Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Most Lugubrious Managerial Search in Mets History Presses Onward

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

I would have been very copacetic with Joe Girardi.  He was second on my list of managerial candidates.  Be that as it may he is now skipper of the Mets nearest rival, and the Philadelphia Phillies will be better for it.  Of that I'm sure.


Luis Rojas, ponderously not one of the finalists, is/was third on my list.  He would have earned the position the old fashioned way: by dutifully paying his dues.  His resume is classic, having served the last twelve seasons in the Mets minor league system as both a coach and manager.
  • 2007 - coach; Dominican Summer League
  • 2008 - coach; GCL Mets
  • 2009 - coach; Savannah Sand Gnats
Still only 38-years old, I'm unsure if Luis Rojas classifies as a really young Gen-X'er, or a really old Millennial.  In any event, Rojas receives his first managerial assignment in 2011 with the GCL Mets.  In 2012 he takes over the reigns at Savannah where in 2013 the Sand Gnats win the South Atlantic League championship.  In 2015 Rojas is promoted to manage at Port St. Lucie.  In 2016 he leads PSL to their first playoff appearance in three years.  Rojas in 2017 is again promoted to manage Binghamton where the Rumble Ponies post a 149-130 record during their two seasons under Rojas.  Entering the 2019 season Luis Rojas is named the Flushing Mets quality control coach by incoming general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

If you're a regular rider of the Trolley, then you know I follow winter league baseball.  I do not think; rather I know there is valuable experience to be gained in the Caribbean, be it as a player; coach; manager; even an executive.  The most recent and notable example of someone parlaying his winter league experience is present Red Sox manager Alex Cora.  After retiring as a player, for a few years he initially manages then serves as general manager of the Criollos de Caguas in Puerto Rico's LBPRC.  Los Criollos win Puerto Rico's 2016-2017 championship.  As general manager Alex Cora then leads an enhanced Criollos team (representative of Puerto Rico) to the 2017 Caribbean Series championship.  As general manager he assembles Team Puerto Rico whom face Team USA in the championship game of the most recent World Baseball Classic.  Very shortly thereafter in April Cora begins his stint as bench coach for A.J. Hinch and the soon to be World Champion Astros.  The following October Cora manages the Boston Red Sox to victory in the 2018 World Series.  Point being, Luis Rojas has captured two Dominican LIDOM championships in 2015 and 2016 as manager of Los Leones de Escogido.  If nothing else it helps punctuate a well rounded resume that should serve him well in future years.


The Mets continue marking time is what has become the most lugubrious managerial search in the history of baseball.  Latest reports list the four finalists as Carlos Beltran, Derek Shelton, Tim Bogar, and Eduardo Perez.  The 22nd manager in Mets history will then be named 2:30am (EST) on a random Sunday morning still to be determined.  Don't call them.  They'll call us.

Sam, Rich, and I, were joined on our most recent Metsian Podcast by Gotham Baseball's Mark C. Healey, and we all agreed albeit for varying reasons and with differing levels of trepidation that Carlos Beltran is sure to be named next manager of the Mets.  My reasoning is simply because the Mets continue doing the exact opposite of I want.  For reasons I'll get into shortly, I'm just not interested in Carlos Beltran managing the Mets.

Derek Shelton is a veritable unknown to me.  That alone is enough to dissuade me from hiring him.  Sure, he's been around the block where it concerns MLB level experience.  I can not deny him that.  However distinguishing oneself is another matter.  Being bench coach of the Twins does not a resume make.  Neither does working along side Eric Wedge which is as pedestrian as it gets.  Perhaps you consider him a branch off the Joe Maddon tree considering their time together at Tampa?  The better question is are you a fan of Joe Maddon?  Me .. not so much.  I find Tampa's success far more attributable to Chaim Bloom's oversight than anything else.

Tim Bogar owns ten years of MLB coaching experience.  However, his decade long impact is no more distinguishable than that of Shelton's.  Am I being made to believe by Mets brass that Bogar and Shelton can potentially be better field managers than Girardi ever was?  Not likely.

And then there's Eduardo Perez, the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, slugging first baseman for the Big Red Machine.  I grew up watching Tony.  I recall the Reds trouncing the Yankees in the 1976 World Series like it was yesterday.  There's something to be said for being born of baseball blood.  Eduardo also has requisite MLB coaching experience, and likewise managed successfully in Puerto Rico's professional league.  There's no doubt he is media savvy.  He's one man that will not soon get caught short for words.  In fact, I find him the most intriguing of the lot.  But just because I'm intrigued doesn't mean he's right for the job.

Meanwhile, the bombshell candidate is yet to materialize ... as if.


In case you're wondering my number one consideration is out.  In fact, he was never in.  I want Buck Showalter.  This guy checks all my boxes.  There is no questioning his acumen; he commands respect; and is quite adept at negotiating the New York media.  On that note, the Mets would have received little if any criticism had they elected to go that route.  To my dismay he hasn't received so much as a sniff from Brodie Van Wagenen.  Another time, under different circumstances, I would be more open towards hiring a second straight novice ... just not now.  In their present condition the Mets need nothing short of a swift kick in the Showalter.


Game seven of the 2019 World Series is now a matter of history.  Why does it seem the longer the Mets managerial search drags on, the more we're being led to believe Brodie Van Wagenen is actually targeting A.J. Hinch?


Fred Wilpon is still part of the hiring process.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

N.Y. Jets: The Bell Tolling for Le'Veon


Jets         15
Jaguars  29

In a 2015 regular season compromised by suspension and injury Le'Veon Bell rushes 113 times for  556 yards, averaging a career high 4.9 yards per rush with three touchdowns.  He also makes 24 receptions for 136 yards for a grand total 692 yards from scrimmage.  It's his lowest output as a member of the Steelers.  But in his return to full time duty the following season Bell accounts for 1,884 total yards from scrimmage with nine touchdowns, and in 2017 amasses 1,946 total yards with eleven touchdowns.

In a sport and league wherein career expectancy is astonishingly low to begin with, Le'Veon Bell takes a very calculated risk in electing to sit out the entirety of what would have been his sixth NFL season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  But while his former team has since been faced with more problems than a math book, there's no way Le'Veon upon signing a four year pact with the New York Jets could have anticipated stepping into this extreme level of organizational ineptness.

Through seven games to date as a member of the Jets Le'Veon has rushed 109 times for just 349 yards, while averaging 3.2 yards per rush with one touchdown.  He also has 32 receptions for 187 yards giving him a grand total of 536 yards from scrimmage.  Said another way the man is in the midst of the least productive season of his career.  One could argue he is being carefully managed back into NFL action after sitting out a season.  Bell averaged 18.5 rushes through his first three seasons, and 21.5 rushes through his final two seasons with Pittsburgh.  This season his averaging 15.5 rushes per game.

