Tuesday, November 30, 2010

N.J. Nets vs. N.Y. Knicks ~ Don't Ignore The Buzz

New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets:  You're Lying If You Don't Believe There's A Different Buzz About This Now.

The naysayers can down-play this all they want.  "They" will point to the fact the 6-11 Nets still play in front of sparse crowds in Newark and to their abysmal record last season.  The Nets also had their off-season hopes unrealized to a large extent while the Knicks overhauled their roster with 10 new players including Amare Stoudemire.  I will cede the fact this is not the sexiest rivalry in the Metro area, the NBA, or in Sports.  I know.  The fact both franchises have struggled mightily in recent years pretty much means both teams and fan bases are starting from scratch in a sense.  The Nets had to dismantle their Conference Championship teams and drifted into obscurity out in the No-Man's MeadowLands.  The Knicks' fan base just wanted to get as far away from the Isiah Thomas Inferno as possible.  Madison Square Garden even "had to" initiate a complete renovation because of the damage wrought by Demolition Zeke.  And of course, the building of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn should not go under-spoken.

Do you see it?  If you don't, you're not looking.  The future of this rivalry is very bright because both teams are loosely tied together in a race to be better; not necessarily better than each-other..., just better as a franchise. 

Knick Fan; Net Fan ~ Win, Win.  You'll see.  It's still a vision.  But things are in place for both franchises to have far better days ahead of them than today's 9-9 and 6-11 editions...(namely Cap Space).

Both teams are headed in positive directions.  I myself think the Nets took a major hit when Rod Thorn stepped down and took the Philly job.  But they are still organizationally sound and now reinvigorated with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov.  Avery Johnson is a damn good coach.  Brett Yormark and Billy King still form a smart front office.  The young players on the court, like Lopez will develop and with ample Cap Space, in time, the roster will be augmented.  Right?  We'll see.  In the mean-time, No Sleep Till Brooklyn.

We know the Knicks; - Zeke we hope.., but can never really know for sure, is in the past (?).  Donnie Walsh is good people to have running things now.   Coach D, Amare and LANDRY FIELDS!... ~ We see what's going on and we like the progress.  Right? (I have my issues with Coach D, but I'm cool).

The possibilities for two years from now are pretty bright IMO.  For the Nets, the Knicks, the fans, two Boroughs and the city as a whole, I see good times ahead as fans and as this rivalry emerges (re-emerges?).

Admit this, the days of considering these teams neighborly will end when the Nets settle in Brooklyn.

By all means let tonight's game between the Knicks and Nets serve as a litmus test to see how warm the water is.  This the first time they will be facing each other on the court since the teams started The BillBoard Wars.  Let's see how the players react to each-other tonight.  Let's gauge crowd reaction too.  We'll see where we are with this thing and build from there, here; tonight.  Why not?  Like I said, both teams are positive forward now, not backwards negative.  Coach Johnson is going to Coach a good game.  Bank on it.
Coach D seems to have all the players' attention and functioning.  The game should be a good one.

You have to admit because of the BillBoard Wars, we've all spoken more about the Nets and the Knicks, together, in the same sentences, in conversations, than I'm willing to bet we ever did before.  Am I right? 

Dolan, the Planned West Side Stadium Wrecker, chose to fight his fight with signage and commercials on his MSG Channels thus far.  Mikhail Prokhorov likes to just tell us what he thinks and it's usually a great listen.  He most recently said he doesn't care to be like the Knicks,  nyet..rather, the Lakers were the team to emulate.  He provides classic stuff.  These mighty men of "power" and wealth can only serve to keep us entertained.

You have to admit, and not ignore the BUZZ to this game and these teams today.  It's a low-level buzz, but a buzz none-the-less. 

What started when Bruce Ratner announced plans to bring the team to Brooklyn was just a flare in the middle of nowhere.  No one ever could get a feel for the news with all the "what ifs".  But, here we are.  I drove by the Barclays site today.  There's steal beams rising like mighty Red Woods. We build from this and keep moving forward.

Enjoy the game and start thinking about this match-up in a different way.


Madison Square Garden
33rd Street and 7th Avenue


N.Y. Giants ~ Powder Blue Start, Big Blue Finish

New York Football Giants:  Wanna Send A Message?  Try This:
"These Games Are Important!"

Not only did the Giants help themselves by correcting their ill timed two game slide, they received an assist from Chicago as the Bears clipped the PhilaEagles' wings in the Windy City.  Alas, the G-Men share a piece of first place in the NFC East....again. 

I told you last week was survivable.

The Giants beat the Bears earlier this season; We lose to the Eagles; the Bears beat Eagles.  Such as life in the National Football League these days.

So here we are.  And there we almost went.

Being down to the Jags 17-6 in the first half had me in a state of Big Blue Bewilderment.  The Jags' running game plowed through us in the 1st quarter like we weren't even there.  In the 2nd quarter, Garrard tapped into his inner Michael Vick (or even Mark Brunell when he was a young QB) and ran right, then left, then straight past the over-pursuing Blue Cloud into the end zone for a touchdown.  The play goes down in the books as a 5 yard gain for the score.  But he ran loops around us for at least 15 yards before his forward gain.  Ponderous; Simply ponderous!  A lot of 'all of the above' falls on the defensive front four; specifically Osi and Tuck.

Ponderous?  Yes.  But not until half-time, unless chaos is ruling the day, is really when the time bomb starts ticking on a game.  The question is, in thirty minutes can you defuse it, or are things certain to go "BOOM"?

No, I'm not going to do the "Justin Tuck Half-Time Locker Room Speech" thing.  Speeches are cool.  They certainly have their place in the grand scheme of things.  "Boomer" played, he said they serve a purpose (at times..and if the right person makes them).  And if Osi and Tuck felt that's what they needed to do, then fine.

BUT, I do believe in half-time adjustments.  That's the true test of a Coach's staff. 

It's not fair of me to bring Hall of Famers into the mix, but I remember guys like Harry Carson, Reasons and LT making side-line, on-field and in-game adjustments.  I remember Leonard Marshall; rarely fooled and never twice.  I remember Coach Belichick with his markers and board on the side-lines designing, and re-designing DOOM as he went along.  Coach Fox was like that too.  He was crazy like a "Fox" for sure, problem was his guys were undisciplined and crazier.  Jesse Armstead, Keith "The Hammer" Hamilton, Sehorn, and Strahan the Younger, (Dumb-asses they were..1997..), under Coach Fox were still excellent in-game adjusters.  Then if you like, think of Strahan the Elder, pulling and teaching the Tuck/Osi Padawans in '07.  What was that defense all about?  Coach Spags was a great in-game adjuster.  I digress.

But if Coach Fewell, Justin Tuck and Osi needed the confines of the locker-room after a half of Football to make an attitude alteration and inject a little mood management, I'd kindly ask them to come up with a better plan by the time we play Washington.  Harry Carson used to do it with one look and LT implored his team to be "A Bunch of Crazed Dogs", Remember?  My point, it doesn't take a whole half.  And as far as making in-game adjustments, can we please speed that up?  Or, maybe we were spoiled once upon a time?

OK...so the Offense was sputtering along also, with only six 1st half points Sunday.  Phil Simms' offense used to sputter a lot too.  But the Defense always kept things manageable for Phil and the O-Boys.  They used to create short fields for us and provide ample opportunities to hold, run and control the ball on offense.  Joe Morris did it; "Good" O.J. did it too.  What? - Pound the ball...Much Like Brandon Jacobs did Sunday against the Jags.  He did it behind an offensive line decimated by injury, but who's back-ups served up a very clean, penalty free, effective game.  Parcells hated O-Line penalties in particular.  Coach Coughlin will vouch to that.  He was there.

The Giants outscored the Jags 18-3 in the second half much the way Phil Simms used to generate 2nd half offense with a late touchdown to Mark Bavaro.  How many 24-20; 23-17, 23-20; 24-21 games can you remember from those days?  If you're like me, many.  Am I the only one who had this race through his/her mind watching Eli connect on a touchdown pass late in the 4th quarter to Kevin Boss?

I won't lie and tell you that I didn't think about these things Sunday.  It just seemed oddly familiar, how once we struggled for points while the defense held things together and through the running game and a timely pass or two won games in the second halves of games employing this very formula..  But that was then and this is now.  The way the defense came out for the 2nd half against the Jaguars just reminded me of so many games I remember seeing before; - The whole game actually including all the angst.  Phil was frustrating too if you recall.  Mario Manningham; Lionel Manuel....Anyone?    *sigh*

The NFL is a different animal these days though.  It's been 20 and 25 years since XXI and XXV.

