Friday, September 30, 2011

N.Y. Yankees ~ Mother Nature Said Not Tonight

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY



Detroit Tigers
(SP-Justin Verlander)
New York Yankees
(SP-C.C. Sabathia)

161st Street and River Avenue
Bronx, NYC

New York Yankees:  GAME CALLED.

Delmon Young quieted the Yankee crowd post haste with a first inning home run off CC Sabathia.  By the time Detroit's Justin Verlander took the mound in the bottom half of the inning, rain started to fall further dampening the Yankee crowd's spirits even more.  But then the Yankees tied the game at one when Derek Jeter slid home, and everyone was supremely confident again.

The skies started to pour as the umpires stood their ground with arms folded.  CC finished off the Tigers in the top of the second; striking out his fourth batter in two innings.

Puddles were forming in the dirt as the Yankees headed to the dugout for their turn at-bat in the bottom half of the inning.  But the tarp beat them onto the field.  By 10:30pm the game was postponed.

A feature match up between two League aces; wasted.  Now both managers must scramble to reset their starting rotations.

Game called.


PIGSKIN ~ Football Sunday; Week Four


Over-all record:  21-19-3
Week Three Record:  7-8-0
Week Two Record:  10-4-1
Week One Record:  4-7-2
SHMEAR of the WEEK:  0-3
BAGELS in the BASKET:  -10

OH!...for three on the SHMEAR?  C'mon.  I gotta make better choices with my Bagels man. 

*I went against the Giants and paid for it.  Shame on me.

*I continue to let myself get hit over the head by the Cleveland Browns as if I was in a Tom and Jerry cartoon or something.

*If someone had told us before the season there would be three undefeated teams left after Week Three and that Buffalo and Detroit would be two of them, we would have accused them of TWI; Thinking While Intoxicated -  Or..., PUI; Predicting Under The Influence.

*How did you like my Raiders over Jets pick last week?

Let's do this.

WEEK FOUR  ~  The Big Bagel Roll Out:
(Friday's Line; NYDN)

Giants -1 1/2 (CARDINALS)
Even with all the Giants' injuries, they still have enough personnel on the field to win consistently.  This is a game about not beating themselves with turnovers or getting cocky over last week.  I think the Giants know what's up Sunday.

WIN ~ 31-27; GIANTS - Big Blue caught a Big Break.

RAVENS -3 1/2 (Jets)
What the Jets need is a little more adversity.  Baltimore will give it to them.  Chicks dig guys with bruises and stitches.  Rex gets that.  And so will Sanchez again this Sunday.  Embrace the pain Mark.  There's more on the way.  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  That's when the Jets will be at their best.  But not this week.  Not yet.  They need to sink lower, before they can pick themselves up again and look like heroes.  This must continue to be a road trip from hell first.  Next week is N.E.

WIN ~ 34-17; RAVENS - I told you it was going to hurt.

Lions +1 1/2 (COWBOYS)
Vegas thinks that little of Dallas at home?  No Romo; No Chance.  But I was still going to continue riding the Lions like a mule anyway.  The Cowboys will lose another big game in Big Texas.  Roar!

WIN ~ 34-30; LIONS - Nothing is finer than a Cowboys or Eagles loss.  What a comeback!

Saints -7 (JAGUARS)
Why isn't this spread larger?  Is there something I don't know?  WHO DAT who thinks it will be that close?  The Jags are the second most offensively futile team in Football.

WIN ~ 23-10; SAINTS - The Jags point totals are dreadful this season.

EAGLES -8 1/2 (49ers)
I hate the Eagles.  If I thought the 49ers were capable of scoring 19 points this game, I'd pick em.  But I don't.  If Vick gets knocked out of the game again, everything changes.  49ers are stiff against the run.

LOSS ~ 24-23; 49ERS - See Cowboys game!  What a great gain for the Giants.  Philly is fumbling and stumbling.

RAMS +2 (Redskins)
Yeah!  This is the week Coach Spags and the Rams get their first win by making the Redskins look like another failed stimulus package out of Washington.  Coach Spags knows this team too well.  He's going to make Coach Shannahan look like a Sleestak by games' end.

LOSS ~ 17-10; REDSKINS - OK, maybe not.  But I'm still waiting for Washington to tank.

Titans +1 1/2 (BROWNS)
I'm still dying to take the Browns!  I'm salivating like Pavlov's dog.

WIN ~ 31-13; TITANS - I'm so happy I resisted the temptation.

Bills -3 (BENGALS)
The Bills will remain undefeated.  The Bengals will continue to disappoint their fans in their own home.  But remember what I say about the Bengals; they ruin everything.  Watch them do something dumb like score four touchdowns in the air.  Stay away from this game.

LOSS ~ 23-20; BENGALS - I keep telling you...the Bengals ruin everything.

Vikings -1 1/2 (CHIEFS)
The Week Four Toilet Bowl is brought to you by the makers of Who Cares.  ...Only because Minny's loser; Donovan McNabb; is better than Kansas City's loser; the Invisible Man.  Make an appointment with your doctor now for the broken neck you'll suffer trying to stay awake watching this game.  Set your alarm clocks too so you don't miss the late game and remind yourselves your still alive.

LOSS ~ 22-17; CHIEFS - I hate having to pick between crappy teams.

BEARS -6 (Panthers)
This is one of those weeks when the Bears show everyone how good they can be, while the Panthers prove how inconsistent they can be.  This game is an enigma.  In bear speak, this game is a berry.  Eat it; they taste good.  Lay the points.

LOSS ~ 34-29; BEARS - Didn't miss it by much.  Cam Newton is sick!

Steelers +4 (TEXANS)
I am so dying to take the Texans in this one.  I really think they are going to jack up the Steelers.  But I'm stuck a platform late at night some where waiting for a train that hasn't come yet. When will the Steelers snap out of it?  I'll take four points and my chances with that.

LOSS ~ 17-10; TEXANS - Texans should have blown them out.  And they did "jack-up" the Steelers.  I knew I should have picked them.

Falcons -4 1/2 (SEAHAWKS)
While everyone is wondering when the Falcons will show up, I just hope these two Birds gouge each other's eyes out.  The Giants have to play in Seattle next week.

LOSS ~ 30-28; FALCONS - the Atlanta Birds won, but I don't get what their problem is.

CHARGERS -7 1/2 (Dolphins)
Dolphins are not fish.  They're mammals, and are intelligent; and have feelings.  The Chargers are really needing a Feel Good game right now.  Last week's win against K.C. was nothing to brag about.  They need to demolish some one before they feel good about another uninspiring start.  For Miami, things always get worse before they get better.  Good luck with that.

WIN ~ 26-16; CHARGERS - This was still an un-impressive win.

PACKERS -13 (Broncos)
I don't think the Broncos have a chance anything.  Don't you know horses are lactose intolerant?  Break out the brats and brew; Lay the cheese.

WIN ~ 49-23; PACKERS - How did the Broncos score that many?

Patriots -4 (RAIDERS)
Bill Belichick will not get embarrassed two weeks in a row.  Two out of three?  You have a shot.  Two in a row?  No.  The Stadium of Doctor (Al Davis) Moreau will be awfully quiet Sunday.  Oakland's Black Hole will look like a back lot union break on an MGM Studio shooting a Halloween special. 

