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!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Winter of My Discontent



During my hiatus writing for YanksGoYard.com, I’ve noticed that there’s been a severe lack of winning in New York sports.   OK – now that I’ve qualified for “Understatement of the
Year” – let me clarify:  the Giants have gone from “bad” to “worse” to “god they suck!”; the Knicks (always my favorite punching bag) have, believe it or not, underachieved; the Yankees have gone two years without making the post-season and fears are that we’re “back to the future” of the early-1990s; and the Rangers, my beloved Eastern Conference Champions, are treading water (which considering they play on ice, is a pretty neat deal).

While it’s too early (and way too easy) to put a bullet in the Knicks season, and the Yanks are always a candidate to instantly rebuild, it’s the right time to eulogize the Giants.   When this season started at 3-2 after five weeks, there was guarded optimism, and a daunting six game gauntlet facing them.  Seven weeks later, coming off a loss to (ugh) Jacksonville, they’re still looking for win number four.   The locker room has lost more people than 14th century Europe, with 20 players on injured reserve (including the retirements of G Chris Snee and RB David Wilson).   Those who can play, have either suffered from the rebuilt offense and makeshift offensive line; inept and perplexing defensive strategy; and/or acute fumblitis, or as I like to call it, a case of the Mannings. 

In a season that started with little optimism and ended in disaster, outstanding questions remain:  
  • Can a team that has had three General Managers in 38 years fire one (Jerry Reese) that has two Super Bowl wins in his closet? 
  • Did a Hall of Fame Coach suddenly forget how to game plan? 
  • How many times can you fire a defensive coordinator?  And when you do, who will replace him?
For my semi-coherent rantings on the Yankees, you’ll find my articles on YanksGoYard.com.   For the Knicks, I’ll leave that to Guest Writer Craig Hoberman (I like to share my suffering).  As for the Rangers, I sit and hold my breath, hoping that a Stanley Cup will cure all my problems.

And now, it’s time for my medication . . .


YanksGoYard articles:



Friday, November 14, 2014

What to Expect from the Knicks this Season



By Craig Hoberman

As Knicks fans, it’s no surprise to find our blue and orange sitting shamefully at 2-7 just weeks into the 2014 season. But this isn’t just any old post-1999 Knick season- this is a Knick season that introduces a new direction, new coaching, new players and a new philosophy: the triangle offense.

We hardly have the same Knicks organization, let alone roster we had last year. Mike
Woodson is out, D Fish (new coach Derek Fisher) is in. Jason Smith, Quincy Acy and experienced rim defender Samuel Dalembert now comprise most of the Knick front court. We upgraded the point as well by replacing a tired and ineffective Raymond Felton with Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. Coaching legend Phil Jackson is now our President of Basketball Operations. Tim Hardaway, Jr. looks bigger and better than last year. So, for the love of god, after redesigning the entire franchise and culture, why can’t the Knicks escape the endless cycle of incoherence and loss?

Despite fresh legs, new youth and new management, the Knicks have begun their rebuilding season by doing what they’ve been doing for almost two decades - getting blown out in quarters and struggling to finish games. But there’s no need to panic.  The truth is, and some of us know this, it will take time for Phil to be able to teach Fisher how to install the triangle, it will take Fisher time to instill it within the players, and it will take perhaps ten times longer for the entire Knicks lineup to function within that system. The key to the triangle offense is consistency and creativity. The Knicks have had flashes of this so far in games; putting the ball hard on the floor against Atlanta, wiping the floor with an overloaded Cavaliers roster and showing composure against Detroit.

Sure, the Knicks still need to make roster improvements to put the team where it needs to be skill-wise. A good complement to Carmelo Anthony could be Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol or Detroit’s Greg Monroe, both highly capable big men and targets for the Knicks in this year’s free agency. Dalembert shows spurts of defensive genius, and even tenacious rebounding, but lacks the freshness, consistency and offensive playmaking ability necessary for players in the triangle. Playmaking big guy Gasol would fit into Fisher’s new school triangle perfectly. Monroe would bring offensive firepower, paint presence and unbelievable athleticism.

Analysts argue that acquiring a great big man is highest on the Knicks agenda for roster improvements, but how capable are we at the point? We upgraded over a lost and confused Felton, but Calderon’s durability is questionable. Larkin, like the rest of the Knicks this season, shows flashes of excellence, but many question his height and ability to compete in the NBA and run an offense. If the Knicks were able to acquire Rajon Rondo or rising star Kyle Lowry, the triangle may be complete. Just imagine it Knicks fans- Melo, Rondo and Marc Gasol running an offense that takes us to our first conference final circuit in years. Those sound like the kind of players Jackson wants to bring to his New York empire.

