Vikings +1 (BEARS)
The Bears lost to the Lions.  No other team can say that.  Plus, I'm just sick of picking against the Vikings, and losing.  Otherwise, I got nothing.
WIN; 23-20 Vikings

FALCONS -7 (Bucs)
The Bucs give up touchdowns.  It's what they do.  Matt Ryan would make a great fantasy pick this week.
Loss; 23-20 Bucs

RAMS -8 (49ers)
Neither team actually scores many points.  It's just that one team is averaging 15-points a game and improving, while the other is averaging the same, but falling apart like wet toilet paper.  Defense makes this a no contest.  Put it this way - what do you imagine would/could have happened if a fully grown male ram walked up on some unsuspecting gold prospector back in 1849 California?
WIN; 27-6 Rams

Cardinals -6 (BROWNS)
Let's be honest, does it really matter who starts at QB for the Browns?  They're like a slow acting laxative - relief only comes after sitting around enduring a lot of crap all day.  If the Cardinals don't scream obvious choice, you're just not listening.  Try taking out your headphones dummy.
WIN; 34-20 Cardinals

Bengals +1 1/2 (STEELERS)
Big Ben is back!  But he's gonna need at least another week before he gets going again. Regardless, Pittsburgh's defense will have their hands full.  The Bengals are second in the AFC behind the Patriots in touchdowns.  The Steelers must resolve that first.  How can you not love this spread?
WIN; 16-10 Bengals

Chargers + 3 1/2 (RAVENS)
I keep convincing myself the Chargers are better than they've demonstrated.  Meanwhile, the Ravens are even worse than I anticipated.  In other words, this is my least confident pick of the lot.
WIN; 29-26 Ravens

TEXANS -4 (Titans)
For a second straight week, no Mariota for you.  That's the only reason why I'm taking the Texans this week.  What a major disappointment Houston has been this season.  They should be ashamed after last week's shellacking against the Fins..
WIN; 20-6 Texans

Seahawks -6 (COWBOYS)
Look no further than last week.  The Giants field one of the most generous secondaries in football, and look what they did to Matt Cassel.  What do you suppose the Legion of Boom will do him?
Loss; 13-12 Seahawks

Packers -2 1/2 (BRONCOS)
Two good defenses will turn this into a grudge match.  However, Sunday will belong to the younger, more agile/mobile quarterback.
Loss; 29-10 Broncos


Schmear of the Week:
Rams -8
WIN


Guten Appetit:
Fried calamari, shrimp platter, crab salad, baked clams oreganata, and later for the sit down 2" filet mignon (there's still a place in my world for good butchers) with lobster tails.

What's on your football menu?

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday everyone!


Post-Game:
Week Eight Record:  7-4-1
Overall Record:  57-39-3
Schmear of the Week:  5-3
Bagels in the Basket:  +20

Friday, October 30, 2015

N.Y. Mets: An Aggressive World Series Podcast; Game 3


Here's our latest World Series podcast at 


This definitely AINT Kansas, Toto!

THE AGGGRESSSIVE PODCAST!

Warning:
This was not the most G-Rated show we've ever had!
Yours truly unleashed at least two F-Bombs, I can recall.  The first one just came out, I swear.  
Let's just chalk the second one up to anger management.  How irresponsible of me.

Rich hosted and said a bad word too!  So.., there!
Blame Sam.  He set the tone by saying - This Sucks.

Recap of Games 1 & 2 @ Kansas City
Did the Mets go away from their strengths?
We try and determine what went wrong in Kansas City.

Preview of Games 3 and 4 @ Citi Field
Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz
What needs to go right at Citi Field.
Plus all the who, what, why, and when, 
Mets fans need to hear.

As Sam put it - Chris Young?  C'MON!

Mets Down, But Not Out of World Series

*  *  * WORLD SERIES *  *  *
GAME THREE
Kansas City Royals
vs.
New York Mets
FROM
Queens, NYC,
Roosevelt Avenue to be exact.


Mike
Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Thursday, October 29, 2015

N.Y. Mets: The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis - Thor's Turn

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




GAME FACE!

The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis
Dark Knight  *  deGrominator  *  Thor  *  Mad Matz

WORLD SERIES
Pitching Match-Ups
Royals @ Mets

GAME THREE @ Citi Field
Yordano Ventura
vs.
Noah Syndergaard


Mets Need Thor to Drop His Hammer on Kansas City Royals

It is easy forgetting Noah Syndergaard is just a rookie.  

Game 3 against the Royals at Citi Field will be his 27th overall start at the major league level, and his 3rd of this postseason.  Thor is also poised to pitch Game 7 in Kansas City, if necessary.

In 24 regular season starts, Thor posted a 9-7 record with a 3.24 ERA, and 1.047 WHiP.  He fanned 166 batters in 150 innings pitched for a 10.0 K/9 average, to go along with a 1.9 W/9 average.

He's been even better during the playoffs.  In two starts and one relief appearance, Syndergaard is 1-1 so far with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.077 WHiP.  He has 20 strikeouts in 13 inning pitched, for a 13.8 K/9 average.

Many questioned why Thor pitched in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, and not at Citi Field.  His splits said he was a decidedly better pitcher at home, than on the road this season.  
  • HOME: 12 starts, 7-2 record, 84 innings pitched, 2.46 ERA, 0.821 WHiP, 59 hits (10 HR) allowed with a .196 average against, 10 walks, 86 strikeouts with a 9.2 K.9 average.
  • AWAY: 12 starts, 2-5 record, 66 innings pitched, 4.23 ERA, 1.333 WHiP, 67 hits (9HR) allowed with a .258 average against, 21 walks, 80 strikeouts with a 10.9 K/9 average.


