Monday, February 18, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Zack Wheeler Poised for Breakout Season

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


SPRING TRAINING

New York Mets: A Breakout Season By Zack Wheeler Will Surely Add To Front Office Troubles.

Acquired by the Mets in exchange for Carlos Beltran midway through the 2012 season, Zack Wheeler is one of the longest tenured players on the team.  However, only now does he finally appear physically able, and thus poised to validate being selected sixth overall by the Giants in the 2009 draft, but more importantly establishing himself as a top tier National League pitcher while still in a Mets uniform.

In the meantime, Wheeler's report card is incomplete.  After making 17 starts in 2013 as a rookie, he followed up in 2014 with a career high 32 starts.  He would then unfortunately miss the entirety of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, before returning in 2017 to make 17 starts.

Zack now faces a career defining, if not career altering season ahead.  With free agency looming it appears as if everything is indeed riding on this upcoming season's performance.

Last year, Zack Wheeler pitched 182.1 innings through 29 starts:
  • 12-7 record
  • 3.31 ERA and 1.124 WHiP
  • 3.25 FIP
  • 7.4 H/9 average
  • 2.7 W/9 average
  • * all career bests

However, it's Wheeler's performance over the second half of last season which best suggests he's truly onto something big.  According to Fangraphs, Zack's velocity in 2018 was back up to 2014 levels (pre-Tommy John surgery).


2018 FIRST HALF (April-June)
  • 88.2 innings through 15 starts
  • 2-6 record
  • 4.48 ERA and 1.315 WHiP
  • 84 hits; 8.5 H/9 average
  • 32 walks; 3.2 W/9 average
  • 86 strikeouts; 8.7 K/0 average

2018 SECOND HALF (July-Sept)
  • 93.2 innings through 14 starts
  • 10-1 record
  • 2.22 ERA and 0.933 WHiP
  • 64 hits; 6.1 H/9 average
  • 23 walks; 2.2 W/9 average
  • 93 strikeouts; 8.9 K/9

The second half numbers speak for themselves.  He additionally pitched seven innings or more ten times over his final 14 starts of the season, but only four times over his first 15 starts of the season.  Therefore all indications point to Wheeler being fully healthy, but more importantly thoroughly recovered.

If only things were that clear cut ...

Like Jacob deGrom, Wheeler's age entering free agency is potentially putting him at a slight disadvantage as teams no longer seem willing to commit long term to players beyond 32-years of age (or so).  Zack Wheeler turns 29-years old in May.  If he turns in the type of season I'm excitedly anticipating, the Mets will have yet another potential ace-caliber pitcher on their hands in search of representative dollar figures in which a three year offer may not suffice.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Open For Business: A Metsian Podcast Spring Training Preview With Guest Metstradamus

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


CALL OF THE PALM TREES
SPRING TRAINING SPECIAL

METSIAN PODCAST 
with Sam, Rich, and Mike

WITH SPECIAL GUEST:

93-minutes




METSIAN STUFF
The Mets Off-Season That Was ~ Brodie Van Wagenen Report Card
Free Agency Collusion Debate ~ 1981 Baseball Strike ~ Peter Ueberroth
Dave Winfield ~ Hanley Ramirez ~ Bryce Harper ~ Manny Machado
Chilli Davis/Coaching Staff ~ Mickey Callaway on the Hot Seat?
The Great Jacob deGrom Contract Dilemma
25-Man Roster ~ 40-Man Roster Depth
Devin Mesoraco ~ Juan Lagares ~ Robinson Cano ~ Tim Tebow
On Trading Prospects ~ Ty Kelly ~ Lets Go Syracuse
Are the Mets Intentionally Branding the Brooklyn Dodgers?
My Opinion on Culture Change and Making Unpopular Decisions
Rich: on Off-Season Minor League Deals
Metstradamus: on Frank Cashen and List of Core Players
N.L. East Preliminary Predictions
Mike FranSaySo ... and so much more!



ICYMI: 
Previous Podcast: 1 FEB 2019
FEATURING FORMER N.Y. METS CLOSER, 
Fan Favorite and Author of "Insight Pitch"
SKIP LOCKWOOD

1 hour; 48 minutes




#LGM




Wednesday, February 13, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Jacob deGrom's New Agent Repeats Old Message

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


The Truck Is Unloaded;
LET SPRING TRAINING BEGIN!

