METS LOSE 23-5, BUT THAT’S NOT THE WORST NEWS.

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Noah Syndergaard walks off the mound with head trainer Ray Ramirez after tearing his lat muscle in the second inning on Sunday. 

 

I am compelled to write today not because my favorite team just got waxed by their biggest division rival, the hated Washington Nationals 23-5. No, that’s not a typo. Not because Anthony Rendon went 6-6 with 3 homers and 10 r.b.i., setting Nats’ franchise records. Also not a typo. It’s because, for the umpteenth time during his time as manager of the New York Mets, Terry Collins and his coaching staff have seemingly mishandled yet another player’s injury.

Ace starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard had to leave the game Sunday after 1.1 innings with what they hoped and prayed was a lat strain under his valuable right arm. An MRI done on Monday determined he has a partial tear of his right lat muscle instead. He’s going to be gone for an extended period of time after a stint on the disabled list. 

I’m livid because, besides Mets’ management’s ineptitude, Syndergaard, in his infinite wisdom, turned down an MRI earlier in the week after experiencing biceps and shoulder stiffness. After treating the discomfort with anti-inflammatory medication, he claimed the “hiccup” was behind him, and declared himself ready for his next start, which was Sunday.

He then proceeded to overthrow in the first inning, reaching 100 m.p.h. on the radar gun as if to prove something to some invisible, macho baseball spirit guide. Before the end of the second, he was walking off the mound with head trainer Ray Ramirez (we’ll get to him later) and the pitiful, overworked Mets bullpen was brought in to make the Nationals’ day historic.

It boggles my mind why this had to occur in the first place. Granted, Syndergaard has every right to turn down an MRI, for better or for worst. Unfortunately the latter has come to fruition. But Terry Collins could have held him out a little longer just as a precaution, in my opinion. I don’t care whether the mighty Thor would’ve been upset or not. Apparently he doesn’t know his body as well as he thinks he does. And the Amazins will pay dearly for that miscalculation. 

This isn’t an anomaly. Before being placed on the disabled list, Yoenis Cespedes limped away from batting practice recently, seemingly reaggravating a hamstring injury. Without blinking, Terry Collins placed him in the starting lineup the next game. Cespedes proceeded to come up lame after legging out a double. Fortunately an ultrasound found the injury to only be a strain and Cespedes isn’t expected to miss an extended period of time. Why he was in the game in the first place is anybody’s guess. 

Though I can bring up many more instances, I want to get to my point. It has been obvious to me for some time now that this manager is not the one to take this team to the next level. He just doesn’t seem to have the ability to tell the difference between whether a player is nicked up or has a potentially devastating injury. It’s happened with Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Lucas Duda, among others, as well. All have spent extended periods of time on the disabled list in the past two seasons. I don’t like to say it, but the man has got to go.

The next person in my cross hairs is the Mets’ head trainer. Ray Ramirez has been at the position since 2004 and has been witness to a myriad of crippling injuries to this pitching staff during his tenure. Besides Harvey, Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, Jacob deGrom and now Syndergaard, this predicament goes back to John Maine, Johan Santana, and the now-legendary J.J. Putz. Why he still has his job is a mystery to me.

Last, but not least, is Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen. He’s been there since 2008. A former left-handed pitcher with the Expos, Phillies, and Astros, you would think he’d have a better grasp of his pitchers’ physical limitations. According to reports, Warthen and his staff observed Syndergaard’s bullpen session on Friday and declared him ready to go for Sunday’s start. How many more starters have to go down before they attribute it to incompetence as opposed to circumstance?

Noah Syndergaard will now join Steven Matz on the disabled list and the Mets are currently in last place in the NL East, with the arrow firmly trending downward. It’s still early, but early gets late really early at the rate they’re going. And the Nationals won’t wait for them to get their act together. 

 

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It’s NFL Draft Time!

 

The New York Jets’ war room getting insight from ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr.

 

We are literally days away from the NFL Draft and Jets fans such as myself are curious about what GM Mike Maccagnan and his scouts are about to do in regard to rebuilding this team. We begin with round one, pick #6.