WIN ~ 31-19; PATRIOTS - Happy Halloween!

SHMEAR of the WEEK:  (0-3)
Falcons -4 1/2 (SEAHAWKS)  LOSS!!!!
Jeeeez!  0-4

That's fifteen bagels; and the SHMEAR makes eighteen Bagels into the oven.

Happy Football Sunday everyone.  Good Luck.

Week Four Record:  8-7-0
Overall Record:  29-26-3
SHMEAR of the WEEK:  0-4 !!!
BAGELS in the BASKET:  -12

I'm getting hammered on my SHMEAR Picks!


L.I. Ducks ~ Championship Series Shifts To York Tied 1-1

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Championship Series



York Revolution (1-1)

Some Park out in Pennsylvania

LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Things to Ponder on the Bus Ride to Game Three.

There's a tired overly used phrase that has probably never been more appropriate in describing the Ducks' post-season thus far.  They are following a similar script they followed in clinching round one.  With the Ducks hoping it's more a sign of good fortune ahead instead of an omen...,  there's an overwhelming sense of -  Here we go again.

With Mike Loree pitching a successful opening game victory in the divisional round, Josh Banks followed up with a disappointing start as the Ducks lost Game Two.  Long Island then went on the road after splitting the first two games at home and eliminated the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in four games.

After Mike Loree's successful opening game victory in the Atlantic League Championship Series Wednesday night against the York Revolution, Josh Banks followed up with another abysmal start in Game Two.  The Ducks split the first two games at home, and by choice will take the now best two out of three series on the road to York, Pennsylvania where a League Champion will be crowned.

The start to both rounds almost mirror each other, but are all together unsettling for Duck Fans.  Long Island will send Bob Zimmermann to the mound looking to avoid getting put into an elimination situation on Saturday.  The strategy worked for them in the first round as the Ducks won the first two games on the road to clinch the Liberty Division pennant.  So, here's to hoping the plan works out for them again over the weekend.  Game Three is Friday night in a place the Ducks won four games and lost five during the regular season.

After Mike Loree halted the Revolution in Long Island Wednesday, York mounted a successful counter-attack Thursday evening with a 9-0 sacking of the Ducks.  Josh Banks lasted a mere 2.1 innings and faced only thirteen batters.  After a five hit power surge that netted York six earned runs, Ruddy Lugo was forced into long relief by the third inning.  But one run or nine runs would have sufficed for York.  The Long Island Ducks were held to zero in Game Two.

It may not happen often in a Championship Series; I don't know; but it's seems natural the League's best two teams could trade shut-outs over the first two games; that is, without knowing the particulars of this series.  But the Ducks have now officially been outscored 9-1 over two games.  So what gives?  The potent Long Island Nine have been effectively shut-down over the first two games by Nick Schumacher and Lorenzo Barcelo; not exactly Spahn and Saine.  Neither pitcher was York's best.  He's still coming.  The fact remains, Game Two's shut-out loss comes on the heals of getting held to one run on four hits in Game One.  The League's top offensive team has been held to ten hits in the series so far.

Mike Loree was able to make his lone run of Ducks' support hold up.  That's what aces do.  But Josh Banks had no such luck in Game Two.  Three home runs in the first three innings by the Revolution were more than enough to quiet the Ducks and their crowd who waved good-bye to their team knowing they face an uncertain trip to Pennsylvania with the series tied at a game apiece.

The Ducks haven't suffered through many offensive droughts this season; if any. And I'm sure the Long Island Nine would strongly concur this is the worst time for a sudden short circuit in production. But then again, offensive outages never happen at convenient times.  Do they?

The York Revolution still have their Ace; Corey Thurman; in reserve and maybe ready for Game Three or Four.  Then perhaps Shaun Garceau pitches a game.  As mentioned, the Ducks will pitch Bob Zimmermann tonight, who proved himself very capable when faced with this same situation in Round One.  It worked out that Long Island will only face Thurman once.  And apparently, they will not be seeing York's strikeout specialist, Matt DeSalvo this series either.   He last pitched on September 25th in a loss against Lancaster during the divisional round.

The Ducks will no doubt pitch Mike Loree again on short rest.  The question is do you pitch him in Game Four on two days' rest should the Ducks lose tonight and go down 2-1 in the series?  Ruddy Lugo and Mark Diapoules were pressed into relief duty last night.  After Banks and Loree, they are the only two pitchers left on the staff who have made regular starts this season.  Perhaps now, Valerio De Los Santos or Chris McCoy stand to make a start if the series should go the full five games.  Ruddy pitched 3.1 innings in relief of Josh Banks yesterday.  Diapoules pitched an inning, so he may be an option or be held back for long relief.  However, if the Ducks win Game Three behind Bob Zimmermann, do you give De Los Santos; McCoy; or Diapoules a start and the Ducks' bullpen a chance to close out the series with another win?  You would be saving Mike Loree, who will then be pitching on three days rest, for a possible Game Five scenario should the Ducks need it due to a loss over the next two games.

As the wheels on the bus go round and round on their way to York, Pennsylvania, so too do the thoughts of a one; Kevin Baez.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ Another Week for the Birds

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE


The Birds; Act II; Take One.

Once upon a time, a game against the Cardinals used to be an easier gig to figure out because they played in our division.  But since their move to Arizona, they've become just another flock of dirty Birds dropping on our schedule every so often.  Except for the time they popped in and out of the Super Bowl, I've come to treat the Cards like the NFL's lost and forgotten team.  I just hope the Giants don't make the same mistake and do the same.

This is no Trap game.  I can't stress that enough.

And it's certainly no time for the Defense to rest on their laurels after holding Michael Vick and the Eagles to 16 points last week.  The D-Line is still ailing as Justin Tuck's status seems more moment to moment now.  Osi is still far from playing games.  The D-Line just needs a return to health.  And the Secondary?  They need consistency.  Let's see Aaron Ross and the Secondary follow up last week's three-pick performance with an effective day against Fitzgerald and Co.  And let's see Antrel Rolle have one of those games players love to have against their former team.

Last week Michael Vick got harassed, but he also looked just plain off.   Some of his throws; even without getting hit; were horribly off course.   So I think that helped the Giants look a little better than they were.  Penalties also were killing us but Philly just rolled up a lot of yardage in the first half against us.   And while we did pick off Vick once, it was Philly's backup we took advantage of for two more picks.

The Eagles' LeSean McCoy ran circles around the Giants last week.  Little of that can be blamed on Michael Boley though.  In his case, one man's injury is another man's opportunity.  And Michael Boley has been solid since assuming a lead role after Jon Goff went down.  So, after a fine game last week, lets see if Michael Boley is capable of sustaining high play on a consistent level now.  Linebackers can make up for a lot of deficiencies on both the D-Line and in the Secondary.  The next few games are Boley's moments to seize.  This week, Kevin Kolb will pick on him.  Beanie Wells will be rushing at him.  And Larry Fitzgerald will be running by him.  Michael Boley's play is getting noticed lately.  And it just so happens, this upcoming game is tailor made for him to shine a little brighter.