That's fine and well except that Bell's career low 3.2 yards per rush is largely because the Jets are among football's worst teams.  Look no further than an utterly ineffective offensive line which Coach Gase is continually having to shield from scrutiny.  Coach is so far play calling 60% passes and 40% run.  It's a fair ratio (but Gase needs a separate narrative).  However, the Jets rank second to last in the NFL in both total rushing yards and average rushing yards per game.  Only the moribund Miami Dolphins runs for less.  Secondly, the Jets have so far yielded 34 quarterback sacks which obviously is untenable.

I'd remiss not to mention what an outstanding team mate Le'Veon Bell has been throughout the Jets lugubrious 1-6 start.

May daylight come his way.

Monday, October 28, 2019

N.Y. Giants: Coach Shurmur Continues Suppressing Running Game

From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Week Eight
Giants    25
Lions      36


Daniel Jones enjoys what is easily his best game as a starter, going 28/41 (68%) for 322 yards, with four touchdowns, and no interceptions.  While he experiences a personal uptick in fortune, it's a bittersweet achievement as the Giants still lose to the Lions at Detroit and see their record fall to 2-6 on the season.

In my PIGSKIN picks, I said,
Saquon Barkley has yet to rush more than 18 times in a game.  Not until Coach Shurmur intensifies the running game will Daniel Jones resemble the quarterback we saw in week three.  Shurmur needs to give the Lions front seven something other to do other than just sacking Daniel Jones.  He's been sacked 18 times in five starts.  That needs to stop.

The offensive line is not great by any stretch, but they are improved and at the very least, serviceable.  However, to what degree is indeed debatable.  After all, they yield another three sacks and five QB hits at Detroit, bringing the total number of sacks allowed to 21 through Daniel Jones first six starts.  Jones fumbled on one QB hit which the Lions returned for a touchdown.

That being said Coach Shurmur's play calling remains contrary to Dave Gettleman's narrative with regard to running behind the hog mollies.  On Sunday Saquon Barkley rushes the ball a season high 19 times for 64 yards, and Elijhaa Penny accounts for three yards on one rush.  Otherwise Daniel Jones runs for another 13 yards on four sprints.  The Giants 24 rushing attempts are 37% of all plays called from scrimmage, and Daniel Jones 44 pass attempts account for 63% of plays called from scrimmage (punts not included).

With Sunday's 80 yard rushing effort the Giants through eight games have now run for 739 total yards.  They rank ninth in the NFC, and 17th in the NFL.  But where it concerns the Giants backfield, Saquon Barkley accounts for 373 yards, while Wayne Gallman; Jonathan Hilliman; and Elijhaa Penny; together account for 234 yards.  That's four Giants backs joining for 607 yards.  Said another way Dalvin Cook (MIN); Leonard Fournette (JAX); Christian McCaffery (CAR); Nich Chubb (CLE); and Ezekiel Elliott (DAL); all have more.  In fact only Daniel Jones' added 19 run attempts for 121-yards gives the misleading appearance that the Giants average one hundred ground yards per game.

Coach Shurmur's play calling against the Lions continues right in line with his previous seven games.  Eli Manning and Daniel Jones have to date joined on 246 pass attempts, accounting for 64% of plays from scrimmage.  Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Jonathan Hilliman, and Elijhaa Penny, account for 142 rushes, or just 36% of plays called from scrimmage.  In other words Coach Shurmur isn't even trying to present a balanced attack.

As previously stated, until Coach Shurmur intensifies the running game this offense will remain predicable and out of sync.  The situation is not without its positives.  Daniel Jones and fellow rookie  Darius Slayton (two touchdowns) are establishing an effective connection together.  Saquon caught a touchdown, and the returning Evan Engram caught one as well.  Even then, Saquon is only averaging a mere four receptions for 32 yards per game.  But can we agree getting sacked an average of four times a game is detrimental to Jones' well being?

This lack of pass/run balance is made more ponderous because the personnel (Saquon Barkley) is there.  So how about Shurmur reverses gears on the offensive line.  Instead of having them back peddling in pass protection, why not get all that brute force and ignorance moving forward in an effort to create Saquon Barkley more daylight.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

PIGSKIN 2019: Week Eight

Week Eight


Week Seven Record: 7-6
Overall Record: 46-47
Schmear of the Week: 3-4
Bagels in the Basket:  -4

1st and Ten
  • Patriots and Niners remain undefeated.
  • Bengals lead Sea Mammals for next year's first overall draft pick.
2nd and Long
  • Browns and Steelers: must be nice being in second place with 2-4 records, respectively.
  • The New York Sack Exchange: Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold running for their lives!
No Gain
  • Le'Veon Bell's career with the Jets.
  • Speaking of the Jets: tied with Sea Mammals for least points in the NFL.
  • The Patriots, Niners, and BILLS(!), have yet to yield 100 total points.
  • Where is Antonio Brown?
  • Sterling Shepard out third straight game (concussion).
  • In another bit-o-NEWS: Golden Tate is pissed off Jalen Ramsey dumped his pregnant sister.  Ya think?
  • Max Kellerman is a certifiable idiot if he thinks Tom Brady is a good fit with the Raiders.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

LIONS -7 Giants
I threw the Giants a bone last week and they spit it back in my face.  Saquon Barkley has yet to rush more than 18 times in a game.  Not until Coach Shurmur intensifies the running game will Daniel Jones resemble the quarterback we saw in week three.  Shurmur needs to give the Lions front seven something other to do other than just sacking Daniel Jones.  He's been sacked 18 times in five starts.  It's time for that to stop.  If not this week, then hopefully some time soon.
Loss; 31-26 Lions

Three words: Gardner freakin Minshew!  Seriously, though ... Jacksonville is gonna show Adam Gase exactly how the Jets should be utilizing Le'Veon Bell.  Without C.J. Mosley in the lineup I see Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars grinding this game down into a fine power.  How does JAX overcome a growing list of injured players on defense?  Let the back-ups blitz the hell out of Darnold.
WIN; 29-15 Jaguars

TITANS -2 1/2 Bucs
Oh!  Look who all of a sudden what's to play pro football.  The Jekyll and Hyde Titans get the benefit of the doubt.
WIN; 27-23 Titans

BEARS -4 Chargers
What's the over/under for the Bolts having more fans in Chicago than in Los Angeles.
Loss; 17-16 Chargers

Seahawks -3 1/2 FALCONS
The Falcons have more problems than a math book.  It will only get worse.  Meanwhile the Seahawks picked up safety Quandre Diggs.
WIN; 27-20 Seahawks

BILLS -2 Eagles
Tough call ... Buffalo is home, and are top three in defense.  But they're overachieving against bad teams.  The Eagles are playing their third road game in a row, and fourth in the last five weeks.  Being able to sleep in their own beds may make the difference for the Bills.
Loss; 31-13 Eagles

RAMS -13 Bengals
Huge opportunity for the Bengals to put some distance between them and the Sea Mammals.
WIN; 24-10 Rams