ICYMI: 

New York Mets: Jacob deGrom Contract Dilemma Shines Spotlight on Double-Agent, Brodie Van Wagenen.

Jacob deGrom wants to get paid.  And who can blame him.  On the heels of a Cy Young award winning performance, he enters 2019 arguably considered the best pitcher in baseball. 

Less than one year ago both Jacob and his former agent Brodie Van Wagenen revealed their position to the Mets regarding a contract extension in a public and rather straightforward manner.  Then something peculiar happened.  By season's end Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as general manager of the New York Mets.  So, rather than sitting side by side with Jacob at the negotiation table, Brodie now sits across from his former client's new representation.  As plot twists go, it's very likely BVW knows exactly what it will take to satiate Camp deGrom.  Only now he gets paid to negotiate what's in the best interest of the Mets checkbook.  That means taking into consideration that Jacob turns 31-years old this summer, and that he is still two years away from free agent eligibility.  Technically, the Mets needn't do a thing ... yet.

Now word comes down that Jacob's representatives have placed an opening day deadline on contract negotiations.  Brodie Van Wagenen says this is a mutual agreement, as neither party wants contract issues becoming a distraction during the regular season.  And there you have it, folks: two versions to the story.  Somewhere in the middle likely lies the truth.

If I were GM ... I'd offer to tear up Jacob's present settlement in return for four years at premium dollar, with a club option for a fifth year.  As a fan, this is a conflicting circumstance; he's an all-time Mets great, and deserves better.  But business is business, and I prefer the Mets remain non-committal beyond his 34th birthday.  That said, it's logical to assume that Camp deGrom is seeking longer term security.

I'd caution the Mets not to budge.




Tuesday, February 12, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Hello Pitchers and Catchers

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


The Truck is Unloaded;
LET SPRING TRAINING BEGIN!

PITCHERS and CATCHERS

New York Mets: Talk About an Off-Season of Upheaval ... Brodie Van Wagenen Sends Tremors Throughout Flushing.

Since being named general manager just three months ago Brodie Van Wagenen has been busy shaking, rattling, and rolling, all the while stressing winning, winning now, winning for years to come, and winning deep into the future.

That's great!  His positive energy is undeniable.  But I still have my reservations.  Because what BVW does not discuss is the other side of the proverbial coin: Mets ownership is still in debt.  As such, their finances will continue playing a prohibitive role in club operations for another two years.  Only then, by 2021, will they will be free of all debt stemming from the Madoff implosion, the aftermath, and recovery, and finally regain the financial flexibility fans are clamoring for.  I've cited in previous posts easily searched media articles/reports and links supporting this claim.  I merely bring this up for sake of injecting needed context into the conversation, nothing more.

Otherwise, as a fan who preaches success starts at the top I'm quite pleased with the sweeping changes enacted throughout the front office, scouting and development departments, and coaching staff.  I'd also be a hypocrite if I say I do not agree with BVW's plan to fortify the entire 40-man roster.  There's a very noticeable redundancy at play, with an aim to hedge against injury - something the Mets know much about.  There's also no denying that whichever potential mix of players wind up comprising this year's opening day 25-man roster, it will be an improved version over last year.

Some of BVW's transactions have been popular, others not so much.  Some acquisitions have come at the expense of several well touted, albeit low level minor league prospects.  I had a particular liking for Justin Dunn and Ross Adolf.  However, how all of this works out remains to been seen.  The Mets have won off-season's in the past.  But no team gets parades down the Canyon of Heroes for dominating the winter tabloids.

Catchers: The Position is Improved With An Agreeable Short-Term Solution.

I'm still a little dismayed over the non- acquisition of J.T. Realmuto, more so now that he's a member of the Phillies, and considering the price Philadelphia paid to acquire him.  It looks as if the Miami Marlins overplayed their hand.  However, the problem is wholly mine, for if there were one player I really wanted BVW to get in a Mets uniform this off-season, it was him.

Perchance to dream ...

Instead, the Mets enter the season with free agent catcher Wilson "the Buffalo" Ramos.  He is signed to a favorable two-year deal, which leaves only his day to day availability in question.  Wilson is averaging 108 games played over his last four season, but only 92 games over his last eight full seasons.  Health concerns aside he wields a very capable bat, able to hit for both average and power, and should provide solid protection for the middle of the line-up.  He's equally adept behind the plate, having already demonstrated himself to be a good receiver behind the plate, while sporting a .993 fielding average, and an above league average in caught stealing.