Syndergaard indeed took the loss at Chavez Ravine, but did not pitch that badly.  In 6.1 innings he allowed three earned runs on five hits and four walks, with nine strikeouts.

And therein lies the rub...

Noah Syndergaard's control is clearly enhanced by the familiarity of Citi Field's mound.  On the road, Thor's rate of walk climbs the rainbow bridge to Asgard.

His second ever postseason start came against the Cubs in the NLCS at Citi Field.  Thor's control improved over his previous start.  In 5.2 inning, he allowed just one earned run on 3 hits and one walk, with another nine strikeouts.

He climbs the mound in Game 3 with the Met down 0-2 in the series to the Royals.  It is safe to say, the Mets are desperate to avoid falling further behind without so much as a victory to speak of.  They need Thor to drop his hammer on the visitors from Kansas City like a young Tom Seaver, or a young Dwight Gooden once did.  That's an awful lot of pressure being place upon a rookie - but a very poised rookie.

Opposing him will be Yordano Ventura, 24, whom finished sixth behind Jacob deGrom in last year's Rookie of the Year balloting.  

The sophomore pitcher started 28 regular season games, in which he posted a 13-8 record with an American League-ish 4.08 ERA.  He struck out 156 batters in 163.1 innings pitched, with a 3.2 W/9 average.

Game 3 will mark his fifth postseason start.  He's so far made two starts each against Houston, then Toronto.  Ventura is 0-1 with three no-decisions.  After 17.2 innings pitched he owns a 5.09 ERA, and a .278 average against, with 21 strikeouts.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Knicks and Nets: The Not Ready For Prime Time Cagers

From the desks of:  
DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP  and  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


If futility ignited rivalries, 
this one would be a 3-alarm fire.

Like Two Bottle Rockets in the New York Night...

Remember how Carmelo Anthony's haste for leaving the Denver Nuggets, and seeking a max-contract before the league's new CBA kicked in (that would have otherwise reigned in his earning potential as a free agent) almost got him traded to the New Jersey Nets?

Remember how the Carmelo Anthony tug-o-war between the Nets and Knicks unfolded, or rather, how James Dolan trampled over Donnie Walsh in his own haste to intercept Carmelo?

Both teams were prepared to show Melo the money, so to say.  But the Knicks ultimately offered more players than could the Nets, and so on Feb. 22, 2011, Carmelo Anthony became a Knick.

That seemingly set the next day's headlines in stone - until the Nets secured guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz under cover of night.  In an astonishing turn of events, the Feb. 23rd morning tabloids proclaimed New Jersey's trade for a top point guard trumped New York's acquisition of a high scoring small forward.

Then came the Nets move into Brooklyn (Knicks' turf, the land of Bernard King), and an inevitable clash between owners James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov.  You might say Prokhorov stuck Dolan with a hot cattle prod when he first purchased billboard space two blocks from Madison Square Garden, and again when he decreed the Brooklyn Nets would win a championship within three short years.

The hardwood battle, however, was supposed to feature supreme two performances - the respective abilities of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams in leading their respective teams, and boroughs, to postseason glory.

In 2012-2013, the city got a small taste of what could potentially still become a furious inter-city rivalry (perchance to dream....).  The Knicks and Nets finished one and two atop the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks (54-28); Carmelo Anthony led the league with 28.7 points per game.  His team advanced passed the Boston Celtics in the first round of playoffs, then bowed to the Indiana Pacers in Round 2.
  • Nets (49-33); Deron Williams averaged 18.9 ppg. and 7.7 assists.  In their inaugural season playing in Brooklyn, the Nets fell to an undermanned Chicago Bulls team.

If you missed it, too bad, because that's as good as things got.  If futility ignited rivalries, this one would be a 3-alarm fire.

The Knicks quite literally fell off a cliff, forcing Dolan into somewhat out-of-the-box thinking.  Alas, he called on 1970's Knickerbocker hero/1990's Bulls nemesis Phil Jackson to help clean up the mess, despite a glaring lack of front office experience.

The Knicks failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.  In 2013-14, they posted a sub-par 37-45 record.  Then came last season's record breaking disaster, in which the Knicks posted a 17-65 record, that some might argue was solely authored by the man (Phil Jackson) whom help the Knicks win their last championship over 40-years ago.

On July 13, 2014, the Knicks ponderously re-signed Carmelo Anthony to another max-pact, which totally flew in the face of Phil Jackson's rebuilding effort.

Brooklyn's rate of regression wasn't as shocking as that of the Knicks, but has been no less methodically painful to watch.  The Nets made the playoffs in 2013-2014 with a 44-38 record, and again last year with a sub-par 38-44 record.

While Melo was in full effect at Madison Square Garden, Deron Williams was incredibly ineffective during most of his time with Brooklyn.  Never able to shake the injury bug, he struggled mightily after accepting the role of franchise player.

On July 11, 2015, Deron Williams was mercifully waived by the Nets.

Like two bottle rockets on a mid-summer night, the fireworks demonstration over the East River anticipated by Manhattan and Brooklyn alike fizzled out.

Even the owners stopped taking cheap shots at each other.

Now what?

Brooklyn Nets: The unraveling realm of Billy King.

As noted, the Nets are in regression.  After posting 49 wins during their inaugural season in Brooklyn, they slipped to 44 wins in year two, to only 38 wins last year.

Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are still here, but the player formerly known as the franchise, is not.   Deron Williams plays for Dallas now, waived by Billy King.  He follows Gerald Wallace, Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson, Kevin Garnett, and the seemingly hundreds of other players Billy King has brought in and out of Kings County.

With Williams gone, Jarrett Jack takes over the lead point guard role this season, but will not be available when the Nets host the Bulls in Wednesday night's season opener at Barclays Center.  Until Jack's hamstring gets jumping again, Shane Larkin will open the season at point.

