Saturday, September 30, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Four

Week Four


Week Three Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  15-25-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -8

1st and Ten:
  • Kansas City and Atlanta are the lone remaining undefeated teams.  That would be an intriguing Super Bowl match-up, wouldn't it?  Just remember I said that; I will.
  • The Los Angeles Rams are first in the NFC West, and lead the NFL in points scored.  I wanna know who predicted that.  Leave a comment.  Green Bay played its fourth game on Thursday and still trail the Rams in points scored.
  • Either the Browns or Bengals will finally win their first game of the season.
2nd and Long:
  • Fifteen of 32 NFL teams enter Week Four with two victories; time to thin the herd.
  • Game #2 in London, England.
No Gain:
  • Odell Beckham Jr. was fined a sum just over $12,000 by the NFL as a result of last Sunday's antics.  But does anyone really think he will change as a result?
  • In fact, the Giants are depressing me.
  • To date, the Giants have scored the second fewest points in the NFL, averaging just 12.3 points per game.  That's a lot of punting.

Week Four
Friday Line ~ NYDN

BUCS -3 (Giants)
I was not at all impressed with the Giants near-win last week.  They can't control the ball.  The Giants have no shot if Tampa possesses the ball for 37:00 minutes or more.
Loss  25-23 Bucs

Jaguars -3 1/2 (JETS)
What the Jaguars and Jets did last week, respectively, was stunning.  The Jets, however, are headed in a different direction, right?
Loss  23-20 Jets  ot

Saints -3 (Dolphins) London
I'll take my chances with Drew Brees.
WIN  20-0 Saints

Panthers +9 (PATRIOTS)
That's just too many points.  Patriots are giving up yards and points by the bushels, and Cam Newton's funk won't last forever.  Panthers should be able to cover.  Winning is another issue.
WIN  33-30 Panthers

Rams +6 1/2 (COWBOYS)
This is my stay-away-game of the week.  I'm just looking for the Rams to cover.
WIN  35-30 Rams

VIKINGS -2 (Lions)
A late field goal wins this.  That's why I like laying two.
Loss  14-7 Lions

Titans -1 1/2 (TEXANS)
Maybe it's just me ... but I think the Titans can blow out the Texans.
Loss  57-14 Texans

Bengals -3 (BROWNS)
The Bengals should be ashamed of themselves ... but they're playing the Browns.
WIN  31-7 Bengals

RAVENS +3 (Steelers)
I need to rethink the Ravens.  I really do.  I haven't a clue about this game = take the points and cross your fingers.
Loss  26-9 Steelers

FALCONS -8 (Bills)
Falcons are on a mission, remember?
Loss  23-17 Bills

CHARGERS -1 1/2 (Eagles)
Los Angeles hasn't warmed up to their team yet.  They might after a win.
Loss  26-24 Eagles

CARDINALS -7 (49ers)
This is the most suspicious line on the entire board.  Too many underdogs won last week.  Screw those Niners.
Loss  18-15 Cardinals

BRONCOS -2 1/2 (Raiders)
The Raiders will regroup and go on a tear ... after they lose to the Broncos in Denver.
WIN  16-10 Broncos

SEAHAWKS -13 (Colts)
Gut feeling; home; crazy crowd; Colts turnovers will help the Seahawks cover this.  I think.
WIN  48-18 Seahawks

Schmear of the Week: (2-1)
Titans -1 1/2

Guten Appetit
I still got some stuff in the garden.  This will be my final harvest of the year for bell pepper, hot pepper, tomato, basil, parsley, arugula, cucumber, and zucchini.  Time to rip everything out and plant some garlic.  I like saving some green tomato for pickling.

  • Hot salsa and a guacamole dip
  • Bruschetta 
  • Salad of lettuce/arugula/tomato/cucumber/black olive/sprinkle Parmesan cheese/lemon vinaigrette
  • Chicken kabobs (peppers, zucchini, onion) with my own tzatziki sauce (cucumbers) over rice
  • Stuffed bell pepper > Philly Cheese Style!  Thin sliced rib-eye, onions, mushrooms, provolone

Good luck, and have a happy and safe Football Sunday everybody!

Week Four Record:  6-8
Overall Record:  21-33-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-2
Bagels in the Basket:  -13

Friday, September 29, 2017

N.Y. Mets: Terry Collins Takes a Knife in the Back

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET


Media, Front Office, and Players
Gang-Up On Terry Collins

New York Mets: Terry Collins Deserved Better; I Guess Handling the Situation With Dignity Was Too Much to Ask.

On Wednesday, the Mets played their final home game of the 2017 regular season.

In all likelihood, it was also Terry Collins' last game at Citi Field as manager of the New York Mets.

If only things were that cut and dry.

On Thursday, Newsday writer Marc Carig unleashed an incriminating expose, unveiling just some of the dysfunction afflicting the Mets front office; a condition we fans have suspected all along.

According to more than a dozen team insiders interviewed by Newsday, speaking on the condition of anonymity (of course..), Carig states organizational dysfunction, discord between Terry Collins and his players, and a broken relationship between the manager and the front office, have all been plaguing the Mets for several years now.

Carig wrote that Fred Wilpon has been protecting Terry Collins from Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon, who've lobbied several times during the last few years for the manager's dismissal. 

Apparently, Fred would have none of it.

Otherwise, Collins' misuse/overuse of the bullpen is reported to be one of the front office's major points of contention.  Carig's article also leads us to believe Terry was never the great communicator we were led to believe.

And there's the rub ...

All we've heard from the media since 2011 is how much players respected, and wanted to play for Collins.  It was the media congratulating Collins for somehow maintaining a sense of comradery in the clubhouse through some very lean seasons.  And it was the media heaping praise upon him in 2015 after guiding the Mets to a National League title, then again for piloting the Mets to back-to-back post-season appearances.

Let me be clear, I was never among TC's biggest supporters.  Collins never made my personal list of candidates back when he was originally appointed manager.  At best, I grew ambivalent towards him. Suffice to say, I do not necessarily disagree with many things Carig's article touches upon.