Kevin Kolb?  He's looking sharp.  He's getting the chance in Arizona he wasn't given in Philadelphia due to the fore mentioned Michael Vick.  And, he only has one of the League's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald.  Just saying.

The bottom line is, this whole game revolves around the Giants ability to remain consistent now.  A game like this Sunday afternoon can all too often end up being a tremendous let down.  After a big win in Philly last week, they can not let up.  A loss Sunday invites too many knee-jerk criticisms again; just when the Giants are beginning to quiet them.  They just can't take that step backwards.  The Cowboys and Eagles failed to establish themselves and the division sits up for grabs if the Giants play smartly Sunday and seize the moment against a team I think we should beat.


L.I. Ducks ~ Mike Loree Stops The Revolution

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Game Two

York Revolution (0-1)
Long Island Ducks (1-0)

Bethpage Park

*    *    *

Game One Final:
York Revolution.......0
Long Island Ducks....1

LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  Game One was a Classic Pitcher's Duel.  Ducks Manage Only One Run and Four Hits.  Mike Loree Betters Great Performance by York Starter.

If you didn't know who he was, know him now.  His name is Nick Schumacher.  Wednesday night in Game One of the Atlantic League Championship Series, he pitched in only his 6th game this season as a member of the York Revolution.  He made his first appearance for them on September 1st.  So if you didn't know who he was, neither did I; and perhaps not even the Ducks knew.  But after last night, I'm sure he left a lasting impression on them and made them want to not see him again.

Nick Schumacher was the only pitcher York needed all night.  He stymied the Ducks like most pitchers in the League only wish they could against Long Island's potent offense this season.  He didn't throw a shut-out.  But York couldn't have asked for more than he gave them.  He limited the Ducks to four hits over eight innings; allowing no bases on balls while striking out six.  A third inning double by Matt Esquivel and single by Kraig Binick produced the only Long Island run of the night against Schumacher.

But for the home team, it was the only run they'd need.  Because Long Island Ace; Mike Loree; was better.  Mike Loree won the opening game of the Liberty Division Championship Series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.  And Wednesday night he won Game One of the Atlantic League Championship round in a much needed convincing fashion.

He pitched seven innings of no run; seven hit baseball.  Along the way, he struck out ten Revolutionaries while walking only one for his second post-season victory and sixteenth of the season overall.

Bubbie Buzachero is settling into his new set-up role.  He pitched a scoreless eighth inning allowing only a walk.  The ninth inning now belongs to Jon Hunton.  He retired the York Revolution in order for the Save; his third of the playoffs.

There were no errors in this game and only one extra-base hit per team.  This was just a great old fashioned pitcher's duel from start to finish.  Mike Loree is a known commodity and it's fair to expect a performance like he offered tonight.  But what the Ducks saw from Chris Schumacher tonight must have been startling.  After allowing 2 hits in the third, he didn't allow Long Island another hit until the eighth inning.  Six times, Schumacher retired the Ducks in order.

Game Two will be played Thursday evening and conclude the Long Island portion of this series.  The series will shift to York, Pennsylvania for the remainder of the games and where this season's Champion will be crowned.  Long Island held the option of scheduling preference.  They opted to play two games at home, then take the show on the road.  The strategy worked for them in round one.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

N.Y. Mets ~ Coda

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Exit Stage...Right?

Did we all want a player; our player; to behave in a more gentlemanly or Victorian-like manner?  Were you looking for Civil War era respect for protocol out of Jose Reyes?  As a younger Mets Fan (younger than me), were you looking for an instantaneous moment in time to live in; something to endlessly recreate in your mind and be able to hand down a great Baseball tale to your grand children some day?  Are we in such desperate need of a legendary moment like we see those players have in old black and white reels during the earlier eras of the game?  Well hell then, I wrote about Jose Reyes and a game like that in my last post.

Or, ....did we just want Jose Reyes to achieve something no other Met player has, in a reasonably more traditional manner with respect to the 150 years of baseball achievements that precede him; and just treat and play through the situation with a little more class and sense of responsibility to finish what you start?  That should not insinuate he is without class or is irresponsible.

On why he played the game the way he did, Joe DiMaggio spoke of the hypothetical kid who might be in the stands that day who never saw him play before.  I guess it just depends on who you ask.  Because I know none of this has to do with Yankee envy.  Right?

It's days like today that lends itself to better understanding the subdivisions and psyche of the once great place called METropolis.  This afternoon's intra-fan base flare-up pitted a faction of Met Fans who are tired of their team getting ragged on for all the incredulous things they do, against a faction of Met Fans who continually rag on their team for all the incredulous things they do.      .....Or don't do; or get wrong; or have things turn out badly; or go awry; or with the best laid intentions have things blow up in their face.

You get the idea.

Me?  By the time I get to typing, I'm a pragmatist.  I'm somewhere in the middle with most of you.  But I learned long ago when to react in anger, and when not to; and have learned to pick and chose my battles.  On Jose Reyes Gate?  I'm more ambivalent now than anything and I think, that, comes with age.  But I was right there with all of you today.  I went through the whole gambit of anger and frustration; then chastising the jury who won't admit this happens all the time.

After tonight, it looks like he'll have the batting title all wrapped up.  And if he doesn't win?  A batting title only gets you some bold italic numbers on your baseball card anyway....(wrong!)  But what were the majority of us Met Fans really upset about today?

I think years of frustration came cascading through over today's development and filled into Flushing Bay in what amounts to be a trivial matter for most of us.  I don't think we were really upset with the Jose Reyes thing at all.  But there were certainly a portion of fans that were probably more upset they couldn't have a pre-meditated moment with their shortstop.  That part of it is a little too contrived for me and belongs on a stage.  But because today was the last day of the season, this is the lingering event/non-event we'll take with us into a precarious off-season of pondering our future with or without Jose Reyes.

If this was indeed his final game playing for the Flushing Nine, then what an underwhelming good-bye it turned out to be.  That's where my displeasure lies.  The Mets won the game against the Reds.  But the day was supposed to be much better that it was.  But the weight of METropolis shouldn't have come crashing down because he took himself out of the game.  But you'd be within your right to graffiti up the walls because Fans at the park and Jose didn't have a last moment together, if that's what you wanted.

Led Zeppelin's last released album went similarly.  Coda.

Update:  Jose Reyes wins the 2011 N.L. Batting Title ~ .337


Atlantic League Championship Series Preview

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Wednesday - September 28, 2011

Freedom Division Champions


Liberty Division Champions

Bethpage Park

LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  The Atlantic League's Top Two Clubs About to Square Off as Both Organization Seek Their Second Championship Flag.

The 2011 Atlantic League Finals showdown pits this year's regular season champion; as Long Island finished with the League's best record; against last season's Atlantic League defending champion; the York Revolution.

The Ducks took care of the Wild Card Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in a decisive three games to one manner to capture the Liberty Division crown.  York and the Lancaster Barnstormers were stretched to five games and still needed an extra inning to decide the Freedom Division champ.

The Clinchers:

Ducks Are First Half Liberty Division Champs
Ducks Win Second Half Title
Ducks are Liberty Division Champs

York Wins Freedom Division
Revs Clinch Pennant in Thrilling Series


Here's the Long Island Ducks vs. York Revolution head-to-head splits this season:

Ducks hold the advantage in overall record; 10-7.  One game was rained out.
In the first half, the Ducks were 5-4 against York.
In the second half, they went 5-3 against York.
Playing in York, the Ducks played to a sub .500, 4-5 record.
Playing home in Long Island, the Ducks took care of their Pond well with a 6-2 record.