Some things haven't changed since then, like making 2nd half adjustments.  But parity is more pervasive today than in those days and the League is much more unpredictable (hence 2007).  When the defense clamps down and allows 3 points the rest of the way like the Giants' D did Sunday, does the ends justify the means?  Maybe for a day against an AFC opponent, it took a whole half of Football to adjust.  Making teams adjust to us is an offensive conversation to be had in the next posting of mine.

For now what we should be taking away from Sunday's effort is something as old as Football itself.  Coach Fewell, Osi and Tuck chose their own, NEW way, of reminding us all it's not how you start more than it's how you finish.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

N.Y. Rangers ~ King Henrik Reigns Again

Broadway Blueshirts Are Tired But Inspired In Support of Their Liege.

After an abysmal game against Tamp Bay, the Rangers collectively tightened up their game and finished their road trip with two very well played games against the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators.

Henrik, who had been win-less in his last three starts entering Friday night's game versus Florida, rebounded from a couple of forgettable performances, along with his teammates, and shout-out the Panthers 3-0.  The Blueshirts and their King followed that up with a very gritty performance against the Predators, who put 40 shots on goal last night, and won in shoot-out for a 2-1 final score.  The last shot for the Predators during the shoot-out was gloved by Henrik at point blank range.  The Lundqvist "fist pump" after stopping that shot was a signal to his team that The King is back. 

Brandon Dubinsky was the first off the bench to thank, congratulate and hug his goalie.  And why not?  After logging an exhausting 25:44 of ice time playing superb hockey, Dubinsky as much as Henrik or anyone dressed in Blue last night, deserved the victory.  They needed all of the 65 minutes played and a goal by Christensen in the shoot-out to log their 9th road win versus 4 losses.

The Predators got on the scoreboard first.  Dan Girardi couldn't handle a pouncing puck in the Ranger zone. Nashville pounced on it and capitalized on the turnover.  A Ryan Callahan deflection from the slot off a Christensen pass from the top right corner found net to tie the game in the second period..  From that goal on, the Rangers played as smartly, intensely and as wily as they've played all year.

In the drubbing they suffered against the Lightning, the Rangers were skating like turtles in sand.  Outside of a respectable third period...yea, it was that bad.  But what is separating this team from previous years is their resiliency.  They may have been dog-tired but this group is mentally strong and they dug deep within themselves and left nothing in reserve the last two games, so much so, Coach Torts smiled at reporters while speaking about his guys.  Imagine that.  A year ago, maybe we lose this game to Nashville.  So, like Torts, I'm smiling too.

Now the Rangers get to bring their tired bones back to New York in preparation for the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow.

NOTES:  Vinny Prospal was travelling with the team on the trip and is expected back soon.  Marian Gaborik, whom Coach Torts called on to be better, while playing an engaging game against Florida, sat out last night with the flu.  Let's hope that doesn't get around.  Michal Rozsival is also back and played last night.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

PIGSKIN ~ WEEK 12 ~ Big Blue Needs To Play Like GIANTS!

My Thanksgiving Day picks didn't go too well.  I went 1-2 and that leaves me +22 for the season.

The WEEK 12 Bagel Roll-Out:
(Saturday's NYDN Line)

Jaguars +7 (GIANTS)
The Giants have too many injuries to overcome.  This game might come down to a last minute field goal.  In any case take the points.  (See more below in the Giants game).
WIN ~ 24-20 Giants

REDSKINS -1 (Vikings)
When it rains it pours.  The Vikings are in a state of chaos.
LOSS ~ 17-13 Vikings

Steelers -6 1/2 (BILLS)
I don't care how many points Buffalo has been scoring.  The Steeler defense won't let the Bills get within 7 points.
LOSS ~ 19-16 Steelers  o.t.

Titans +6 1/2 (TEXANS)
Vince Young went mentally limp again and is now out for the season with a hand injury.  That makes this game tough to call.  But then I remembered how many points the Texans are giving up with the 5th or 6th worse defense in Football.
LOSS ~ 20-0 Texans

BROWNS -10 (Panthers)
I haven't gotten a Browns game right all year.  The Panthers are pitiful on offense and have all but quit on themselves.  Only turnovers can keep the Panthers within 10 points.
LOSS ~ 24-23 Browns

Bucs +8 (RAVENS)
This isn't the Ravens defense from 10 years ago.  I think The Ravens win but the Bucs will stay in the game and within the spread.  Heck, they might even win this game.
WIN ~ 17-10 Ravens

Eagles -3 1/2 (BEARS)
If Vegas doesn't like the Bears at home, then neither do I.  I never had much respect for the Bears this season anyway.
LOSS ~ 31-26 Bears

FALCONS -2 (Packers)
I like the Falcons at home.  I think the Falcons have had a harder time playing their division than the Packers have had in theirs.  That should be good enough for a 3 point win at home.
WIN ~ 20-17 Falcons

RAIDERS -3 (Dolphins)
After getting blown-out by PITT last week, it's time to get right back on the Raiders' wagon.  I'll take it a step further...I like the Raiders BIG.
LOSS ~ 33-17 Dolphins

Chiefs -1 1/2 (SEAHAWKS)
I haven't given the Chiefs much respect.  Versus the Seahawks...it's time I did.
WIN ~ 42-24 Chiefs

Rams +4 (BRONCOS)
This game is a field goal but Broncos win.  Rams have been staying relatively close in their games.
WIN ~ 36-33 Rams

Chargers +3 (Colts)
Peyton has had to work way too hard keeping his team in contention.  Rivers is great in closing minutes of games.  I like the Chargers winning outright.  They always play the Colts tough.
WIN ~ 36-14 Chargers

That's 12 Bagels into the oven.

SHMEAR of the WEEK: (8-1 this season on the Shmear)
Steelers -6 1/2 (BILLS)

Post Game Results:
*Early games ~ I sucked.
*I remain perfect picking Cleveland ~ I haven't gotten a game right yet!
*Buffalo took PITT to O.T. ?  C'mon!  I lost the Shmear pick.  That hurts!  That's a -3 Bagel game for me.
*The TITANS was a miserable pick.
*Respect the Chiefs.
*I nailed the Falcons game didn't I?
*I was wrong with Oakland...BIG!
*How'ya like that Rams pick...huh?

*I changed 3 picks yesterday before I published.  I won't say which games...but I lost all three.  The lesson learned is - "Think Long ~ Think Wrong!"

I lost 4 BAGELS this afternoon to make me +18.  I'm sitting 5-6 going into the night game.  I need victory in the S.D. vs IND game to break even for the week (Shmear aside).

Chargers win.  I finish the day 6-6 and +19.

New York Football Giants:
Stop Turning The Ball Over and Turn This Around!

Forget the NFC West!  Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago are all leading their divisions.  The Saints are 8-3.  The Bucs are 7-3.  The Packers are 7-3.  Only now, we can start talking about the 6-4 Giants.  Unfortunately the Giants have turned this Sunday's game into a must win.

After losing two games in a row within the division by a combined score of 60-37, The Giants can't afford to let this game go sour for them.  The Jaguars have won their last three games and have new life in their division.

Eli will be without Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith.  The Giant's O-Line is still without Shane Andrews, Shaun O'Hara and David Diehl.  Ahmad Bradshaw lost his starting job to Brandon Jacobs who's been largely underutilized.

This game will have to be won on the arm of Eli Manning of whom I have "no idea" who will be receiving his pass attempts.  Mario Manningham and (Kevin Boss) are now the only two guys the Jags need to worry about.  Brandon Jacobs will also have to give the Giants a ground attack which this team desperately needs this week in light of the injuries to the receivers.  The Defense will have to be flat-out dominant and cause a couple of turnovers of their own in order to give the Giants a chance to win.  And lastly, please, the turnovers need to be corrected.

Can the Giants survive two more losses this season and still have hopes of making the playoffs?  I doubt it; not with the three teams I mentioned who are ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.

The Giants still have many healthy big name players on Defense who, without a doubt, need to step up this week and have supreme individual efforts.  Yes, the Defense needs to win this game for us.  We just can't have Eli and turnovers lose it.

Jacksonville Jaguars  20


Friday, November 26, 2010

N.Y. Giants ~ Now Fighting To Stay Alive

New York Football Giants:
The Time To Be Great Has Passed, Now We Must Go Into Survival Mode.