It’s not like the Knicks have nothing worth mentioning now. Iman Shumpert and Hardaway are two young guards who look better than ever; Shumpert is a superior lockdown defender on the perimeter, scores off the transition and boasts unbelievable athleticism. Hardaway has struggled with his shooting percentage but looks bigger, healthier and more confident this year and probably needs more time to adjust to the coaching transition. His ability to knock down open jumpers and even drive when needed leads some to believe he will end up a premier scoring guard in the NBA. We also have Melo, and let’s not forget that…

Knicks fans should have faith in Phil Jackson. He did it with Chicago, he did it with LA, and he can do it with the Knicks. Sure, he was a coach for those two teams, and is just the president here, but his experience and understanding of the in’s and out’s of basketball prove he has the knowledge and skills to run a basketball organization. If we focus on the positives- upcoming draft picks, expiring contracts, more cap, free agency and a boatload of talented young guards- it’s hard to ignore the very real possibility that Knicks fans might actually get to see a respectable organization in the 21st century.

So what should we expect from the Knicks this season? Not too much. They’re a new squad, learning a new system with a brand new coach. Don’t expect a superb playoff run this year. When we acquire the tools from free agency and develop some of our youth, the triangle will begin to develop as a culture for our Knicks. They will learn to embrace it, we will learn to embrace it, and most of all, it will guide us to the success we haven’t seen in almost twenty years.

But seriously- this season- they’ll go 30-52. Come on guys, this is the Knicks we’re talking about.

(Guest writer Craig Hoberman is a student and SUNY-Cortland and Social Media consultant, dedicated Knicks fan and patriot.  You can follow Craig on Twitter at @MyTownTutorsNY)

Friday, October 3, 2014

For Sports Fans, October is the Happiest Time



Games in October are the promise of glory.  They are the death of dreams.   It is the beginning of seasons; the final sprint at the end of a marathon; and the point at which reality sets in. 

October is the only time of year when all four major sports in the United States are active at the same time (sorry soccer).  For Major League Baseball it’s the end of a six-month chase, as ten teams are quickly reduced to eight, four, two and one over the course of the month.   
In the National Football League, reality sets in during October, when about half the league is virtually eliminated (sorry Jets fans).  In the National Hockey League, teams are completing their training camps, playing exhibition games and dropping the  puck on a season that could potentially last until June (except for you, Islander fans).  The National Basketball Association is tipping off training camps all over the country, getting back to work after the mini-vacations that are known as the off-season (maybe the Knicks can get an extension?).

The Yankees had their October calendar cleared after an injury-plagued, offensively
inconsistent season, which saw them fall four games short of a wildcard spot.  Since this is only the third time since 1995 that the Yanks have missed the post-season, they can have a pass.  But this is also the second consecutive season without playoff baseball in the Bronx.  That leaves some of us who remember the dark ages of 1982-1994 (or even 1965-1975) wondering if we’re back to the future.   The Yanks are entering their first year of the post-Jeter era filled with question marks that will occupy everyone’s attention until Spring Training.

The Giants are entering the month filled with promise after recovering from their 0-2 start to win their last two games.  This included a 45-14 drubbing of the Washington team (I’m being politically correct by not using their nickname and just to spite their weasel of an owner).   The offense seems alive with possibilities, and new weapon Odell Beckham, Jr. will be joining the team for week five.  Given their late season schedule and the parity (mediocrity) of the NFC East, there is hope for a Big Blue playoff push come December.


The Rangers, coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, are hoping to maintain their momentum while infusing the team with youth.  Gone are stalwarts Brad Richards and Brian Boyle (free agency) and Derek Stepan (broken leg).  In their place, they’re hoping that youngsters Anthony Duclair (19), Jesper Fast (22) and Kevin Hayes (22) can provide enough consistency to support all-stars Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis.   The defense also improves with the addition of veteran Dan Boyle to work with Ryan McDonaugh, Dan Girardi and Mark Staal who should be entering the prime of their careers.   Of course, the team’s foundation is goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who returns for his tenth season with the Rangers between the pipes.   As he goes, so goes this team, who should be ready for another deep playoff run.

With West Point as the backdrop, the Knicks begin training camp determined to forget the 2013-14 season.   Team President/Guru/Zen Master Phil Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher inherit a team of question marks that severely underachieved last season.   Re-signed perennial all-star (and underachiever-in chief) Carmelo Anthony, shooting guards Tim Hardaway, Jr.  and (felon-in-waiting) J.R. Smith, and new point guard Jose Calderon will try to convert the Knicks to a stronger defensive team running a triangle offense.   We can expect growing pains as the team (and first-time coach Fisher) learns on the fly. 

But it’s October, so there’s always hope.

Just Sayin’

My fearless predictions for the World Series are my hometown Nats vs. Detroit  (although I can’t recall a year when the American League was so wide open). 

Carmelo has said that he’s the “most underrated superstar in the NBA.”  Sorry, but if you’re a great scorer who has never been to a conference final (and has only advanced out of the first round once), you’re “barely” a superstar.  

Giant safety Antrel Rolle says the reason for CB Prince Amukamara’s increased level of play this season is due to the fact that he is now having sex.  Prince was famously saving himself, and is now a happily married man.   If anything bad happens, you know he’s going to blame her as well.

Fantasy Football Update:  I’ve decided to take the Costanza approach to setting my lineups.  Anything I think I should do, I’m going to do the opposite. 

Don’t forget to check out the latest Yankee news on YanksGoYard.com.