BACK BURNER FOR METS BASEBALL

gotta love Hank and the Broadway Hat

Most under-rated athlete in NYC

I’m soooo happy Danny Ainge didn’t my favorite Celtic RAAAAAAJJJJOOOONNN RONDOOOOOOO    

It’s tough to spend time on Mets minutia today with trying to finish up loose ends at work and get ready for what should be one of the best nights Madison Square Garden has seen in quite a while as the Rangers and Flyers meet tonight and the Giants-Jets get together tomorrow and the Knicks-Celtics start the NBA season on Christmas, it’s hard to get worked up over Rob Johnson signing a minor league deal to fight for a backup catcher spot with the Mets .

I am pumped up for tonight’s Rangers-Flyers match up at MSG. Between the way the Rangers have been playing along with all the hype of HBO’s 24/7 (I need to tape Coach Tortorella’s between periods ass ripping of his team against the St Louis Blues last week  “Fucking screw it on straight, screw it on and let’s get ready to go each shift” has become my new mantra I’ve been using it at work all day the non-hockey fans think I’ve lost my mind but then again most of them don’t know what to make of me anyway)  and Winter Classic and first place (though very early in the season ) on the line, I can’t wait to get to the Garden tonight.

For as long as I can remember as a NY Football Giants fan, I have never given the NY Jets much thought. Sure I have friends who are Jets fans but there has never the animosity like I have with buddies and relatives who root for the Bronx Bastards. The Jets were…. Well just the Jets. They played in the other conference and since they played each other, except for every 4 years, only in the preseason there really hasn’t been any reason to have an opinion positive or negative on the Jets. Until now.

It really hurts me to write this but there are four teams in NYC that are sports royalty, The Highlanders, Giants, Knicks and Rangers. The Mets are the closest of the underling teams that could break into the big four, but not these days. For all the bluster that comes from Rex Ryan, the Jets are not close to being in the same stratosphere as the NY Football Giants. I don’t dislike Rex Ryan although he really, really needs to shut the fuck up, I do respect his coaching acumen but it’s too bad he has to take the personality of his dad Buddy because all this hot air he spews sooner or later has to be backed up with something. Sure he has had success as HC of the Jets but he needs to mind his coaching manners.

Head coaches, no matter what always show respect to one and other in public (look at the fall out from the Jim Schwatrz, Jim Haurbugh brew ha ha earlier this season) it’s great that Rex thinks that he is better that Bill Belichick or Tom Coughlin but when you disrespect these men who have accomplished more than you ever had in this game, you come off like a fucking buffoon.

Neither team in this contest has much to crow about this season. Both teams are huge disappointments with flaws a plenty and as much as Tom Coughlin has told his players to let the Jets do the talking and keep their mouths shut, when you have motor mouths like Antrell Rolle and Brandon Jacobs it’s a hard to rein them in.   

Like I say I never gave the Jets much thought but thanks to Rex’s big mouth not only do I want to see the Giants beat the living shit out them, if the Jets make the playoffs, I’ll be rooting hard against them. By the way, all Giants fan should be thanking Rex and his players for doing what Coach Coughlin has had trouble with so far this second half of the season, motivating the Giants players. Rex should have gone with the let sleeping dogs lay but after seeing how the Jets put a picture of a bleeding Eli Manning on the cover of their defensive play book, I hope JPP knocks Mark Sanchez out of the game on the first offensive play from scrimmage.   Oh and Fireman Ed is an asshole.

Celtics-Knicks is a great way to start off Christmas Day and as a fan of the C’s, it’s good to see the Knickerbockers relevant again. I am my Celtics have one more run left in them and a good start would be by beating up the Knicks on Sunday.   

 

 

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MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE

Famous Last Words

One  of the great topics for debate when it comes to team sports is how much does team chemistry play in making a difference between a winning or losing team.  There are many who believe team chemistry is a bunch of bullshit and it’s mostly those in the sabermetric segment of baseball fans who take this position and feel that folks like me who believe in this part of the game are relics of the past and that whether you’re BFF’s with teammates or a big time snob, as long as you produce on the field that’s what counts. In some ways they’re right, Jeff Francouer had a million dollar smile and a ten cent approach at the plate while he was with the Mets.  Barry Bonds was one miserable prick in the Giants clubhouse but he is still considered one the best baseball players of all time (I’ll leave the PED discussion for another time) but there is still something about having a group of people who have the same goal, winning and will do whatever has to be done to achieve that goal. When you have that collective mind set, I feel you have a greater shot of being a winning team than if you have a team that is just a collection of talent who worry about their 2 for 4 day and their statistical resume than winning games.

I bring this up because of four teams I’ve watched over the last month or so, two teams that have that “team chemistry” one that doesn’t and one I think will have it.