SAINTS -10 Cardinals
That's a lot of cheese.  Not too confident but Bridgewater is trending so well.  If Drew Brees comes back all the better.  Saints defense will put up a tougher fight against the Cardinals than did the Giants.
WIN; 31-9 Saints

Raiders +6 1/2 TEXANS
My first inclination is to say the Raiders suck on the road.  The last time I did that Oakland won at London.
WIN; 27-24 Texans

Panthers +5 1/2 NINERS
Panthers can pull this off, but I'm just looking for them to cover.
Loss; 51-13 Niners

COLTS -6 Broncos
I believe in the Colts!  A strong offensive line overcomes much.
Loss; 15-13 Colts

PATRIOTS -13 Browns
Belichick lives to shut down the Odell Beckham's and Baker Mayfield's of the world.
WIN; 27-13 Patriots

Packers -4 1/2 CHIEFS
Chiefs defense yields thousands of points per game as it is.  They're not keeping up without Mahomes.
WIN; 31-24 Packers

Schmear of the Week (3-4)
Seahawks -3 1/2

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday, everybody!

Week Eight Record: 8-5
Overall Record: 54-52
Schmear of the Week: 4-4
Bagels in the Basket:  +2

Brooklyn Nets Fend Off Knicks Late Surge in First Battle of the Boroughs

From the desks of: 

New York Knicks   109
Brooklyn Nets        113

Nets Gain First Victory of New Season
Despite Erasing 19-Point Deficit Kicks Fall to 0-2

Straight out of the school yard.  A lot of pre-game from both camps.  Things get a little gritty and chippy at times, and a little rough and tumble during other times.  Brooklyn cruises to a 64-51 halftime lead, and lead 94-83 after three.  But what follows is another familiarly erratic fourth quarter and near Nets collapse.  Wayne Ellington nails a game tying three at the 4:23 mark.  On the Knicks next possession Ellington drops another three giving the Bockers their first lead of the night.  After a Nets turnover, RJ Barrett converts from mid-range upping the Knicks lead by a 109-106 margin.  But with less than a minute left to play Kyrie Irving takes over.  His jumper at 59.6 brings the Nets within one.  His second straight jumper taken from his favorite spot on the floor gives the Nets a 111-109 lead.  Spencer Dinwiddie then drains two buckets from the stripe to seal Brooklyn's 113-109 victory.

Coach Atkinson, opting for defense, diverted minutes towards Dinwiddie in the closing minutes at the expense of Caris LeVert.  Spencer scores 20-points and ties Irving with a game high five assists in 27-minutes off the bench.  LeVert scores 12-points with four assists in 24-minutes.  For a second straight game Kyrie Irving leads the floor with 26-points, and ties for game high with five assists.  He has now scored 76-points in his first two games with the Nets.  Nets control the glass by a 46-39 margin.  Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, along with the Knicks Julius Randle, all tie for game high with 11 rebounds.

Six Knicks players score in double-digits.  Allonzo Trier leads the pack with 22-points in 23-minutes off the bench.  After starting the Knicks season opener out of position, RJ Barrett scores 16-points on 9/20 (45%) from the floor, and 0/3 from the free throw line.  Kevin Knox also scores 16-points and is 4/4 from beyond the arc.  Marcus Morris is also a perfect 3/3 from three range.  In fact, the Knicks are a stellar 17/25 (68%) from beyond the arc.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Metsian Podcast Search for the Elusive Skipper Continues with Gotham Baseball's Mark C. Healey

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Autumn in Metsville

with SAM, RICH, and MIKE

with special guest:

Rich takes his turn at the helm.

On the New York Mets 
still vacant managerial position.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Brooklyn Nets: Welcome to Mr. Irving's Neighborhood

From the desk of: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Timberwolves  127
NETS                 126

On behalf of the Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving is bestowed the honor of greeting the opening night  Barclays Center crowd.  He gets choked up in a rush of emotion midway through his address, and fans respond accordingly.

At 2:24 of the opening session Irving scores his first points as a member of the Nets.  He continues on to post 12-points in the first quarter, and scores a floor leading 25-points by halftime.  By the end of regulation Kyrie leads all scorers with 43-points, and is tied with a game high seven assists.  After five minutes of overtime Kyrie finishes the night with a game high fifty-points, becoming only the seventh player in Nets history to achieve the milestone.

Brooklyn's first half defense proves ruinous, and Kenny Atkinson did not look happy about it.  At 8:18 of the second quarter Shabazz Napier converts two from the charity line staking the Wolves to an 18-point lead.  Spencer Dinwiddie's second quarter buzzer beater from half court reduces Brooklyn's deficit to twelve.  The Nets then open the third quarter on a 15-2 run.  A Joe Harris three at 8:19 gives the Nets a 71-70 lead.  The Wolves answer tying the game 80-80 with 4:30 left, but are otherwise outscored in the third quarter by a 37-20 margin.  The fourth quarter proves more harrowing for the Nets.  After a fine defensive stand at the other end, Irving drops a three from the left elbow extended giving the Nets a fleeting 115-112 lead with 1:16 left.  Soon after with six seconds on the clock, Kyrie feeds Jarrett Allen who is fouled while driving to the basket.  But Jarrett misses both free throw attempts.

And into overtime they go ...

Trailing by three, Kyrie Irvin drains a pair of free throws with 36.8 seconds left.  Coming out of a timeout with 14-seconds left, Kyrie again possesses the ball.  After burning seconds off the clock he breaks left, slips, and falls, but recovers and actually gets off a clear 18-footer which fails to finds its mark.  All his team mates rush to console him at mid-court.

#1  The Nets have no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns. 
#2  Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie are still erratic as ever.  Just as D'Angelo Russell was.  All three last season demonstrate their ability to effectively drive and get to the rim.  But once their they often lose their freaking minds.  Said another way, they are not the polished finishers Kyrie Irving is, and the star of the night made that abundantly clear.  Don't get me wrong: I believe Caris is developing into an extraordinary player.  But if game one is any indication, he is still quite erratic at the rim.  Otherwise LeVert compliments Irving with 20-points and four assists.
#3  I'm curious how Kenny Atkinson will go about distributing minutes between Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordon.  Allen played 35-minutes against the Wolves, while Jordan played 17-minutes.  The two joined for eight points and twelve boards.  Allan blocks a game high five shots.
#4  15/26 (57.7%) from the free throw line; c'mon. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Brooklyn Nets: Flatbush Opens Eighth Campaign Poised to Expand Turf

From the desk of: THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


New York Knicks
Brooklyn Nets


More better than worse ...

Kings County native and real estate developer Bruce Ratner in 2004 reveals plans to purchase the New Jersey Nets with the intent of relocating them into a new arena proposed for construction in downtown Brooklyn.  On more than one occasion his vision appears dead on the drawing board.  For six long years protests and seemingly endless litigation stymie any and all forward progress.  A sudden contraction of the national economy further compromises Ratner's finances and development efforts.