The names I have seen most associated with the Jets on the offensive side of the ball are quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky (UNC), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), and Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech), tight end O.J. Howard (Alabama) and running back Leonard Fournette (LSU). Any of these players would be a welcome addition to this team which has virtually no offensive talent on the roster. That might be due to the fact that they haven’t drafted one in the first round since 2009! Just maybe.

Granted, the quarterbacks have a degree of risk associated with them. Don’t they always? And the general consensus among draftniks is that this draft is not very strong if you’re looking for a signal caller. Next year’s draft is considered much stronger. And there is a theory circulating among Jets fans that Maccagnan should hold off on selecting a quarterback this year, tank the season, thereby setting the team up for a high draft pick in next year’s draft in order to choose a franchise quarterback. My question to them is “why?”

Why would you wait for yet another year to go by in order to get a franchise quarterback? Unless the scouting department believes that none of these players coming out now can be the answer, why wait? None of the kids that’ll be coming out next year are sure things either. I’ve seen future Hall of Fame quarterbacks selected in so-called weak drafts. That’s why good scouting is the most underrated aspect of team building.

Defensively, the prospects most associated with the Green and White are safeties Malik Hooker (Ohio State) and Jamal Adams (LSU), cornerback Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State), and edge rusher Myles Garrett (Texas A&M), if a miracle happens and he falls to them. I’m afraid that having a strong defense seems to preclude, at least in this front office’s way of thinking, the need to get a franchise quarterback. The thinking being that a “game manager” is all that’s necessary to be successful when you have a strong defense. I’m not buying it. I can’t name but one or two “game managers” who took their teams to the promised land. And their teams had historically elite defenses. Not one of these defensive players have the ability to make the Jets defense elite by himself.

I’m rooting for one of the quarterbacks to step to the fore and be the answer for the Jets. Trubisky sounds too much like Mark Sanchez to me (aka lack of experience). Watson certainly has the pedigree. He’s won in college, but the interceptions are a concern. And Mahomes is going to need a lot of time. He has a cannon for an arm, but he’s raw.

I do not believe the answer is on the roster now. But, if they believe he is, get O.J. Howard. A complete tight end can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Especially one with the skill set Howard would bring to the table. Fournette would also help as well, but I can’t see him falling to #6.

Lattimore can help by theoretically shutting down opposing teams’ best receivers. But his hamstrings are an issue. Health shouldn’t be an issue when a team picks this high. Hooker has been hurt throughout the draft process, so I’m not big on selecting him as well. Adams sounds like he could be a future Pro Bowler at safety. I’m a big fan of his.

Anyway, in nine days we’ll find out for sure. So strap on your seat belts Jets fans. Hopefully this’ll be the beginning of a new, more successful era.

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THE CASE FOR CONFORTO

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Michael Conforto

 

This is an open letter to Manager Terry Collins of the New York Mets:

Dear Terry, 

Lou here. Just checking in on you because it’s a new season and your team appears to be having the same problem as last season. Specifically not having enough hitting to support your top notch starting pitching. 

Now I don’t want to get too deep due to the fact that the solution to the problem just may be seated at the other end of the bench from you. His name is Michael Conforto, in case you’re wondering. Left-handed hitter? First round draft pick by your Mets, who selected him in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft with the 10th overall pick? You were going to send him to AAA Las Vegas after having a very good spring training. He was the best hitter coming out of Florida but his destination had been predetermined due to a overloaded outfield. So, due to an  injury at the position, he made the trip to Queens from Port St. Lucie anyway.

Yoenis Cespedes, starting left-fielder is cemented into the lineup as long as he’s healthy, and rightly so. The same applies to Jay Bruce, starting right-fielder, who is only carrying this team on his back offensively a week into the season. Neither is going anywhere. Then there’s centerfield. Juan Lagares, who had been penciled in as the starter, is hurt again. Same as every season. So 36-year old Curtis Granderson is the starter at a position he has no business playing on a regular basis due to his advanced baseball age, lack of range, and inconsistent hitting.