Terry Collins is indeed a poor tactician, and his abuse of the bullpen borders on criminal.  I do not appreciate his lack of conviction when it concerns certain higher profile players, nor his heavy-handed tactics with younger players, because when managing a clubhouse one method flies in the face of the other.

In that sense, some of which Marc Carig reports makes perfect sense (most of it, actually).  And in truth, nothing about this is new to us fans.  The dysfunction afflicting the Mets front office is crystal clear, and has been for quite some time.  We've been screaming this from the mountain tops, only to have the media take Collins' side. 

How ironic ... hmm?

Whether you liked him or not, I believe most fans were perfectly willing to thank Terry Collins, then just let him ride off into the sunset. 

That is why I call this article a swift kick in the ass.  For Carig's part, the timing of it stinks to high hell.  Worse, however, the front office contributing anonymous quotes is nothing short of cowardly.

And if Carig didn't get some quotes directly from Sandy Alderson, then the Mets front office has a leak.

John Ricco?

Think about it ... no one knows what he does, but he has a bird's eye view of everything.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

L.I. Ducks: Revolution Outlasts Flock in Series Opener

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Championship Series

Revolution leads series 1-0
I - Revs 8; Ducks 7
II - @ Long Island

Long Island Ducks: Wild Opening Game at the Pond Ends in Defeat.

In a somewhat literal sense, this game got out of control.  Of the 13 pitchers appearing in this game, 12 issued at least one walk.  All told, York and Long Island pitchers combined to issue 20 base on balls.

Therefore, any pitch that strayed into the strike zone was bound to be struck, solidly.  Sure enough, the difference maker in this game was Revs DH Michael Burgess' 3-run home run off Ducks starter Matt Larkins in the top of the third.

Otherwise, the game was a wild back and forth affair.  York held a commanding 4-0 lead through the first four innings of play.  Long Island then answered back with a four-run bottom of the fifth.  Dan Lyons plated the first two runs with a double to left, and Lew Ford plated the second pair with a single to left.

Delta Cleary Jr.'s RBI single in the sixth gave the Ducks their only lead of the night.  But it was short-lived.  York plated a pair of runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings.

The Ducks closed to with 7-8 in the bottom of the eighth, but mustered no more.

Starter Matt Larkins walked off to a no-decision after allowed four earned runs on seven hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.  Reliever James Jones got tagged with the loss after failing to retire a batter - surrendering two runs on two hits and a walk.

At the plate, eternal veteran Lew Ford went 3 for 5 with three RBI.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

L.I. Ducks: The Atlantic League Championship Series is Underway

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


York Revolution
Long Island Ducks
Bethpage Ballpark

Long Island Ducks: Revenge is in the Air; Flock Faces York in Rematch of 2011 Atlantic League Finals.

It wasn't long ago, when the only thing that came between the Long Island Ducks and winning three straight Atlantic League championships was the York Revolution.

Between 2011-2013, Long Island won three straight Liberty Division titles.  However, the Ducks would bow to the York Revolution, three games to one, in the 2011 league finals.  In 2012, Long Island won the first of back-to-back Atlantic League championships.

The Revolution's victory over the Ducks in 2011 was York's second straight Atlantic League title.

They meet again, tonight, in Game One of the Atlantic League finals from Bethpage Ballpark.

20th Anniversary Season

The Long Island Ducks are vying for their fourth Atlantic League title (2004, 2012, 2013).  This is their sixth finals appearance.  They were swept by the Sugar Land Skeeters in last year's Atlantic League finals.

The York Revolution are vying for their third title (2010, 2011).

Updated 11:30pm

Game One
Revolution  8
DUCKS      7

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

N.Y. Giants: Odell Beckham's Dog Day Afternoon

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

"I'm a dog, so I acted like a dog."- Odell Beckham Jr.

New York Giants: Owner Speaks Out; John Mara Pissed Off.

Tuesday's New York Post reported Giants owner John Mara said he's very unhappy with Odell's behavior on Sunday.  He also said the team will handle the matter internally.

I guess that takes the pressure off Jerry Reese and Coach McAdoo to speak out against their best player.

Coach McAdoo refuses to criticize his offensive line, refuses to take exception with Odell Beckham over Sunday's behavior, yet Eli Manning is fair game?  Funny how Coach's big blue marble spins, if not curiously.

For someone who is only three games into his fourth NFL season, OBJ's shameless acts of self-promotion are many.  Topping the list of incidences is a full blown feud with cornerback Josh Norman; his initial assault and subsequent love affair with a kicking net; another meltdown against Minnesota which included bumping a referee; taking the Giants receivers corp on an ill-timed trip to South Beach just before last year's playoff game against the Packers; then putting forth one of his worst ever performances in said playoff game.

The Giants have enabled it all, including Sunday's episode.  The only (person) people who can stop such antics are other players.  Winning locker rooms police themselves.  That being said, Landon Collins was recently on New York City radio condoning Odell's celebration antic.

So there's that ...

Here's the thing - prior to Sunday's game against the Eagles, I believed Odell Beckham's conduct and level of professionalism left himself wide open for public criticism.

What he did Sunday, however, is different.  If we are to take Odell at his word in believing he acted out with a personal protest directed at POTUS, then that's fine by me because protest is the American way.  We The People will settle these issues on our own - thank you - because when the establishment and their conventional wisdom continually fail its citizens; when promises of change and improvement never come; protest is in order.  In turn, protest comes in many and sometimes creative forms.  Sometimes protest even occurs on a football field.

Odell is a smart guy.  He knows exactly what he's doing, and doesn't seemed burdened by potential consequences.  He makes no apologies, and will continue marching to his own beat.  But at the end of the day, we're still talking about football, aren't we?  At least I am.  And as a Giants fan, I do not appreciate the things Odell does.