However, the re-signing of Devin Mesoraco (to a minor league contract) may prove most valuable of all.  Because although retained and signed, the future of Travis d'Arnaud in a Mets uniform remains very much in doubt.  To a far greater extent than Ramos, there is little debating that d'Arnaud's worse ability has been his unavailability.  He'll need to stay healthy for a complete season, be it in Flushing or Syracuse, before shaking the growing general perception of him.  In the meantime, Mesoraco enters camp as a non-roster invitee.  However, he has already proven to Mets fans that he is a very capable receiver behind the plate.  I'd be more than agreeable with Devin backing up Wilson Ramos on a full time basis.  Travis d'Arnaud ... not so much.


Next up: Pitchers.




Sunday, February 10, 2019

Serie del Caribe Championship Game: Panama vs. Cuba


2018 ~ 2019
ROD CAREW STADIUM
Panama City, Panama

SERIE del CARIBE 
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

CUBA
vs.
PANAMA

Round Robin Standings:
  1. Panama                      3-1
  2. Dominican Republic   3-1
  3. Cuba                          2-2
  4. Mexico                       2-2
  5. Venezuela                  2-2
  6. Puerto Rico                0-4

Felicidades a Panama ...

Panama, a charter member of the original (1949-1960) Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball, on Sunday will host their first Serie Del Caribe championship in 59 years.  Los Torros de Herrera - first time champions of the Panamanian Professional Baseball League - will likewise bid to become the country's first Caribbean champion since Panama's 1950 title culmination at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Panama was already on schedule for inclusion as an invited guest in next year's Serie del Caribe.  However, ongoing political turmoil and a sudden outbreak of violence in Venezuela hastened Panama's invitation when the Confederation for a second straight year was forced to retreat from the city of Barquisimeto.  Faced with the cancellation of the Serie del Caribe itself, the Confederation and Panama were able to facilitate a last minute resolution.

Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, are charter members of the original Confederation formed in 1949, which continued through the 1960 season.  After which, the Confederation ceased operations when baseball in Cuba became nationalized as part of Fidel Castro's revolution.

Panama's former professional baseball league was founded in 1946, then folded in 1972.  Today's Panamanian Professional Baseball League (PROBEIS) was founded in 2001, but was again suspended shortly thereafter.  Not until 2011 did the four team circuit stabilize and embark on continuous seasons.

The Caribbean Confederation was reformed in 1970 with original members Puerto Rico and Venezuela joined by Dominican Republic.  Mexico joined in 1971 to round out the present day four nation membership.

Like Panama, Cuba since 2014 participates as an invited guest.  In 1949, they hosted and won the first ever Serie del Caribe, and went on to win six more - including five in a row - before ceasing professional operations after the 1960 season.  In only their second season of modern participation, Cuba captured the 2014-2015 Serie del Caribe; their eighth overall.  Cuba has won all three Serie del Caribe previously hosted by Panama.

Cuban representatives, los Lenadores de Las Tuna, are first time Serie Nacional de Cuba champions, and thus making their first ever appearance in Serie del Caribe.

FINAL
CUBA        1
PANAMA   3

Congratulations, Panama!  It's been 59-years since they last participated in the annual winter tournament.  In defeating heavily favored and fellow invitee Cuba on Sunday, los Torros de Herrera clinch Panama's second ever Serie del Caribe championship, and their first since 1950, nearly seven decades ago.



Thursday, February 07, 2019

Brooklyn Nets: Look What Flatbush Did to the Denver Nuggets, Again

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Nets win season series; 2-0
I - BKN 112; DEN 110

WEDNESDAY
Nuggets    130
NETS       135
FINAL

Brooklyn Nets 29th Victory Surpasses Last Season's Win Total.

Last Friday evening I was listening on sports radio to N.Y. Post's Brian Lewis crediting much of the Nets success this season on their defensive prioritization.  And while Kenny Atkinson maintains a grip on the greater issues at hand, Lewis says the greater impact upon the team's overall focus is most attributable to veterans DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis, and Jared Dudley.

Although 130 points might suggest otherwise, defense was again front and center against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night at Barclays.  Their efforts helped Brooklyn amass a lead upwards of 20-points.  Which in turn permitted them to withstand and outlast Nikola Jokic's triple double (25 points; 10 assists; 14 rebounds) and Denver's fourth quarter surge in which they outscored the Nets by 16-points.