The York Revolution and the Long Island Ducks were clearly the year's two best teams.  They were the only clubs to finish the season with more than seventy wins.  The Ducks owned the best league  mark with a 74-47 record.  York Revolution finished with a 71-53 record.


Between Long Island and York, the Championship Series will feature the Atlantic League's top five hitters for batting average.  Kraig Binick of the Ducks won the League's batting title with a .343 mark.  Second in the circuit at .330 was York's Chris Nowak.  Long Island Duck Matt Esquivel's .328 average placed third.  York's Vince Harrison batted .327; and Ramon Castro's .323 ranked fifth in the League.

In power production, the Duck's top two home run hitters were Ray Navarrete and Javier Colina with 27 and 25 respectively.  York Revolution's top bopper was Chris Nowak with 25 home runs.

The Atlantic League RBI leader board reads like a Long Island Ducks' line-up card.  Four of the League's top six run producers play for the Ducks.  Javier Colina (90); J.R. House (81); John Rodriguez (81); Ray Navarrete (79); all ranked third through sixth in the circuit.  The League leader from Bridgeport topped everyone with 95 RBI.  York's outfield veteran; Jose Herrera; led his team and ranked seventh in the League with 77 RBI.

This series also brings together the League's top two pitchers squaring off against each other.  Long Island's Mike Loree topped the Atlantic League in this year's Triple Crown categories.  He was first in wins with a 14-5 record.  Loree was first in strikeouts with 131 and first with a 1.98 ERA.  The runner up in all three categories was York Revolution pitcher; Corey Thurman.  He ranked second in wins with a 13-3 record.  He came in second to Loree in strikeouts with 111 of his own.  But in ERA, his second ranked 3.33 mark was considerably higher than Mike Loree's number.

York's Matt DeSalvo will probably get matched up against Long Island's Josh Banks.  While still expected to prove quite capable for Long Island, the book is still out on Josh Banks.  Matt DeSalvo owns the third best strikeout total in the League.  He pitched to a 6-3 record with a 3.89 ERA which ranked fourth this season.

And perhaps York's young hurler; Shaun Garceau; who also was among the League leaders in strikeouts with 102; gets matched up against Bob Zimmerman; Mark Diapoules; or Ruddy Lugo in a possible game three scenario.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

N.Y. METS ~ The Night The Curtain Came Down

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  Don't Forget The Night We Sang Jose Reyes' Name All The Way Home.

With two games left in the season, are we seeing the last of one of the greatest Mets ever?

The last, most electrifying moment I had at Shea Stadium came while walking down the ramps as me and all my fellow 57, 000 Met Fans emptied our former home sweet home after winning Game Six of the 2006 NLCS, largely based on Jose Reyes' home run to lead off the game.  We sang Jose-Jose-Jose from our seats; through the aisles; and into the corridors of Old Shea; all the way down the ramps; into the parking lots; in our cars and all the way home as we all no doubt listened to the Happy Recap on the radio. 

Once the singing started early in the game, it never really stopped.  I was sitting in the upper deck that evening.  And being part of the red seats mass of Met humanity, I'm proud to have helped the upper deck literally rock up and down.  But it wasn't until leaving, that I had goose-bumps all the way down Shea's winding ramps, more so than I did during the game or even watching Jose Reyes round the bases in the first inning.  And for a night, I experienced magic again; you when you were a kid kinda magic.  The magic of being ten years old and these guys being the greatest people in Orange and Blue pinstripes on the planet.  And it was damn-near one of the greatest nights ever to be a Met fan; period.

We sang!  We sang inside; outside; and across Roosevelt Avenue.  Woodstock would have been proud.

Little did we all know leaving Shea Stadium that glorious night, the curtain on this current Met show was coming down for good.  Hind-sight now takes it's course and so let it be written; October 18, 2006, goes down as our last greatest moment in Met history - authored by Jose Reyes.

With two days potentially left in his Mets' career, he's chasing down an encore to that night almost five years later.  Of course he's marvelled us since the 2006 season.  But now he's chasing a Batting Title.  No Met has ever won the batting championship before; just as no Met has ever won the Most Valuable Player Award.

But the most bitter-sweet aspect of this dilemma the Mets and the Fans find themselves in is Jose Reyes may win his batting title, but win it going away.  The songs will end this season for sure.  The schedule dictates that.  Then the songs will turn into pleas of  - Jose, Won't You Stay; Please Stay; Don't Go Away! Jose.

Good-byes are never easy between people who care about each other.  It's clear Jose Reyes has an affinity for us Fans, just as we have a great fondness for him.  There's an all encompassing phrase that with carefully selected usage; in context and content; all emotional ties are revealed and stand to be reaffirmed by the very declaration - He is one of us!

The thought of losing Jose Reyes; the healthy version; sickens me.  Honest.  Even the compromised Reyes is still enough of a favorite for me to want him continuing and ending his career as a New York Metropolitan.

But when I'm in my world and get to play GM, I base my opinions on what I think should be in the Mets' best interests in order to reach a high level of play and sustain long term success.  And when I think that way, I'm content to bring Jose Reyes back, but only under "my" so-called terms.

If his speculated price tag remains as reported.  I say we're out; and not because we may not be able to afford it.  My offer; stated previously in my blog; is for no more than five years and an average annual salary of  +/- $17.5 million.  I would not budge much further from that.  If he can get a better deal elsewhere, so be it.

I now believe it safe to say; although I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night; that Jose Reyes' legs are permanently damaged.  Perhaps on a microscopic level, there's deterioration that if not properly managed with scheduled time off, will continue to resurface as hamstring issues and plague his career; maybe sporadically; maybe often.  But the problem will not go away.

His leg(s) condition now dictates he plays roughly, a 145 games a season.  You now have to manage the stress of this bi-pedal creature very carefully now.  What if the team is in the middle of a "tight" race, and Reyes has been on a torrid streak of triples and doubles, and stolen bases and such?  Do you  schedule rest for him then?  Or, do the Mets press on and take their chances?  Alas, the root of the matter is risk.  His legs affect the Mets on many different levels.  Risk; how much of it does he pose?  And how much of it will Sandy Alderson assume by resigning him?

As he enters his physical prime; even if Jose continues to bat for average like this season; and still take his total package into consideration and value as a lead-off man; what if I said his rate of injury will continue as well?  If you knew going into negotiations on a new deal, would you still sign him at his price?  We don't know how much longer his legs will service him and us.  So again, it's all about managing Risk again. 

The Mets don't just sweep bad contracts under the rug as a matter of policy.  Sandy Alderson unloaded some in 2011, but they were needed demolition before reconstruction can begin.

Are we content with Jason Bay's contract?  At this moment, are you happy with Johan's deal?   David Wright's deal is coming around the corner.  How are you feeling about him?  If we sign Jose Reyes at his price, the moment he goes down, you know damn well, the phone boards across the metro area talk shows will blow up with cries of - Why Did We Do This?!  It will happen.  You know it.  I know it.