In all fairness to OBJ, though, I grew up dealing with Lawrence Taylor's issues.  I remember Bill Parcells and George Young cringing whenever their best player did something wrong, forcing them into damage control mode.  Like Taylor, Odell is presently one of the highest profile stars in the NFL There's no denying he's a superior talent, but his self-promotion is increasingly becoming a detriment to the team.  Unfortunately, all those highlight catches have not yet served as a catalyst for elevating Giants success.  Taylor at least helped lead the Giants to a pair of Super Bowl victories.

Odell is a game changing talent, and in the very near future this organization must decide whether committing a king's ransom in order to retain him will be in their best interest.

On that note, there are reasons why Odell Beckham became the fasted receiver to reach 300 receptions in NFL history this past Sunday.  The talent/skill level of the Giants offensive line has been far below par during Odell's three first three seasons with the team.  They've had no tight end to speak of.  In turn, the running game has been futile at best.  Therefore, the Eli/Odell connection continues being the lone extent of recent Giants offensive capabilities.

Knuckleheads abound in life.

In a game they once led against the Vikings, I watched the 1997 Giants defense breakout into a fight against each other while on the field, then lose in ponderous fashion.

Jeremy Shockey was just as problematic as Odell, if not more so because he often worked against a younger Eli Manning instead of with him.  Can't say that about Odell.  He never lambasted his coach to the media either like Tiki Barber did with Tom Coughlin.

It is what it is ...

Some things never change, like older fans wrangling with and against younger sensibilities; debating levels of tolerance or lack thereof; or arguing over personal accountability.

N.Y. Giants: Rushing to Conclusions

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Offensive Line Inability to Create Daylight
Keeping Big Blue Fans Brooding in the Dark

New York Giants Football: After Three Weeks, Season Already Seems All But Lost.

It took three games, but the Giants finally broke the century mark in rushing.  They ran the ball 17 times for 49 yards during Sunday's 24-27 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, finally pushing them over the 100 yard mark in rushing for the season.

Through the first three games, the Giants backfield of Darkwa, Perkins, and Vereen, have rushed a total of 43 times for 134 yards.  That averages out to 14 attempts for 44.6 yards per game/ 3.1 yards per rush.

That's not complimentary football, folks, as Coach McAdoo likes to say.

Sure ... Eli threw three TD passes in the fourth quarter against the Eagles.  And on the one hand, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham proved that when they're in sync, they're among the most feared threats in football.  That being said, the Giants most gifted offensive player and lone scoring threat is at the same time the team's main source of controversy and fan irritation.

Eli clearly made adjustments heading into this game and got his throws off (more or less) within two seconds or less.  With regards to Coach McAdoo's version of the West Coast offense, that's the way it's supposed to be.  And in a micro sense, it worked.  Pressure on the offensive line was reduced.   They allowed no sacks and only four other QB hits.

But I ask, what good is this quick strike capability when their inability to run the ball and control the clock is continually putting Coach Spagnuolo's defense on the field for an average of 34:31 minutes a game?  Said another way, the Giants opposition is possessing the ball for ten more minutes per game.

More defensive field time equals more wear and tear.  In Week One, Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott rushed 24 times for 104 yards.  Detroit rushed 29 times for 115 yards.  Meanwhile, the Eagles oppressed the Giants defense with 39 rushes for 193 yards.  Said another way, they've already allowed a grand total of 437 yards on the ground, an average of 145 yards allowed per game.

With more wear and tear, injuries at some point could become problematic.  Janoris Jenkins, J.T. Thomas, and B.J. Goodson all had issues heading into Week Three.  Meanwhile, Olivier Vernon leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury perhaps is not coincidental.

I derive no joy by saying the Giants regular season, and any aspirations of making the playoffs already seem like dust in the wind.

Monday, September 25, 2017

N.Y. Yankees: Judge Sets The Record Straight

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

Make Room For

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge Breaks Mark McGwire's Home Run Record; Becomes First Rookie in Baseball History to Hit 50 Home Runs in a Season.

Holy Cow!

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is the first rookie in baseball history to hit 50 home runs in a season.

On Monday, the Yankees and Kansas City Royals played a make-up game at the Stadium.  Judge went 2 for 4, on this record setting day, with 3 RBI.  Thirty years after Mark McGwire set the former rookie record with 49 home runs in 1987, Judge tied McGwire in the third inning, then began the task of resetting the record in the seventh inning with his second home run of the game.

Monday makes four home runs in two games for Judge, who also hit two home runs on Sunday against the Blue Jays in Toronto.  He has now hit 13 home runs in the month of September.  The Yankees have six games left, all at home against the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto.

Aaron Judge is the 29th player in major league history to reach 50 home runs in a season.  He joins Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Alex Rodriguez, as the only Yankees player to reach 50 home runs in one season.

This also marks the ninth time a New York Yankee has posted 50 home runs in a season:
  • 1920 - Babe Ruth; 54
  • 1921 - Babe Ruth; 59
  • 1927 - Babe Ruth; 60
  • 1928 - Babe Ruth; 54
  • 1956 - Mickey Mantle; 52
  • 1961 - Mickey Mantle; 54
  • 1961 - Roger Maris; 61
  • 2007 - Alex Rodriguez; 54

Aaron Judge, 25-years old, retained his rookie status entering 2017 after playing in only 27 games and making 84 official at-bats last season.

During his first season (1920) with the Yankees, a then 25-year old Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs and drove in 135 runs.

As of close of business Monday, Aaron Judge is slashing .283/.418/.620, with a 1.038 OPS.  He has 108 RBI to go along with his 50 home runs, and leads the American League with 129 runs scored, 129 walks, and a ghastly 203 strikeouts.

Unavoidably, many fans believe Mark McGwire's achievements were of a dubious nature.  Therefore, arguments will likely be made for Judge setting this particular record straight.

L.I. Ducks: Bring on the Revolution

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


York Revolution
Long Island Ducks
Bethpage Ballpark

Long Island Ducks: Flock Takes Third Straight From Somerset Patriots; Clinch Second Straight Liberty Division Crown.

The Ducks are heading back to the Atlantic League finals.  