Here’s where Conforto comes into the picture, Terry. All you need to do is write his name in your lineup daily to help jump start this offense. It’s just that simple. With the protection that sluggers like Cespedes and Bruce can give him batting in the middle of the lineup, I have no doubt this squad, with it’s dominant starting pitching, can overtake the Washington Nationals as division leaders in the National League East. And incidentally, do not pay any mind to those who say you need to play Granderson due to defense. He’s an average defender at best and can’t throw out anyone on the base paths with the wet noodle he calls an arm anymore. Conforto would be a step up defensively, I believe, despite his lack of experience in centerfield.

Now I’ve heard some interesting quotes coming from you recently implying that the call isn’t yours but the front office’s. My take is if you disagree with it, take a stand and fight for this kid. If you fear losing your job for speaking your mind, then shut up or quit. The point is, being all passive aggressive about the situation isn’t solving anything. Especially the lack of scoring. Apparently you and GM Sandy Alderson need to go to dinner and a movie and get on the same page. Just put it on my tab and tell ’em Lou sent you. 

I have no doubt moving Michael Conforto into the starting lineup on a regular basis will bring out his full potential and help this lineup support DeGrom, Syndergaard, Harvey, Wheeler, etc. Next is the situation at first base. But we’ll save that for another conversation. 

Thinking of you,

                         daLou

 

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POSSIBILITIES FOR JETS IN DRAFT AT #6

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The Jets’ braintrust: (left to right) GM Mike Maccagnan, Owner Woody Johnson, and Head Coach Todd Bowles

Here we are.  Another year, another top-10 pick in the NFL Draft for the New York Jets. Which means they’re going to have a choice of some of the best college football players coming out. Unfortunately a team has to be putrid the prior season in order to be in that slot. And the 2016 New York Jets, with their robust 5-11 record, certainly qualified. 

Jets fans have more endured the NFL Draft than enjoyed it. Historically it’s been a very uneven affair to say the least for the home team. Some of the picks turned out well (i.e. Joe Namath, #1 overall, 1965 – Joe Klecko,  #144 overall, 1977 – Al Toon, #10 overall, 1985). And some picks were baffling at best (Blair Thomas, #2 overall, 1990 – Vernon Gholston, #6 overall, 2008 – Dee Milliner, #9 overall, 2013). But every year brings a new opportunity to make things right and that’s the task before GM Mike Maccagnan in the upcoming draft. 

Here are some of the possibilities: 

Myles Garrett – Texas A & M – Edge Rusher

Almost universally acknowledged as the probable #1 overall pick in the draft so far, Garrett has been described as an uber-quick, long armed freak who will spend his Sundays stalking, terrorizing, and hunting down NFL quarterbacks for a living. 

VERDICT: If he were to be available at #6, Maccagnan would have to be certifiably insane not to select him. But trust me, Garrett won’t be there. So they won’t. 

Deshaun Watson – Clemson – Quarterback

This is one that could haunt the Jets for some time if they choose to pass on Watson and he turns out to be Warren Moon or something. So, for that reason alone, the Jets should not rule out selecting him at #6. Right?

Watson has had a flair for the dramatic during his collegiate career, gaining most of his notoriety from playing well in the biggest games. Specifically against the vaunted Alabama defense in the national championship game the past two seasons. But his performances against any team that doesn’t have an elephant as a mascot is a little spotty. This has given some teams pause about picking him too high. But his ability to get away from the rush while making plays outside the pocket, his arm strength, accuracy and poise will likely move him into the top end of the draft.

VERDICT: Many are skeptical that Watson will be able to have the same impact as a pro that he did in college. I’m not one of them. 

This kid is exponentially better than anyone the Jets currently have on their roster or even vaguely considered acquiring in either free agency, the waiver wire, or the nearest rec league. I see a star. I could be wrong. Have been in the past. But I don’t think so this time. The Green and White need to snatch him up if he’s there at #6 and never look back.

Jonathan Allen – Alabama – Defensive Lineman

This guy’s a beast, sweeping every major award a defensive lineman can possibly win at the college level last season. He has all the upside of a perennial Pro Bowler who can anchor a team’s defense for the next ten years. Just one issue. The Jets are strongest at his position. They need a defensive lineman like they need another clueless, billionaire owner.st

VERDICT: Even if he’s on the board, the Jets would be best served by passing on the big fella. If another team wants to trade into the slot, trading down is a very attractive option due to their lack of depth at nearly every position but defensive line. 