With last week's loss to the Eagles, this season can no longer be great.  It can turn out well.  This season can still be called a good one when it's all over.  We'll see.  It just stopped having the potential to be great and the Giants have no one to blame but themselves.  The Giants have 6 games left to separate themselves from the also-rans of this League.  They must get healthy and correct their propensity to turn the ball over quickly in order to re-enter the conversation regarding the Conference's best teams.  But last time we looked, "Great" was leaving the building.

The playoffs are another matter.  Of course a playoff run can always be great.  I'm talking about the scheduled games in hand.  And this year's tablet has officially been depreciated.  All is not lost; not by a long shot - not yet anyway.  However, the question I'm starting to ponder is will 10 wins be good enough to make the playoffs?  If you answered no, then 11 and 12 total wins are needed from this moment out.  We currently have six wins with six to play.  Going 4-2 over the next 6 games gets the Giants to 10-6.  You can start driving yourself crazy trying to figure out the win-loss-win-loss game............Now.

Turnovers have been this team's downfall.  Eli Manning has his name attached to a great many of them.  But he isn't likely going to be asked to sit now is he?  No.  With Ahmad Bradshaw however, turnovers have now cost him his starting job.  Brandon Jacobs will return to his long-lost role as the feature back.  Fans aren't coming down too badly on Bradshaw because..., well, we like his maximum effort.  But he's coughed the ball up too many times this season, (six times), and we all recognize the change is warranted.  What this really means is questionable.  Just because Jacobs is getting the start doesn't mean Bradshaw still won't get the majority of the carries.  Ahmad Bradshaw has been doubling the touches given to Brandon all season.

Brandon Jacobs has only been averaging about 8 carries a game.  I've long been calling for Coach Gilbride to increase Jacobs' rushing attempts because as December neared, he'd be more important to the over-all running game and cold weather ball control.  We are now about to see how well or how badly Coach Gilbride has managed Brandon Jacobs' playing time.  Whether Coach is about to double or even triple Brandon's carries still remains to be seen.  Maybe Coach Coughlin is maintaining a bigger say in this situation than I currently understand.  Maybe Coach Coughlin will be sending a rather intense message to Ahmad Bradshaw this Sunday and restrict his touches.  Again, we'll see.  My overwhelming question is, has Coach Gilbride finally met his mistake in the face by under utilizing Brandon Jacobs, in my opinion, and left him under-prepared to carry the load this Sunday?  It seems my obsessive compulsion to champion Brandon Jacobs' cause this season is coming to a head this week.  I hope everyone who's been following me on this realizes this hasn't been a Man-Crush type Brandon push.  It's what I thought all along was necessary for the Giants.  With all that said, there is no escaping Jacobs and Bradshaw combined, only ran the ball 17 times for 39 yards against the Eagles last week.

Now that Brandon Jacobs is going to be the starting back again, it really couldn't come at a worse time as the Offensive-Line is riddled with injuries.  Last game there was nothing to turn to.  I credit Coach Gilbride for trying to establish the run against the Eagles, but is was clear to all, the Giants were getting ineffective run blocking from the Line.

To compound the Giants injury woes, the receiving corps. are now equally decimated.  Eli Manning's true go-to guy, Steve Smith, is out.  Ramses Barden is now out for the year also.  Mario Manningham isn't enough to detract attention away from Hakeem Nicks like Smith was.  Nicks can now be double-teamed with confidence.  Reflective of the struggles it's been for the deep and talented bunch of receivers and Eli is the fact he is tied for the League lead in TD passes and also has the 2nd most INT's in the League.

...And silly me, Hakeem Nicks is out too.

I said the loss to the Eagles was survivable.  But I hope Big Blue has been practicing their skills this week.  Their fight for life starts Sunday afternoon against a different kind of animal in the Jaguars.

Only the strong survive.


N.Y. Rangers ~ Struck By Lightning In Florida; Panthers Next

NYRangers ~ Wednesday night's first game of two in the Sunshine State didn't go so hot:

Things didn't go so hot for the Rangers in Tampa Wednesday and after the game Coach was pretty steamed.  I don't blame him either.  The final in Tampa was 5-3 but that's deceptive.  It wasn't that close.  The Rangers could do nothing to get in Tampa's way and Henrik Lundqvist paid the price for them

It looked as if the Rangers were skating with cement shoes for most of the 60 minutes against Tampa.  Lightning skaters kept streaking past Ranger players on their way to the net and harassing Henrik Lundqvist.
Harass him they did; in two's, three's, four's and five's.  They descended upon the crease like ants upon fallen ice cream in the playground.  They bumped Henrik, hit him; knocked him over and with ease and frequency, scored on Henrik.  As the Lightning skated by us and broke some ankles along the way, they put on a passing clinic and put 5 pucks past Lundqvist in two lopsided periods.

There was a point when it appeared certain Henrik would be pulled and Biron inserted "back" in net.  But Henrik and Torts seemed to work that out as he stayed in and finished the game.  The fact is Henrik had zero help from anyone dressed in blue last night.  With a look around, pigeons could be seen landing on the shoulders of numerous Ranger players.  They were that lethargic.  It seemed as if they were skating in place when viewed against the Lightning's tempo.

That's what had Coach Torts so angry.  Henrik was a one man team against the Lightning's best players with his defense offering little to no help in front of him and, where Tampa's best players were impacting the game in a most positive way, the Rangers' top players were as effective as trying to break down a door with a pillow.

After the game, Coach Torts had little problem insinuating Marian Gaborik needed to play like this team's star along with others needing to pulling their weight.  Coach Torts let Henrik stay in the game as he put the full blame of 5 goals on the defensive effort and it's shortcomings.  And Coach Torts also killed any notion the beat-writers might have had as they eluded to a possible looming goalie controversy.  He demanded a media member not create something that doesn't exist..(regarding a goalie controversy).  Before Q&A ended with Torts, he did offer the other side of the coin saying he is well aware some of his guys are dog-tired.

The Rangers will be taking on the Florida Panthers today on Black Friday and the question I think that might be on a lot of fan's minds is who will get the start in net against the Panthers?  I have no problem with giving Biron another start, but I think what's best right now is if we ride Henrik through a rough patch on the road and, as Torts, eluded, get him straightened out.

After coming down with the "flu" and missing a few games, Henrik came back with a stellar performance in his first game back but followed that up with a stinker versus Colorado.  This performance against the Lightning was his first start in a couple of games while Biron was shining; result...another stinker.

Marty Biron has been great as the "back-up".  He has won five games and four in a row (5-1 record).  Since the time Henrik got sick, Biron has been simply stellar.  It's only natural a reporter would ask about the goalie situation.  He just used the wrong line of questioning and Torts nailed him on semantics.  While Biron has been very solid in net, we all know Henrik is the starting goalie around here.

Hopefully Black Friday only has relevance to Holiday bargain shoppers and doesn't signify another dark night in Florida for the New Yawkers.  A game against the Panthers like the one they just played against the Lightning and Torts might be inspired to make the Blueshirts skate all the way to Nashville for their next match-up against the Predators.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

PIGSKIN ~ Thanksgiving Day Picks

I'd like to extend well wishes to everyone and
a Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

Among the many things I'm thankful for,
I'm additionally thankful to all who ever stopped by and spent time reading my posts
 or just perused through my blog page. 
Your kind words and comments are greatly appreciated.

Pigskin Holiday Picks:
(Wednesday NYDN Line)
I'm +23 Bagels for the season.  Three more Bagels headed into the oven.

Patriots -7 (LIONS)
I know; Never bet against the Lions on Thanksgiving at home.  But I think the Pats can cover the 7 points.  The Patriots have scored the most points in the NFL.  Detroit is scoring points on a pace equal with how many they've given up.  The Pats should be 8 points better.
WIN ~ 45-24 Patriots

Saints -3 1/2 (COWBOYS)
The other home underdog will also lose.  The Cowboys' sloppy play from earlier in the season will rear it's ugly head again when the Saints go marching through Dallas.  Bad habits and poor attitudes just don't go away like "that" in two weeks.  Tomorrow will be a certain step backwards for the Boys.
LOSS ~ 30-27 Saints

Bengals +9 1/2 (JETS)
The Jets have been riding a magic carpet ride the last three games with two O.T. wins and a last minute thriller.  Last week the Jets allowed the Texans to get back into a game they were firmly in control of.  The Defense has left a little to be desired lacking a pass rush.  I know the Bengals can't run the ball well, but they're still scoring points.  I think the Jets will win but I don't see them winning by 10.  There's something in the back of my mind screaming UPSET.  I'm trying to ignore it.  After three nail biters, they are due for a stinker; a real befuddling loss.  Why?  Parity.
LOSS ~ 26-10 Jets

Have a glorious day!