But not before starter John Brownell and the Ducks suffered a disheartening series opening defeat at the Pond.  Game One's 7-1 loss seemed right in line with the rest of Long Island's September malaise. Somerset roughed up Long Island's all-time wins leader for 13 hits and seven runs (four earned) through 5.1 innings of work.  Brownell faced 31 batters during the loss, walking one and fanning four.

His mound opponent Patriots winning pitcher Mark Hamburger frustrated the Ducks for seven innings. The Ducks managed eight hits but fanned ten times overall en route to stranding five runners scoring position.  Right fielder Anthony Vega's RBI single in the 4th inning plated Long Island's lone run of the game.

The Ducks evened the series on Thursday with a 4-1 victory in Game Two.  Starter Matt Larkins struggled with control, but still limited the Patriots to their lone run of the game on four hits through 5.2 innings pitched for the win.  The offense got RBI from second baseman Elmer Reyes and right fielder Lew Ford.  Catcher Alex Burg went 3 for 4, with a home run in the sixth.

On Friday, the Liberty Division showdown shifted to Somerset's TD Bank Ballpark for Game Three.   There, Long Island southpaw Jake Fisher hurled a complete game gem against the Patriots in leading the Ducks to a decisive 2-1 lead in the series.  In facing 33 batters, the 27-year old tossed 115 pitches with 83 (72%) going for strikes, while allowing the first-half champs one-earned run on six hits and a pair of walks, and fanning nine batters for the victory.

Long Island hitters racked up ten hits and five earned runs off losing Somerset starter and former major leaguer Will Oliver.  The Ducks stroked 14 hits overall including a home run from Anthony Vega as they rolled to a 6-1 victory.

In Game Four, the Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead on third inning RBI from Anthony Vega and third baseman Giovanny Alfonzo, and DH Angelo Songco's RBI in the top of the sixth.   However, Somerset clawed back, tying the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the frame off Ducks starter Jake Dunning, and a pair of runs charged to reliever James Jones in the bottom of the eighth.

To the dismay of Saturday's very hopeful home crowd at TD Bank Ballpark, Somerset's bullpen unraveled at the absolute wrong time.  The Patriots undoing was set in motion when Ducks lead-off batter Anthony Vega drew a walk, and Dan Lyons was hit by a pitch.  With Alfonzo Giovanny at the plate, Somerset reliever Dustin Antolin unleashed a wild pitch advancing the runners.  Giovanny then bounced into s fielder's choice plating Vega with the go-ahead run.  

Right-hander Amalio Diaz pitched the final 1.1 innings, earning the victory in relief, and closing out the Ducks third straight victory against the regular season first-half champion Somerset Patriots.

  • After losing Game One by a 1-7 margin, the Ducks outscored Somerset 14-5 in games Two through Four.

This is Long Island's second straight Liberty Division title.  They will return to the Atlantic League championship series where they'll face the Freedom Division champion York Revolution.

York hosted and won the first two games of the Freedom Division finals.  After a Game Three loss in Southern Maryland, the Revolution clinched a spot in the Atlantic League finals with a 5-1 victory over the Blue Crabs on Saturday.

This is York's third trip, and the Ducks sixth trip, back to the league finals.  In 2011, the York Revolution defeated the Long Island Ducks for their second straight Atlantic League championship. 

But 2011 was also the first of three straight championship series appearances by the Ducks.  Long Island won back-to-back titles during the 2012-2013 season, then lost last season's championship series against the Sugar Land Skeeters.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Three


Week Three


Week Two Record:  6-9
Overall Record:  10-16-1
Schmear of the Week:  1-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -7

1st and Ten:
  • President Donald Trump said on Friday, players who kneel during the National Anthem should be fired by the NFL's respective team owners.  Uh, isn't that illegal Mr. President?
2nd and Short:
  • A judge's decision has cleared the way for Ezekiel Elliott to participate in at least the next two games.
No Gain:
  • What are these London, England, games all about?  Future Expansion?  Isn't that what the old European League of American Football was all about?  And failed?  Just think of the onerous travel potentially facing teams like the Cardinals, Rams, Chargers, Raiders, 49ers, and Seahawks.
  • Chargers football in Los Angeles?  So far, they have 25,381 fans.  Great reception; great start.   Not.

Week Three
Friday Line ~ NYDN

EAGLES -6 (Giants)
Philly should double-team Odell Beckham all day long.  If they don't, they're fools.  The Giants can't run the ball; they can't pass protect.  And neither Sterling Shepard nor Brandon Marshall are enough to get the offense through the day.  Giants have managed just 13 total points through two games. Expect more of the same.
Loss  27-24 Eagles

Dolphins -6 (JETS)
Even potentially jet lagged after flying in from San Diego, the Fish are just a better team that the Jets.
Loss  20-6 Jets

Ravens -4 (Jaguars) London
I guess convincing victories over the Browns and Bengals should warrant some respect for the Ravens.  The Texans showed us last week exactly where the Jags stand.
Loss  44-7 Jaguars

Browns -1 (COLTS)
A baseball man, Paul DePodesta, is gonna save the Browns ... or so Cleveland hopes.  Remember the Browns effort against the Steelers?  I 'member.  Otherwise, this is a great time to be playing the Colts. If this spread were wider, I'd be singing a different tune.
Loss  31-28 Colts

Steelers -7 1/2 (BEARS)
The Steelers have baffled me for two years now.  My head says this is a six-point game, but my heart says lay the points.  Pittsburgh needs to bring the pain against the Bears in order to validate their 2-0 start.
Loss  23-17 Bears

Broncos -3 (BILLS)
What the hell is Las Vegas thinking?  I'd love to know.  Must be a trap!  Lay the points.
Loss  26-16 Bills

PATRIOTS -13 (Texans)
Texans whooped the Jaguars, then just barely got by the Bengals.  On the other side, we know Brady and Simon Bar Belichick like to run up the score whenever they can.
Loss  36-33 Patriots

Saints +6 (PANTHERS)
Drew Brees and Saints already know it's desperation time.  Their offense has scored 39 points in defeat so far.  But, I know what you're saying - the Panthers have so far given up only six points.  I get that.  But they've played the 49ers and Bills, and just barely squeaked by the latter.  Cam Newton will be playing this week on a hobbled foot.  That evens the playing field a bit.  Take the points.
WIN  34-13 Saints