We booed Johan in his first start at Shea.  Yankee fans booed Jeter and ran him out of town before he turned himself around this season.  Mariano Rivera got booed once upon a time too.  What do both fan bases have in common?  We're New Yorkers!  We're going to complain whether we sign Reyes or not.

Part of the problem is that we all; including the Mets organization; have a semantics problem.  No one wants to officially declare this a Rebuilding of the Mets team.  That word keeps getting shushed around here like saying crap in front of your Grandmother.  And what I am vehemently opposed to is spending any more time chasing down carrots on a stick.

To err is easy. Doing the right thing, is hard. Some of the best decisions in life are quite often the most unpopular decisions ever made.  Jose Reyes will always remain in my Met heart of hearts. But the Mets must go on and finally right their ship and thereby get the organization functioning like a New York National League member should.

I'll sign him.  But not without the proverbial Home-Town Discount.

I love Jose Reyes.  But my Baseball Heroes from when I was a more impressionable boy; all the way through the 80's; and through today; were New York Metropolitan Baseball players.  They didn't come from the Reyes Family tree.  Jose Reyes is not a matter of money.  With him, Risk rules the day.  While his injuries were often times frustrating for us, sometimes, they proved ruinous to the team.

Our destiny lies elsewhere now; with other players; and future players.  I would have loved as much as you, to have Jose Reyes go down as a life-long Met and be owner of a vast array of our team records.  He's done so much of the re-writing already.  But, perhaps it's not meant to be.  Two parties need to sit down and reach an agreement in order for that to happen.  But one of the parties is in kind of a dire straights right now.  And the other party just admitted he's not fully healthy yet and is weary of running full steam.

What now?  Here come the brewing storm clouds high above Citi Field.  The clash between the Business Side of Baseball versus the Business Shenanigans of a Baseball Owner is fast approaching.  The Jose Reyes- N.Y. Mets saga will soon start to swirl about under the ever darkening and threatening skies thundering above Flushing Bay.  Early forecasts call for off-season rain.

Watch the last two games of the season or go to Citi and watch him in person.  But don't let the games apathetically slip by.  Hind-sight is always right.  But when hind-sight re-enters this conversation one day, we'll hash out the rights and wrongs of the Mets actions then.

Don't forget that night in 2006 when a city sang his name all the way home.


N.Y. Giants ~ Big Blue Rumbles Through Philly

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  Cowboys Defeat Washington on MNF; Giants Now Suddenly In Driver's Seat!

Week Three vs. Eagles

Eagles      16

I told you, but I'll remind you again; I root scared when it comes to the Giants.  I didn't think the Giants were going to Philly and coming back home with fond memories of the trip.  As a matter of fact, I predicted a rather lop-sided loss for us.

I can certainly tell you what I think they should do in a given game.  And I tried in my Week Three preview.  But having the confidence they will follow through is another matter.  And because you're a fan, you have that confidence.  In the face of injuries; Philly hype; naysayers; and experts predicting a 1-2 record for us; I still felt we could go into Philly and win.  But when it came to making my Week Three pick; I chickened out.  That's why as a rule, you never bet your favorite team. 

And maybe I was still in a little bit-o-shock over last year's debacle too.  I won't rule it out.  But for most of last year's debacle, the Giants were in control of that game.  That's what gets you thinking; but inevitably confuses us all.  So with a compromised Receiver Corps., I thought we'd need to change things up on Offense and do them near perfectly in order to win this past Sunday.  On Defense, I had even less confidence because of injuries and incompetence of late.  And while Offensively I thought I was pretty on target, Defensively, I pretty much got it all wrong.

I've been picking on our Secondary; and rightfully so.  They've been porous.  So they responded with three interceptions with one coming against Vick.  And bouncing back from adversity, Aaron Ross had himself a great game.  This is an area Jerry Reese has tried to fortify by drafting Kenny Phillps and Prince Amukamara.  Both starts to their respective careers were foiled by injury.  Now that Kenny Phillips' injury season is behind him,  Prince may be coming back sooner than later this season.

I've been picking on the state of our Linebackers; calling the unit this team's soft white underbelly.  This past Sunday, they were solid as granite; Michael Boley in particular.  I've been bringing up how Jerry Reese has ignored the position for years now, unless you count moving Mathias Kiwanuka back?  But what criticisms exist now get quieted for a week.

And I've been criticizing the Giants with my notion the team overly relies on the D-Line to produce sacks.  In spite of my theories, the D-Line beat; battered; bum rushed; bruised; and ultimately bounced Michael Vick from Sunday's game.

The Defense made goal line stands and really clamped down in the second half.

After the game, Michael Vick prefaced some comments he made by saying he wasn't complaining, BUT, he let it be known he didn't feel like he gets his fair share of roughing the passer calls.  He went on to express his desire that QB's get more protection from the rules or refs....or something along those lines.

The only thing I can say to that is:  What about the dogs Mike?  What about the dogs?

Turns out, Michael Vick has a very sore and swollen hand.  It's not broken like it was believed to be on the sidelines Sunday.  Everyone knew he was one play away from exasperating last week's concussion symptoms.  And the Giants pounded him plenty.  But ironically, it was his right hand that prompted his exit from the game.

On Offense is where the Giants really earned their mettle Sunday; as fine a job as the Defense provided; the Giants needed to do a lot of things right and did.

First props go to Offensive Coordinator; Kevin Gilbride; because even though I still have some issues with him about this game; he still drew up one of the plans that I knew he could when he doesn't let his ego, and his never ending search for the perfect pass play, get in the way.  I'd be the first to get on him.

This game needed to be ridden on the backs of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.  Hell, the Eagles knew that.  But I begged Coach Gilbride in this blog to utilize them both extensively out of the backfield on pass plays.  That would be the way to open up the rushing game for them.

First know Eli threw 23 passes and connected on 16 plays.  Brandon Jacobs caught two passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.  Ahmad Bradshaw caught 5 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.  That's seven receptions between the two backs totaling 95 yards and two TD's.  That's great works by Big Man and Lil' Buddy; and great calls by Coach Gilbride.

That translated into rushing yardage for the duo; something most thought the Giants would be hard pressed to gain against Philly.  Ahmad Bradshaw rushed 15 times for 86 yards.  Brandon Jacobs rushed 7 times for 19 yards.  Together, they rushed 22 times for 105 yards.

Add up their days work and what you have is a combined 29 plays; 200 yards gained; and two touchdowns.  That's what I'm talking about!  But my weekly question remains; why is Brandon Jacobs not used more?  And for kicks, Gilbride's use of the backs means he limited his receivers to 9 plays within which Victor Cruz and company were left to work in their contributions.

However, the Giants inability to convert on third down continued to haunt the Giants throughout the first quarter until they improved later in the game.  A 14-0 lead was reduced to 14-13 by halftime, because the lack of Offensive conversions kept putting the Defense on the field.

On the Offensive series in which the Giants faced a 4th down a 3 to go at the Eagles 30 yard line; The Giants chose to go for it and Coach Gilbride dialed up a play for Travis Beckum.  C'mon!  If you red my preview, I said this;

"Tight End Travis Beckum might be back, but he's not an option.   Option?   He should be flat out ignored.   He just better pass block well if he's on Eli's left side. That's all I'll say about him."