After Game Comments:
* OK  I went 1-2 on the day.  Whatever..  The down-tick drops me to +21 for the season.
* The NFL's top scoring team just tacked on another 45 points today.  The Patriots are now 9-2.
* The Saints almost lost to Reggie Bush!  C'mon!
* The Bengals really suck!  ..and the J-E-T-S are now 9-2....also!
* The next Jets/Pats game is going to be insane!! (WEEK 13)
PIGSKIN WEEK 12 Sunday Bagels will be ready Saturday.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

N.Y. Knicks ~ You Don't Spell N.Y. With A Number

With 5 seconds left and the Knicks holding on to their precarious lead over the Bobcats, Amare Stoudemire lost his front uniform number.  But if you were watching, we all know his number was 6 tonight; six blocked shots.  Throw in his 20 points scored and 4-4 at the free throw line; including two clutch FTs to keep the Knicks ahead late, and what you have is "ONE" guy who is leading in word and deed.  He has been more The Man in character, player, and competitor than I ever gave him credit for (not necessarily written here).

I will say it now; I was one of the skeptical ones regarding Amare Stoudemire upon his signing.  If the first 16 games of the season are any indication, I couldn't have been more wrong regarding the magnitude of Amare's game, intensity, accountability and tonight specifically, his defense.

Since the night Amare challenged his teammates to elevate their games, the Knicks have won 5 in a row.

Of course we still know he can't do this by himself.  But more and more we are seeing the over-all Knickerbocker package in an improved state versus what we used to suffer for so long.  Players on this team are emerging into roles and filling them nicely.  There is an increasing cohesion and meshing of the 10 new players on this year's Knicks team. 

This 5 game streak should be viewed as nothing more than a five game streak in mid-November.  I myself am stuck on the fact we have no inside defense.  We still have a welcome mat in the paint.  And we often get out-rebounded.  You need a "Big Man" for that.  But that's a problem for tomorrow.  Tonight, the Knicks improved. 

They've been improving from game to game.  They are improved from last year and they are improved from three and five years ago.  This Knicks team is an improvement from almost a decade ago.

Forget the number missing from Amare's uniform tonight.  He'll be the first to tell you what's important now is that the uniform says NEW YORK and they're playing like a team.

...Number One, is alright by me. 

Let's keep improving.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NYMets ~ Have Pink Slip, Will Hire

BTB HQ ~ ManCave ~ BKN

Jeff Wilpon added the final "TOOL" to his reorganized management BOX today with the announcement of Terry Collins as his latest unemployed reclamation project.  The Son of 'Pon, thinking busy hands are happy hands, decided Terry Collins could be rehabilitated into a contributing member of Met Bizarro-Society rather than chain-ganging on litter removal detail along the Mets' portion of Adopt-A-Highway along the Grand Central P'way. 

After rescuing Sandy Alderson from his pseudo MLB employment, exiled in the Dominican Republic while attempting to find the true source of Jose Canseco's youthful looking skin, Jeff Wilpon the Benevolent devoted himself to saving Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi from emptying waste paper baskets and waxing floors at the Astoria Blvd. Tanning Salon.  Gaining legal custody of all three nomads of Baseball, Jeff the Younger quickly re-educated his Motley Crew in the fine arts of High Profile Low Expectation Mid Level Executive Mismanagement.

Satisfied with his triad's inability to quickly learn on the fly, Lil Jeff, C.O.O of Mets-R-Us, went about setting his trap to snare the cagey China Dragon; Terry Collins.

Today's announcement Terry Collins has finally been fitted with an ear tag and made part of the family completes The Younger Wilpon's radical renovations to the House of 'Pon.

Rejoice Met fans!  Just think, Our possibilities are LIMITED!!!  WooHoo!

No (not) really...Think about it:
*Sandy Alderson practically ran the 'Roid Lab of Jose&McG from his basement.
*J.P. Ricciardi was shoveling Blue Jay money at players like Toronto snow...and got canned.  Did I say Toronto?
*Paul DePodesta in L.A. got canned while he was in the middle of an extensive interview process seeking a new manager; Talk about timing!...which by the way included the China Dragon himself; Terry Collins.
*Terry Collins, as manager of the Angels...Mutiny?  And he quit his Chinese gig?  He quit his job as manager of a Chinese team...; in China?  Baseball?  Him?  China?  Quit?  C'mon!

Yes my fellow METroNoNsensuals, all the pieces are in place now that COOJEFF (pronounced like Cujo but with a Jeff at the end!) has pounded all the round pegs into the square holes.

Two things still remain.  Find another inconspicuous gambling degenerate with less body mass to take clubhouse bets without getting caught this time..., and fill the coaching ranks with personnel who will tell Ollie Perez he is doing a good job; tell Luis Castillo he's being considered for an extension; and tell Carlos Beltran the fans really do like him.

....Then..., our Victory over the Nation's PONY Leagues will be COMPLETE!!!!!


But really folks, the days of Jeff Bashing are sadly coming to a close.  I'm going to miss those days.  Sandy Alderson is going to ruin all the fun.  I'm taking my ball and going home.  I don't feel like making fun of him anymore.

Consider this Last Call at the C.O.O Saloon.

Be honest now, for a second you thought to yourself, "Oh My!  What have we done?"

Special shout to http://twitter.com/@koosman3669 who caught everyone in a mid-November Mets yawn tonight on his "CB-Radio".


Monday, November 22, 2010

N.Y. Rangers ~ Marty Biron Holding Down The Fort

...The Mighty Marty Biron that is.

Coach Torts gave the hot goalie another start tonight and Biron did not disappoint handing in a stellar game on his time sheet.  He is now 4-0 in his last four starts.  His fifth win tonight was perhaps his best effort so far.
He allowed only one goal while stopping 31 threatening shots by Calgary in the Ranger's' 2-1 victory tonight at MSG.  Jerome Igilna scored the 450th goal of his great career and damn nearly had #451 if it were not for Biron stonewalling him at the doorstep.  Fifteen of his saves came in tonight's third period.

Dan Girardi scored on a Power Play goal and Brian Boyle who had himself a superb over-all game, scored his 9th goal of the year giving the Rangers their two goals which were good enough to hold off Calgary.

This was a hard hitting affair and midway through the third period it got even more fierce.  Marc Staal absolutely obliterated Calgary's Matt Stajan with a mid-ice hit.

From that moment things got a little chippy.  But not for long.  In a not so subtle way but not nearly in an overt manner, Derek Boogaard took the ice and had the Flames forgetting whatever thoughts they had regarding taking a run at someone in retaliation for Staal's hit.  In a most refreshing way, I watched Boogaard settle Calgary's rambunctiousness with his mere presence.  They tried baiting him into a penalty, but he wouldn't bite; not without hitting someone if they dared drop gloves with him.  He was too smart for them and muted, like I said,  Calgary's chippiness post haste.  They thought better of Boog and opted for the Mood Management over a Boogaard straight right.

The enforcer role has not been played to it's perfection like it did tonight in MSG since the days when Nick Fotiu played here.  BOOOG! ~ could be heard raining down from the crowd.  BoooG! ~ indeed.

Derek Boogaard, you've found a home in N.Y.

The Free Sean Avery Society:
Sean Avery was burried again with only 8:34 of ice time.  That was second lowest on the team after Derek Boogaard.


N.Y. Giants ~ Big Blue Bird Droppings

New York Giants ~ Eagles Post Game Reaction, Take One;

If you were born in the 2000's, that's a good thing, as ignorance is bliss.  Stay young.  Being a passionate sports fan can be detrimental to your emotional development.  If you were born in the 1990's, this loss was devastating.  If you were born in the 1980's, you're probably just really angry right now.  And if you were born in the 1960's or 1970's, you know this game was just a "Giant" pot-hole in the street.  It might have dented the rims a little, but it shouldn't stop us from moving forward.  This Big Blue Bomber (anyone know the reference?) is still very operable people! 

If you read my previous posts, you know I was prepared for this outcome.  The Eagles defended their home field.  I expect to do the same when they visit in a few weeks.  All our problems, injuries withstanding, are ours to correct.  The situation remains in our hands to pass or fail.