With Ratner bogged down in court, New York Knicks owner James Dolan in 2005 is able to successfully devote his full attention and financial resources towards thwarting a more tangible threat posed by a New York Jets stadium being proposed for construction atop Manhattan's west side rail yards.  However, Dolan's victory over NYC's politico and the Jets is short lived.  By 2010 Bruce Ratner not only wins court approval to move forward with construction of an arena, but also secures an infusion of needed capital courtesy of new partner Mikhail Prokhorov.

On March 11, 2010, fifty-three years after the Dodgers play their last game at Ebbets Field, groundbreaking ceremonies take place for Barclays Center ironically in the same general location Walter O'Malley had once hoped to secure for his baseball club bordered by Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.  Back here in the future, Ratner's legal victory makes certain direct inner-city competition will soon be arriving at James Dolan's door step.  This time there's nothing J.D. can do to prevent this from happening.

Later that summer Mikhail Prokhorov launches the first salvo in what becomes known as the Billboard Wars when he commissions a building-side mural featuring Jay-Z and himself just a few blocks away from Madison Square Garden along Eighth Avenue.  James Dolan strikes back with a rather clever purchase of billboard space located within the Atlantic Yards footprint itself.

Hostilities ratchet up in February of 2011 upon outbreak of the now infamous Melo War.  Carmelo Anthony makes it clear he wants out of Denver and is a handshake agreement away from authorizing a sign and trade to the New Jersey Nets.  That is until Jim Dolan catches wind of it and launches himself headlong into the Carmelo Anthony trade negotiations like a charging bull through a fine china shop.  Dolan tramples general manager Donnie Walsh with an utter lack of compunction, and is equally dismissive of head coach Mike D'Antoni en route to securing one of the league's perennial scoring threats.  But to his great dismay the Nets are the next morning's lead story, arresting tabloid and sports radio attention away from the Knicks with a stunning overnight acquisition of well regarded point guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz.  A squabbling media rages throughout the day debating which team executed the better deal.  Because there is a point guard involved, the consensus says Nets.

With Barclays Center scheduled for opening by the 2012-2013 season, James Dolan also in 2011 orders a billion dollar renovation of Madison Square Garden.
  • Question: Were it not for Barclays Center does James Dolan renovate a his tax-sheltered building that really isn't his?

Neither Carmelo Anthony or Deron Williams perform up to their team's respective satisfaction.  In 2012-13, Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks to an Atlantic Division title, but they've failed to qualify for the playoffs in the six seasons since.  The Knicks average just 34.2 wins during Melo's five seasons in Manhattan, and just 33.3 wins in the five years prior to David Fizdale's arrival.  Meanwhile the Nets make three straight playoff appearances in their first three seasons at Barclays.  In truth their ill fated acquisition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett better serve as springboards into the abyss.  Suffice it to say the Melo/Williams era ends with a whimper.  In 2015 the Nets buy out the remainder of Deron Williams' contract, and by 2017 the Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A new rebuilding period ensues.  The Nets are first to acknowledge their organizational failures and by 2016-2017 recommit themselves to a grassroots rebuild.  They hire Sean Marks as new general manager who in turn hires Kenny Atkinson as head coach.  Bereft of high draft picks the new general manager and head coach strip down the team, and through organizational discipline manage to effectively and efficiently build it back up.  Agreeably ahead of schedule, the Nets last season put forth a spirited and unified effort resulting in a well earned post-season appearance.  If nothing else it serves to confirm Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson, and the Nets, have gone about their business in fine manner.

The Knicks on the other hand are far slower in recognizing their blight, and perhaps more stubborn, as well.  I view Sam Mills as nothing more than James Dolan's lone remaining friend in the building, and Scott Perry as a rather inconsequential league executive.  This, along with the Phil Jacksons in life is why I believe the Knicks lag far behind the Nets and continue losing ground by the day.  Lest we forget this is about direct competition.  The Nets are the invaders, and Jim Dolan was made to defend.  To date, he's tried matching them move for move.  Yet somehow continues falling farther and farther behind.  His front offices tried clearing cap space in order to facilitate a free agent haul a first time and came up woefully short.  They retried clearing cap space this past off-season in order to facilitate yet another proposed free agent haul and again fail miserably.  Unfortunately the free agent market proved shy on players motivated to shoulder 20 years of dysfunction and front office futility.  Why bother when today's NBA player can easily make big money elsewhere with far less headaches.

This is precisely why Sean Marks' acquisitions of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are prime examples of culture, chemistry, competence, and ultimately competitiveness, coming together under the same roof.

It's true ...

But this has never been about the Knicks.  The Nets are foolish to think they can steal fans away from the establishment.  Barclays Center attendance bears that out.  Since day one this has always been about winning over the 2.7 million denizens of Brooklyn.  James Dolan has always benefited from playing in a midtown arena where tourists ensure a sellout every day and night no matter what.  In that respect he is well shielded.  Anywhere else and Dolan's gate receipts would more accurately reflect true fan ire (same holds true for the Rangers).  Brooklyn is a different kinda cat.  Therefore the real test lay ahead.  Last season's organic rise to competitiveness was an endearing experience bringing club and fan closer together than at any other time over the previous six seasons.  That, along with the off-season acquisitions of Kyrie Irvin and Kevin Durant make this easily the most anticipated season in Brooklyn's NBA history.  Whether that translates at the gate remains to be seen.  So far, the pre-season buzz in Kings County is palpable.

But there is no rivalry; not yet; or at least not until the Knicks step up their game.  We're entering Year Eight with no signs of improvement across the river.  A true rivalry would be nice.  In the meantime, bet on Brooklyn.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

N.Y. Jets: Sam Spooked By Monday Night Phantom



Patriots   33
Jets           0

"... seeing ghosts!" - Sam Darnold

No, Sam, I am.  Those were not green ghosts nor Adam Gase's continuing scam.

Instead, Sam, I am, you went up against the man named Bill Belichick, whom this season decided the Patriots will ride the backs of its defense.

New England treated Sam Darnold the same way they treated Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones two weeks ago: very delicately.  That is no coincidence.  If Bill Belichick isn't sacking your young quarterback, he's inducing interceptions.  That's always been his preference.  It's easier to fool young quarterbacks than it is to fell them.  But if Belichick is not inducing young quarterbacks into throwing interceptions, you can be sure he's sacking them ... repeatedly.  On occasion, the Patriots do both.

Simon Bar Sinister if he wanted to could have sacked both Darnold and Daniel for a baker's dozen.  But Belichick's pass rush is measured.  Week in and week out, head coaches around the league fail to realize that.  If you recall the Patriots sack Daniel Jones just once, and pepper him with eight other hits.  Rather, they dupe Jones into throwing three interceptions and force a Jonathan Hilliman fumble.  Darnold's experience against New England's defense is no less befuddling, if not more so than Daniel's.  Yet he is only sacked once with just two other QB hits to speak of.  Instead, the Patriots intercept him four times and force a fumble.