I’m a Boston Celtics fan and if there is a team that thrives on chemistry and is the best case study on the subject it’s the C’s. For the bulk of his career, Paul Pierce was the best the Celtics had to offer but as the losses piled up with exception of a trip to the NBA Finals in 2001, Pierce was ready to bolt Boston until GM Danny Ainge made two deals that put the Celtics back into the forefront of the NBA,  obtaining Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. All three players were All-Stars and future Hall of Famers as well; this melding of talent would either be a big success or a major failure. It’s been a rousing success. All three superstars under the direction of Head Coach Doc Rivers have checked their egos at the locker room door and preached the value of teamwork to their teammates. Ainge also added a great supporting cast who all have the same team first mind set. Garnett uses the term “Ubuntu” which loosely translated from African culture means a sense of community. Yes it helps greatly that the team employs four players who are all time greats and one in Rajon Rando who will be in that same group when his career is over. When you watch the C’s play you know right away what the mission statement is, to win Banner 18 and to do it by any means necessary.

A team that is nowhere near having Ubuntu are the NY Knicks. Here is a team that is just a red hot mess.  The best guy in the entire Knicks organization is the GM Donny Walsh, who took over a disaster of a team, got them below the salary cap for the first since the inception of the cap, who then went out an acquired two superstar players and has made The Garden the mecca of basketball once again. For his hard work and dedication what did Walsh get in return, a knife in his back wielded by the clueless owner of the team Jim Dolan. The head coach Mike D’Antoni preaches offense, offense and more offense with his “7 seconds or less” fast break style. A style that will never win without the player’s ability to play even plausible defense, which the Knicks don’t do.  But the biggest problem with the Knicks is they have two superstars who don’t seem to know how to mesh. Amare Stoudemire was THE show for the bulk of the season with the Knicks. He was the focal point of everything from merchandising to promotion of the team, he was anointed the next great Knickerbocker. As the team had early success the chant of M-V-P cascaded from the fans at MSG, they loved their Amare. But wait, all of a sudden another superstar joined the team, this player was born in Red Hook Brooklyn but raised in Baltimore MD and won a National Championship with Syracuse and did everything in his power to be a Knick. Move over Amare make way for Carmelo Anthony.

Both these star players said all the right things at the ‘Melo presser (the same cannot be said of Dopey Dolan) and the first few games, the duo had Knick fans thinking it was 1970 all over again. But as the season has gone on, we see that both players are still trying to figure out who gets the ball when the game is on the line and how to get the rest of the roster to raise their game and guts to do what it takes to win games. We have seen ‘Melo glare at teammates who haven’t gotten the ball to him in crunch time and we’ve seen Stoudemire wonder what happened to the team he was the leader of and the coach trying to figure out how to appease two big egos. I guess you could say the Knicks lack “team chemistry”

Now the other tenant of MSG , is the exact opposite of their basketball cohabitants.  For long time NY Rangers fans like myself , the best trait of this Ranger team is they never quit and even in losses, it’s hard to get mad as they  are what hockey folks like to say a “lunch pail team” . Not only are they a hard working bunch but for the most part the Rangers roster is mostly home grown.  Ryan Callahan is the captain in waiting along with Brandon Dubinsky, Mark Stahl, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan  and King Henrik Lundquist  are all setting the tone for big run to the playoffs. No matter what happens in the playoffs, as Ranger fans we have to be pleased that the foundation of the team that will be a Cup contender for awhile has been set.  There is a very good blend of veteran and young players on this Ranger team. When you see teams like the Rangers play as hard as they do, as a fan your proud to say you root for that team. With the NY Rangers you have team and fan chemistry.

That brings me to the NY Mets. If your sole knowledge of the Mets was obtained through the NY beat writers, sports columnists and Twitter, you’d get the impression that this was the worst team in baseball. But if you watch the games and possess an open mind ,you’d come to the realization that the Mets are a pretty good ball club. Are they a World Series contender? Not this year. Will they be better than last year? No question in my mind they will.

There is a lot of familiarity with the players on the roster, most have played together either in the big leagues or in the Mets minor league system. R.A. Dickey had mentioned this during the off season that many of the guys on this team know each other very well. Dickey also mentioned that a baseball clubhouse is just like any work place, some of guys you’re close with and other guys not as close but when you put the same uniform you have that in common and that’s what’s important.

One of the biggest failures of the past front office staff was they let the clubhouse become fractured. The last two mangers seemed to polarize the clubhouse and that led to cliques forming between the players.  You can see this spring that the new regime realizes this has been a problem with the Mets as Terry Collins instituted the Sunday night bowling parties to try to form a bond within the team.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying if the whole team sat around singing Kumbaya  it will make the Mets a World Series winner, but if the TC and Sandy Alderson can change the climate of that clubhouse and Collins can get the team to buy into a team first mentality, that will be half the battle in getting the Mets winning games. I feel the seeds of that way of thinking have been planted. If the players realize that no matter how much money or how much time you’ve spent as a Met , means nothing  if you don’t produce something positive to the club, you’ll be gone.

Think about it, the past administration went out and brought in talented players at big money contracts and what do they have to show for it? A division championship and two players calling out their teammates for not stepping up and talking to the media (the infamous “they speak English you know” from Bill Wagner and Red Ass LoDuca towards their Latino teammates)   I think this will be a much better clubhouse and a much better Met team than most think. I can’t wait until a week from tomorrow and I really am excited for April 8th and the home opener. Forget about the mess the owners are in, forget about the nay sayers in media worrying about who the Mets fans are going to boo next. I’m not saying we should become a bunch of Pollyanna’s , but this Mets team looks like one we should be rooting for.