Jamal Adams – LSU – Strong Safety

Though he is categorized as a strong safety, Adams can play all over the field. Known as a heavy hitter against the rush, he also has the ability to drop into coverage as a nickel corner (!) if necessary. His intangibles are also one of his best traits. He has been steadily moving up the draft board recently since the scouting combine, entering many a mock draft’s top five.

They could certainly use him. Current SS Calvin Pryor is now officially a bust and FS Marcus Gilchrist hasn’t been seen in some time. Certainly not in coverage. 

VERDICT: If he is there at six, they need to sprint up to the stage with his name on the card. Just set him and forget him.

Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State – Cornerback

Darrelle Revis is an ex-Jet again and there is a vacancy at #1 corner. Lattimore mostly fits the bill. Great cover skills, speed, and athleticism are his strengths. But his weakness is glaring for someone who plays his position. He’s constantly pulling or straining his hamstrings. Even did so when he ran his second 40-yard dash in 4.37 secs. at the scouting combine. 

VERDICT: If he checks out medically, he’d be a god send. There are gaping holes throughout the Jets’ secondary, none more glaring than at #1 corner. Lattimore would also be in line to wash away the stench of top-ten draft bust Dee Milliner. 

O.J. Howard – Alabama – Tight End

The Jets’ tight ends were a  non-factor the entire season, making less than 20 catches combined! O.J. Howard changes that in a New York minute.

He looks like a Pro Bowler to me. Big, strong, fast, great hands, good route runner, decent blocker, he’s the complete package at the position.  He’ll be his quarterback’s best friend for a decade. 

VERDICT: I believe if a player has the potential to be one of the best in the league at his position, you have to consider him at any point in the draft. Tight ends don’t go this early in the draft as a rule. But this one is an exception. Take him!

Leonard Fournette – LSU – Running Back

When a player has a chance to be transcendent, you have to consider him. Fournette sure looks the part. He was a man among boys in 2015 but was nicked up a lot in ’17, causing him to miss games. His speed/power ratio is Adrian Peterson-like. But he won’t be able to run past and through defenders like he did in college. 

Verdict: If he were still on the board, there aren’t many players I would take over Fournette. His ability to run the football can transform a team’s offense practically overnight. And the Jets could use it in spades. Bring him in.

 

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JAMES DOLAN – AMATEUR ASTRONAUT

Ok. Just when Knicks fans thought it couldn’t get any worse…last night happened.  Former Knicks great Charles Oakley got into a physical altercation in the stands with a whole bunch of …

Source: JAMES DOLAN – AMATEUR ASTRONAUT

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JETS OFF SEASON NOTES

Well, here we are – Super Bowl week. The NFL’s hype machine is running at full speed while both the Falcons and Patriots fans froth at the mouth for – heaven forbid – some   football. NFL franchises leaving or trying to leave town all over the place. Prospects preparing for April’s NFL Draft in shorts.

But I gotta get with my team. Lets fire up this sucka. 

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has a daunting task before him rebuilding this franchise and I don’t envy him in the least. But the future of this team lies squarely in his lap. And the successes and failures of his decisions will define this teams’ prospects for the next decade. No pressure right?

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Top L-R: Mike Maccagnan & Todd Bowles     Bottom L-R: John Morton & Kevin Greene

New Orleans Saints’ wide receivers coach John Morton has been signed to take this offense to the next level as the new offensive coordinator replacing the recently retired Chan Gailey. Hopefully his lack of play calling experience doesn’t come back to bite them where they sit. Don’t ask me how good he’ll be, I just know the Jets’ WR corp just got a big boost getting this guy. 