Mason Plumlee is gone too.  Not happy about that!

Re-signing Brook Lopez was one small step for the Nets, but two giant feet of trouble for Brooklyn-kind.  The free agent opted to stay with the Nets - the only team he's known since 2008.

Brook played 82 games in each of his first three seasons, but not since.  His history of on and off again foot issues screams beware in 2015-2016.  He was limited to just 5 games in 2011-2012, then followed up with 74 games in 2012-2013.  He only appeared in 17 games during 2013-2014, then followed up again with 72 games played last season.

Will this turn into another problematic season for Brook and the Nets?

While his feet say one thing, Coach Hollins says another.  Remember how Lionel Hollins effectively benched Lopez?  Last season marked the first time Brook failed to start in any game which he played going back to his rookie season.  Last year he only started 44 of his 72 games played.

Joe Johnson is entering the final season of his contract.  That's nice, but the upcoming season won't be.

Lionel Hollins will make them play defense, but this does not strike me as a top eight Eastern Conference team.

That said, can someone explain to me why Billy King is still in charge?

New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson, and Derek Fisher; a Triumvirate of Dysfunction.

Either they change the Knicks narrative together, or not at all...

Why re-sign Carmelo Anthony?  Last season, he played with a knee injury that would ultimately require surgery.  He played injured since opening night, yet only cared long enough in order to play in the all-star game before shutting down his season.

The Knicks entered the all-star break with a 10-43 record.  They ranked either last, or next to last on both offense and defense.  So why was he playing in the first place?

Exactly!

Robin Lopez gets to playing the same city as his brother, though.  That's nice.

Not so nice - Carmelo Anthony's reaction to Phil Jackson drafting Kristaps Porzingis.  Way to make the kid feel welcome.  If Melo knew the Knicks were in rebuilding mode, why re-sign with them?   I'm sure it had nothing to do with the Knicks ability to pay more than all other suitors...

Exactly!

This is still Melo's World.  We just get to live in it and watch.  Although, I'm still terribly interested to see who prevails as Knicks alpha-male - Phil Jackson or Carmelo Anthony.  Coach Fisher will be their battleground personified.

Team projections?  Don't make me laugh.  The Knicks will be lucky to win 25 games.


This non-burgeoning rivalry is still in search of better days.  
Their Dec. 4 clash will be nothing more than a pillow fight, 
as both contend for a second division participation trophy.


N.Y. Mets: A Long Trip From Brooklyn to Kansas City

From the desks of:
HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET  and  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



Coney Island to Kansas City: 1,230 miles


NEW YORK METS: What's a kid from Brooklyn doing in a place like Kansas City? Anybody know a good place for an egg cream?

For several Mets players, and many Mets fans, the trip to Kansas City for this year's World Series showdown against the Royals started in good old Brooklyn town.

Seven Mets prospects played in Coney Island to be exact, before eventually graduating to the big club in Queens.

Starting with Daniel Murphy back in 2006, and through last year when   Michael Conforto nearly led the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NYPL playoffs single-handed, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Kirk Nieuwenhuis,  Kevin Plawecki, and Juan Lagares, all additionally called Kings County their transient
home.

I feel it is my great fortune to have the Brooklyn Cyclones playing in my back yard. Then again, Coney Island is every Brooklynite's back yard and playground.

Watching Mets young hopefuls get their first real taste of big market baseball has been a
rewarding experience over the last 15 years for me.

How can Brooklyn and baseball, and Baseball in Brooklyn, provide otherwise?

It's a natural!

Now we get to see and root for some our favorite Baby Bums on the biggest stage of all.  Cheering them on the way we do in Brooklyn sort of makes us feel like proud parents.

Represent us well, Boys, and Let's Go Mets!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

N.Y.Mets: The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis Set to Ride

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



Game Face!


The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis
The Dark Knight * The deGrominator * Thor * Mad Matz

Pitching Match-Ups
Mets @ Royals

WORLD SERIES
Game One and Two

GAME ONE @ Kansas City
Matt Harvey
vs.
Edinson Volquez

Was there any doubt the Dark Knight would be named Game 1 starter in Kansas City?  This opens Harvey for a return engagement later in the series, and a lesser chance of relief work on his throw day.  

In his first season back on the mound after TJ surgery, Matt Harvey posted a 13-8 regular season record with a a 2.71 ERA, but not without intervention from his agent Scott Boras.  Many are familiar how Harvey's agent loves to rear his meddling head particularly during the World Series.  Expect him to make very untimely comments at some point during the series.

The Real Deal otherwise posted an impressive 0.931 WHiP, an 8.9 K/9 average, and fanned 191 batters in 178.1 innings pitched.  He's raised his efforts to another level through two playoff starts.   With a start each in the NLDS and the NLCS opener, Harvey is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, a 0.783 WHiP, an 11.4 K/9 average, and fanned 16 batters in 12.2 innings pitched.

Edinson Volquez, 32, throws right, and should be somewhat familiar to the Mets after spending his last seven seasons in the National League.
  • Regular season: 13-9 record with a 3.55 ERA, with 155 strikeouts in 200.1 innings, with a 1.308 WHiP.
  • Postseason: 2-1 record with a 4.44 ERA, with 7 strikeouts, 8 walks, and 10 hits allowed in 16.2 innings.

GAME TWO @ Kansas City
Jacob deGrom
vs.
Johnny Cueto

How the Royals manage to keep Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer on the field together when the series shifts to Citi Field is fast becoming a curious development.  But, just like in Game 1, Jacob deGrom will certainly face both in Game 2.