  • Week One vs. PITT: one sack; three QB hits; one INT.           *Big Ben
  • Week Two vs. MIA: seven sacks; twelve QB hits; four INT.   *young QB
  • Week Three vs. NYJ: five sacks; ten QB hits; one INT.          *novice QB
  • Weekk Four vs. BUF: five sacks; nine QB hits; one INT.       *young QB
  • Week Five vs. WAS: six sacks; nine QB hits; one INT.          *young QB

Two New York quarterbacks against a common opponent in consecutive weeks:
  • Week Six: Daniel Jones goes 15/31 for 161 yards; one touchdown; three INT; one sack.
  • Week Seven: Sam Darnold is 11/32 for 86 yards; no touchdowns; four INT; one sack.

Now riddle me this  ... how is Sam Darnold's week seven performance against the Patriots any different than Luke Falk's week three performance at Foxboro?
  • Week Three: Luke Falk goes 12/22 for 96 yards; no touchdowns; one INT.  The Patriots sacked him five times and inflicted another ten QB hits by accident.

  • Tom Brady: 31/45 for 249 yards; one touchdown; one INT.
  • Sony Michel: three rushing touchdowns.
  • Patriots Offense: 38:27 time of possession!
  • Patriots Defense: no points allowed; six turnovers!

Nuf ced ...

Monday, October 21, 2019

N.Y. Giants: Daniel Jones Under Siege

From the desk of: DO IT FOR THE DUKE


Cardinals   27
Giants         21

MetLife Stadium Sacked For Second Time in Last Three Weeks

Arizona sacks Daniel Jones eight times and get in another 12 QB hits.  The offensive line has now yielded a grand total of 20 sacks and 57 QB hits through week seven.  That averages out to 3.6 sacks and nine QB hits per game.  At this juncture it's reasonable to question which weighs more heavily: Daniel Jones inexperience or some perceived ineptness on behalf of the offensive line.

With regards to experience or lack thereof, Eli Manning is sacked once and hit seven other times in week one against Dallas.  In week two against Buffalo, he is again sacked just once and hit five other times.  However, Eli is the beneficiary of healthy team mates.  While I've never considered Evan Engram much of a blocker, it's still easier to operate when your tight end and backfield understand their respective assignments.

Daniel Jones, on the other hand, has played largely minus the services of Engram, Barkley and Wayne Gallman.  In turn pass protection suffers collateral damage.  Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones alone registered four sacks.  If that sounds familiar, it's because Tampa linebacker Shaquil Barrett recorded four sacks in week three.  That makes two respective linebackers accounting for eight sacks.  Someone is failing their assignment.  In the meantime, Jones has now been sacked 18 times and hit another 45 times times.  He has been sacked no less than four times in three of his five starts.  And keep in mind the Patriots only sack him once.

I'm trying to lend the hog mollies some support ... work with me.

While I have low expectations for the Giants in general, I anticipated a better effort against the Cardinals.  Instead Mother Nature and Arizona's pass rush keep Jones under duress.
  • 22/35 (63%) for 223 yards, one touchdown, one interception; three fumbles (two lost).

Once upon a time the more it rained the more you ran the ball.  Arizona seems to know what I'm talking about.  Coach Shurmur not so much.  The elusive NFL mudder is alive and well.  The Cardinals ride the back of Chase Edmonds whom rushes 27 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns.  Shurmur calls for a mere 18 rushes, Saquon Barkley answers with 72-yards and a touchdown.  In fact, Barkley has yet to attempt 20 rushes through four games played.  Daniel Jones is the only other Giant to run the ball beyond scrimmage on Sunday.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

N.Y. Yankees: Bronx Bombers Quietly Advance Into Off-Season

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY


Astros defeat Yankees; 4-2
I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1
IV - HOU 8; NYY 3
V - NYY 4; HOU 1

Yankees   4
Astros      6

Like a Bottle Rocket in the Night the Bombers Season Goes Pop

ALL AROLDIS CHAPMAN COULD DO WAS GRIN, AND BEAR IT.  I believe it was more a curt expression than anything else.  Dismay manifests itself in many forms.  But the look on Chapman's face no doubt punctuates another confounding New York Yankee exit from post-season play.
What a brilliant at-bat in the top of the ninth inning by D.J. LeMahieu.  He demonstrates great discipline in laying off a slider low and away for ball two.  With a 2-2 count he fouls off four straight pitches (five in all), which I felt was attributable to poor sequencing.  But when Roberto Osuna finally elevates an enticing eye level fastball, LeMahieu smartly takes it for ball three.  That forces Osuna into throwing a hitter's pitch.  His tenth offering of the sequence is just that.  LeMahieu deposits the ball over the right field wall just beyond the outstretched arm of a leaping George Springer tying the game at four.

With two outs in the last half of the ninth Aroldis Chapman walks George Springer.  That brings to the plate Jose Altuve who promptly ends the Yankees season by crushing Chapman's fourth offering, a slider, high and deep over the left field wall for a walk-off victory.

If you're wondering why Chad Green is starting game six of the ALCS, look no further than Brian Cashman.  Otherwise the decision to bullpen an elimination game is Aaron Boone's only recourse.  Although no stranger to starting games, Green nevertheless yields a double, a walk, and a three run home run by Yuri Gurriel for an 0-3 first inning deficit.

Gary Sanchez drives in a run in the second, and Gio Urshela's home run in the fourth closes the gap to one.  But Houston picks up an insurance run when Altuve scores on Alex Bregman's fielder's choice in the sixth.

And into the ninth inning they go ...


Both sides utilize seven pitchers in GAME SIX:
  • NYY: six earned runs on six hits and six walks with six strikeouts through 8.2 innings pitched.  They throw 170 pitches with only 101 (59%) going for strikes.
  • HOU: four earned runs on ten hits and four walks with eleven strikeouts through nine innings pitched.  They throw 154 pitches with 101 (65%) going for strikes.


  • Jose Altuve: .348/.444/.652; two home runs; three runs batted in; four walks; one strikeout!
  • Carlos Correa; George Springer; Yuli Gurriel: five home runs; 13 runs batted in.

  • Aaron Judge: .240/.321/.360; home run; two runs batted in; three walks; ten strikeouts!
  • Gary Sanchez: .130/167/.261; home run; three runs batted in; one walk; twelve strikeouts!
  • Edwin Encarnacion: .056/.227/.111; four walks; eleven strikeouts!
  • Brett Gardner: .136/.208/.136; one run batted in; two walks; ten strikeouts!
  • Giancarlo Stanton: 2 for 7, home run; three strikeouts.
  • Thank goodness for Aaron Hicks?

  • HOU: slash .179/.281/.318; eight home runs; 27 walks; 54 strikeouts; 24 runs scored.
  • NYY: slash .214/.289/.383; ten home runs; 22 walks; 64 strikeouts; 21 runs scored.