Morton was a part of the coaching staff as wide receivers coach in San Francisco from 2011-14 that helped lead the 49ers to three appearances in the NFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XLVII. During his time with the 49ers, Morton’s top pupils were Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Most recently he’s overseen the development of some excellent receivers in New Orleans as well, including Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead. He comes highly recommended by his boss, Saints head coach Sean Peyton, who coached with Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles under Bill Parcells in Dallas. But there appears to be a lack of play-calling or QB development in his resume. So it’ll be interesting to see which QB coach they sign to further the development of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

His hiring was preceded by the addition of HOFer Kevin Greene as OLB coach earlier in the week. He was not only good enough as a player to earn the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1996), he coached the Green Bay Packers OLBs to the Super Bowl XLV title. I hope he’s kept his coaching chops sharp during his sabbatical from coaching to be with his family. He does have something to work with on the roster with youngsters Darron Reed and Jordan Jenkins already in the fold. I’m very interested in observing how much he can coach them up along with Lorenzo Mauldin. I wonder if this decision takes away any temptation to pick an edge rusher at #6. However I’m sure if a stud like Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, the consensus best player in the draft, somehow drops, Maccagnan won’t hesitate to pull the trigger like when Leonard Williams fell to him in 2015.

This upcoming NFL Draft looks to be a good place to add some talent to this team. Unfortunately for the Green and White, there doesn’t appear to be a sure-fire franchise QB among the blue-chip defensive studs that dominate the top of this draft. For some reason Mitch Trubisky of UNC and DeShaun Watson of Clemson, the two top QB prospects don’t generate much in the My understanding is next year’s draft will have a few candidates for the title of next great franchise QB. But this is a critical offseason and they can’t waste the 6th pick of the draft on just a solid player or an out and out bust. The scouting staff is on red alert.

There are explosive offensive players as well, such as TE O.J. Howard of Alabama or RB Leonard Fournette of LSU. Either would inject much explosiveness into the equation. It would be rare since they haven’t used a first rounder on an offensive player since Mark Sanchez in 2009(!). By the way, I DO NOT adhere to the theory that you don’t pick RBs, Safeties, or TEs in the top ten. Any player that impacts the game is fair game in my book.

Mike Maccagnan has gone from Executive of the Year one year to the hot seat in the next. And though I don’t think he should be replaced, he’s got huge decisions to make in the coming months. He and his scouts have to flood this roster with quality athletes or this will get ugly in a New York minute. Owner Woody Johnson is off to London to serve as the US Ambassador to England, leaving his brother Chris to oversee the team. Yeah, I’ve never heard of him either. But apparently he’ll keep ol’ Woody abreast of all the happenings at Florham Park. Let’s see how this is going to turn out. The hope here is they’ll come through this offseason and get this franchise back on its feet. 

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THE JETS’ QUARTERBACK CONUNDRUM

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Someone recently asked me, “How many quarterbacks are the Jets going to draft?” I paused and suddenly the answer popped into my head. “As many as it takes to find THE quarterback,” I responded. 

You see,  when a team does find a franchise quarterback, everyone suddenly develops a selective loss of memory. They forget that it took 40 years for the New England Patriots to luck into Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. Or that it took the New Orleans Saints nearly 40 seasons to sign Drew Brees to a free agent contract after the San Diego Chargers tossed him out with the trash. Hell, the Detroit Lions are about to “celebrate” 60 years without a championship this coming February and still may not have the answer to their quarterback woes on their roster. The point is, until you find him, you don’t have one.  And, if you don’t have one, you have to keep plugging away until you find one, or get fired trying. How about the recent case of Dak Prescott being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys? He was chosen with an extra pick they happened to have at the bottom of the fourth round. Word is he dropped in the draft because of a DUI arrest which he was eventually acquitted for. So basically they were fortunate and took a chance after bypassing him for the better part of four rounds. 

The bad news for Jets fans is the answer to their prayers may not be on their roster or, for that matter, in the NFL right now. There’s no way of knowing what they have for sure until Bryce Petty and/or Christian Hackenberg see meaningful NFL action. It’s also hard for us to tell because all regular season practices are closed to the media and any other prying eyes (see Spygate). To add to the misery, for what it’s worth, ESPN’s draft experts claim this upcoming draft is bereft of any franchise signal callers. But we can’t be sure of that because they didn’t see Dak Prescott coming on like he did either.  

Oh, and let’s not forget they remain in what amounts to draft purgatory. Consistently drafting in the the middle of the first round because they’re not bad enough to pick in the top five, missing out on the blue chip draftees, quarterbacks or otherwise. And incapable of reaching the postseason due, in part, to their inept quarterback play. So they’re relegated to rolling the dice in later rounds, where they haven’t had the best success, drafting the likes of Glenn Foley, Browning Nagle, and Geno Smith. And when the pick fails to materialize into an NFL quarterback, the entire process is repeated. For the last 47 years.

