Monday, July 6, 2015

JPP Blows It

Of all the things that went “boom!” on the night of July 4th, the last thing any Giant fan expected was the career of Jason Pierre-Paul.   JPP, the all-pro defensive end and potential cornerstone of the Giants defense, was sitting on a $14.8 million franchise-tag tender and a $60 million long-term deal  offer when he decided that now would be as good a time as any to lose his first Roman Candle fight. 

Maybe he should have made it to OTAs where Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s last bit of advice was no to do anything stupid.

This was not an accident.  This was a 26 year-old man with a few million in the bank and tens of millions waiting for him deciding that throwing a firecracker would be as much fun as just watching.  At this point, I’m praying that alcohol was involved – I’d hate to think that someone did this in their right mind.

Now JPP was not the only dumb athlete injury of the weekend.   Number one ranked golfer Rory McIlroy decided to do his best David Beckham impression during a week off and wrecked his ankle.  This comes 10 days before the British Open, where that same McIlroy is defending champion.  Now you’re saying that Rory is young and hanging out with his friends for a bit of “footy” is a normal course of action.  However, like JPP, when you’re sitting on tens of millions with a limited widow to cash in, you can afford to sit back and have a cold one (or for McIlroy a lukewarm one) and watch other people risk their necks (or hands and ankles) for your entertainment. 

Of course, when you hear these dumb things, you can’t help but wonder at hockey players.   As my Rangers had their wonderful season cut short by the Tampa Bay Lightning, you hear about all the injuries that were referred to as “upper body”, “lower body” or something simple, like “rest”.   It’s after the playoffs end that you find out who has a broken wrist (kind of important for hockey players), broken ankles, or fractured feet.   You wonder how these guys make it out of the building at night. 

Maybe they would be safer playing with fireworks?

Just Sayin’

There is nothing better than watching a hockey and listening to Doc Emrick, Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire.

I would say that Steve Kerr made the right pick between the Warriors and the Knicks . . .  

While the Yankees sit one game up and outperforming their roster, I still think that kids can help.  There’s no way that Aaron Judge in right field for Carlos Beltran and Rob Refsnyder at second base for Stephen Drew (or Jose Pirela) wouldn’t be an improvement.   That might go for Adam Warren for CC as well . . . 
The quality of play, depth, and coaching separated the US Women’s National Team from all their rivals in Canada.  Brilliant job ladies!

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Can’t Wait for Opening Day – of the NHL Playoffs!

After waking from hibernation to find flowers popping up, temperatures blissfully warming, and birds singing in the morning, I know we’re not far from that rejuvenating feeling of anticipation,  waiting for opening day  - - of the NHL playoffs!

At a time when most of my favorite teams are either trying to find their way (Giants), or trying to hold on to past success (Yankees) or struggling underachievers (Knicks), I celebrate the defending Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers – newly crowned winners of the Metropolitan Division.  

With a team featuring balanced scoring among the top three lines, led by Olympic gold medalist Rick Nash (a career high 41 goals), the Rangers are third in the league with 2.99 goals per game while giving up only 2.29 (again third in the league).   They’ve allowed their young players to see more consistent ice time this year, stopping the “yo-yo” effect of sending players down to “work on things.”  LW Chris Kreider, RW-LW Kevin Hayes and C J.T. Miller have paid off the return of faith by netting 21, 15 and 10 goals respectively.  

Of course the youth is offset by aging veterans 39 year-old RW Martin St. Louis and 38 year-old D Dan Boyle.  Boyle started the season on the injury list and has not paid off as the Rangers had hoped after picking him up in the off season.  St. Louis has been everything they’ve hoped for, leading the way in last year’s march to the Cup finals and providing 20 goals this year.  

The revelation and season savior has been G Cam Talbot who picked up for the injured King Henrik Lundqvist in January and backstopped the Rangers vault up the standings, winning 17 out of 21 games.  

As the disappointment of last year’s Finals loss has ebbed (losing three OT games to an excellent team is no shame), the achievement left one question:  was it a fluke?  The answer seems to be a resounding “no”.  There’s work to be done in the last four games, home ice throughout the playoffs is there for the taking, Boston or Pittsburgh looms as a first round test, and the range of points between the top 16 teams is only 17 points, meaning that parity has arrived and the Cup is there for anyone.  

Which leads back to the exciting spring that awaits – and lots of late nights.

Just Sayin’
The over/under for the Yankees season wins total is 85 – there’s too much that will have to go right for the Yanks to get there.  I think there’s a better chance that they beat the number for “players used” which is set at 54.5.

Eli Manning is talking more this off season than ever before.  How much is confidence in the offense and how much is posturing for a new contract?

OK Knicks fans, who do you want?  Karl-Anthony Towns?  Jahlil Okafor? D’Angelo Russell?  I’m not sure who will make a difference.  But I do know that the recent Calipari-led Kentucky kids have mostly panned out in the NBA (John Wall, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, DeMarcus Cousins), while you have a harder time finding Dukies who succeed.

If Wisconsin beats Kentucky, then I’m in the money for my bracket – Go Badgers!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Proposition for the Super Bowl

It’s Super Bowl Sunday which means it’s the best of times and the worst of times.  In the rear view mirror, a great season of big wins and upsets, revelations and disappointments.  In front of us, boring NBA basketball, three good weekends of NCAA Final Four action, hockey, and golf.  That is until the draft, training camp, fantasy prep work and the 2015 NFL season starts.