Needless to say, Big Blue gave up the ball on downs.  Eli's pass to Beckum was incompleteas beckum lost his feet.

But Eli didn't miss much Sunday.  He was sacked three times but the happy feet weren't there.  I think the O-line played better than 3 sacks would indicate.  They provided plenty of time for Eli to find Victor Cruz three times and twice for touchdowns.

Of Victor Cruz, I said in my preview:

"But the slings and arrows await Victor Cruz and rookie-Jerrel Jernigan.   Welcome to the New York Receiver Corps; Boot Camp Philly Style.   A huge game against the top division rival just showed up on their front steps.   What are they gonna do when Game Time breaks down the door and shines the bright lights on them?   It's called stepping up Boys."

And the second year receiver stepped up in a very Big Blue way.  The Eagles dared Eli to throw the ball against them.  He did; quite effectively.  Cruz helped with three catches; Nicks had another three.  But the most important stats here are Eli's four touchdown passes and no interceptions.  And I'll say again; even though Eli is ultimately responsible for throwing the pigskin; Kevin Gilbride set him up nicely against the Eagles.

There's one sentence I wrote last week that sums up Sunday very neatly.  I said, "There are roster problems.  Then there are execution problems.  The latter can be corrected."

And if the Giants did anything Sunday, they executed well.  If revenge came unexpectedly for you this week; after all, I picked against them and thought this wasn't exactly going to be our week for such satisfaction; then you're extremely happy right now.

There is one positive in rooting scared.  I'm ecstatic after Sunday's win.  It's the old - prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  And as far as the Giants/Eagles rivalry, this one was very sweet indeed.

Previous Posts:

Week Three is for The Birds

Off to Philly On Big Blue Crutches


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Hoops of Flatbush; THE BROOKLYN NETS

Kings County Cagers; thine name is: 

And since today was unofficially declared Name Day, if you're not familiar already, the Nets portion of TheBrooklynTrolleyBlogger; titled:

In a little over one year from today, the Kings County Cagers will open the doors to begin
 Basketball at Barclays; and they will officially do so, as


Photographed with permission;
Brooklyn Nets Jersey - Junior's Cafe at Flatbush Avenue

Get your Sharpies ready to mark your calendars.  The one year countdown has officially begun.  And as he begins to take on a more prominent role in the team's marketing and transitional stage, minority-share team owner Jay-Z made the announcement this morning himself.  After much speculation; scuttlebutt; and waste paper basket scavenger hunting for records of trade-mark filings..., the debate has been settled.  The team will brand it's Brooklyn home, and keep the organization's traditional name.  It's also now understood, the name was requested by Jay-Z himself.

Billboard; Flatbush Ave at Dean Street



Jay-Z made the official naming announcement this morning, while also unveiling the organization's plans to steal away some of the Knickerbocker fan base.  If you didn't catch page three of today's New York Post, do yourself a favor and go to for more comprehensive details of the Nets' plan to conquer not only on-the-fence Knick fans, but Wall Street also.  NetsDaily has been a good neighbor to me and has this ALL covered.  Check em out.

I offer you this.  -  Obviously, the Lock-Out has changed everything across the NBA landscape; even down to what signs the Nets have been posting around town.  The billboard pictured above featuring Jay-Z was rolled out a little prematurely by the Nets because due to the Lock-Out, teams were no longer allowed to use player representations in a team capacity.  Hence, the Deron Williams campaign was shelved.

Now, high above Flatbush Avenue, positioned directly across the street from Barclays Center between 5th Avenue and Pacific Street, is a glimpse into the next stage of Nets' marketing.  The new signage is a radical departure from the last ad-campaign featuring Deron Williams, and Jay-Z, with an artist rendering of a completed Barclays Center in the background.

You know what they say; black is never out of style.  And so, boldly, with big white all-cap lettering, WELCOME TO BROOKLYN remains the theme.  But now the question is asked:


Vague; isn't it?  The bottom line gives their netsbasketball  tumblr/facebook/twitter accounts.

So I'll quote Rich Calder's article from today's N.Y. Post pictured above:
Net CEO Bret Yormark said:  "Jay-Z will be the face of the team's fourth-quarter campaign" to sell 4,400 "All Access" premium seats at the rapidly rising 18,000 seat arena.

There ya go.  Want All Access?  I'm sure it will cost a pretty penny.  No wonder they're trying to attract the Wall Street types.  And if that's sarcasm you sense, that's because I sense it too.  I digress.  For me, things of that nature are for another day.  I will consider the ramifications to my disposable income when I come to that proverbial (Brooklyn) bridge some time in the near future.  But not now; not today.

All things are well in this respect; I think we (area fans and interested Brooklynites alike) are on the ground floor of history.  And with every development; any development really; that brings closer the day Brooklyn makes it's return to major league sports, I'm contented.  I've said many times in this blog, if you're a big fan, don't wait around for someone else to write this story for you.  It's here; you're here; it's happening; get close to it and write your own story.  Then..., pass it down.  That's how you start a tradition....(again).

I've also said, the Brooklyn brand; and now that's it's official; the Brooklyn Nets brand and jersey, will soon be one of the hottest selling items with respect to NBA properties.  Period!  And with the right player; Theee Hottest.  I stand by that.  And you may not get the sense now.  But I assure you, players will want to play here.  They will come and speak of the Borough and the jersey in that order.  You will see.  And I stand by that also.

Speaking of being on the ground floor, I had good fortune (and reason) to be inside the footprint of Barclays Center construction site last week.  While there, I managed to snap a few shots of the on-going construction of the Brooklyn Nets' new home.

As far as the Lock-Out, the two parties are supposed to meet again Tuesday.  The NBA Office has already cancelled a portion of the exhibition schedule.  And the consensus says, there's no deal in sight.

...Just another day in the neighborhood.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

L.I. Ducks ~ Your Liberty Division Champions!

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Liberty Division Champions!

Eliminate Wild Card Team.
Next Stop; Atlantic League Championship Series.

Related Posts:

Season Ends With Dual Division Titles ~ BTB

It's Playoff Time ~ BTB

Ducks Take Game One ~ BTB

Game Two Final; Off to Southern Maryland ~ BTB

Aiming to Clinch Sunday ~ BTB

Ducks defeat Blue Crabs in Game Four; Win Series 3-1.

The Ducks' offense scratched and clawed as best as their little Webbed Spikes could after their bullpen was rushed into near immediate action Sunday.  The Ducks were pressed for a response to Southern Maryland's alarmingly early onslaught against starter; Valerio De Los Santos; in Game Four of the Liberty Division Championship Series.

The day was looking promising when Kinard Jones led off the game with a triple and scored, giving the Ducks a 1-0 first inning lead.  But in their first turn at bat, Southern Maryland sent De Los Santos to the showers before he was able to complete a full inning of work.  After just 0.2 inning(s); four hits; a walk; and allowing four runs, Coach Baez was forced to remove his starter because this is not June when you can just let your starter correct himself on the fly.  At this time of year, time is of the essence and getting outs from your pitcher is paramount.  So deservedly, give Coach Baez heaps of credit for managing Sunday's outcome and maneuvering six pitchers throughout the game.