And so Jets fans wait for Broadway Joe’s successor, along with every other franchise quarterback-hungry fan base. He could emerge next season or he may be in grade school, for all we know. All I know is GM Mike Maccagnan has got to keep on keeping on until the next Jets franchise quarterback is revealed. Whether he sees him coming or not.

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WHY I’M NOT SO THRILLED BY THE LATEST METS WIN

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Hansel Robles, Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed

The Mets defeated the Phillies 9-8 last night with a dramatic, 11th inning walk-off home run by Asdrubal Cabrera at Citi Field to maintain a tie for the first wildcard position with the San Francisco Giants. Though I’m pleased they won the game, forgive me fellow Mets fans if the victory doesn’t exactly fill me with optimism in this squad’s ability to advance deep into the postseason. That is if they are fortunate enough to make it there at all.

First of all, my initial reaction to this game was to shut it off long before the 11th inning. After seeing the Mets get swept at home by the Atlanta Braves earlier in the week, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to watching them lose yet another game to a team mired at the bottom of the National League East. The Phillies and the Braves are currently 15 and 29 games under .500 respectively, so winning a home game against the likes of these two teams isn’t anything to brag about in the first place. Secondly, this game shined a bright spotlight yet again on the vulnerability of the bullpen. Besides Addison Reed and, to a lesser extent Jeurys Familia, this bullpen has showed a greater affinity for setting fires than putting them out. Hansel Robles, Fernando Salas, Jim Henderson, and Jerry Blevins, et al, have proved incapable of holding a lead or maintaining tied games on a regular basis. And Familia, their 49-save closer, has not exactly been the epitome of consistency either of late. He has five blown saves this season, two of which have occurred in September. By the way, this also was the first of 64 games this season they won when trailing after the 8th inning. 

The third issue I have has been seen by many as a positive this season for the Amazin’s. That being their propensity for scoring runs almost exclusively via the home run. They have a losing record this season in games which they do not hit homers. That also doesn’t bode well for any potential success in the postseason, where the pitching will be elite. If they had a problem hitting the Braves’ Ervin Santana the other night, they can expect much more of the same throughout the postseason. Historically, teams that cannot score in multiple ways don’t do well in MLB’s postseason. 

This team has its flaws but is extremely resilient. Manager Terry Collins is an excellent motivator while being a below average strategist. The starters have been successful despite half of them going down with injuries. The team is a walking, talking oxymoron. I wish them all the best. But, the way this baseball season has developed so far, nothing would surprise me.

 

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THE ROLLER COASTER RIDE THAT IS BEING A NEW YORK SPORTS FAN

I remember as a boy watching the original Looney Tunes on television. And one of my favorite lines from a Bugs Bunny episode entitled “The Grey-Hounded Hare” was, “Now I’ve seen everything.” Apparently the late, great Mel Blanc,  who was the voice behind all of those classic characters, wasn’t a sports fan. At least not a New York City sports fan. Because, had he been one, he never would have uttered that fateful phrase. Especially had he experienced the last year in Big Apple sports.

To say it’s been a little kooky is an understatement to say the least. From the Mets losing practically their entire young, potentially dominant starting pitching staff to injury. Only to have the grizzled, rotund 43-year old veteran Bartolo Colon take over the reins and win 14 games, placing them in a position to be the first wildcard in the National League to this date. Oh, and did I also mention they lost their entire starting infield for extended periods of time throughout the season. And specifically in the cases of second baseman Neil Walker and third baseman David Wright, who were lost for the rest of the year. Next in line is the Yankees, who traded away virtually every tradeable commodity on their team, committing to youth, and still contending for a wildcard playoff spot in September. Most have tried to forget the Brooklyn Nets imploding into oblivion. But many were thrilled by the Knicks’ first round pick Kristaps Porzingis, a native of Latvia who was booed mercilessly at the Barclay Center after they made him the fourth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He went on to become a media darling after having a transcendent rookie season, second only to top pick Karl Anthony-Towns in effectiveness, and giving Knicks fans more hope for the future than they’ve had in years. And then there’s the Jets and Giants.