Leading up to the game I said,
"A loss Sunday would knock the Giants out of first place.  A loss Sunday is survivable.  I believe we'll win the second game at home regardless.  It's rare to beat division rivals twice in the season.  But, do I believe we can beat the Eagles in their nest?  I believe it as surely as a pigeon can spot a newly washed car.  But, because of all our injuries, an awful-lot of things need to go our way.  This game can easily turn into something very bizarre like Hitchcock's "The Birds" no sooner than kick-off.
This traditional NFC East battle is not for the faint of heart."

I stand by that.  This game IS survivable and I do believe we will beat the Eagles when they visit in a few weeks.  This game was in our hands and we let it slip (er...flop..stumble) away.  We had numerous opportunities to win Sunday; we're a good team, with good coaching, good personnel and we're still in a good situation.  That is everything you want as a fan.  But as I foresaw, this game got freakishly bizarre.  It almost always is between us.  But there was nothing about this game that doesn't allow me to think we can beat Philadelphia.

This game pretty much played out the way I thought it would.  We are just the unfortunate ones who found ourselves on the wrong side of the score.  If you take a look at what concerned me about this game against the Eagles  last week, you'll save me a lot of time because I'm really not going to deviate from previous thoughts.

But let's get into some of it anyway. We needed to run the ball effectively.  We didn't.  Coach Gilbride tried to get the run game established.  I will credit him with that.  But with the entire left side of the Offensive-Line on the M*A*S*H squad, the Giants had zero forward surge.  The Eagles stopped our run game cold.  There were multiple reasons for that to be tackled in my next Giants posting.

I also said these things (redacted),
"He (Vick) can do what he can do and we're all a testament to that.  But riding a confidence level that is sky high right now, Vick's 'id' might be looking to do things he never thought he could before; - That's the scary aspect of "him".  Skill begs for great moments and his brain just might listen.

OK...relax.  Here's the other side.  We always managed to contain Vick before when he was with the Falcons.  That was a different day.  I'll give you that.  But somehow we've always managed him.  He didn't have a great camp or early start to the season.  Last week was a break-through game in an improving season for him but a bad day at the office just might be right around the corner too.

.....And most importantly, no turn-overs. In this game, who ever turns over the ball least, wins.

We all know the left side of the Offensive Line has been decimated by injuries and that fact may add wrinkles to the best laid plans to run the ball. I totally get that.
But this is a Giants-Eagles game. Usually the best prognostications are rendered stupid in this match-up. One freaky game is usually what ensues when these teams meet. These games are never pretty and to call them ugly is calling Phyllis Diller, Aphrodite. Fumbles, interceptions, safeties, penalties, hostilities, and the darnedest things you ever saw are all part of Giants/Eagles games. It's always been that way with these NFC East rivals."

The Giants defense did just that; contained Michael Vick.  Without the turn-overs, he doesn't compile his passing numbers.  There was a blocked FG attempt, a scary injury moment, and plenty of Blah blah...

So, what can I really add today other than to say, Let's move on from this game.  This wasn't as dire a loss as the talkies are making this out to be.  I am not close to letting previous season melt-downs creep into my thinking.  Coach Coughlin is not on the Hot Seat.  All is well here.  Go back to your farms now.  There's nothing more to see.

But I wish that was really true.  There is a lot to see, study and correct here.

The Special Teams continues to worsen. They went from being bad to being horrible. You can only side-step your problems for so long before they catch up to you.  Special Teams' play caught up with the Giants this week in a maddening way.

It's so cliche to say, and not very insightful, but I did say in my previews, "He who turns-over the ball least, will win."

Turn-Overs! ~ Fumbles ~ I hate bringing Tiki Barber into these conversations.  So, I'm not!  Ahmad Bradshaw; - Ya gotta love the guy.  But c'mon Dude!  Hold on to the ball.  I'm not going to spend time chastising #44.  He and Coach Coughlin I'm almost positive will be spending an inordinate amount of time correcting Bradshaw's propensity to fumble.

Turn-Overs! ~ Interceptions ~ Eli!?  Dude!?  You're my Duke.  I do not entertain talk regarding who is better than you, this, that or the other.  You are my guy.  Period.  Criticisms about you matter not to me.  You have my utmost confidence.  But you have to help me out.  What the hell was that?

What will we name this play? -  you know the one where Eli ran for a first down late in the game, dove forward and fumbled the ball however untouched by an Eagle player.

"The Stumble" ?
"The Trip" ?
"The Philly Flop" ?

What the....?

Whatever we name it, add it to the list of "the darnedest things you ever saw in a Giants/Eagles game".

My attention was on a great NY Rangers game tonight therefore I had trouble focusing and formulating this post.  I, admittedly, am all over the place and seem to be tripping over myself trying to describe what I watched last night.....like the Giants' play in Philly.

What a bad game.

What a bad post.

I'll try to be better in my next offering.  I hope the Giants will try harder too.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

N.Y. Mets ~ S.S. Wilpon Set To Hire New Skipper

METropoliS ~ We knew we weren't getting Wally.  It's "unofficially" time to rally around Terry Collins.  Shhhh!  I know.

Local scuttlebutt says The Mets seem ready to hire Terry Collins as their next manager.

At least it's not Bob Melvin.  If I didn't say that I wouldn't be true to myself.  I've been adamantly opposed to Bob Melvin for over a year now. 

Of the final four candidates I would have probably gone with Backman because I thought the other three gentlemen were just too inconsequential.  I did however express leeriness about a possible Backman appointment though, based purely on his qualifications.  But I, like everybody in attendance next Opening Day, would have risen and joined in a standing ovation at first sight of Wally coming out of the dugout as the new Mets' manager. 

Sadly, put that notion to bed now folks.  It was fun to ponder for a while.  It's time to get back to being "pragmatic" Met fans.

Actually, I'm a little bemused by the whole process.  I don't want to commit sacrilege speaking against Sandy Alderson, but honestly, the process left a little something to be desired for me.  I wasn't particularly thrilled with the master list of candidates.  I felt there were a few more names around the league that at least warranted an interview and I can't help myself from irresponsibly speculating there may be ulterior reasons why.  And since I'm being honest, I get a not so sweet taste of MoneyBall lingering in my mouth thinking that the manager really is subordinate to the edicts of statistical philosophy.  I like a manager with a little bit-o-Gut.  After all, I'm middle aged.

I'd be lying if I said the player mutiny against Terry Collins in Aneheim doesn't concern me.  That happened in DisneyHood.  Our little town has a slightly different temperament.  Within this organization alone we've seen players turn on Jeff Torborg,  Bobby Valentine and Willie Randolph.  In this city we've witnessed Roger Nielson, Don Nelson, Eric Mangini and even Tom Coughlin lose teams to near mutiny.  Only Tom Coughlin had the where-with-all to gain back respect and thrive here.  So we've seen Terry Collins' type here before.  Even Buck Showalter wore on his players.  Do you want to add Dallas Green [squared] to this list also?  Be my guest.

We know this much, Terry won't be yelling at anyone for not being able to drop down a bunt.  Giving away outs in MoneyBall is a no-no.  And I'm pretty much done with the Moneyball cracks.  That's not where I'm going.  I have full confidence Sandy Alderson will be flexible and creative enough to use the full resources of the Mets to the best of his ability and not marry the organization to a strict edict of statistical religiosity.

In other words, Sandy has my full confidence no matter who he hires.  That being said, Terry looks like he's the New Boss.  He certainly is different than the Old Boss.  If Sandy says it's Terry, then I say it's Terry too (however reluctantly).  I'm not waiting for him to slip so I can knock him.  Please; this is my team too.

Terry Collins basically represents an in-house promotion getting bumped up from minor league duties.  He is familiar with the young players on the roster.  That is a plus (I guess).  Here's another plus you may not like to hear.  He has no particular connection to "the core" of this team; namely Reyes and Wright.  Those two players are accustomed to getting pampered by this organization like two finely lotioned baby butt cheeks in a pair of Snuggies.  Maybe with someone like Terry Collins urging more from them and holding them to expectations, they might finally make the final break-through towards real genuine stardom.

We really don't know what Sandy Alderson's analysis and plans for the young players are.  Do Mike Pelfrey, Josh Thole, Jon Niese, Ike Davis, Bobby Parnell, Hennry Mejia and others form a new future core of players or are they trade bait?  Until that gains focus, it's hard to gauge what kind of impact a personality like Terry Collins' will have on the overall roster; veteran and prospect alike.

Wally Backman was a better known variable to us personally than Terry Collins is.  We all knew what we would have been in for hiring Wally Backman to be skipper.  We all envisioned good times in a new Era with our little Wally "McGraw".  I also think everyone was aware Wally at any moment could have gone Billy Martin on us too; and I don't mean Good Billy.  That's why there won't be too much commotion or resistance to Terry Collins regardless what we really think.

