Monday, February 27, 2012

Braun Free Pass on Technicality Is Bad for Baseball

Article first published as Braun Free Pass on Technicality Is Bad for Baseball on Blogcritics.

So now we know how it goes in regard to Major League Baseball testing a player for a PED (performance enhancing drug). You get a really good lawyer, you find a loophole, and you get away with it. If Commissioner Bud Selig doesn't realize that this is bad for baseball, then he is hiding behind a curtain somewhere like the Wizard of Oz, hoping that people will fear his altered voice and the smoke and mirrors about there being zero tolerance for drugs that make one hundred pound weaklings into sultans of swat. Yeah, right.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun professed his innocence during a press conference after reporting to spring training in Phoenix on Friday, February 24. Braun said that MLB's testing program is "Absolutely fatally flawed." He also blamed the media, the process for collecting urine samples, the guy who collected it, and everyone else except the most glaringly obvious person: himself. He said, "I would bet my life this substance never entered my body." Okay, Ryan, don't go near Vegas anytime soon.

The problem here is not that a guy got past the process for the first time after being ruled a violator, but with the guy who got the pass. This isn't just a lowly shortstop playing for any team, but rather the National League MVP and star of the Milwaukee Brewers, a team which Selig once owned. If these things start to make you uncomfortable, think about how Selig was going to make steroids and other PEDs a big issue, but somehow allowed the Barry Bonds drama to stay on the back burner until Bonds hit his record breaking homers.

The question is in essence what is good for baseball? Guys pumped up with drugs hitting homers, winning championships, and filling the seats, or MLB taking a stand and shutting them down? Now, with Braun's free pass, I think the answer should be obvious.

Braun is a poster boy for the feel-good image Selig wants baseball to project. He is good looking, talented, and knows how to play the game. He is not the angry Barry Bonds, the press unfriendly guy who ballooned into a swollen home run god. So the press didn't like Bonds and then it seemed to be that he was going to go to jail. That was it. Baseball couldn't or wouldn't protect him or any violator of the drug policy - until now.

I am certain Braun will have his defenders, and there are a lot of young ladies in Milwaukee (and elsewhere I imagine) that are relieved that he won't be suspended for 50 games. His team needs him; Milwaukee needs him, MLB needs him, right?

The sad part is that this opens a door, and Selig - that Wizard behind the curtain - is not going to be able to use any tricks to get it closed. One guy got away with it. Yes, he says he is innocent - as did Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and too many others to mention. They always say they are innocent. Always.

So forget talk about asterisks on Bonds' record. Forget talk about keeping guys out of the Hall of Fame because Braun doesn't miss one game. Either there is a policy and zero tolerance or there is not. At this point, other players are thinking about their home run totals, batting averages, earned run averages, and prospects for the Hall of Fame. They have options and now an open door. What happens next, Mr. Selig?

Photo Credit - Getty Images

Knick Knacks: Lin and Knicks Face Reality Check Going Into All Star Break

Article first published as Knick Knacks: Lin and Knicks Face Reality Check Going Into All Star Break on Blogcritics.

LINsanity hit a major bump in the road in Miami against the Heat (27-7), and the team (Lin in particularly) looked less than up to the challenge of facing LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh (who led Miami with 25 points) and company on the road.

At times Lin looked like a junior varsity player thrown out on the hardwood with the big boys, but one can at least give him the benefit of the doubt, and as Knicks head coach Mike D'Anotni said afterwards, "It's one game." For now we can try to accept that.

So the Knicks go into the break 17-18 and face what is a reality check. They trail Philadelphia by 3 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division, but Miami looms large at the top of the Southeast leading Orlando by 5 1/2 games. If the Knicks can get into the first round (not playing Miami at that point), maybe they can get lucky and maybe they can up the ante as Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Lin, and the rest find a way to get this team to gel under D'Antoni's score more than the other guy game plan.