Bucs +1 (VIKINGS)
Sam Bradford will miss his second straight game.  A good Bucs team will prevail.
Loss  34-17 Vikings

Falcons -3 (LIONS)
Nice match-up! Stafford vs. Ryan.  However, unlike what the Lions defensive line did against the Giants, particularly Eli Manning, the Falcons offensive line will keep Matt Ryan upright and clean.
WIN  30-26 Falcons

TITANS -2 1/2 (Seahawks)
The Seahawks are making a habit of coming on late in seasons.  They squeaked by the 49ers in Week One, then managed only nine points during good weather in Green Bay.  If the Titans win time of possession, the Seahawks are doomed.
WIN  33-27 Titans

Chiefs -3 (CHARGERS)
Andy Reid has been at this a long time.  He's a good coach, and the Chiefs will be among the AFC's final four.  Beating the Patriots was no fluke.  The Chiefs then followed-up with a win over the Eagles.  At least Los Angeles spectators will see one good team on the field.  Said another way, the Chargers have no chance.
WIN  24-10 Chiefs

Bengals +9 (PACKERS)
Say hello to another desperate 0-2 team.  If the Bengals really care about Coach Lewis, then they'll play competitive football Sunday in Green Bay.  No excuses ... the weather will still be nice, etc.   Covering nine points would be good enough for me.  But them Cats are still gonna get Marvin Lewis fired.
WIN  27-24 Packers

Raiders -3 (D.C.HOGS)
This is another one of those Las Vegas spreads that makes me scratch my head.  I think the Raiders win by two touchdowns.
Loss  27-10 Hogs

Schmear of the Week: (1-1)
Chiefs -3

Guten Appetit
Roast pork shoulder, Spanish rice, platanos, avocado and tomato salad, and a bread pudding.

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday everyone!

Week Three Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  15-25-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -8

Thursday, September 21, 2017

N.Y. Giants: Coach McAdoo Masterminding His Own Dilemma

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Head Coach Ben McAdoo 
Joins Opposition In Assault Against Eli Manning

New York Football Giants: Delusional Head Coach Implements Flawed Offensive System, Then Blames Eli Manning For Poor Results.

Ereck Flowers played terribly this past Monday night.  We know.  Although I find myself disagreeing with Coach McAdoo more and more, the head coach is right about one thing - the problems facing the offensive line affect the entire unit, not just one person.

First on the docket, pass protection.  After allowing three sacks and four QB hits during Week One against the Cowboys, the Giants offensive line allowed the Detroit Lions five sacks, and another eight QB hits.  Do the math, and that's eight sacks, and twelve QB hits through their first two hours of football.

Second, the running game remains inept.  The Giants backfield rushed just ten times for thirty yards against the Lions.  Add that to their Week One totals, and the Giants have thus far rushed 26 times through two games for a mere 85 yards.

Now ...

Lack of skill/talent aside, herein lies the real problem with the Giants offense.  Coach McAdoo thinks he's running a West Coast style offense (or variant thereof).  I watched Coach Bill Walsh and Joe Montana both invent and perfect the West Coast offense during their run together with the San Francisco 49ers.  Therefore I say with great confidence that Coach McAdoo could not be getting this more wrong.

In very simple, loose terms, the West Coast style is predicated on three-step drops, slants, timing patterns, and above all, quickness.  It's a system which dares opposing defenses to blitz, creating a "damned if you do/damned if you don't" situation.  Yet, it's patient enough to take what is given.  Just look at the Patriots ... the modern day masters of West Coast.  Tom Brady is a statue in the pocket, but no one gets to him because he gets the play off too quickly.  It's the speed with which a QB makes his read, executes, and/or dumps off to the backfield (or throws it away) that is most key in keeping the quarterback clean and minimizing pressure on the offensive line.

Coach McAdoo has certainly changed the offensive philosophy around here over his three-plus years with the Giants.  Eli's completion rate under McAdoo is up, but his yards attempted per pass are way down.  While that's an affect of the West Coast system, Coach McAdoo's version looks much like the same Kevin Gilbride set at the line of scrimmage, replete with five to six step drops (even from the shotgun, and he's still getting sacked).

There's a common link among the offensive braintrust; a bridge between Gilbride and McAdoo; and his name Mike Sullivan.

But I'm not going there ...

The system also requires balance, meaning, the ability to run the ball.

It's Jerry Reese's fault the line is so dreadfully bad.  And it's Jerry's fault that a franchise which once prided itself for playing smash mouth football has all but abandoned the run.  There's no getting around it - poor offensive line play is killing this team, and just might get Eli hurt.  West Coast demands a far more intricate brand of play from the offensive line than the Giants are presently staffed to execute.

But it's the increasingly delusional head coach's faulty implementation of his West Coast hybrid presently putting Eli in harms way.  It's this delusional head coach who also continues minimizing the offensive line deficiencies, and instead seems hell bent on destroying his quarterback's moral.

See?  Damned if you do ... damned of you don't.

Just saying.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

L.I. Ducks: Liberty Division Playoff Preview

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Somerset Patriots
Long Island Ducks
Bethpage Ballpark

Long Island Ducks: Flock Holds On to Win 2nd-Half Flag; Face Rival Somerset Patriots in Liberty Division Playoff.

Here we go again ... the Long Island Ducks/Somerset Patriots rivalry resumes Wednesday evening at The Pond.  And quite frankly, I don't think Ducks and Patriots fans would have it any other way.

Prior to 2014, the Ducks and Patriots faced off just once in the post-season.  That came in 2013, when Long Island defeated Somerset in the finals to capture their second consecutive Atlantic League title.

But a genuinely intense rivalry has clearly emerged since then.

In 2014, league realignment moved the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs out of the Liberty Division, and into the Freedom Division.  The Somerset Patriots in turn switched from the Freedom into the same division with the Ducks.  The Patriots finished first overall in the Liberty Division that season but bowed out of the division series.  After posting back-to-back championships, the Ducks, however, failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2014, finishing both halves of the season in second place, six games behind the resettled Pats.