I think we all know Sandy knows what's better for us than we do.  We're fans.  Let's stick to that.  Wally was a very emotional choice on our part.  Many of us knew that also.  Heck,  I would have given the job to John Stearns!  But that's me; not Sandy Alderson.  And that in the end, is best for the Mets. 

In the end, that makes it good for us.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

N.J. DEVILS ~ Adding Injury to Insults; Pat Burns

Big Boss Lou Lamoriello added his voice to the conversation taking place about his team's current, on going dilemma, being, they suck.  Big Lou indicated flatly Coach John MacLean is not the problem with the Devils.  He placed the onus squarely on the player's performances.  After twenty games played Big Lou is calling on his star players to play like such.  He's calling on the rest of the cast to know their roles and execute.

But now the Devils find themselves without the services of Martin Brodeur for a few weeks as he needs time to heal his re-injured elbow; originally re-aggravated by a shot off the arm.  So add injury to an already futile defense effort which is no doubt insulting the Devil's fan base's long time sensibilities regarding how this game gets played. 

The once unilaterally effective, system oriented, interchangeable parts churned out by DEVIL Corp., no longer fit this once proud (Animal House) Death Mobile.  Now, this reconfigured machine...No!.. Instead, this assemblage of incompatible body parts play hockey more like Dr. Frankenstein's mismatched Monster on skates.

Tonight they play a very good St. Louis Blues team.  And I'm afraid things will no doubt get a little worse before things get better for Jersey.  I don't just mean on the ice either.  Their poor 5-12-1 start this season can not be written off to injury.  They've earned their subterranean spot in the standings with a non-existent defensive effort and a core of star players currently MIA. Twenty games is one fourth of the season and therefore a sizable body of work with which to scrutinize. 

A great majority of the fan base is still in shock over this assault to their Devil Fan indoctrination.  Such ineptitude was thought to have been "exorcised" back in the 80s.  But when said majority start to snap out of their haze, sooner than later, they may very well turn into an angry mob.

Coach John MacLean turns 46 years old today.  As far as it being a Happy Birthday...?  That will be decided tonight after we get a final score from St. Louis.

BLUES    3

Post Game ~ Grit your teeth and bare the pain like men.  That's how you handle this.  Don't whine; No snivelling.  Stay professional and humble, say the right things and keep trying hard.

The Devils are now 5-13-1.  New Jersey has scored a mere 36 goals in 20 games to start the season.  There's wry achievement in there somewhere.  The defense was expected to be of lesser caliber coming into the season.  No one expected it would be this bad.  But what is utterly astonishing is the lack of offense highlighted by the stat I just offered.

Take tonight for instance; the Devils got their two goals from David Clarkson and Mattias Tedenby.  Why not just give Bill and Ted a stick and skates and let them take a "most excellent" chance on the first line?  Where is Gionta?  Elias?  Zajac?  Arnott?  Kovalchuk?  Parise?

That's what Lou Lamoriello wants to know.

PAT BURNS ~ Rest Well.
Former New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup Champion Coach and NHL Titan, Pat Burns, has passed away at the age of 58 after a long complicated bout with cancer.  The NHL Hall of Fame erred terribly by not paying Pat Burns his due respect and recognition while he was still with us by inducting him into the Hall.  I for one thought Pat Burns was one of the Elite Coaches of my lifetime.  My condolences to his loved ones, family and friends.  Rest Well Pat.

I chose the following ARTICLE from the Montreal Gazette.  After reading it I'm sure you'll agree with my selection.  I read many works over the last two days.  This one speaks best.


NYRangers ~ Trounced in Denver; Go Wild Tonight

New York Rangers:
Rocky Mountain Beat-Down.
N.Y. Rangers 1;  COLORADO Avalanche 5

The best part of last night is we have a quick turn around and play tonight against the WILD.  A short memory will serve everyone well after last night's drubbing at the hands of the Avalanche in Denver.  Of course it wasn't the ideal way to start this Western swing.  But we should expect this kind of a game every week and a half to two weeks, or so.  Look back at the schedule and last year's too.  They come like clock-work.  Even the ancient Mayans could have planned accurately around a Henrik Lundqvist stinker.

But if we all thought the Rangers were an 8th or 7th seed team early in October, then last night shouldn't be freaking you out.  Be cool about this.  Just remember; You can't be disappointed with what you don't expect.  If you have no expectations of grandeur for this team, there will be no disappointment.  I hope winning three of four prior to last night didn't get you too carried away.  I can't speak for myself.

So let's just forget it.  Dissecting a game like that is maddening.  There was so much to criticize.
Me personally, I'd start with Michael Del Zotto and his frighteningly bad defense and decision process.  But I'm going to cut the kid some slack and just say he's been horrible.  But our follies in the Neutral Zone have me sweeping my hair off the floor and the Power Play is missing like O.J. Simpson's Black Bag.

Torts gave Sean Avery almost 15:00 of ice time last night.  While he didn't exactly cash-in with the increased playing time, I'm glad to see Coach Torts let Avery off the leash for some quality time. 

Chris Drury is coming back soon, as will Prospal.  There will be decisions Torts and Glen Sather will have to make.  I'm going to start now and voice my want to have Drury and Avery play on a line together.  Christensen might be odd man out when Drury returns, but it's a pretty decent problem to have.  Obviously Torts has instituted Dunbinsky-Anisimov-Callahan as the top line, as well they should be.  Gaborik's line may still be a work in progress and since there is tinkering to be made, I'd like to see Frolov joined with Drury and Avery on the third line together.  This is something I'm going to be flapping about a lot more.  It looked like Torts was burying Sean Avery, and he has been, but the time received last night was a surprise to me.  So, since Avery isn't exactly shackled inside Torts' dog house, let's be creative.


New York Rangers
Minnesota Wild
"Land of 10,000 Lakes"

WILD          2

A Solid Bounce Back Victory.  Biron the Dependable!
Marty Biron continues to be a superlative back-up to Henrik Lundqvist.  After Torts pulled Henrik from last night's contest at roughly the 7:30 mark of the second period, a night like tonight and a back-up performance like Biron's was sorely needed not to mention timely.  Coach Torts said this was a scheduled start for Biron.

OK Coach.  If you say so.

The Rangers played a much smarter, crisper game tonight, except for allowing a short handed goal with 7 minutes left in the third period and then a bad angle shot off a face-off. 

For a second it looked as if someone flicked on the "melt-down" switch with 4:30 left.  The Wild had another shot on goal at Biron's doorstep.  Then at 2:15 left, the Rangers put the Wild on the Power Play when Del Zotto got whistled.  The Wild pulled the goalie for the extra skater.  They fired off a slew of shots on goal before running out of time..  Game over.

The Rangers played a solid 53:00 minutes of hockey tonight.  Things got a little strange over the last seven.  But this win still is a three fold improvement over last night.  Let it reinforce why we should be deleting yesterday's loss to Colorado from our re-callable memory.

**Sean Avery played 9:04 tonight; the second lowest on the team after Boogaard.

Tonight's Ranger goal scorers:
Anisimov (7)  sweeter
Del Zotto (2)  sweet
Frolov (5)
Dubinsky (12)  sweetest goal of the night.
Fedotenko (4)

Next up ~ Calgary Flames at MSG.  Monday; November 22, 2010


PIGSKIN ~ WEEK 11 ~ The GIANT Fight For First

Welcome to the WEEK 11 Big BAGEL Roll-Out.  Last week family matters didn't allow me to post my picks before Sunday's games.  In Week 9 however, I had my best Sunday of the season even though I lost my first Lock of the Week.

Last week I was 7-3-1 for the Sunday games.  My record for Shmear of the Week is now 7-1 with the loss.
The Sunday games are worth one Bagel each and the Shmear of the Week is worth 3 Bagels. 

I am now +13 Bagels for the season which really means I am .500 on my picks and living large on the success of my Shmear picks.