With Spencer Dinwiddie out, D'Angelo Russell is being afforded time to prove his fourth quarter worth.  He led all scorers with 27-points and tied for game high with 11 assists, while playing in a game-high 35-minutes.  Joe Harris (... he's so good!) backed up Russell with 17 points in 32 minutes.

The Nets featured six players overall scoring double-digits against Denver.  Off the bench, DeMarre Carroll contributed a double-double (18 points; 10 rebounds), while Shabazz Napier posted the Nets third double-double of the game with ten points and 11 assists.  Also playing off the bench, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson effectively sticks the dagger through Denver's heart with a dunk making it 133-125 with 25 seconds left.  Throughout the game, RHJ and the refs never did see eye to eye.  And after being called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean block, he sort of blew his top to earn a technical.

The victory not only snaps the Nets three game skid.  It's their 29th victory of the season, which on Feb. 6 surpasses last year's entire win total.  It also comes against the Western Conference's second ranked team.

That should send a little tremor throughout the NBA this evening.

But insofar as the message Wednesday night's victory sends: don't mistake their injuries as their weakness.  Underestimate the Brooklyn Nets at your own risk.



Tuesday, February 05, 2019

N.Y. Mets: Happy Birthday, Mrs. Payson

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


1976 Mets Yearbook


Happy Birthday, Mrs. Joan Whitney Payson.  Born Feb. 5, 1903, today marks the 116th year since she joined us, and 43-years since her passing.  She was 72-years old.  A minority shareholder of the New York Giants, she voted against moving the club to San Francisco, and even tried buying them outright to no avail.  She henceforth stood front and center in the Continental League's bid to compete against the American and National leagues.  When major league baseball acquiesced to expansion, she founded the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club.  I appeal to the present day owner of the Mets: please commission a statue in recognition of the organization's matriarch.  The honor is terribly long overdue.  Before anyone else, a statue memorializing Joan Whitney Payson must absolutely stand first.



Monday, February 04, 2019

Winter League Baseball: Serie del Caribe 2018-2019 Preview



2018~2019
61st EDITION

With political turmoil raging throughout Venezuela, for a second straight year the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball was left with no choice but to withdraw out of the city of Barquisimeto.  But whereas the decision to relocate last year's tourney was made in mid-summer,  thus facilitating a smooth transition to Jalisco, Mexico, this year's sudden outbreak of violence left little time for relocating a complex multinational event of this kind.  As such, the 61st edition of Serie del Caribe itself faced outright cancellation.  It would have marked the first tournament postponement since 1981, not coincidentally caused by the Venezuelan league players' strike.

Last year marked Mexico's second straight season as host nation.  As a result, they expressed a reluctance to host a third straight tournament.  Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is still beset with post Hurricane Maria recovery, and is in no position to host.  Dominican Republic offered to host but at the participating country's expense.  Cuba since 2014 is still technically considered a guest of the Caribbean Confederation, and therefore is not yet a host consideration.

Three cheers and bienvenidos a Panama, who at the last minute step in to become this year's Most Valuable Host.  The 2018-2019 Serie del Caribe goes on as scheduled, to be played at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City.

This marks Panama's long awaited return to Caribe play.  Along with Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Cuba, they were charter members (1949-1960) of the original confederation, which was forced to disband upon onset of Fidel Castro's Communist revolution.  The original plan was to integrate Panama back into Caribe play by next year.  But considering the circumstances, a year earlier than anticipated suits everyone just fine.

CARIBBEAN CONFEDERATION CHARTER MEMBERS: 1949-1960
  • Venezuela (0)
  • Panama (1)
  • Puerto Rico (4)
  • Cuba (7)
  • *Serie del Caribe titles

By 1959-1960, Cuba's Communist Revolution seizes control of government.  Fidel Castro nationalizes the country's baseball enterprise, and by banning professionalism transforms the game into regional divisions of strictly amateur competition.  The Serie del Caribe is suspended from 1961 through 1969 as a result.  Panama folds operations.  The circuit is reformed in 1970 with returning charter members Puerto Rico and Venezuela.  Dominican Republic joins the loop in 1970, and Mexico joins the following year.  These four member circuits now make up the present body of the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball.  As a result of slow and steady thawing of decades long political tensions, the Confederation invited Cuba back in 2014 as a guest participant.