Jacob deGrom's 27 strikeouts, to date, became the 5th most after three postseason starts, just four behind Sandy Koufax' record of 31 strikeouts.  Jacob also became only the 5th pitcher to win three postseason games on the road.  He'll now attempt his fourth.

He and Matt Harvey both face a team that feasts on fastballs, and they'll be doing so in their park.   The two are uniquely qualified, however, in utilizing their secondary pitches and potentially thwarting Kansas City's aggressiveness at the plate.

Jacob deGrom followed up his ROY campaign with a 14-8 record, and a 2.54 ERA.  He posted a 9.7 K/9 average and an 0.979 WHiP, with 205 strikeouts in 191 innings.  He's 3-0 in the postseason with a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHiP.  He has 27 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched for a 9.0 K/9 average.

Johnny Cueto is another whom should be no stranger to the Mets, after spending 7 1/2 years with the Cincinnati Reds.  
  • Regular Season w/ Royals: 4-7 record with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.451 WHiP.  He fanned 56 batters in 81.1 innings for a 6.2 K/9 average.  He posted a 2.62 ERA in 130.2 innings with the Reds.
  • Postseason: In three starts, he's 1-1 with a whopping 7.87 ERA.  He's allowed 14 earned runs on 15 hits and 7 walks, with 15 strikeouts.

Tomorrow's Preview: Games 3 and 4

Game Three @ Citi Field
  • Yordano Ventura vs. Noah Syndergaard

Game Four @ Citi Field
  • Chris Young vs. Steven Matz


You can read my World Series prediction for RisingApple.com - HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2015

N.Y. Giants: Coach McAdoo Flicks On Orleans Darkwa, Then Turns Him Off

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE



4-3
First Place
NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS: Two games against the Cowboys brought out the best in Big Blue's running game.  See you again this time next year!

In the one hand, Sunday was refreshing.  On the other hand, maddening.

Do the Giants need to play Dallas every week?  Is that what it takes for Ben McAdoo to incorporate more running?  In any event, I guess he indeed wound up watching Game One's game film after all.

Let's rewind to the season opener in Dallas for a moment:

Right up until the Giants last, and fatal 4th quarter drive, Ben McAdoo called for a mere 16 rushes all game.  Then, during the Giants final drive (before handing the game to Dallas), McAdoo called on Rashad Jennings 7 times, and specifically targeted the Cowboys' middle 5 times.   In return, Jennings pounded out 38-net yards.
  • middle: 3 yds.
  • middle: 27 yds.
  • middle: 7 yds.
  • middle: 2 yds.
  • left: minus 4 yds.
  • middle: 2 yds.
  • left: 1 yd.

In all, the Giants rushed 23 times for 91 yards that game.  Ponderously, this remained their best single-game output through the first six weeks of the season.  Eli went 20/36 for 193 yards that game, marking the only time this season to date Eli has thrown less than the Giants elected to run.

Otherwise, the Giants averaged 23 rushes for 80.1 yards, while Eli has averaged 39 attempts for 267 yards per game through the first six weeks of the season.


WEEK SEVEN
Cowboys   20
GIANTS   27
FINAL

The Dallas Cowboys amassed 460 yards of offense against the Giants, while Big Blue managed just 289 total yards.  

The Cowboys, however, insisted on turning over the ball four times, and it cost them the difference in Sunday's game.  Dominique Rogers-Cromartie had a pick-six, and a subsequent Matt Cassel INT (one of three) led to one of the Giants two field goals on the day.

Even then, Dallas still tied the score 20-20 with 7:14 left in regulation.  It took a 100-yard touchdown return from Dwayne Harris on the ensuing kick-off to seal the victory.

Now back to the business at hand.

Week One still remains the only game in which Ben McAdoo wound up calling more run plays than passes, although Week Seven came close.

This past Sunday, Eli went 13/24 for 170 yards.  Meanwhile, Ben McAdoo dialed up 21 rushes for a season high 128 yards.

Congratulations Orleans Darkwa on getting into his first game of the season.

And to a lesser degree, congrats to the Giants on hitting the century mark for the first time all year, and for topping 90-yards for a third time.  But, they shouldn't go patting themselves on the back just yet.

Here's the rub...

Ben McAdoo called on fourth string running back Orleans Darkwa during the Giants 2nd quarter scoring drive that went seven plays for 79 yards, putting them ahead 7-3.  He called on Darkwa four times (plus one uncompleted pass attempt):
  • Left: 7-yard gain.
  • Middle: 9-yard gain.
  • Left: 10-yard gain.
  • Final play of drive: 15-yards, touchdown.

All told, that was four rushes for 41 yards, or, 7.7 yards per carry.  Subtract that from the overall effort, and the Giants rushed 17 times for 87 yards.  That's a good day by their standards, but hardly anything that makes me feel better about the situation.

Furthermore, subtracting this drive means Darkwa only made 4 other touches all game.  If he was running like this to start the 2nd quarter, my next question would be, why stop?

Six touches for Shane Vereen likewise seems hardly enough.  Ben McAdoo's odd utilization continues.  If Shane Vereen rushed 4 times for 56 yards (one catch for six yards), why not give him more touches?  He's been limited, and I do mean limited, to just 3 receptions and 5 rushes per game.

Rashad Jennings is averaging just 11 carries and 2 receptions per game; Andre Williams 8 carries a game.

How is a back supposed to establish any kind of flow, or at the least gain a feel for the game, with that kind of indifferent, or dare I say ambivalent utilization?

Somewhere along the way, coaches forgot these players thrive on contact, and must negotiate their way through games with intelligence, but with physicality as well.  At some point, attempting to out-cute the competition will only garner lessons in concussion protocol.

To that I say, this generation of life coaches is too busy outsmarting themselves.