The WEEK 11 BAGEL Roll-Out:
(Saturday's NYDN Line)

JETS -7 (Texans)
Winning a pair of games in O.T. can do a lot to boost Sanchez' confidence.  Jets have gotten big breaks but have maximized the opportunities.  They'll make their own breaks this time for a convincing win.
LOSS ~ 30-27 Jets

Giants +3 (EAGLES)
This pick is strictly from the heart.  The Eagles laying three at home?  What does that tell you?  Vegas doesn't like them that much either.  I smell a PUSH.  So why not take the points?
LOSS ~ 27-17 Eagles

STEELERS -7 (Raiders)
I've been riding the Raiders with much success.  They've been raining points upon their opponents lately.  But they haven't played a defense like PITT's.  It will be "Terrible" for the Raiders on the road.
WIN ~ 35-3 Steelers

Ravens -11 (PANTHERS)
When it rains, it pours!  Coach John Fox is left re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  His team has quit on him.  This will be ugly.  The Ravens will have zero sympathy.  Lay the points in a romp.  The spread moved up a point from 10 yesterday.  That means even more people like the Ravens.
WIN ~ 37-13 Ravens

Redskins +7 (TITANS)
What's more discouraging than losing badly to Michael Vick's solo efforts?  Answer ~ losing again the following week in a close game.  The Skins will cover but lose.  Every time Daniel Snyder spends money they get worse (see McNabb contract).
WIN ~ 19-16 Redskins

COWBOYS -7 (Lions)
Will the real Cowboys please stand up?  Both teams are playing for pride but Dallas is vastly more skilled.  This may be a blow-out.
WIN ~ 35-19 Cowboys

Packers -3 (VIKINGS)
What Vegas is really saying is Minnesota is done and Green Bay will win by a touchdown.
WIN ~ 31-3 Packers

BENGALS -5 1/2 (Bills)
What reason would you have to believe the Bengals aren't 5 1/2 points better then the Bills?  The Bills first win isn't enough for me.
LOSS ~ 49-31 Bills

Browns +1 1/2 (JAGUARS)
I went with CLEV early in the season and lost.  Then I turned against them and lost.  The Jags were too lucky last week and laying *2 at home proves it.  The Browns aren't the same team they were in first three weeks of season.  Today they shaved 1/2 point from yesterday's line.  That rates as a 'BUY';  Browns win.
LOSS ~ 24-20 Jaguars

Cardinals +8 (CHIEFS)
That's a lot of points to be laying for a team getting worse (Chiefs).
LOSS ~ 31-13 Chiefs

SAINTS -12 (Seahawks)
Seattle can't score and the Saints can...and are home.  This seems way simple...(?)
WIN ~ 34-19 Saints

Falcons -3 (RAMS)
Coach Spags has the Rams playing good defense but the Rams won't be within three points.  This won't be a trap-game for ATL.
WIN ~ 34-17 Falcons

Bucs +3 1/2 (49ERS)
There is always at least one game a week that makes you scratch your head...asking yourself, "Huh?"
WIN ~ 21-0 Bucs

PATRIOTS -3 (Colts)
I like the Pats at home.  Peyton Manning has kept his team in the mix with mirrors.  There will be none of that Sunday against Coach Belichick.
PUSH ~ 31-28 Patriots

That's 14 more Bagels into the oven.

Falcons -3 (RAMS)

*Post Games ~ Sunday Re-Cap:
(Before the Giants vs. Eagles game)
8 WINS  4 LOSSES  1 PUSH   That makes me +21 Bagels!

I hit on the SHMEAR OF THE WEEK with the Falcons. 
That makes me 8-1 for the season on the Shmear.  The Shmear is a 3 Bagel game.
That makes me +24 Bagels on the season! After Giants game drops me to +23.

*I can't believe I got burned with the Browns...again!  I've been wrong about them every game this year. 
*What's gotten into the Bills lately?!
*Who the hell thought the 49ers should have been favored in that game?
*The Saints and Ravens were laying a lot of wood, and I nailed em.
*Freakin' JETS!  What the hell was that all about?
*I told you the Raiders were in for a "Terrible" time.
*The K.C. Chiefs called to tell me, "Shut your mouth"!
*Minnesota Vikings ~ R.I.P.

N.Y. Football Giants ~ Pre-Game:
The Birds; Battling Our Old Rivals for First Place.

If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck...., odds are it's the Eagles. And this game against Philly represents our most important game of the year. Let's call this game for what it is, shall we?

In my lifetime, it all started with Joe Pisarcik, Herm Edwards and "The Fumble".  Ron Jarworski and Randall Cunningham; Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick today; since the days of Harold Carmichael, Reggie White and Seth Joyner and even Brian Westbrook in more recent times, this Eagles team, for ever and a day, has represented nothing less than nightmarish Sundays for me.

This is the game heading into Thanksgiving which will decide who is in first place for the Holiday.  There! That wasn't as scary to say as it seemed now did it?  A loss Sunday would knock the Giants out of first place.  A loss Sunday is survivable.  I believe we'll win the second game at home regardless.  It's rare to beat division rivals twice in the season.  But do I believe we can beat the Eagles in their nest?  I believe it as surely as a pigeon can spot a newly washed car.  But because of all our injuries, an awful-lot of things need to go our way.  This game can easily turn into something very bizarre like Hitchcock's The Birds no sooner than kick-off.

This traditional NFC East battle is not for the faint of heart.  As a Football fan with a team in the NFC East, I wouldn't have it any other way.

The battles over the last 30 years between our Giants and our inner-division rivals have been nothing short of classic.  Without thinking too much about the final outcome, it's been one of my greatest joys as a Football fan, looking forward to games like this Sunday night's.  The battles over the years have been memorable to say the least.

There are few things better than having all the NFC East teams playing at high competitive levels together.  This division, Big Blue, my hatred for the other teams we play twice a year and the long histories of the Giants, Eagles and Redskins organizations, including the Cowboys, are what truly drive me as a fan.

Games like tomorrow are what great seasons are made of.  For me, the ride is so much more enjoyable than the arrival at one's destination.  But if there are greater moments in the Giants' near future, you look back on a game like this and say, "Damn!  That was great; Remember that?!  Autumn is the greatest time of year and Sunday's game is a supreme reason why.

However, as colorful as I try to paint this picture, the reality is this game is never fun until it's over..., and we win.

If you care to catch up with my last two posts leading up to this game, check them out HERE and HERE.

Enjoy Football Sunday!

November 21, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles
"The LINC",  South Philadelphia


N.Y. Aviators Out of the Clouds

I told you a little home cooking would do our Boyz fine. 

After "The Coolest Guys in Brooklyn" started the season 0-3, they stabilized going 2-2 over the next four games.  All seven games were on the road.  Now with Thursday night's victory over second place Danbury, the A's have a three game winning streak going away, with all three wins coming at home; their first three home games of the year.  They now go back on the road having corrected their faulty start.

They chipped their way out of last place and their ten points after ten games is now good for third place in the standings.  They've only given up 31 goals in 10 games which rates them second in the League in that category.

The Akwesasne Warriors still lead the Federal League with an 8-3 record.  They've practically doubled N.Y.'s offensive output scoring 60 goals thus far.  However the Aviators are sporting a tighter defense as the Warriors have allowed 45 goals against.

AVIATORS Scoring Leaders:
* RW ~ Matthew Puntureri ~ 10 games; 6 goals; 10 points.
* C ~ John Goffredo ~ 10 games; 5 goals; 10 points.
* D ~ Andrew Scampoli ~ 10 games; 6 goals; 9 points.
* RW ~ Casey Mignone ~ 8 games; 6 goals; 8 points;  +7

Saturday 20 November 2010
Danbury, Connecticut

The Coolest Guys in Brooklyn


Friday, November 19, 2010

NYMets ~ There's Backman...and everyone else.

The interviews are finished.  General Manager Sandy Alderson has said he will announce the next manager for the New York Mets either Sunday or Monday.

I haven't been wow'd by any candidate.  No one really stands out for me.  I think part of the sentimentality for Backman is lack of a stand out candidate.  If I'm choosing from the list of final four, I'm with Backman too.  And it's not because I really want him, it's just the other guys seem so inconsequential to me.  But Backman is also one of those cats who is nothing without Baseball.  He needs Baseball to exist.  There's been many great managers in Baseball history cut from that mold.  You have to admit Wally fits a profile.  I'll keep it local too and I don't think it's hyperbole to just toss this around for fun; Billy Martin, John McGraw, Leo the Lip, even Casey who manipulated the platoon system before they had a name for it, were all unconventional loners, kooks and boorish but at the same time brilliant managers.  From once being 'marginal' players, they get their starts somewhere.

The case for Wally Backman based on the Davey Johnson model is a little off.  That comparison would be a better match describing Tim Teufel.  Davey Johnson didn't have MLB experience when called upon to manage the Mets.  But when he did get his opportunity, no potential manager was more familiar with all the Mets' call-ups than him as he was their manager down below on the farm.  Many of the younger players on today's roster are more familiar with Tim Teufel, having played for him either in Brooklyn or Binghampton, than they are Wally Backman.