In 2015, the Long Island Ducks again finished both halves of the season in second place behind Somerset.  Although Long Island still gained a playoff spot via the Wild Card, they were defeated by the Patriots in the Liberty Division series, whom would go on to claim their Atlantic League leading sixth championship.

The Ducks finally snatched the Liberty Division back from the Patriots last season, finishing two games ahead of Somerset to clinch the first-half flag.  Undeterred, Somerset went on to clinch the second-half flag, finishing seven games ahead of the Ducks.

Somerset jumped out to a commanding 2-0 series lead over Long Island in the Liberty Division series, highlighted by Game Two's 10-1 romp over the Ducks.  With Long Island facing elimination, the series shifted to Bethpage Ballpark.  Back in The Pond, the Ducks staged a stunning comeback, reeling off three straight victories to win the 2016 Liberty Division title.

Long Island's potential storybook ending ended there, however.  The Sugar Land Skeeters swept three straight games from the Ducks during last year's Atlantic League finals.


This year's road back to the playoffs was a perilous one.  Long Island closed out the month of September with a 5-11 record.

Owning a six game lead ahead of second place Bridgeport, the Ducks began a stretch (Sept. 7-17) of 12 games in 11 days in which they struggled to a 3-8 record.  Meanwhile, the red-hot Bluefish were swimming strong, and over the Sept. 9 weekend swept the Ducks in their final home series at the Pond. By doing so, Bridgeport won potential tie-breaker rights away from Long Island (should that have come into effect), and also threatened having the gates at Bethpage Ballpark locked shut till next Spring.


Because Long Island was now faced with playing their final seven games of the regular season on the road, and more importantly, needing to protect their fast eroding division lead.

With a magic number of two heading into the Sept. 15 weekend, Long Island at last managed a key victory in Sugar Land that Friday, as Bridgeport also emerged victorious over the Patriots.  Then despite Long Island's loss against the Skeeters on Saturday, Bridgeport's loss to Somerset finally awarded the second-half flag to Long Island (with just one more game left in the regular season).

Somerset punched their ticket to the post-season by winning the first-half flag, finishing with a league leading 42-18 record.  However, they barely finished just one game ahead of the second place  Fish.   The Patriots 7-9 record in September was only slightly better than Long Island's. Somerset lost six of their last ten games, but at least ended the regular season with a pair of victories.

Ironically (perhaps not so much for Bridgeport fans), the Bluefish finished tied with the Lancaster Barnstormers for the best (76-64) overall regular season record.  Yet, each team failed to qualify for the post-season.  This was the Bluefish final regular season in Bridgeport.  They made a hell of a push during each half of the season.  Unfortunately, this charter member of the Atlantic League will be relocating for the 2018 season.

Long Island posted an 73-67 overall record which was the league's third best mark behind Somerset's 74-65 record.  The Ducks and Patriots have faced each other 20 times this season.  Long Island was 6-4 at the Pond, and played to par (5-5) in Somerset.

Runs Scored:  LID 598; SOM  628

Team Average:  LID .263; SOM .270

Home Runs:  LID 110; SOM 81

Team Slugging:  LID .391; SOM .374

Team OPS:  LID .725; SOM .729


Team ERA:  LID 4.12; SOM 3.90

Average Against:  LID .260; SOM .251

Team WHiP:  LID 1.4; SOM 1.3

Strikeouts:  LID 1,030; SOM 1,051

The York Revolution host the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for games One and Two of the Freedom Division playoffs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hudson Valley Renegades Win 2017 NYPL Championship

From the desk of:  THE FISHKILL NINE

home of the 
Hudson Valley Renegades
1999    2012

Hudson Valley Renegades: Fishkill Club Wins Third New York-Penn League Championship.

I saw my first ever New York-Penn League game back in 1994 at Dutchess Stadium when the Hudson Valley Renegades were still an affiliate of the Texas Rangers.  So as a Brooklyn Cyclones fan, I would like to congratulate the Fishkill Nine for eliminating the Staten Island Yankees - because after all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Then of course, congratulations for winning a third NYPL championship.

With a 46-29 regular season record, it was actually the Staten Island Yankees who posted the league's best record with a 46-29 mark.  Hudson Valley was a close second with a 44-32 league record, but finished 2.5 games behind in the race for the McNamara Division flag behind the Yankees.

Being the Wild Card seemed to suit the Renegades just fine, though.  After taking Game One of the McNamara Division playoff by a 5-2 margin, the series shifted to Staten Island.  There, the Yankees won Game Two by a 4-1 score.  But Hudson Valley roared back in Game Three with a decisive 7-1 series clinching victory.

In the other semi-final series pitting the Stedler Division versus Pinckney Division champs, the Vermont Lake Monsters made quick work of the latter division's Mahoning Valley Scrappers, completing a two game sweep.

The New York-Penn League championship series commenced on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Dutchess Stadium, where the Renegades gained a 3-2, 13-inning opening game victory over the Monsters.

Burlington, Vermont, hosted Game Two on Thursday, where Hudson Valley completed a sweep of the Lake Monsters.  A home run by Renegades shortstop Taylor Wall capped off a five-run, second inning outburst, from which Hudson Valley never looked back en route to a convincing 6-0 victory.