ICYMI: Running Game Making Me Green With Envy

Stop the madness and just continue running with power.


N.Y. Mets: A Royal Change of Fate

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




THE 111th 
WORLD SERIES

AMERICAN LEAGUE 
CHAMPION
Kansas City Royals
vs.

NATIONAL LEAGUE 
CHAMPION
New York Mets


NEW YORK METS: The Kansas City Royals are no strangers to yours truly.  Any mention of them, makes me think of Whitey Herzog, and what could have been an Amazin' era in Mets history.

A brilliant baseball executive in his own right, Bing Devine served as president and general manager of the Mets during the 1966 and 1967 seasons.  Tom Seaver, Jim McAndrew, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan were just a few players procured during his two seasons in office.

In the years prior, and immediately after his brief stint with the Mets, he built the foundation for much of the great success enjoyed by the St. Louis Cardinals throughout the 1960s. After the 1967 season, the Mets allowed Devine to reunite with August Busch in St. Louis.

Johnny Murphy took over GM duties after Devine's departure, and generally receives most of the credit for the Mets 1969 championship.  Bing Devine's name rarely gets so much as a mention, when he was the one who laid down much of that groundwork.

Enter Whitey Herzog, whom spent two seasons with the A's serving as a scout, then coach, prior to his joining the Mets.  Whitey Herzog inaugurated the first of his seven seasons with the club serving as third base coach in 1966 under manager Wes Westrum.  Under Bing Devine, Whitey became director of player development in 1967, and served in that capacity until 1972.

Herzog is credited with procuring the likes of Gary Gentry, Jon Matlack, John Milner, and Wayne Garrett, while players Ken Singleton, Tim Foli, Burt Hooton, and another fine outfielder named Amos Otis (whom Herzog later managed in K.C.) were all considered good players that got away.

Upon the passing of Gil Hodges, and with Bing Devine entrenched back in St. Louis, Mets minority owner and chairman of the board M. Donald Grant selected coach Yogi Berra over Whitey Herzog for the suddenly vacant managerial position.

That effectively ended Whitey Herzog's time with the Mets.

Herzog moved on, spending one season with the Texas Rangers and California Angels, respectively. He then landed Kansas City's managerial position in 1975, where he fast established an A.L. West power that battled the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series on a near annual basis.

Between 1976 and 1980, the Royals and Yankees faced each other in four of five years, and three ALCS in a row through 1978.

That's where I come in.  In truth, those were some of the greatest playoff games/series I've ever watched.

In 1976, his Royals and the Yankees were locked in an ALCS decisive Game Five thriller at the old Yankee Stadium.  With the score tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, on the very first pitch to lead-off hitter Chris Chambliss, this happened:

  Watch/YouTube


I was at that game.  As a 9-year old Mets fan, this game quite literally ruined me.  For sheer pandemonium, chaos, and mayhem, nothing has ever compared since.  We're now talking nearly 40-years after the fact.

I was overseas during the 1980s Mets runs, and have not been to a Mets postseason game that has topped...That!  That's my unfortunate Mets experience and baseball cross to bear.

My pop was a Yankee fan, that's why I was there, but my sports hatred of the Yankees was already germinating.  This game however, forever cemented my unyielding passion for the game of baseball. How could it not?  You saw what happened.  In terms of pure baseball history alone, I knew exactly what I was watching, and how significant the moment was.

All this made me quite familiar with Whitey Herzog.  Two seasons after firing Bing Devine, again, August Busch hired Herzog as the Cardinals manager and general manager (for two seasons).

That put Whitey Herzog in position to finally exact his revenge upon the Mets.  In 1980, he immediately ushered in a new era of - what I characterize as astro-turf conducive Whitey-Ball.  Home runs and overall slugging took a back seat to getting on base and wreaking havoc on the base paths with speed.  In short time, his Cardinals captured the 1982 World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Mets then began suffering his wrath in earnest.  In 1985, the Mets won 98 games, but still finished three crushing games behind the 1st place Cardinals.  In 1987, the Mets won 92 games, and again finished three games back of the Cardinals.

Despite that, you might say Mets fans owe Whitey Herzog a small debt of gratitude for his dislike of Keith Hernandez, and trading him to Flushing in 1983.  Without Hernandez, the Mets never rise to the level of champions in 1986.

Whenever I think of the Kansas City Royals, I instantly think back to those late 1970's, and that one October 1976 game in particular.  Whitey Herzog's name always rushes to mind first, George Brett second, and (later on) Dan Quisenberry third.

All that being said, it's difficult not imagining what might have been if only the Mets had kept Whitey Herzog and Bing Devine together.  They could have potentially constructed a Queens dynasty for the ages, and one that could have challenged the Big Red Machine for National League supremacy in the 1970's, and beyond.

Think about it...,

Bing Devine was a lead architect of four National League pennant winners and three World Series champions between 1964 and 1969.

Whitey Herzog meanwhile, won three straight A.L. West titles with the Royals in the '70s, then went on to win three National League championships and a World Series title with the Cardinals before his final season at the helm in 1990.

....perchance to dream.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

PIGSKIN 2015: Week Seven



PIGSKIN


FOOTBALL SUNDAY
Week Seven

RESULTS

Scoreboard:
Week Six Record: 6-6-1
Overall Record:  44-31-2
Schmear of the Week:  4-2
Bagels in the Basket:  +17

1st and Ten:

The five remaining undefeated teams are: Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Panthers, and Packers.

The NFL experimented with live streaming this morning's Bills/Jaguars game from London, England, on Yahoo.com, only!  I can only imagine what the NFL is up to.

2nd and Long:

Was that discontent I heard out of Buffalo?

At 2-4, the Texans are the worst 2nd place team in football.  Beware, heads are gonna roll in Houston.