The Davey Johnson model is additionally not appropriate for Wally Backman because Frank Cashen, then GM of the Mets, was all too familiar with Davey Johnson since their days together in Baltimore.  So, Davey Johnson was indeed a manager in training and waiting.  Sandy Alderson and Wally Backman have no such prior relationship.

I find it very odd, as in a solar eclipse 'odd',  this remarkably transformed Front Office orchestrated a very bland managerial search which included very hum-drum candidates.

Who ever Sandy hires will have my full support regardless.  Don't worry, I have my goggles on.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


N.Y. Islanders ~ The Ghosts of Uniondale:

Chris Botta, a long-time employee of the New York Islanders and author of the team's blog, had his press credentials revoked by the team. There are still so many loose ends to this story and it appears as if there will be consequences and repercussions for this course of action. But initial reports say the move came on the heals of critical comments made by Botta on the team's blog page.

Without the Light House project, things just keep getting darker and darker in Uniondale for the New York Islanders Hockey Club.  Now the situation for them has taken a turn towards the absurd.  Click the link, check out Bruce Ciskie's article on nhl.fanhouse.com and get updated on this story.

The problems the Islanders face are so far from the realm of Chris Botta's imagination, yet this is what they chose to devote their time to.

*They are trapped in a dilapidated arena till the year 2015.
*Their prospects for the Lighthouse Project ever getting approved are pretty much dead.
*Charles Wang is hemorrhaging his own personal monies trying to keep the Islanders afloat in their present situation....after over a decade and a half of crooked ownership, Mike Millbury and futility.
*Nassau County served Charles Wang with a slap in the face engaging in talks to bring Atlantic League Baseball to Nassau County.  Read about that development HERE.  As part of Wang's original idea, he and Fred Wilpon entertained the idea the Light House would also host a AA-class baseball team for the Mets.
*In July of 2009 Charles Wang even expressed dismay for purchasing the team in a Newsday article.

*Islanders hire their back-up goalie to be their General Manager.  Really?

*After their 10th consecutive loss they resorted to firing Head Coach Scott Gordon.

*In their first game under a new coach, they extended their losing streak to 11 games.
*In their last home game the arena was hauntingly empty with less than 5,000 fans in attendance.

The four-time Stanley Cup Champions are in dire straights.  Take a visit to Light House Hockey for some more in-depth reading about the Islanders' newest dilemma.

Post Script:
As a New York Rangers fan, I'd like to see the Islanders have all their troubles corrected and have them stay in the area.  Whether they remain in Long Island or come to Brooklyn and play in the Barclays Center, or even if Charles Wang and Fred Wilpon can strike a deal to bring the Islanders to Queens, it's in the NHL's best interest to do their part and ensure they stay viable and remain in the NYC area.  It's a shame what's happened to the franchise.


NYG ~ Big Blue Week 11 Preview ~ Here Come the EAGLES

Look for a typically wacky game this week between these old NFC East Rivals.

The last game played by the Giants (vs. Dallas) and the last played by the Eagles (vs. Washington) couldn't be two worse games to gauge the upcoming Giants/Eagles game by.  We saw the Giants at their season's worst and the Eagles played arguably at their best.  Will the Giants look as bad this week as they did against the Cowboys?  Will the Eagles look as good as they did against the Redskins?  The answer to both questions is ~ I doubt it.  These teams will probably meet somewhere in the middle and turn this into an old fashioned school yard fight.

Before I continue though, there's a little matter I'd like to get off my chest. 

If you've been reading this blog as I follow the Giants this season, you know all year long I've been howling about the running game and Brandon Jacobs in particular.  I've been getting "Blue" in the face talking about Coach Gilbride's unnecessary and rambunctious pass calling at times.  I've been going on ad-nausea about how Coach Gilbride needs to take steps towards playing Football in December by making a change in his philosophy and featuring the running game more.  I voiced all those complaints while we were winning.  We are now at the point of the season when a team must dominate 3rd and short and 4th and short situations.  You only dominate those situations with a power running game.

Today we are ill prepared for that situation because Coach Gilbride didn't make his in-season adjustment to the cold weather game yet; if he does at all.  On this Giants team with this offensive line and this compliment of running backs the running game needed to be instituted as it's bread and butter weeks ago.  Our failure to control short yardage was glaringly evident versus Dallas as we could not execute on 4th and 1 late in the game.

So what's my point and what is my "matter"?  Well, the media all of a sudden is calling for the Giants to implement a game plan similar to the one that won them Super Bowl XXV and Super Bowl XLII; a power running game, ball control, clock management by winning time of possession, and keeping Vick off the field.  That's what the experts are saying about this week's game.


From the the desks of Obvious; Really?  Welcome to last month!  Why don't we just game-plan every game like a Super Bowl?  It's ponderous how we don't win every game if all you have to do is write it into the script.  It's not my want to take jabs at the media and I rarely, if ever do.  I just call them up directly to air my grievances.  But this struck me as a lay-up because I've been calling for a change in the Giants' attack since.....You've been reading; you tell me.  I'm done.      .....the game....

The Captains of Obvious are right.  We need to pound this football on the ground all day long.  Pound out yardage on the ground, get first downs, keep the clock running and Michael Vick off the field.  Take your shots down field when the situations arise instead of forcing the passing game.  And most importantly, no turn-overs.  In this game, who ever turns over the ball least, wins.

We all know the left side of the Offensive Line has been decimated by injuries and that fact may add wrinkles to the best laid plans to run the ball.  I totally get that.

But this is a Giants-Eagles game.  Usually the best prognostications are rendered stupid in this match-up.  One freaky game is usually what ensues when these teams meet.  These games are never pretty and to call them ugly is calling Phyllis Diller, Aphrodite.  Fumbles, interceptions, safeties, penalties, hostilities, and the darnedest things you ever saw are all part of Giants/Eagles games.  It's always been that way with these NFC East rivals.

If we can't keep Vick off the field with the running game or we keep turning over the ball, Michael Vick poses a very real problem for the Giants this week.  That big problem is Vick's confidence level; not his skill level.  He can do what he can do and we're all a testament to that.  But riding a confidence level that is sky high right now, Vick's 'id' might be looking to do things he never thought he could before; - That's the scary aspect of "him".  Skill begs for great moments and his brain just might listen.

OK...relax.  Here's the other side.  We always managed to contain Vick before when he was with the Falcons.  That was a different day.  I'll give you that.  But somehow we've always managed him.  He didn't have a great camp or early start to the season.  Last week was a break-through game in an improving season for him but a bad day at the office just might be right around the corner too.


This is the week for the linebackers to make a name for themselves.  This quiet and surprisingly effective group must now be a unit the entire team can lean on for a week.  The Giants need to play Vick as straight-up traditional as can be, - as if you were teaching Defense 101 to horticulturalists and drawing it up on a chalk board..  I'm talking no gimmicks, minimal blitzing and 1950s era positioning.

The front four need to keep Vick in front of them and in the middle of the field.  The secondary needs to keep their eyes glued to the whites of the receiver's eyes without a blink and blanket them as long as they can.  The Linebackers need to keep Vick from running outside, escaping inside when the pocket slides past him, and prevent him from just running wild in general and improvising plays.  The key to beating Vick this week from a defensive point of view will be how our linebackers read and react to Vick.  In short form, that's what I think.  For this type of quarterback I myself would use a 3-4 defense.  But we know that's not what the Giants do, so their hands will be full.

Why play him straight up and show him old school schemes?  He'll pick apart our aggression at the line of scrimmage.  We'll get 'pass to the backs' and 'screen-passed' to death.  QB's like to identify and single out safeties.  This week I say it will be one our linebackers who will wind up getting singled out and attempts to exploit him will be made all game long; not the secondary like most fear.  Michael Boley, Jon Goff, Keith Bullock, Clint Sintim....?  This is the week "the game" finds them.  I hope what ever Perry Fewell and Coach Coughlin bickered about last week is resolved.  Perry Fewell will be facing his biggest test as Giants' Defensive Coordinator this week against a soaring Eagles team.  His schemes as much as his defensive players' efforts will play a large role in this game.  I would just caution against over aggression this game versus Michael Vick.

Injuries; We got em. We have a bunch of em; just like everybody else.  So..., the last comment of the day goes to the Special Teams.  They've been flat out rotten but we've gotten around it.  This may be a game when their sub-par play comes back to haunt the Giants.