CARIBBEAN CONFEDERATION REFORMED MEMBERS: 1970-present
  • Dominican Republic (19)
  • Puerto Rico (12)
  • Mexico (9)
  • Venezuela (7)
  • Cuba (1) guest participant
  • Panama (0) guest participant
  • * Serie del Caribe titles









PANAMA (HOST)
Serie del Caribe Championships: 1950
LBP Champions: Torros de Herrera





CUBA
Serie del Caribe Champions: 1949; 1952; 1956-1960; 2015
Serie Nacional CHAMPIONS: LENADORES de LAS TUNAS
  • Club Founded: 1977
  • Record: 65-45 (.591)
  • 2018-2019 First Time Serie Nacional Champions/58th Edition; Defeat Leopardos de Villa Clara (four games to one).





DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Serie del Caribe Champions: 1971; 1973; 1977; 1980; 1985; 1988; 1990-1991; 1994; 1997-1999; 2001; 2003-2004; 2007-2008; 2010; 2012.
LIDOM CHAMPIONS: ESTRELLAS de ORIENTALES 
  • Club Founded: 1910
  • Dominican League Champions: 1936
  • LIDOM Champions: 1954; 1968; 2019
  • Serie del Caribe Champions: none





PUERTO RICO
Serie del Caribe Champions: 1951; 1953-1955; 1972; 1974-1975; 1978; 1983; 1987; 1992-1993; 1995; 2000; 2017-2018
LBPRC CHAMPIONS: CANGREJEROS de SANTURCE 
  • Club Founded: 1939
  • LBPRC Champions: 1951; 1953; 1955; 1959; 1962; 1965; 1967; 1971; 1973; 1991; 1993; 2000; 2015-2016; 2019
  • Serie del Caribe Champions: 1951; 1953; 1955; 1993; 2000





MEXICO
Serie del Caribe Champions: 1976; 1986; 1996; 2002; 2005; 2011; 2013-2014; 2016.
LMP CHAMPIONS: CHARROS de JALISCO
  • Club Founded: 2014
  • LMP Champions: 2019
  • Serie del Caribe Champions: none





VENEZUELA
Serie del Caribe Champions: 1970; 1979; 1982; 1984; 1989; 2006; 2009
Despite political and civil unrest dominating the nation's attention, the LVBP championship series  pressed on.

LVBP CHAMPIONS: LOS CARDENALES de LARA
  • Club Founded: 1942
  • LVBP Champions: 1991; 1998; 2000-2001
  • Serie del Caribe Champions: none


ROD CAREW STADIUM
Estadio Nacional de Panama
Panama City
(Feb. 4-10)
GROUP A:
  1. CUBA - Lenadores de Las Tunas
  2. MEXICO - Charros de Jalisco
  3. VENEZUELA - Cardenales de Lara
GROUP B:
  1. PUERTO RICO - Cangrejeros de Santurce
  2. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Estrellas de Orientales
  3. PANAMA - Torros de Herrera

Serie del Caribe 
Baseball Hall of Fame Participants:

Jim Bunning ~ Rod Carew ~ Orlando Cepeda ~ Roberto Alomar ~ Monte Irvin ~ Willie Mays Rickey Henderson ~ Reggie Jackson ~ Roberto Cemente ~ Tony LaRussa ~ Juan Marichal Tom Lasorda ~ Edgar Martinez ~ Pedro Martinez ~ Satchel Paige ~ Mike Piazza ~ Tony Perez ~ Frank Robinson Ivan Rodriguez ~ Mike Schmidt ~ Hoyt Wilhelm


Caribbean Series Baseball Reference
Caribbean World Series


Sunday, February 03, 2019

PIGSKIN 2018: Super Bowl LIII



PIGSKIN

SCOREBOARD:
Championship Weekend: 1-1
Overall Record:  99-127-11
Bagels in the Basket:  -45