Four consecutive singles by Freddy Thon; Danny Lyons; Kinard Jones; and Ray Navarrete plated two more runs for Long Island in the top of the second.  That made it a 4-3 game.  However, just removing Valerio De Los Santos from the game didn't alleviate Long Island's problems.  The Blue Crabs continued their offensive against the next Ducks' pitcher; Chris McCoy.  The Crabs matched Long Island with another two runs in their half of the second making it a 6-3 game.

The Ducked remained quiet over the next three innings.  But in the bottom of the fifth, Southern Maryland tacked on another run against Chris McCoy to make the game 7-3; Crabs.

In the sixth, Blue Crabs' starter; Nick Green; prepared his exit from the game.  He faced four batters.  Matt Padgett singled; Matt Esquivel walked; and Freddie Thon singled to load the bases.  Dan Lyons worked out a walk to force in a run, and Nick Green was outta there.  Another run scored when Kinard Jones drew yet another walk with the bases loaded.   And Ray Navarrete then bounced into a double play with the third run of the inning scoring on the play.

The Ducks were within one run again in a 7-6 game after six completed innings.  In the next frame, the teams traded runs again.  J.R. House hit a solo home run for the Ducks.  But the Crabs still maintained an 8-7 lead after scoring against Tyler Walker.

But that's all they'd get; the Crabs that is.  The Ducks bullpen combined on a marvelous job keeping Southern Maryland sedated after their opening outburst.  Jason Monti; Tyler Walker; Bubbie Buzachero; and Jon Hunton combined on 4.1 innings pitched; one run; one hit; four walks; and six strikeouts.  Tyler Walker allowed the last run Southern Maryland would score.  Bubbie Buzachero was responsible for three of those walks allowed and which directly leads to the reason why it was up to the newly anointed Long Island closer; Jon Hunton; to ultimately shut the door on the Blue Crabs.  He struck out the last two batters of the game to end the night in grand style for the visiting Long Islanders.

Bubbie Buzachero, amusingly gets credited with Sunday's win.  Jon Hunton earned the save.

Indeed, it was the bullpen that kept the Ducks around long enough; enabling a comeback Long Island persistently mounted throughout this game.  They were still down 8-7 after seven.  But in the eighth inning, Mr. Long Island Duck himself; Ray Navarrete; continued his Swan Song of sorts, by launching a home run to tie the baseball game at eight runs apiece.  The All-Time Ducks' Home Run King may have never hit one bigger than this.  That remains to be discussed.  But coming when it did, where it did, there's nothing quite like making another team's crowd go silent.  It's the golden silence of rounding second base in the course of the home run trot, and the only audible noises are coming from your team mates in the dugout.  That's sweet.

And like a dominoes display falling perfectly as designed, the latest in a long line of Duck heroes this season; Freddie Thon; stepped in and finished off Southern Maryland with a two-out RBI double to score Erick Monzon (singled) with the go ahead; the game winning; and the Liberty Division Championship winning run.

Many team members have stated this Ducks team is a very tightly-knit group with a genuine affinity for one another.  And so it was, together as a team, they just didn't save themselves from having to play a decisive Game Five on the road by winning Sunday afternoon.  The Long Island Ducks mounted a comeback that laid to rest some second guessing; like deciding to potentially play three games on the road with just two games at home.  And choosing to do so when the Ducks have gone 0-7 since their last playoff win on the road; not to mention not playing very well in Southern Maryland this season either.  I questioned that.  The Long Island Ducks answered by winning two straight in Southern Maryland after splitting the first two games in Long Island.

They are moving on because offensively, the Ducks are relentless.  Sunday's win is a classic example of that.  But pitching was everything for Long Island in their three wins this series.  Mike Loree did his part by winning Game One.  And no, Josh Banks didn't have the success all parties concerned were looking for.  But it presented another moment to be seized upon.  That came in Game Three via Bob Zimmermann who pitched six, really superb innings Saturday night.  He allowed the Blue Crabs only one unearned run off three hits, while striking out six.  And then of course, Long Island's bullpen work in Game Four Sunday was, as it has been all season long; solid as a rock.

And now the Ducks get what the Ducks' players want; a chance to win a title..., Together.


L.I. Ducks ~ Aiming To Clinch Sunday Afternoon

From the desk of :  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS:  The Webbed Spikes Win First Road Playoff Game In Seven Years to Go Up 2-1 in Best of Five Series Against Southern Maryland.

Can Clinch Liberty Division Championship Sunday Afternoon.

The Ducks picked up a sorely needed road win in the first game down in Southern Maryland.  In winning their second game of this series, the Ducks need only win one more game with two chances to wrap up the right to play for the Atlantic League Championship.

The Long Island Ducks hadn't won a playoff game on the road since 2004.  Since then they've posted an 0-7 road playoff record until tonight's win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in Game Three of the Liberty Divisional Championship.

But tonight's Long Island starter; Bob Zimmermann; gave the Ducks exactly what they needed; exactly when they needed it.  He was stellar in 6.0 innings pitched and helped the Ducks avoid a must win situation in Game Four.  In the third inning, he allowed one run which was unearned.  Otherwise he kept the Blue Crabs quiet; limiting Southern Maryland to three hits; two walks; while striking out six batters.  He left the game with the Ducks clinging on to a 2-1 lead.

The Ducks' scored first on an opening inning home run by Ray Navarrete.  Later, with Javier Colina up in the third inning, Kraig Binick was awarded home on a balk call against Blue Crabs' starter; David Trahan.  But the Crabs picked up a run in the bottom of the third to make it a one run game; 2-1 in Long Island's favor.

Long Island added to their lead four innings later.  Lew Ford hit the second Ducks' home run of the game.  Freddie Thon singled, and made it all the way to third base on a pair of wild pitches.  Kraig Binick then singled to drive him home making it a 4-1 Long Island advantage.

Southern Maryland scored off the very reliable Jeremy Hill in the home seventh inning.   Two doubles plated the second Blue Crabs run.  But Jeremy struck out two batters in avoiding any more damage.

Then Coach Baez called upon this year's traditional team closer; Bubbie Buzachero; to pitch the eighth.  It's obvious the coaching staff has lost a level of patience with his maddening way of protecting leads and closing games.  After securing the first out of the eighth, Bubbie walked the following two batters.  And that was all Coach Baez would allow.  Coach summoned his newest arm; Jon Hunton; to finish this game.

And he did just that.  Hunton got out of Bubbie's one out, two on jam, by inducing a ground ball out and striking out the third out in the eighth.  In the ninth, he allowed two hits with just one out, then struck out the last two Blue Claws to end the game.

With Friday's rain out, the Ducks are better prepared to bring Mike Loree back on short rest in a possible game five if need be.  But for now, the Ducks own a two games to one lead with two opportunities to win one.


Atlantic League

Game Four

Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (1-2)

A Ballpark in Waldorf


Saturday, September 24, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ Week Three is for THE BIRDS

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE


Philadelphia Eagles

Home of the Worst Cheese Steaks!

Previous Posts:

PIGSKIN; Week Three Picks - BTB
Off to Philly on Big Blue Crutches;  -  BTB


   1) - Receiver Corps.