Renegades starter Drew Strotman tossed six innings of one-hit ball, issuing one walk and fanning five for the victory.  Reliever Andrew Gist allowed no hits, walked two, and fanned three over the final three innings for the save.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

PIGSKIN 2017: Week Two


Week Two


Week One Record:  4-7-1
Schmear of the Week:  0-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -7

1st and Ten:
  • New England Patriots ... So much for going undefeated.  Meanwhile, Tom Brady serves a lengthy suspension last season for his alleged involvement in deflating footballs.  Yet, Ezekiel Elliott is still playing.
2nd and Long:
  • New York Giants: Team than can least afford to start season with two straight losses.
No Gain:
  • After losing their first two games by a combined score of 33-9, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis risks becoming their former coach ... again.  If he doesn't get fired, I'll show you a general manager not doing his job.
  • Opening Day at the Black Hole in Oakland.  Curious to see if the future Las Vegas Raiders will be playing in front of highly apathetic fans.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

RAIDERS -13 1/2 (Jets)
The Jets take another step closer to the #1 overall pick in next year's draft.  If, last week, the Jets lost by nine points in Buffalo, what do you think will happen in the Black Hole?  For Coach Todd Bowles, when it rains, it pours.
WIN  45-20 Raiders

Titans -2 (JAGUARS)
This will indeed be a close game.  Titans are coming off a tough home loss against Oakland.  The Jags can surprise, but I think the Titans are put together just a little better than the Jags are at this point.
WIN  37-16 Titans

RAVENS -8 1/2 (Browns)
After last week's performance, I'm forced to rethink the Ravens.  After last week's gutsy performance, I still can not be sold on the Browns.
WIN  24-10 Ravens

PANTHERS -7 1/2 (Bills)
Memo to Buffalo ... these aren't the Jets.  This strikes me as a ten point game.
Loss  9-3 Panthers

Patriots -6 1/2 (SAINTS)
Hard to go against the Saints at home, but I expect an extremely perturbed Tom Brady to correct last week's loss against the Chiefs.  Not sure when the Patriots last lost two games in a row.
WIN  36-20 Patriots

Cardinals -7 (COLTS)
Cards won't defeat the Colts in a romp like the Rams did.  But I'll bet they cover this game with ease. Carson Palmer should play better than he did against the Lions.
Loss  16-13 Cardinals

Eagles +5 (CHIEFS)
I know what the Chiefs did last week to New England.  The match-ups are different this week, and I think they favor Philly's defense.
Loss  27-20 Chiefs

Vikings +6 (STEELERS)
The Steelers put forth a disappointing performance last week against Cleveland.  That said, the biggest question surrounding this game centers around the health of Sam Bradford.  He might be able to fight through this game (with a recurring knee issue), but who knows what the rest of his season will bring.
Loss  26-9 Steelers

BUCS -7 (Bears)
This is essentially the Bucaneers' season opening game.  They are going to be a tougher team than people realize.  The Bears hung around last week (and covered the points) in Atlanta.  But, at the end of the day, however, they're just Da Bears.
WIN  29-7 Bucs

CHARGERS -4 1/2 (Dolphins)
Like the Bucs, the Fish have yet to play a game.  The Bolts barely lost to Denver last Monday.  With a game under their belts, look for them to cover at home.
Loss  19-17 Dolphins

D.C. Hogs +2 1/2 (RAMS)
This is a game I'd avoid like a plague.  If there's such a thing as a desperation game in Week Two, for the Hogs, this is it.
WIN  27-20 Hogs

Cowboys -2 (BRONCOS)
Denver can stuff the box in an effort to neutralize Ezekiel Elliott if they want.  But Dallas' O-Line will still give Dak Prescott time to throw (find Dez).  The Cowboys offensive balance, therefore, will win out.  The Cowboys defense is not as good as it looked against the Giants.  But I still don't see the Broncos outscoring Dallas.
Loss  42-17 Broncos

SEAHAWKS -14 (49ers)
An angry team, playing at home, against a dysfunctional organization.
Loss  12-9 Seahawks

Packers +3 (FALCONS)
Tough call ... Packers covered last week against the Seahawks > job well done.  The Falcons playing at home pushed against the Bears > suspect.  Vegas sees this straight up, so lay the points and hope for the best.
Loss  34-23 Falcons

*GIANTS -3 1/2 (Lions) Monday Night
I have only one decent reason for justifying this pick - the Giants defense against Matt Stafford.   Otherwise, the Giants offense can't run; they can't protect Eli; and it looks as if Odell Beckham Jr. will miss another game.  Did you see the kind of game Carson Palmer had against Detroit last week? Yeah ... so I'm counting on turnovers, defensive points, field goals.
Loss  24-10 Lions

Schmear of the Week: (0-1)
Buccaneers -7

Guten Appetit:
Shrimp skewers on the barbie, lobster rolls, crab cakes, and some good old fried calamari.  Tomato salad with cucumber, bell pepper, minced parsley/basil, fried onion crumbs, thin sliced almonds.  I picked up some crisp kristall weizen beers for the occasion.

Good Luck, and have a great Football Sunday everyone!

Week Two Record:  6-9
Overall Record:  10-16-1
Schmear of the Week:  1-1
Bagels in the Basket:  -7

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

L.I. Ducks: Losing Altitude

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Flock's Lead Down to Two Games 
With Five to Play

Long Island Ducks: Struggles Continuing Through the Final Stretch.

Like a piano falling out of the sky ...

Long Island's untimely struggles continued Tuesday evening in Lancaster where the beleaguered Flock dropped their sixth straight contest, this time against the Barnstormers.  While no consolation, the Ducks at least have the Skeeters to thank for putting the breaks on Bridgeport's recent surge with a 5-0 whitewashing of the Fish in Sugar Land.

As a result of Tuesday's loss, Long Island's once comfortable Liberty Division lead over the Bridgeport Bluefish is now down to just a pair of games, with five games left in the regular season.

Tuesday's starter John Brownell pitched 6.2 innings in a losing effort, allowing three earned runs on six hits and three walks, with three strikeouts.  The Ducks offense, however, is only averaging 2.4 runs per game over their last eight.  It's no coincidence, then, the Ducks have scored the third least runs in the league, and own the third lowest team average.

Just saying ...

The York Revolution, Lancaster Barnstormers, and Sugar Land Skeeters, were all victorious Tuesday, so the logjam atop the Freedom Division standings continues.  The Revs own a two game lead over Lancaster, and a three game lead over Sugar Land.  Be sure that the Ducks will have their hands full with York and Sugar Land.

Meanwhile, after wrapping up their present series against Sugar Land, the Fish close out the regular season at home against a coasting Patriots team.  Somerset may attempt to set up their rotation for the post-season, perhaps affording Bridgeport an easier day at the office than otherwise expected.