**In an effort to get back into the black, I'm wagering one billion bagels!


  • "I Love L.A. We Love It!" ~ Randy Newman.  For those of you who never thought the city of Los Angeles would ever return to the Super Bowl ... what can I say.  Like thieves in the night, NFL officiating rob the New Orleans Saints of a second NFC title, and an appearance in Super Bowl LIII; a non-call so egregious on so many levels, the league had no choice but to admit their mistake and bury its head in the sand.  Poor Gayle Benson, who assumed principle ownership of the Saints upon the passing of her husband, Tom Benson.  She's got Roger Goodell's cell number.  I'm sure.
  • AFC Championship Game: Andy Reid catches a lot of crap for not being able to win the big one.  But he was brilliant last week, matching wits with Bill Belichick.  Both head coaches demonstrated the art of in-game adjustment.  It truly was a sight to behold.  Belichick exploited Patrick Mahomes inexperience; no more, no less.  And there was nothing Andy Reid could do about it.  But make no mistake, he coached a brilliant game against a brilliant adversary.  My only other point in regards to last week's Patriots victory over the Kansas City Chiefs: smash mouth football is not dead..!  I can't stress that enough.  As a Giants fans, it's something I incessantly harp on when blogging about Big Blue's ongoing folly.


PATRIOTS -2 1/2 (RAMS)
Saturday Line/NYP

If you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man..!  WooOO!!  Of course I'm picking the Patriots.  Did you think otherwise?  While I'm not a Patriots fan, surely you must know by now that I'm an unrepentant Hoodie minion.  I'm eternally indebted to Bill Belichick ever since he helped the Giants win their first two Super Bowls ... WoOoo!  That's what an aging Sith curmudgeon does - we pledge allegiance to and obey our master or die.  My son holds out hope than he can one day turn me away from what he deems my sad devotion to this ancient religion called smash mouth football.

Oh, the blissful ignorance of youth ... perchance to dream.  Perhaps by 10pm Sunday evening, he will finally come to understand Baby Boomers were meant to destroy planet Earth, which includes Rams head coach Sean McVay's best laid plans. 

Born of football pedigree, McVay is representative of the new age of professional football in which we now live.  He is a 33-years young innovator; he's brilliantly bold; and takes big chances in big moments.  He brings deception, trickery, and fearlessness to the table.  He'll no doubt present problems Bill Belichick must resolve before or during Sunday's game.  The Rams are also superior to New England's last two opponents (Chargers and the Chiefs), and therefore will provide more of a challenge through four full quarters of football.  I'm sure Ndamukong Sue and L.A.'s pass rush also stand poised to cause Tom Brady and company many disruptions.

But if Coach McVay wants the ball in Jared Goff's hands for any extended length of time, the Rams will need to stop Sony Michel and the Patriots running game, not Tom Brady.  Through New England's first two playoff games, the Patriots offensive line has created more daylight than the sun.  If the Rams can not throw some shade upon the Patriots rushing attack, they're d-o-n-e!  Lest I remind everyone the Patriots held the ball for 38:20 against the Chargers, and one second shy of FORTY freaking MINUTES against the Chiefs!  W ..W ... WooOOo!  Ya can't score points WOOo! if you don't have the ball.  Said another way, it's hard playing catch up with little to no time left on the clock.  Both the Chargers and Chiefs finally exerted themselves against the Patriots in the fourth quarter.  By then however it was too late, and that's by design.  The Chargers scored 428 regular season points, for a 26.7 average per game.  Against the Patriots, LAC scored 28-points, but didn't break through with 14 points until the fourth quarter.  The high-flying Chiefs scored 565 points this season, averaging 35.3 per game.  They wound up scoring 31 against the Patriots, but lagged until they put up 14-points in the fourth quarter.  Again, ladies and gentlemen, that is by design.  Point being, the Patriots play ball control, and if the Rams can't manage two good scoring quarters against them, they're done.  That said, the Rams averaged 28-points and 35:28 time of possession through their two playoffs victories over the Cowboys and Saints.  Will that be good enough against New England?  Every coach thinks they have a good plan until forced into matching wits with Simon Bar Sinister.  WooOoo!  Bill  Belichick's holy scripture defensive game plan designed to thwart the mighty Buffalo Bills offense in Super Bowl XXV has been on display in the Football Hall of Fame at Canton since before Sean McVay was born (obvious hyperbole..).

WoOoO!

Grasshopper, beware!  McVay, this means you.  Sensei never reveals all.  Offensively, New England defeated the Kansas City Chiefs using plays straight out of Vince Lombardi's 1962 Green Bay Packers playbook.  And while I believe Andy Reid brilliantly countered Belichick, Bill still did things to Patrick Mahomes that were out of Reid's control.  Instead up beating him up, per se, the Patriots coerced and confused him.