  • DJ LeMahieu: .346/.414/.615; two home runs; three runs batted in; three walks; two strikeouts.
  • Gleyber Torres: .280/.333/.600; two home runs; six runs batted in; two walks; four strikeouts.
  • Gio Urshela: two home runs; two runs batted in; two walks; .828 OPS; two strikeouts.


  • HOU Three Starters: ten earned runs in 31 innings for 2.90 ERA; 24 H; 10 W; 34 K.
  • NYY Three Starters: seven earned runs in 23.2 innings for 2.71 ERA; 18 H; 12 W; 23 K.

  • HOU Bullpen: ten earned runs; 21.1 innings; 4.26 ERA.
  • NYY Bullpen: seven earned runs; 26.1 innings; 2.41 ERA.

  • HOU hit eight home runs, only four are solo shots.  They leave 45 runners on base and bat (5/46) .108 w/ RiSP.  Team slash .179/.281/.318.
  • NYY hit ten home runs, but seven are solo shots.  They leave 42 runners on base and bat (6/35) .171 w/ RiSP.  Team slash .214/.289/.383.


Game Two Loss:
  • Starter James Paxton lasts just 2.1 innings; reliever J.A. Happ surrenders game winning home run in 11th inning.
Game Three Loss:
  • Luis Severino is far from mid-season form.  He misses the entire season until returning to action in September.  He makes three appearances and pitches just twelve innings prior to the ALDS versus Minnesota.  Opposed by Houston's Gerrit Cole, Severino yields two earned runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts through 4.1 innings pitched.  Cole throws seven scoreless innings allowing just four hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
Game Four Loss:
  • Zack Greinke and Ryan Presley outperform Masahiro Tanaka and Chad Green.  Tanaka surrenders four runs (three earned) on four hits (George Springer home run) and two walks with just one strikeout through five innings pitched.  Chad Green yields a two-run home run in the sixth to Carlos Correa.  Greinke and Presley surrender just one run on three hits and five walks with seven strikeouts through five innings.
Game Six Loss:
  • Chad Green serves as game opener.  He promptly surrenders a first inning three-run home run to Yuli Gurriel.  LeMahieu hits a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth.  Aroldis Chapman loses control of his fastball, Altuve crushes a slider in the bottom of the ninth, series over.

Brian Cashman's failure to land a viable starting pitcher at the trade deadline comes to pass.  The plan to bullpen game six backfires horribly.  No one could have predicted Domingo German's season ending in suspension.  Although with 30 home runs allowed and a 4.03 ERA through 143 innings pitched, I'm not quite sure German would have made a series altering difference.  However, waiting on Luis Severino proves a mistake.  C.C. Sabathia's physical condition and overall effectiveness was also a known factor.  Moreover, last season's money acquisition of J.A. Happ fails to pay dividends.  His ineffectiveness was likewise a known factor heading into the deadline.  Happ posted a regular season 4.91 ERA through 161.1 innings pitched.  Relegated to the bullpen for the playoffs, he makes just two appearances against the Astros, yielding a hit, a walk, and a run, through 2.2 innings pitched.  Otherwise game six "opener" Chad Green posts a 9.64 ERA through four appearances and 4.2 innings pitched.  Adam Ottavino is worse, allowing four runs on six hits through five appearances and 2.1 innings pitched for an 11.57 ERA.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Houston's outstanding defense; Houston's game saving defense, that is.  Meanwhile four Yankees errors in game four contribute to three unearned runs in an 8-3 loss.  Gary Sanchez once again proves a liability behind the plate.

Failure to improve rotation depth; a bullish bullpen; too many strikeouts; and lack of clutch or even situational hitting; make of it what you will.  At the end of the day, Houston's top star rises to the occasion and the Yankees top stars do not.


Once is an event; twice is a coincidence; three times is a trend.  The Yankees are eliminated from post-season play for a third consecutive year, twice at the hands of the Houston Astros.

2017 ALCS: Astros Defeat Yankees; 4-3

  • HOU: slash .187/.271/.294; 20 runs; 40 hits; four home runs; 24 walks; 45 strikeouts.
  • NYY: slash .205/.274/.347; 22 runs; 45 hits; six home runs; 19 walks; 70 strikeouts.

  • HOU Four Starters: 13 runs on 32 hits through 46.1 innings for 2.54 ERA (6.2 innings per start).
  • NYY Four Starters: 9 runs on 21 hits through 36 innings for 2.25 ERA (5.1 innings per start).

  • HOU Bullpen: 9 runs on 13 hits through 12.2 innings for 6.64 ERA.
  • NYY Bullpen: 11 runs on 19 hits through 23.1 innings for 4.28 ERA.

2018 ALDS: Red Sox Defeat Yankees; 3-1

  • BOS: 27 runs; 39 hits; .279/.358/.429; 18 walks; 29 strikeouts.
  • NYY: 14 runs; 28 hits; .214/.295/.321; 15 walks; 31 strikeouts.

  • BOS Four Starters:  7 runs on 18 hits through 20.2 innings pitched for 3.12 ERA.
  • NYY Four Starters: 15 runs on 19 hits through 13.0 innings pitched for 10.38 ERA.

Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much ~ Stick It With Your Analytics ~ Acquire Starting Pitching ~ Stop Striking Out So Damn Much.  Stick It ...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

PIGSKIN 2019: Week Seven

Week Seven


Week Six Record: 9-3
Overall Record: 39-41
Schmear of the Week: 3-3
Bagels in the Basket:  -2

1st and Ten
  • Patriots and Niners are still undefeated.
  • Bengals lead Dolphins in the race for number one draft pick.
  • Sam "the spleen" Darnold leads Jets to first win.
  • Andy Reid wins game #200 as head coach.
2nd and Long
  • Buffalo: second place never felt so good.
  • Seahawks only five-win team not in first place.
No Gain
  • Pat Mahomes out!
  • Marcus Mariota loses starting quarterback spot to Ryan Tannehill.
  • Browns and Steelers tied for second place with 2-4 records.
  • Jets ruin Jerry Jones' birthday and the Cowboys lose three in a row.
  • Jaguars finally trade Jalen Ramsey to Rams for a haul.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS -3 Cardinals
Time I give my favorite team some love.  I've been picking against the Giants all season.  There is still much to learn from last week's game film against the Patriots.  Let's see if any of it translates into something positive this Sunday.  The Giants have been outscored 24-63 over their last two games while only possessing the ball for a total of 47:44 minutes.  The Vikings held the ball for 32:40 two weeks ago, and the Patriots last week held it for damn near 40-minutes.  Talk about an overbearing tax placed on a young inexperienced defense.  Much of what has transpired over the last two weeks is attributable to injuries sustained by Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and most notably Saquon Barkley.  Since his thrilling week two performance Daniel Jones has been caught in a downward spiral as a result.  The Giants should finally regain a measure of offensive stability with the return to action this week of Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram.  I'm also very interested in seeing the Daniel Jones/ Darius Slayton connection taking another step forward.
Loss; 27-21 Cardinals