No Gain:

The Giants refuse to seize the NFC East. Last week's loss to the Eagles was their worst effort of the season.  Can they drop the ball against Dallas, again!?  Sure they can, but let's see.

PUNT!

Steve Weatherford signed with the Jets.

WEEK SEVEN
Friday Line ~ NYDN


Bills -4 1/2 (Jaguars) *LONDON
Off The Board  9AM Game.  I woke up late today, but, this is what I would have done.

Jets +9 (PATRIOTS)
Here we go - Todd Bowles' first crack at Belichick's minions.  This Jets head coach does not yet have his mind polluted by all the bad blood flowing between these teams. I'm not sure if that will help or hinder the atmosphere of this game, but I will be keeping my eyes locked on the Jets number one defense versus Tom Brady and Gronk.   I think the Jets will manage a competent running game against Bill Belechick's bend don't break system, which could limit Tom Brady's time on the field.  This is a lot of points.  The Pats win, but the Jets can cover this game, and even win if Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps from throwing INTs.
WIN; 30-23 Patriots

GIANTS -3 1/2 (Cowboys)
I'm almost forced to take the Giants on principle.  If the Giants can't win this game, John Mara will have much to deliberate regarding the future course of this team.  I hope to high heaven Coach McAdoo watched Game One's game film and saw how Rashad Jennings blasted through the Cowboys' soft white underbelly in the 4th quarter, just prior to coughing up a sure victory.  I know the Giants are going pass happy again, but I just hope he saw the tape.  There is no reason whatsoever the Giants should lose to a Dallas team missing Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.  Oh, that's right!  The Giants are the same team that made Kirk Cousins and Sam Bradford look like the NFL's elite.
WIN; 27-20 Giants

RAMS -6 (Browns)
Two of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde teams in the league.  Hell if I know.....
WIN; 24-6 Rams

Steelers +3 (CHIEFS)
The Steelers have remained too resilient not to side with them.
LOSS; 23-13 Chiefs

Texans +4 (DOLPHINS)
I slipped on the Fish last week.  I still say Houston is playing to protect their head coach's job.
LOSS; 44-26 Dolphins

Vikings -2 1/2 (LIONS)
Just because....
WIN; 28-19 Vikings

Falcons -4 (TITANS)
The magic carpet ride continues..
LOSS; 10-7 Falcons

D.C. HOGS -3 (Bucs)
This is purely based on Washington's defense.
LOSS; 31-30 Hogs

Saints +4 1/2 (COLTS)
That play the Colts tried was a fireable offense!  WTF.  Based on that alone, they deserve to get trounced by the Aints.
WIN; 27-21 Saints

CHARGERS -4 (Raiders)
Philip Rivers has the hot hand...
LOSS: 37-29 Raiders

PANTHERS - 3 (EAGLES)
I disrespected the Panthers last week.  I'm sorry guys.
WIN; 27-16 Panthers


Schmear of the Week:
Chargers -4


Guten Appetit:

As you might have guessed, I had little time this week to get my picks done.

Menu?  Don't make me laugh.  Today is Staten Island Mall food court day!  I'm not happy about it!!!!!!!!!!  If the Giants had the 1:00pm game, I would have been in the clear.  BUT, NOOoooooooo!

Good Luck to all of you, and please keep me in mind on this seventh Football Sunday, as I troll around the mall like a freakin idiot, holding my wife's crap while she executes a Tasmanian Devil whirlwind spending spree while matriculating 11 stores in search of nothing in particular.

I think it might finally be time to download...The App.

Till then, wish me luck getting home in time for the Giants game.

Signing off from my phone...


It's 2:38pm.  I made it.  Sorry for this week's rushed, unedited phone version of Pigskin.  I deserve a penalty for delay of game.



Post Game:
Week Seven Record:  6-5
Overall Record:  50-36-2
Schmear of the Week: 4-3
Bagels in the Basket:  +15

Mets vs. Royals: The First All-Expansion World Series



Here's my latest for 


This the 54th 
WORLD SERIES
of the Expansion Era.

Of the 14 major league expansion teams, 
the Mets lead with five WS appearances.

New York Mets 
vs. 
Kansas City Royals
marks the first ever
All-Expansion Fall Classic.




Mike
Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

Thursday, October 22, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Today Wrigley, Tomorrow, the World (Series)

From the desk of:  PARTYING WITH MR. MET



*  * 2015 *  *

*  *  90-72  *  *
Regular Season Record
1st Place
7 games over Washington Nationals

1969 * 1973 * 1986 * 1988 * 2006 * 2015
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CHAMPS

2006 * 2015
NLDS SERIES WINNERS
Mets win series over Dodgers 3-2
I - NYM 3; LAD 1
II - LAD 5; NYM 2
III - NYM 13; LAD 7
IV - LAD 3; NYM 1
V - NYM 3; LAD 2

1969 * 1973 * 1986 * 2000 * 2015
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
Mets sweep series over Cubs 4-0
I - NYM 4; CHI 2
II - NYM 4; CHI 1
III - NYM 5; CHI 2
IV - NYM 8; CHI 3

The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis:
  • Game 1: Matt Harvey (WIN) 7.2 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts.
  • Game 2: Noah Syndergaard (WIN) 5.2 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.
  • Game 3: Jacob deGrom (WIN) 7.0 innings, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.
  • Game 4: Steven Matz (ND)  4.2 innings, retired 9 of first 10 batters faced, 4 strikeouts.

The Bull-Busters:
  • The bullpen posted a 1.63 ERA.  They combined on 11 innings pitched, two earned runs on six hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.
  • Closer Jeurys Familia appeared in all four games, pitched 4.1 innings, allowed no runs on just two hits and two walks, with three strikeouts, and earned four series saves.  In two playoff series, Familia totaled 9.2 innings, allowed no runs on two hits, two walks, with six strikeouts , and posted six total saves.