But let's just assume the Rams (and the Patriots) do everything right, and this game boils down to a last second field goal.  Who do you trust more to put themselves in a position to kick it?

Put your faith in smash mouth, my sons.  Because there's no surer way to put a stop to all this new millennium flash, glitz and glam, than with a good slap to the face.

WOOOOooo!

FINAL
PATRIOTS  13
RAMS           3

Time of Possession
N.E.  33:10
L.A.  26:50

Total Yards:
N.E.  407
L.A.  260

Smash mouth football..!

If it wasn't for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Patriots might have blown out the Rams.  Head coach Sean McVey looked like a deer in the headlights.  To say he got thoroughly out-coached is an understatement.

I hope the Giants were watching.



Saturday, February 02, 2019

N.Y. Knicks: Opportunity to Move Porzingis and Hardaway is a Godsend

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP


TAXI..!!!!

New York Knicks: The Two Decade Old Rebuild Continues ...

Don't get me wrong, the Knicks lose me with Jimmy Dolan Steve Mills.  He's been a constant throughout this ongoing crisis we call the Knickerbockers.  Moreover, I wouldn't trust Scott Perry to mail a letter for me, much less build a contender.  In light of the big trade, my opinion of them has not changed.

However, I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't agree with their decision to trade Kristaps Porzingis.  Because when the situation calls for a full blown rebuild, I firmly believe in stripping things to the bone.  That means all assets must go.  So bravo to them, because no not only do I agree with trading Kristaps, I applaud it.

I acknowledge the manner in which the game is played has changed.  Be that as it may, I never saw the use for a seven foot three-point shooter.  He doesn't rebound, nor was he going to turn around a 10-41 team by himself.  In fact, I contend freeing themselves of both Porzingis and Hardaway is a godsend.  They're what I call net asset zero salary cap suckers.  Besides, seven-footers with feet/leg issues are historically known to be NBA taboo.  So whether he wanted to be in New York or not is irrelevant to me.

Mike, you idiot!  When healthy he  ...

No.

Dallas Mavericks get:
  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Tim Hardaway, Jr.
  • Trey Burke
  • Courtney Lee
New York Knicks get:
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Wesley Matthews
  • Dennis Smith, Jr.
  • 2021 #1 pick
  • 2023 #1 pick *top ten protected

They'll be far better served with two first round draft picks versus anything Courtney Lee or Trey Burke brought to the table.  Let's be real.  Before the trade, the Knicks were effectively void of players not named Kevin Knox worthy of retention.  But they must draft smartly.

... and there's the rub.

As I sit here watching Zion Williamson and Duke destroy St. John's, it dawns on me the only way this season's tank-a-thon truly pays off is either through pure luck, or if Commissioner Silver fills the Knicks' ping pong balls with helium.  Otherwise, amassing high drafts picks is the next best strategy.

"The person who does not select Zion Williamson at number one in the upcoming draft, will go to sleep each night embarrassed over what they passed up!" - loosely paraphrasing college basketball god Dick Vitale during Saturday's St. John's/Duke game.

With regards to rumors of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or other big name free agents coming to town, anticipate nothing.  Yes, Mills and Perry created an intriguing amount of cap space.  But you can't be disappointed with what you do not expect.  High profile players say they love playing at Madison Square Garden.  But  how many of them actually say they want to play for the Knicks?  Therefore, I'll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, bringing in DeAndre Jordan serves as yet another slap to the face of Enes Kanter.

Taxi..!


Friday, February 01, 2019

A Most Glorious Metsian Podcast with Special Guest, Skip Lockwood

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



One of my all-time favorite seasons!

A METSIAN PODCAST 
with SAM, RICH, and MIKE

Another SAM the Man Production;
all credit goes to our Metsian partner for putting this together.


Author






Sam (the archaeologist) dug up this old Tweet of mine.  I can't be certain what I meant by that #hashtag, but I'm quite certain it was in response to #MetsTwitter.  Proof, nonetheless ... I love Skip Lockwood.  I was 12-years old during his last season with the club.  He ranks among my very select list of Mets players most responsible for igniting and fueling my passion for our Boys of Flushing during the mid to late 1970s.  It is my great privilege and honor to have spoken with Mr. Lockwood.  A thrill I will not soon forget.  #LGM