Patriots -10 JETS *Monday
Sam Darnold gets his first crack of the season against the Patriots.  With Luke Falk at the helm New England defeated the Jets in week three at Foxboro where the Patriots held the ball for 35:14 minutes.  Falk was sacked five times and threw one INT.  The Patriots limited Le'Veon Bell that day to 35-yards on 18 rushes.  But the Jets offensive line and the running game have been a problem throughout.  In five games Bell has only rushed for 256-yards on 85 rushes which averages out to 51-yards a game.  Even with Darnold back under center, I do not foresee tangible changes in their performance.  Bell's 50-yards on 14 carries last week against the Cowboys bears that out.  The Jets remain stuck on the tarmac until the offensive line play improves.
WIN; 33-0 Patriots

This is only the Colts second real home game.  In three victories the Colts outscored their opponents by a mere eleven point margin.  They've lost to the Chargers and Raiders by six, and seven points, respectively.  Texans handled the Chargers at Los Angeles.  They'll handle the Colts at Indy.
Loss; 30-23 Colts

BILLS -16 1/2 Dolphins
Miami will not allow the Bengals to get next year's first overall draft pick.  They're averaging an anemic 8.4 points a game.  They are determined to lose at all costs.  The only question is will the Bills cover.  Buffalo is only averaging 18-points a game.  But the Sea Mammals allow an average of 36-points a game.  That's an 18-point cushion.
Loss; 31-21 Bills

Vikings -1 LIONS
Yeah, why not.  The Vikings are presently hot, and the Lions are not.
WIN; 42-30 Vikings

PACKERS -6 Raiders
That John Gruden is a wily coach, but he doesn't have enough to handle both Aaron Rogers and Green Bay's defense.
WIN; 42-24 Packers

Jaguars -3 BENGALS
Despite a 2-4 record, the Jags have been in every game.  My recommendation is to just stay away.
WIN; 27-17 Jaguars

When it rains it pours, even inside domes.  Atlanta is en route to a coaching change.  Not the least bit impressed by the Rams, though.
WIN; 37-10 Rams

Niners -10 D.C. SNYDERS
Yes ...
Loss; 9-0 Niners

Chargers +2 TITANS
That Titans defense is very solid, but their offense has completely failed them.  Ryan Tannehill is coming out of the bullpen in place of Marcus Mariota.
Loss; 23-20 Titans

Ravens +3 SEAHAWKS
I smell a push ... might as well be on the receiving end.
WIN; 30-16 Ravens

Saints +3 BEARS
Alvin Kamara is out for Sunday's game, but I don't care.  Much more impressed with Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints strength of schedule.  Whether Mitch Trubisky plays also does not concern me.
WIN; 36-25 Saints

Eagles +3 COWBOYS
Go back and look at that Jets game.  I'm sure the Eagles have.
Loss; 37-10 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week: (3-3)
Texans  pk

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday, everybody!

Post Game
Week Seven Record: 7-6
Overall Record: 46-47
Schmear of the Week: 3-4
Bagels in the Basket:  -4

N.Y. Yankees: The Empire Strikes Back

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY

Astros lead Yankees; 3-2
I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1
IV - HOU 8; NYY 3
V - NYY 4; HOU 1

New York Yankees 
Houston Astros

James Paxton Out-Duels Justin Verlander; Yankees Stave Off Elimination; Series Shifts Back to Houston.

Baseball wisdom says in order to achieve success against the game's best pitchers you need to get at them early before they settle in.  On Friday, the Yankees do just that.  D.J. LeMahieu homers on Justin Verlander's second offering of the game.  Four batters later Aaron Hicks' three run home run off the right field foul pole stakes the Yankees to 4-1 first inning lead and final margin of victory.  After which Verlander retires 20 of his next 21 batters faced.  Through the next six innings he allows no runs, no walks, and just one hit with seven strikeouts (nine overall) albeit in a losing effort.

Meanwhile James Paxton's night doesn't start well.  He unleashes a first inning wild pitch permitting George Springer to score from third with the game's opening run.  But after throwing 52 pitches through the first two innings, Paxton settles down to provide the Yankees with much needed length and effectiveness.  He strikeouts out the side in the second, fans two in the fourth, and two more in the fifth, while throwing a more economical 60 pitches over his final four innings.  Overall Paxton allows just one earned run on four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts through six innings full.
  • Per YES Channel post-game, Paxson's 112 pitches were the most this season by a Yankees starter.
Making his seventh appearance in seven post-season games Tommy Kahnle yields a hit and a walk while throwing just eight pitches in the seventh.  Otherwise Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman are perfect over the final 2.2 innings with three strikeouts.

The Yankees generate just five hits, draw no walks, and strikeout ten times.  Aaron Hicks who is limited to just 59 appearances this season with an elbow injury strikes the major blow of the night.  That's not as promising as it sounds as the Yankees still must win two in a row at Houston.  Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, join forces on 1 for 10 with seven strikeouts.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

N.Y. Rangers: Battle of the Hudson Resumes

From the desks of: 

New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils

It's time I welcomed myself to the 93rd season of New York Rangers hockey.  It's also high time the Rangers hoist Ron Greschner's #4 to the rafters!

Thank you very much ...

Even though the front office hastened the rebuild, I enter this season with few expectations.  But, boy, am I a happy camper!  The triumvirate of John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and David Quinn, along with this collection of young talent, has elevated my enthusiasm to levels not experienced since 1992 (Roger Neilson withstanding).  Sure, they financially capped themselves like a jar of marmalade, but I don't care.  Everyone I want in a blue shirt is present and accounted for right down to Anthony DeAngelo's last minute signing.

  • I mean Mika Zibanejad no slight, but I like the idea of entering the season without a captain.  The Rangers are in a good place.  Let some of these players distinguish themselves first.  If everyone takes the ice with the characteristics of a captain in mind then eventually one will materialize.  But make no mistake, Zibanejad has a big fan in me.
  • Henrik Lunqvist's playing time is a big concern.  At this stage of his career perhaps less is more.  Two seasons ago Henrik started 60+ games for the eighth time in his career.  Last season he was limited to 52 starts.  In March he turns 38-years old.  Not one bit do I mind him chasing down career milestones.  In fact, I'm rooting for him.  But closer to the point, I just want Alexandar Georgiev receiving representative minutes in net.
  • What is Chris Kreider still doing here?  He is the last person I expected to survive Gorton's purge.  But since he still dons a blue shirt, how about some consistent play for a change.  If Kreider ever gets his head screwed on straight could be a top forward of the league ... but it isn't, and he's not.

NYR - Kaapo Kakko
(2019 #2 overall draft pick)
NJD - Jack Hughes
(2019 #1 overall draft pick)

And let us not forget Nico Hischier, the 2017 first overall pick of the 2017 draft.