Leading the Freedom Division

The Somerset Patriots and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs were the Atlantic League's first-half champions of their respective divisions.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

N.Y. Giants: O-Line Puts Worst Foot Forward

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Coach McAdoo 
Serving Up Offensive Line Kool-Aid

Week One
Giants        3
Cowboys  19

New York Football Giants: New Season, Same Old Story.

This is an offensive line/backfield issue in the collective sense, as much a philosophical issue; be sure of that.  So there's no point in singling out players.  We know who they are, and what they're incapable of.  If anyone needs to be singled out, it's Jerry Reese for de-prioritizing these units over the last six seasons to the point of complete deterioration.

What I'm not sure about, is what Coach McAdoo is trying to sell us.  No coach should ever place himself in agreement with the press by saying, "Yeah, well, my O-Line sucks."  I understand not wanting to throw a struggling unit under the bus.  We all get that.  But reducing the matter to a non-issue.  That's the first indication of a huge problem.  And it's beginning to seem as if his media deflections and denials are cries for mercy.

The Cowboys sacked Eli three times, and registered four more QB hits.  In other words, the pocket was not a hospitable place to be.  Meanwhile the passing lanes remained riddled with obstacles as well.  Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in particular laid siege to the right side of the Giants O-Line with two sacks, and two more QB hits.

Okay ... so Coach knows he has no running game, and that Eli Manning is in jeopardy with every snap he takes from center.  He also knows that without Odell Beckham Jr. turning seven yard receptions into 65 yard gains the Giants are somewhat impotent.  Sunday night was a Prime Time example (embarrassment).  Sure, Brandon Marshall is a fine receiver in his own right, and is here to alleviate the double team on OBJ.  But with no OBJ, and no viable running game to set up play-action, an average Dallas Cowboys defense (IMO) simply loaded the box, limited Marshall to one catch, and essentially defied the Giants to beat them with Sterling Shepard.

Dallas QB Dak Prescott nearly out-rushed Paul Perkins and Orleans Darkwa by himself.  Big Blue's backs joined to rush a mere ten times for thirty yards.  In fact, the Giants only rushed the ball eleven times all night if you include Sterling Shepard's six yard romp.

If you care to argue Shane Vereen's nine receptions for 54 yards out of the backfield count for something ... fine.  But what if I countered by saying he accounted for 23% of the Giants offense during what was effectively a shutout.

Now consider that guy on the opposing sideline.  Behind a well drafted, cohesive, and effective offensive line, Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott rushed 24 times for 104 yards ... against a good Giants defense.

That being said, the Giants defense played very well Sunday night, holding the Cowboys to 19 points. But if the offense remains intent on leaving them out there for 35:00 minutes a game, then we're all in for a long season.

The score was only 0-3 after the first quarter, and 0-16 at halftime.  We are not talking dire circumstances here.  Those are generally times for regrouping, making adjustments, getting back to fundamentals, and attempting to establish the run again.  But that's only if you have any semblance of a rushing attack.  One must have the mindset as well.  Teams must want to run the ball and commit.   And for that, you need an effective offensive line.  It appears as if the Giants have none of the above.

Dallas rushed for 129 yards and held the ball for 34:14 minutes.  They produced 392 yards of offense on 71 plays.  As previously noted, the Giants only rushed for 35 yards and possessed the ball for 25:46 minutes.  They were limited to 233 total yards on just 53 plays.

If you do not think there is a correlation between running successfully, and time of possession, and victory, then you're drinking Coach McAdoo's Kool-Aid.

 ... and I picked the Giants to win too.

Monday, September 11, 2017

L.I. Ducks: Flock's Playoff Aspirations Suddenly in Peril

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Closing Time?
Ducks final seven games of the regular season are on the road.
Only way they'll play at the Pond again is to win the division flag.

Long Island Ducks: Reeling Flock Losing Grip on Liberty Division Flag.

The Ducks final regular season game at Bethpage Ballpark resulted in yet another loss against the Bridgeport Bluefish, whom completed a weekend sweep over the Ducks in their last ever visit to Long Island.

As recently as five days ago, the Ducks owned a 6.5 game lead over Bridgeport.  The Bluefish have now closed to within 2.5 games of the first place Long Island as both head into the final week of the season.

Bridgeport has two series left on their schedule.  After a day off on Monday, they'll be in Sugar Land for three, then close out the season at home against the Somerset Patriots.  The Fish have gone 10-4 since getting swept by Somerset back on Aug. 25-27.  The league's top three hitters for average are presently Bluefish.

The Ducks will play a make-up game in York on Monday, then visit Lancaster.  They will close out the regular season with a trip to Sugar Land.  They've now lost four straight, and seven of their last ten games.  They have not won a series since taking three of four games against Sugar Land back on Aug. 21-24.

With Sunday's loss, the Ducks also lose the tie-breaker advantage to Bridgeport.

Long Island lead this game 1-0 through six innings.  But with the bases loaded in the top of the 7th, Ducks reliever Patrick Crider hit center fielder Wellington Dotel with a pitch to force in the tying run.

In the top of the 9th, veteran Ducks third baseman Ruben Gutay committed back-to-back throwing errors, paving the way for three unearned runs and a huge Long Island loss.

The second-half Liberty Division winner will face the Somerset Patriots.

In the Freedom Division, the York Revolution hold a tenuous 1.5 game lead over the Lancaster Barnstormers, and a 2.5 game lead over the Sugar Land Skeeters.  The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs were winners of the first-half.

Sunday marked the last visit of the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball club to Bethpage Ballpark.  After twenty years in Connecticut, the organization is moving to North Carolina for the 2018 season.  The Bridgeport Bluefish were a charter member of the Atlantic League.  The final regular season game at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard is scheduled for Sept. 17.

The Ballpark at Harbor Yard 
home of the 
Bridgeport Bluefish
1998 ~ 2017

Aug. 2016

Roger Clemens coaching first base for Bluefish.