One Small Step For The Mets; One Giant Leap For Murphy Kind:

Daniel Murphy homered in the final two games of the NLDS against the Dodgers, then homered in each of the four games against the Cubs.  His six home runs in six consecutive games set an all-time MLB postseason record, while his seven home runs overall set a Mets postseason record.  He will bring a 9-game playoff hitting streak into the World Series.  He went 4/5 in Game 4 with 2 RBI.   Murph now has 11 RBI for the posteseason.

He Who Strikes Last, Strike Best:

In eight previous games against the Dodgers and Cubs, the Dude of Flushing went a mere 3/24 with no extra base hits and a lone RBI.  In Game 4's clincher, Duda was 3/4 with five RBI.


1969  *  1986
WOLRD SERIES
This is the Mets fifth trip to 
the FALL CLASSIC,
and first in 15 years.

CONGRATULATIONS
Fellow Mets Fans!




Mike

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

N.Y. Giants: Feeling Green With Envy

From the desks of:
DO IT FOR THE DUKE  and  WALT MICHAELS' REVENGE



THE ODD COUPLE
Can two teams share a stadium, without one of them driving their fan bases crazy?

NEW YORK GIANTS: Differences between Blue and Green are like Night and Day, Good and Bad, and just too much to bear anymore.

I do not like bleeding colors, but now that Washington has become a common opponent, I thought a comparison between Big Blue and Gang Green would be a great way to make a point.  It's a fairly accurate snapshot in so far as Washington played each team within the span of a few short weeks.

Why do this?  Because it's my blog and it applies.  I hope this pisses off someone working in one of the Blue offices at Snoopy Centre.  Otherwise, Jets fans, you're safe. Giants fans... what more can I say?

I - The Giants played Washington in Week Three; the Jets in Week Six.  Both walked away victorious by similar final scores:
  • NYG 32; WASH 21
  • NYJ 34; WASH 20

II - There's no arguing whom the more established, and more accomplished quarterback is.  After Eli's poor performance against the Eagles Monday, however, Giants fans may not be as forgiving.   For the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick was clearly the better option over Geno Smith (I think), although some Jets fans might still debate that as well.  Both nevertheless posted similar statistics against Washington:
  • Eli: 23/32 for 279 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT QB rating 119.1%
  • Fitz: 19/26 for 253 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, QB rating 113.1%

III - That's where the similarities end, and the major differences begin.  The Giants run the ball and play defense extremely poorly. The Jets on the other hand run the ball and play defense extremely well.

In Week Six against Washington, Chris Ivory rushed 20 times for 146 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.  Zac Stacy rushed another 13 times for 46 yards, averaging 3.5 yards per.
  • Between them, they rushed 33 times for 192 yards.

In Week Three against Washington, Rashad Jennings rushed 11 times for 32 yards, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry.  Andre Williams rushed 14 times for just 29 yards, averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
  • They combined on 25 rushes for 61 yards.

IV - Then there's the curious case of D.C. quarterback Kirk Cousins.  He's easily the worst of the three QBs mentioned here.  Jet fans believe that, while me and my fellow Giants fans are trying our best.

In each game against the Giants and Jets, Kirk Cousins threw one touchdown, two interceptions, and got sacked once.  That's where the similarities end, and the major differences begin, again!
  • Cousins vs. NYG - 30/49 for 316 yards (6.4 ypp), with a 69.8% QB rating.
  • Cousins vs. Jets - 25/43 for 196 yards (4.6 ypp), with a 57.9% QB rating.

V - Finally, here's your total yardage for the game:
  • The Giants gained 363 total yards, but were outdone by Washington's 393 total yards.  In my math, they netted -30 yards for the game.
  • The Jets gained 474 total yards against Washington, but only surrendered 225 total yards, for a 249 net yards advantage.

So, where am I headed with all this? Philadelphia of course.  I'll preface this by saying things have gone haywire for the Giants in the City of Brotherly Stuff, and against the Eagles in general, ever since I started following Big Blue back during Jimmy Carter's administration.  It's a little weird to explain, but irrelevant regarding Monday's game.

All three of the Giants loses have been so uniquely bad in their own right.  However, their most recent one followed a very familiar trend:
  • Philly's DeMarco Murray rushed 22 times for 109 yards.
  • Rashad Jennings rushed 13 times for 63 yards; Andre Williams was five for six yards, and Shave Vereen rushed once for no yards.  All told, they carried the ball 22 times for 69 yards.

Shameful!

After leading the league in pass attempts through the first four weeks, Eli has slipped down to 6th most, and is now ninth in passing yardage and 11th in touchdowns. Despite Sunday's bruising, he's still among the least sacked quarterbacks, and is arguably outperforming his older brother (big deal).

Eli Manning was 24/38 for 189 yards against the Eagles, with a touchdown, 2 INTs, and was sacked three times.  His opponent Sam Bradford threw three INT's, but don't discredit what he did against the Giants defense nonetheless.  He attempted the same number of passes as Eli, and likewise completed as many, yet managed to throw for 91 more yards than Eli.

What's more, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle were both nursing hamstrings, yet were targeted 14 times and made 12 receptions.

All of which means Ben McAdoo called for more passes than running plays for the sixth straight week.  His questionable utilization of Shave Vereen also continues to perplex.  Vereen made one reception out of the backfield, which means he had five touches all game.

All told (and getting four turnovers to boot), the Giants still only managed 247 total yards of offense.   The Eagles, meanwhile, accumulated 425 total yards.

I'll let the comparative numbers speak for themselves.  You can draw your own conclusions.