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STILL HURTING FROM LAST NIGHT

I know our Mets are playing great baseball right now and as much as I’ve had enough of inter-league play, this weekends Mets-Highlanders series should be terrific especially with Big Pelf going tomorrow and Johan going Sunday along with D-Wright and the Mets offense locked in, it should a great three days of baseball but I need to vent here a bit about last nights Game 7 and the demise of my Celtics in the 4th quarter last night so if you’re here for the baseball only, try back later but if you want to here a grown man bare his soul about his team failing in a Game 7 and the realization that this team of PP, KG and Jesus Shuttlesworth has made it’s last run together, then read on:

I had a bad feeling about Game 6 not just because the game was in LA but I felt this was the Celtics Game 7 for the simple reason, I  never felt the C’s were built to go seven games due to age. Age. It has been the key subject all season when talking about the Celtics. When Danny Ainge went out and got KG from the T-Wolves and added Ray Allen, he said there was a three year window to win an NBA Title. They did it in the first year. Many of us feel, if not for Garnett going down last year it would have been a repeat. This season the dynamic of the team change. Leon Powe was let go and the fat tub of goo by the name of Rasheed Wallace was signed. The old guys were tired of hearing complaints from the young guys (Rondo, Perk and Baby) about how they wanted to do things and in the middle of it all was Doc Rivers trying not to let the clubhouse turn into OZ. This weighed on Rivers so much that he let it be known he’d love to take Doug Collins’ newly vacated spot with Marv Albert on TNT next season (where I believe he’s going) This team played awful in the second half of the season to where they were barely over .500 I attribute that to age, complacency and playing in the worst division on sports, the NBA Atlantic. So how did all this negativity turn around in the post season?

Well, first Doc Rivers (so underrated as a coach) finally got the two factions of old and young together and had a sit down. In 2008 the Celtics embraced “UBUNTU” the African word for family and Doc told them how they have gotten away from that. He then gave the geezers the smack in the face they needed when he told them that this is “Rondo’s Team”. I’m not sure the old guys embraced this altogether as I observed when Paul Pierce was cutting his eyes at Rondo during the Finals when he wasn’t getting the ball, but publicly they went with it as KG said in a post game interview after a game where Rondo had one of his many triple doubles, that it was “Rondo’s Team”.

When the playoff’s started the one thing the C’s had going for them was pride, Celtics Pride. You can’t get away from it. It’s one thing that separates the Celtics from any team in pro sports, just about every night there are a few legends in the building to watch the team play. Tommy Heinsohn is there every night doing color commentary on TV. Cornbread Maxwell is on the radio side. Bob Cousy shows up most nights in the stands with some time on TV. When they are called to duty, the legends all show up, Havlicek, Cowens, Sam Jones and of the King of the Celtics, the greatest player in the history of basketball, Bill Russell. These great Celtics in the tradition of Red Auerbach, let this team know they are not the Orlando Magic or the Cleveland Cavilers but they are the Boston Celtics, Basketball Royalty. When you take to the parquet floor you not only represent the Celtics but you represent us and we do not like to lose or be embarrassed.

Between the Old Guard’ words and the motivational ways of Doc Rivers letting them know the Ubuntu was missing and that a second title from this group will put them in the Celtics Pantheon. It almost worked.

Back to last night, it’s been awhile since I watch a game on the edge of my seat and the last minutes standing up (Super Bowl 42 Giants over Pats) but I was pacing the floor pleading with Ray Allen to find some legs on offense to make a shot, for Rondo to do his Rondo act and charge to the basket with his reverse lay up, for KG to grab an offensive rebound and go up strong and slam it down and take the foul then scream FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK into ABC’s camera’s, for Paul Pierce to burry a 3 and put a dagger into the Lakers heart (and give Jack Nicholson a heart attack) I wanted 2008 to happen one more time. Just…..one…..more….time…………………….

The problem that plagued the Celtics all season, holding a 4th quarter lead was a problem again last night. When you look at the rebounding totals it’s easy to say the C’s got out worked and in a way they did but when you are in your mid 30’s as the Big 3 are as well as ‘Sheed, your legs are as shot as the shocks on an old Buick, there is only so much lift you’re going to get. As the team played lock down defense in Game 7, it cost them on the offensive end, especially Ray Allen and ‘Sheed who were spent. There are no Jamie Moyers in the NBA.

So now what ? Well I think Doc will move on to TV for awhile and wait for Stan Van Gundy to get fired and then take over the Magic. I’d bet that Danny Ainge hires his pal and former Celtic great, Kevin McHale as coach. Ray Allen will not be resigned and hopefully Rasheed Wallace retires as he stated after the game last night. I haven’t looked at the salary cap situation but knowing that the Celtic ownership, it is committed to winning, it make take a year or two of retooling but I’m confident the Celtics will get back to the Finals sooner than later. Thank you Celtics for a great post season and to Pau Gasol, Take a Bath you skeevy looking fuck.

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