I’ve got some ideas about what is going to happen in this game, but none of them are solid.  It’s a pick ‘em game all the way around and any result will not shock me.  Yes, that means I can see a blowout either way, or the more probable result, a field goal difference somewhere near the end of the game.

That said, I can see New England having some success on the ground, using three different running backs – Shane Vereen, Legarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden to run out of any formation and just about any down and distance.   Conversely, I can see Seattle throwing against the Patriot defense, who will go eight or nine in the box to take away Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch.   

Since it’s an even bet in Vegas, I’ll go with my heart and hope for a close game (not a far reach since all the Brady-Belichick Super Bowls have been decided by 3,3,3,3 and 4 points).  This time, it’s a late Patriot field goal to win 22-21.

But that is not even close to my favorite thing about the Super Bowl.  Proposition bets, or “props” are the most fun thing to watch on Sunday.   Here are my favorites (and predictions) for this year’s versions:

Marshawn Lynch Crotch Grab – Sitting at 4-1 odds, this is the easiest and most attainable prop bet.   I can see Lynch getting in the end zone, and if he does, it’s a practical guarantee that he’ll perform a “self-examination”.

Deflated Balls – The number of times announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth say “deflated balls” is set at 2.5.  I would think that the league will want its broadcast partners to stop talking about this issue, so, unless someone gets seriously injured (or maybe Lynch squeezes too hard during his celebration), I’ll take the under.

Bill Belichick’s Hoodie Color - Gray is the favorite, while blue and red are the underdogs. Place a $100 bet on gray, and if you’re right, you win $50.  I think it’s a sucker bet – he won’t wear a hoodie.

Katy Perry’s Cleavage and Outfit – Pants are the underdog, skirt above the knees the favorite.  For the other bet, the options are none, some, or a lot.  I’m taking the chalk – short skirt and lots of skin. 

Enjoy the game, don’t drink and drive, and don’t ever eat the last chicken wing.

Just Sayin . . . 

Just to keep things in perspective, while we think everyone in the world watches the Super Bowl, there will be about 6.9 billion people who won’t care.  The UEFA World Cup, Euro Cup, Cricket Championship are all watched significantly more than the big game today.

Looking at the NHL stats in the Eastern Conference, the final eight teams seem to be well defined, but are all within eight points.  The last months will be all about gaining as much home ice advantage as possible.  

Odell Beckham, Jr. is the first Giant to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.  90 years, one OROY.  Pretty much defines the franchise known as the “Big Blue Wrecking Crew”.  But it does show that maybe, they are adapting to the new NFL.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What the Bowl Season Could Look Like

With the college bowl season in full swing, I’ve been getting my fill of games like the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and the Duck Commander Independence Bowl (not to mention a bowl played outside the US – the Popeye’s Bahama Bowl!).

After some thought, here are some bowls I’d like to see:

  • Little Orphan Annie Bowl – For teams that have had their coaches leave them before the end of the season. 
  • The “It’s Still not the Super” Bowl – The perfect set up for short-falling former NFL coaches like Jim Harbaugh, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Mike Riley and Bobby Petrino.
  • The Takata Air Bag Bowl – This would feature two teams currently under investigation by the NCAA.
  • The Kurt Cobain Bowl – Brings in the two teams with the “students” that have failed the most drug tests.
  • The Bo Schembechler Bowl – No passing allowed; would be perfect for a Georgia Tech/Navy match up. 
  • The Sarah Palin Bowl – This one is set up for two colleges that have quit their football program.  It would be dinner only.  This year is hosted by the University of Alabama – Birmingham.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2015!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

What the New York Sports Fan Want to Find Under Their Tree

Today is Christmas, and like all good little New York sports fan boys and girls, there are several things under the tree, let’s start crackin’ some presents!

For Yankee fans, there’s the gift of Christmas’ past, reliving the days of the Core Four in various video formats.  Unfortunately, there’s Christmas present, which finds some coal in the form of questions marks like new shortstop Didi Gregorius and a MASH unit of pitchers.  Let’s hope the coal evolves into diamonds.  What we really want is one full year of a healthy pitching staff – Tanaka, Pineda, Nova, CC and Eovaldi could be awesome, except they can’t stay off the DL.  Let’s hope that changes in 2015.

For Ranger fans, we’re grateful for 2014 and the run to the Stanly Cup
Finals.  But what we really want is to see King Henrik Lundqvist skate with the cup.  This year, with forward Rick Nash playing to his full potential, there’s a chance that last year was not a fluke.   Let’s see if the next big drink the Rangers take is from a sliver chalice.

For Knick fans, we have the lesson in humility.   As plans go awry in 2015 and the team edges toward their worst record in team history, we learn that there’s no easy fix, that great teams are built slowly and that the correct way is through the draft.   We hope that in 2015, Phil Jackson gets an early Christmas present in May – with the number one pick.  

For Giant fans, we’re still slightly hungover from recent championships, and now wake on Christmas morning to find three years of playoff-less football come and gone.   As we check our current gift list we find a shining star (and Fantasy Football first round pick) Odell Beckham Jr. and the potential of the last two drafts (Andre Williams, Justin Pugh, Jonathan Hankins, Demontre Moore, Devon Kennard), combined with  vets who should make 2015 much happier – if (and it’s a big “if”) they can stay healthy.   What you really want is one last successful season for Coach Tom Coughlin so he can go out on a winner. 

I hope that 2015 finds all of you happy and healthy, and that we get a couple of deep playoff runs out of our favorite teams!