At this point we Knicks fans have been living in a bubble - a big, beautiful bubble with Jeremy Lin's face on it. I heard on sports radio the other day that James was a bit annoyed when members of the press kept asking him about Jeremy Lin. Finally, I heard James say something about noticing the commotion but being too involved in his own team to think much about Lin or the Knicks. Of course, a king is rarely concerned with members of some other prince's court, still with two Sports Illustrated covers under his belt, Lin is kind of hard to ignore no matter how much King James protests too much.

The All-Star Break does present an opportunity, especially in this shortened and condensed season, for the Knicks to take stock of what has happened over these first 35 games. It has been an incredible ride to be sure, but like any roller coaster, it's going to have its down moments, and this is one of them. Now it is up to D'Antoni and his players to find a way to harness the goodwill generated by Lin, bring everyone together on the court, and make sure there are more ups than downs the rest of the way.

Photo Credit - Getty Images

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mets Mess: Collins Thinks Santana Can Start on Opening Day

First published on Blogcritics

In the alternate universe I sometimes imagine, Johan Santana has won 20 games every season for the New York Mets, Jason Bay has hit 35 homers a year, and Jose Reyes is still flashing his infectious smile at shortstop. This is the same universe where Carlos Beltran belted a homer off Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals instead of looking at a called strike three to end game seven of the NCLS in 2006. Of course, a World Series Championship followed. Ah, that universe is a grand place to be.

Stepping back through the portal to this time and place, Santana is a rehabbed former Mets ace who now doesn't scratch his nose without Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen running over with the first aid kit. However, Santana has shown great progress coming back from his shoulder surgery, and now a report in the NY Daily News  indicates that manager Terry Collins thinks that Santana will be ready to pitch against the Atlanta Braves on April 5, 2012, at Citi Field.

We Mets fans are hungry for good news. Is Ike Davis going to be okay? Will Daniel Murphy be able to come back and hit like that again and learn to really play second base? Can 21 year old Reuben Tejada master shortstop, filling in the awfully big shoes of Reyes as a hitter and fielder? Will David Wright bounce back? Will Jason Bay remember how to hit the way he used to in Boston? Will Mr. Met get a new look, replacing the eternal smile with a resolved grimace?

Collins is an honest guy - we all learned that last year - and he is not one to play games with the press and the fans. He calls it like it is and this is admirable to say the least. Sometimes when he is speaking, I can picture GM Sandy Alderson standing in the shadows getting a little nervous, but Sandy should remember not to hide from the truth. His predecessor Omar Minaya did and it led to his downfall. Remember Sandy, the truth can only set you free.

For now Mets fans are allowed to dream a little. We can see a photo of Santana throwing the ball and be hopeful. We have to be because otherwise the season is over before it even starts. Collins says he admires Santana's work ethic, and he believes in Warthen to the point of getting the ace ready on time and in one piece. That, for now, Mets fans, is something to make us smile.

So let us move forward and watch with hope as this team begins spring training. If things get bad before April 5, we always have that alternate universe to revisit; however, the problem is that its only a temporary place to stay and then we have to come back to reality, one that has been a tough place to be for Mets fans since September 2006.

Photo Credit - NY Daily News

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Knick Knacks: Jeremy Lin's Race To The Top

Article first published as Knick Knacks: Jeremy Lin's Race To The Top on Blogcritics.

After Jeremy Lin and his Knicks (is there any disputing that they are his team right now?) defeated the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden 104-97, with Lin having a great game (28 points, 14 assists, 5 steals), that brought the Knicks back to .500 (16-16), but they and their fans are still up in the stratosphere. Defeating the defending champs only confirms the general mood in New York that this team has not only playoffs in its future but perhaps even its own championship, and much of the credit is being heaped on Lin's six foot- three inch shoulders.

The unfortunate byproduct of all this is that Jeremy Lin, being a Chinese-American, has been the target of some inappropriate comments and headlines (a while back the New York Post  had the headline "Amasian" to describe Lin's performance). ESPN editor Anthony Federico was fired for using "chink in the armor" in a headline, and anchor Max Bretos was suspended for using the same slur when talking to Knicks' icon Walt Frazier on the air, asking Clyde, "If there is a chink in the armor, where can he (Lin) improve his game?" What the heck is going on at ESPN?