The Green and White had a 2015 season no one could have forseen after the debacle that was the Rex Ryan-John Idzik era by winning 10 games under the leadership of rookie coach Todd Bowles. Only to choke miserably in the last game of the regular season against the Rex Ryan-led Buffalo Bills, thereby blowing a chance to make the playoffs. They then proceeded to take on two of their incumbent free agents, starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, in sometimes contentious, drama-filled contract negotiations which were settled deep into the offseason. In the case of Fitzpatrick, his contract was signed the day before training camp began. And that only occurred because no one else wanted to pay him what he wanted in the end. The Giants began 2016 by promoting their offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo to head coach. In doing so, Big Blue kicked their two-time Super Bowl champion coach Tom Coughlin to the curb kicking and screaming. The end wasn’t a pretty sight. The Rangers and the Islanders, who are treated as an afterthought by the vast majority of New York fans anyway, made the playoffs only to be sent home early with their tails tucked securely between their legs.

All of this served to make the roller coaster that was New York sports a thrilling ride to say the least. And I didn’t even get to the suspensions, alleged domestic violence and gang rape,  James Dolan, cancer scares, DUIs,  broken jaws, and fingers getting blown off. That we’ll leave for another day. In the meantime,  my headache pills and I will continue following the proceedings. In the words of wise man Daffy Duck, “Girls, hold on to your boyfriends.”

 

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EMPIRE STATE NEWS & NOTES

nysportsMETS

LHP Steven Matz had a second straight iffy outing of the spring yesterday against the Yankees allowing 5 earned runs and two walks in four innings. He seemed, at least outwardly, to be generally unconcerned, feeling he got the work in that he needed. No panic here, folks. He’s already made the team. And there’s no better 4th starter in the division, maybe the NL…RHPs Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey have looked straight dominant so far and Jacob DeGrom just had a stellar outing after surviving minor back stiffness he suffered from an overly soft mattress earlier in camp…OF Michael Conforto has shown flashes, hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning the other day and seems to be rounding into shape nicely for the beginning of the season…OF Juan Lagares has been arguably the best player in camp this spring, slamming the ball to all fields and playing CF like his old self. Manager Terry Collins has a lot of options in the lineup this season and trying to find room for Lagares will be a challenge. They have already started experimenting with him in LF…Newly acquired OF Alejandro De Aza has been impressive also, hitting over .400 with an exceptional on base percentage. There had been talk about dealing him earlier,, but that has died down…Also newly acquired starting SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who suffered a Patella tendon strain in his left knee, expressed optimism for returning by Opening Day.

JETS

Starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a FA as of this date and it doesn’t appear as if he and the Jets are any closer to a resolution. The Broncos are showing the same lack of interest so far as well. This after the Rams and the Browns pulled out of the Fitz sweepstakes weeks ago. But these kinds of things can get resolved quicker than you can bat an eyelash so stay tuned Jets fans…RB Matt Forte was a fantastic signing by GM Mike Maccagnan. At 30 he still has plenty left in the tank, in my opinion. The versatility he gives OC Chan Gailey with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield can make this a top-12 offense with the right QB running it. And his impact in the clubhouse is also a big plus, from what I hear coming out of the Chicago Bears organization…By the way, HC Todd Bowles went on record as saying he’d consider QB Geno Smith as the starter, if it comes to that…The Jets front office is also getting close to having to make a decision on LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. The starting LT has an $8.625 million base salary, plus  $1.75 million in bonuses, plus a $3.7 million pro-ration charge on an old signing bonus. It adds up to $14.1 million, the highest cap charge for an offensive lineman in the NFL. At 32, he ain’t what he used to be and it’s a veritable grand slam that they won’t pay him that, if at all. So, after restructuring G James Carpenter’s contract to open up cap space in order to sign a couple of FA DTs last week, logic tells me they should be getting to Brick soon. If he refuses , he may have played his last snap for the Green and White. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they went with a LT at #20 in next month’s draft, should the right one drop to them.

KNICKS

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