The Giants signed recent living room resident; WR-Michael Clayton.  What do you want me to say?  Michael Clayton played a couple of games for us last season and was cut from the roster in camp this season.  Hey man, thanks for answering the phone?

With Domenik Hixon gone for the season, and Mario Manningham most likely sitting out Sunday, Eli will be left with Hakeem Nicks; Victor Cruz; R-Jerrel Jernigan; Devin Thomas; Brandon Stokley; and now Michael Clayton.  And I hope the pecking order remains just as I named them.  Really!  Tight End Travis Beckum might be back, but he's not an option.  Option?  He should be flat out ignored.  He just better pass block well if he's on Eli's left side.  That's all I'll say about him.

None the less, those are the receivers left at Eli's disposal.  Now let's speak briefly about which one of those receivers will disappear from Sunday's game at roughly 1:05 pm.  Once Philly's Nnamdi Asomugha takes the field, in all likelihood, there goes Hakeem Nicks too.  And if I turn out to be very wrong about that match-up, then that means Hakeem has officially joined the ranks of the League's elite receivers.  ..."Perchance to Dream."

But the slings and arrows await Victor Cruz and rookie-Jerrel Jernigan.  Welcome to the New York Receiver Corps; Boot Camp Philly Style.  A huge game against the top division rival just showed up on their front steps.  What are they gonna do when Game Time breaks down the door and shines the bright lights on them?  It's called stepping up Boys.

   2) - Eli Manning

Eli needs to trust that his revamped O-Line will give him time to find these tertiary receivers of ours.  And new Center; David Bass; might have an injury that will be a last minute game time call.  Will Beatty is probably in for his biggest test as a Left Tackle this week. 

But even then,  Eli needs to bear down and be more accurate than he's been (like always).  And I hope he and his patchwork of receivers communicated like hell this week in practice, because we can't afford blown assignments and errant passes to nowhere; and especially the dreaded INT's.

For the Giants to have a successful passing game.  It should be quick drops; three steps and pop.  That cuts down your odds of getting sacked, and it takes defense off their plan.  Ever hear of crossing patterns..., or something along the lines of "Run and Shoot" - to shake it up?  Draw them in, then maybe they'll give us chances over the top.

The bottom line is, the Eagles are going to have the Giants well covered.  But how many of them can they cover?  That's where Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw come in.  They'll have to be taken out of their comfort zone and catch many more passes out of the back field this game.  They should be busy with swing passes; screens; and Ahmad Bradshaw in scat patterns.  That's what I'm thinking.

All that is going to be needed in order to keep the Eagles honest if the Giants want any chance of running the ball with power.  I realize that's coming from me.  But the fact is, if Asomugha and the Eagles' secondary shut down Eli and the passing game, Philly will be stacking the box with eight and nine at a time to make sure Eli is throwing, and the Giants' Jacobs and Bradshaw aren't rushing.  You don't think Philly will go man-coverage most of the game?  They are dying for Eli to throw the ball.

   3) - Kevin Gilbride and the Running Game

There are indeed two games I can refer to from last season, where Kevin Gilbride devised offensive plans that kept us right in the mix; up until we ran into that dreadful Eagles game.  They came at times when our receivers; not the Defense; were being crippled by injuries.  That's the kind of plan that the Offensive Coordinator needs to come up with this week.  We need something original and creative; which for the most part, are the largest criticisms levied against him today.

But nothing will work unless the Giants run the football.  Of course.  And how can Gilbride help them run the ball if the Eagles' plan is to flood the box and force Eli to throw?  Spread their defense out with the old "run and shoot style" and make the defense be accountable for catches out of the back field.  Then leave it to the O-Line to create some holes and pound em.  Schemes like that demand a lot from a cohesive O-Line.  Let's hope ours is up to snuff.

It's Kevin Gilbride's job to devise something that will keep Philadelphia from teeing off on Eli or the run.  Keep them honest, and something can be done.  And please, make it something which involves Brandon Jacobs a little more?  There is still plenty to be said for; and plenty of room in today's game for; if not cause to implement; power football.  If Gilbride plans this right and we execute, the Giants can score 24 or 27 points against Philly.

There are roster problems.  And then there are execution problems.  The latter can be corrected.


Michael Vick practiced this week.  But he's dealing with the mysterious concussion; or post;  symptoms.  Mysterious; because there is so much we don't know about them.  But what we do know about them, is everything to be taken seriously.  So without jokes, one unfortunate hit on Vick could effectively remove him from the game.  And Vick's style, or propensity to run, also presents a precarious situation for him.  Ironically, he was injured standing in the pocket.

But should Michael Vick play an incident free game against us; our Secondary I fear, will be made to look feeble for a third consecutive week.  Bend But Don't Break won't work against Philadelphia like it did against the Rams last week; whom the Giants held to mostly field goals.  The fact remains; the Secondary is giving up huge yardage plays on a regular basis.

Rex Grossman and Sam Bradford both threw for +300 yard games against our Secondary in the first two weeks of the season.  Michael Vick will be, by far the best they've faced so far; and with so many speedy weapons at his disposal, I smell toast.  We haven't seen an ounce of improvement from the unit yet.

That brings me back to this team's over reliance on the defensive line and getting sacks.  You can't let Vick get outside on you.  So you need discipline to seal the outside.  And if you contain him, and get to him; say four or five times; what's he doing for the rest of the game is my point?

The Eagles O-Line isn't that great; so I think the Giants will defend Philly's running game quite effectively.  And the Giants D-Line will certainly have their chances to get at Vick.  But what will be the cumulative effect of that, and will it be enough before he tears up the secondary?

No Linebackers; our team's soft white under belly. -  After taking all the injuries away that have decimated the Giants defense this season; the fact remains; Jerry Reese never adequately addressed the linebacker position.  And I don't mean any offense towards Michael Boley.

The bottom line is, if the Giants get behind in this game, there is little come-back in them; not in their current state.  If the Giants are to win this game, they will need stellar Special Teams play; maybe a score on Defense; stay away from penalties and turnovers; but most of all, they need to be able to hang around.  Hanging around is the key to this game for the Giants.  Games between us and Philly are never pretty.  So don't expect a ballet in this game either.  But the game needs to be within a score in the fourth quarter in order for the Giants to be able to steal one on the road.

And lastly, Perry Fewell; or should I saw; Perry Fool?  What the hell were you thinking?  Stop talking to the media or say nothing when questioned by them.  Got it?  That was embarrassing.  Instead, figure out a way to sure-up two-thirds of your defense instead of teaching your unit how to roll over and play dead.  Better yet; Surprise us Sunday with turnovers and some blitz packages worthy of Sports Center.  A one time Giant great once said, "...go out there like a bunch of crazed dogs!"

PREDICTION:  35-17; Eagles

It pains me to say, but it's not looking good my fellow Brothers in Blue.  Not this week.  There are too many injuries which will compromise a representative game on our part.  It's just bad timing.  Thoughts of revenge for last year's meltdown will likely have to wait till we get the Eagles at home.  Way too many things have to go right for us Sunday and fortune hasn't been one of our stronger suites this year.  But unlike if we had gone down 0-2 after a loss last week; a loss this week may not be as catastrophic to the big picture even though it's a division game.  That is unless you think Washington is running away with this division.  Stop that.