You already know where I stand.


Monday, October 19, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Doin' the Murphy Mash; Game 3 Podcast


Here are my latest articles, and our latest podcast at 


You broke it!

National League Championship Series

GAME ONE
Cubs   2
Mets   4

The Dark Knight outperformed Jon Lester.  
(7.2 innings, 4 hits, 9 strikeouts)

Daniel Murphy hit a home run in the 1st inning.  
Travis d'Arnaud then hit a majestic home run in the 6th inning
off the iconic rising apple in center field, 436' away from home plate.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

GAME TWO
Cubs   1
Mets   4

Everyone kept doin' the Murphy Mash! 
And Citi Field experienced a playoff smash.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


GAME THREE
@
Wrigley Field, Chicago

Pitching Match-Up:
Jacob deGrom vs. Kyle Hendricks

Monday Night Football Podcast
We perhaps spent too much time reminiscing about Ike Davis,
Curtis Granderson, Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda.
Man of the Hour - Daniel Murphy,
deGrom's Wrigley demons, Flores' Wrigley exploits.
Travis d'Arnaud, a few curse words, the Closer,
La Potencia! Too cold, sold tickets?
and much more...

Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

N.Y. Giants: Running Away From Trouble Never Solves Anything

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE



Lack of a running game will finally come to bear versus the Eagles

New York Giants: The Running Game is a Disgrace! Four QBs Have Scrambled For More Yardage Than Rashad Jennings!

After six regular season games, Rashad Jennings leads the New York Giants with 180 rushing yards.

(insert uncomfortable silence here..)

You read that right.  To put that into a quantum physics perspective, he has averaged a mere 10.6 rushes for 36-yards per game.  Put yet another way, there are 33 other NFL running backs with more yardage than Rashad - that's more players than there are NFL teams.  Even worse, there are four - I said FOUR - quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Rashad Jennings.

This running game is a disgrace!  It's literally offensive to Giants fans (pardon the pun), and a direct result of this regime's pass-perverted philosophy.

While it's true Eli had ice flowing through his veins, there's two other major reasons why the Giants beat the Packers, TWICE, en route to the Super Bowl - Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Make no mistake, none of this is a reflection on Jennings, or Andre Williams for that matter. But, in the name of Rob Carpenter, I want to know what the hell coach Ben McAdoo, Tom Coughlin, and even Jerry Reese, are collectively thinking?

You've heard this all before.  I most recently went though it with:


I initially offered my full expanded thought on this subject at the very start of the season.  If you're going to read anything, I suggest you please revisit the following, as it gets to the heart and genesis of everything:



Now the lack of a running game will finally come to bear against the Eagles.  That's because Eli Manning is nearly fresh out of healthy receivers.  Did you see Dwayne Harris drop an easy first down against the Niners?  I did too.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. - hamstring/unquestionably compromised
  • Rueben Randle - hamstring/unquestionably compromised.
  • Victor Cruz is still listed as OUT - calf.

Reliability will come at a premium them.  Eli will once again be forced to utilize Larry Donnell and Shane Vereen out of the backfield as was the case against San Francisco.

In truth, it would have been nice get throw-happy against the Eagles.  Even though hobbled of late, the Giants are still ranked 12th in the league in passing yardage, while the Eagles have alternately allowed the league's 7th most yards through the air.  It could have, and would have been a good match-up for the Giants, if only...

But, such as life.

If there was ever a time to commit to the run, establish it early, stick with it throughout and let it wear down the opponent, and allow it to control the clock and ultimately the fourth quarter, it would be this Monday night in Philadelphia.  Do that, and the Donnell/Vereen connection should work out well enough to keep Philadelphia honest.
  • Vereen led the Giants with eight receptions for 86-yards last week against the Niners, and was on the field late in the game when OBJ and Randle were no longer physically able.  That said, Coach McAdoo has utilized him quite oddly this season.

Exactly one week ago I said Rashad and Andre have moved the chains at times this season with power, but only as the play calling allows.  That said, Ben McAdoo has Eli Manning leading the NFL in pass attempts.  At last count, he's elected to throw 197 times, while electing to run only 118 times.   That translates to 23.6 rushes and 39.4 pass attempts per game.

That simply will not due.

It stands to reason that if he keeps overtaxing OBJ's and "the necessary" Rueben Randle's respective hamstrings, he'll jeopardize any continued effectiveness, or even compromise their playing time.   What good is getting Victor Cruz back on the field, if you're just going to lose OBJ, Randle, or both?

That's why this must be the week Coach McAdoo reverses his season long trend of passing noticeably more often than electing to run, and commit to a more ground oriented style.  I speak for Sunday and nothing more, because at the very least the Giants need to prove they're even capable.

As former Giants safety Antrel Rolle used to say, "at the end of the day" this is usually less a discussion about the ground game than it is playing a broken record.

Defense: There are just too many injuries, inadequacies, and idiots to keep up with the Eagles this week.

The Eagles aren't as terrible as their poor start led many to believe.  They'll score points Monday night.  Be sure.

With the Giants lacking a pass rush, and now missing two starting linebackers and a starting corner, this may easily to devolve into one of those prime time Big Blue disasters.

The Giants already ranked dead last against the pass even before more injuries mounted last week.  So, they stand every chance of making Sam Bradford look like Norm Van Broklin this week.

Remember how good they made Kirk Cousins look?

Exactly!

I bet the Eagles won't even run the ball much, which is presently the Giants only legitimate defensive strength.

Special teams anyone?

Defensive wounded list:
  • Jon Beason - concussion
  • Devon Kennard - hamstring
  • Prince Amukamara - partially torn pectoral muscle
  • Robert Ayers - hamstring
  • George Selvie - calf
  • JPP - missing digits and common sense