Point being, the next ten years of metropolitan area hockey is shaping up to be a lot of fun.  Just don't say that too loud.  Newark is off to a ponderous 0-4-2 start, and giving away multiple goal leads like candy on Halloween.  With the return to full duty of Taylor Hall, and the big acquisitions of P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds, no one anticipated such a start as this.  All I'll say for now is that coach John Hynes deserves to see this through.

Raise Gresch With The Greats

N.Y. Yankees: Mother Nature Throws Aaron Boone a Change-Up

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY


Houston Astros
New York Yankees

Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and Mother Nature walk into a bar ...

Aaron Boone's (potential) plan to bullpen his way through game four knowing Thursday would be a travel day is compromised by Mother Nature.  Wednesday's rain-out means the remainder of the ALCS must be played out on consecutive days.  While Aaron Boone gets to pitch his starters on normal rest, he now must act with far more prudence when giving them the hook.  With only four chances to win three games, the spotlight is fixed on Aaron Boone and how efficiently and effectively he utilizes his bullpen going forward.

After six games the bullpen already has more innings pitched than Yankees starters.  Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Luis Severino, have each made two post-season starts.  They've collectively yielded seven runs through 26.1 innings pitched for a 2.41 ERA, but only average 4.1 innings per start.  Even if you take away Paxton's 2.1 inning effort in game two, the Yankees top three still only average five innings at best.  To date, only Masahiro Tanaka has pitched into the sixth.  Meanwhile the bullpen boasts a 2.23 ERA through 28.2 innings pitched.

Adam Ottavino has appeared in all six playoff games; Zack Britton and Tommy Kahnle are next in with five appearances each.  Meanwhile J.A. Happ has been nothing short of a liability.  It's no wonder Aaron Boone has only called his name twice through six games.  Makes me wonder which left-hander Boone will trust more in a big situation: C.C. Sabathia or J.A. Happ.

On a related front, Brian Cashman's failure to land a pitcher at the trade deadline was just about coming to pass when the rains hit early Wednesday afternoon.  Had Wednesday's game been played and the Yankees lost, Cashman would surely have been brought to task.  He escapes that criticism, for now, with help from Mother Nature.

But, boy, she really did stick it to Aaron Boone.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Amazin' Date: 10/16/1969: New York Mets Are World Series Champions

From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Orioles    3
Mets        5


From National League welcome mat to world series champion, eight years into their existence the New York Metropolitans are best in all the land.  An amazing baseball journey piloted by Gil Hodges lands softly in the waiting glove of left fielder Cleon Jones on this historic Autumn afternoon at Shea Stadium.
If you want something done, sometimes you have to do it yourself.  Just ask Dave McNally.  With Orioles hitters mired in an awful slump, Baltimore's starting pitcher opens the scoring in the third inning with a two-run home run.  Two outs later Frank Robinson follows suit with his second home run of the series and first since game one, giving the Birds a 3-0 lead.  McNally makes it stand through the fifth.

Leading off the bottom half of the sixth, Cleon Jones appears to get hit with a pitch on his back foot.  However, home plate umpire Lou DiMuro sees it differently.  Both Jones and on deck batter Donn Clendenon protest DiMuro's call to no avail until manager Gil Hodges emerges from the dugout with a baseball bearing black shoe polish.  DiMuro inspects the ball and awards Cleon Jones first base to the great dismay of Orioles manager Earl Weaver.  Clendenon then steps in the box and deposits McNally's fifth offering into the loge section in left field.  It's Clendenon's third home run of the series.  In the seventh Al Weis homers off McNally tying the game at three.

With Eddie Watt in to pitch the eighth in relief of McNally, Cleon Jones leads off with a double off the left/center field wall.  After Clendenon is retired, Ron Swoboda doubles home Jones.  With two outs, Jerry Grote bounces to first.  However, Boog Powell mishandles the play and Watt does not cleanly handle the toss from Powell.  In the meantime Swoboda scampers home making it a 5-3 Mets lead.  Both Watt and Powell are charged with errors on the play.

Leading off the top half of the ninth Jerry Koosman issues a base on balls to Frank Robinson, then retires the next three batters in order.  Cleon Jones secures the final out in left field and the miracle is complete.

Ecstatic fans pour onto the field in jubilant celebration.

Jerry Koosman goes the distance, allowing three earned runs on five hits and just one walk with five strikeouts en route to his second victory of the series.  Don Clendenon captures World Series MVP honors, starting four of five games and going 5 for 14 (.357) with a double, three home runs, and four runs batted in.

Thank you for following my replay of the 1969 season.

Happy Anniversary, guys!


N.Y. Yankees: Astros Pitching Short Circuiting Bomber Bats

From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY

I - NYY 7; HOU 0
II - HOU 3; NYY 2
III - HOU 4; NYY 1

Houston Astros
New York Yankees

Having now faced Houston's big three, the Yankees trail the ALCS (1-2) with two games left to play at Yankee Stadium.  Baring a pinstriped implosion this series is heading back to Houston where the Yankees in game one score seven runs on 13 hits against Zack Greinke.  However, New York's momentum at the plate only carries them as far as the next game's opposing pitcher.  In game two Justin Verlander and five Astros relievers join in limiting the Yankees to six hits and a pair of runs.  On Tuesday Gerrit Cole and a trio of relievers yield just one run on five hits.  That's three runs on eleven hits for the Yankees over their last two games.  Not very Bomber like, save for Gleyber Torres.
  • Gary Sanchez: 1 for 13 (.077); six strikeouts; and presently a defensive liability.

Game four strikes me as a coin flip.  Each manager has limited pitching options and none seem terribly promising.  The tentative plan is to bring Tanaka back on short rest.  Plan B would be to bullpen the game.  There's always C.C. Sabathia.  Or just pray for rain.

For what it's worth, Paxton would be on his bullpen day three days after being yanked from game two after allowing an earned run on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in just 2.1 innings pitched.

Meanwhile the Astros appear only slightly more well off handing the ball to Wade Miley.  This all remains to be determined.  But it sure looks like game four is building up to be a hitter's game.

Famous last words ...

Which ever team wins game four I believe seizes the advantage.  Houston, obviously, because they'll have three opportunities to win one game.  But if the Yankees should take game four, Masahiro Tanaka is in line for game five.  Tanaka pitches brilliantly against the Twins, and more so in game one at Houston in which he allows the Astros just one hit and one walk, with four strikeouts through six scoreless innings pitched.

Rewind back to the final weeks and days of June.  Brian Cashman turns his back on what he believes to be a rigged trade market, electing instead to hold his ground.  Luis Severino perhaps plays a part in Cashman's decision.  But we just witnessed the consequences of his decisions in game three and now leading into game four.  It's clear Severino is nowhere near mid-season form, much less ALCS ready.  But in lieu of pitching upgrades, this is precisely why Brian Cashman acquires Edwin Encarnacion ...

... to win game four.