In general the - and I hate to do this but I have succumbed too - LINsanity of all this is a combination of hysteria and happiness of Knicks fans (many in the media including the fired Federico) and the fact that many people do not see race as an issue. However, the sensitivity to race should always be a factor in the way we handle all matters, especially for people who are in the public domain. To use the word "chink" while referring to a person of Chinese descent is appallingly offensive to say the least, and if both Federico and Bretos did so innocently as they claim, then they are still guilty of being incredibly ignorant.

Sadly, race still matters in this country no matter how much we wish it did not. Yes, it is 2012 and we have an African-American president, but that has in many ways magnified the issue as still pertinent. Has any sitting president been under fire more than Barack Obama for a plethora of things that have nothing to do with him being president? People have questioned where he was born, his parentage, his upbringing, his background, his education, his religion, and his marriage more than any other president in history. All of this only exacerbates the need for a continuing discourse on race in this country, not only for our own citizenry but because the world is watching, and no doubt are taking note of how poorly this president has been treated.

Some people have compared Jeremy Lin and Jackie Robinson, but even that can have offensive connotations. Certainly the impact of Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 had an extraordinary social impact that went far beyond the baseball field, and Mr. Robinson had to suffer the slings and arrows of his good fortune, putting up with denigration and intolerance and threats. To his credit, Mr. Robinson held to his principals and beliefs and was a damn fine baseball player, cutting a path for others who would follow him in all sports and all walks of life. To compare him to a modern player, no matter what race, may seem to diminish all that Robinson had to overcome, whether intentional or not.

The impact of Jeremy Lin on his sport and society will never be the same magnitude as Robinson's, but it does open the door hopefully for more Asian athletes who wish to play in the NBA, and it has started a dialogue (no matter how uncomfortable at times) about the perception of Asian athletes and Asian people in general. The ESPN case (and even the lampooning of it on this week's Saturday Night Live broadcast) shows that (apologies to Robert Frost) we have miles to go before we can sleep in regards to race relations in this country, whether it is about Asian people or any other race for that matter.

As for now, Jeremy Lin is King of New York (as per today's cover of the New York Daily News).  His success has been most welcome by Knicks fans and most New Yorkers. Wouldn't it be nice to one day have the conversation be about how great a ballplayer Jeremy Lin is and not how he is a great Asian-American ballplayer? As I said, miles to go before we can sleep.

Photo Credit - Daily News

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gary Carter Dies - Remembering One of the Good Guys

Article first published as Gary Carter Dies - Remembering One of the Good Guys on Blogcritics.

As a Mets fan I am mourning the loss of Hall of Famer Gary Carter as many others are, and they are not just Mets fans. Gary was one of those great players you just had to admire even when he was on the other team. I can remember when he was a Montreal Expo, and I always appreciated the way he played the game, the obvious excitement for the game itself, and an enthusiasm that transcended the sport and seemed to just be part of his daily life.

Gary Carter was one of the good guys. On the World Series Champion 1986 New York Mets, a great team with many demons hidden and otherwise, Gary stood out as just a good man. It seems implausible now that the most important player on that team was not the hardest partying, not the meanest one, or perhaps even the most talented. What Gary represented was a moral compass in a clubhouse sometimes lost at sea. You had bad influences all around in those days, and it was hard most of all for the young players, but in the center of it all was the rock that was Gary Carter.

During his career his good guy-white hat stuff annoyed some people. Carter was also extremely genial with the press, always ready for the microphone or the reporter, prompting some of his teammates to razz him for seeking out the question before it was even asked, but Gary was always Gary: honest, unapologetic for being so, and ready to accept blame when the fault was his own for losing.

As I look back at those 1986 Mets (and now it seems like a more and more distant dream for me and my fellow Mets fans), everything seemed to click into place, and most of us know that only happened when Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez came into town. Keith was sort of an urban legend, the guy with the black hat and the cigarette dangling from his mouth (sometimes inadvertently caught by a dugout camera). Gary was the opposite, with the white hat with the silver spurs and the golden smile. Together, something like the sheriff and the former gunslinger who becomes his deputy, they brought order to the clubhouse and started the team on its winning trajectory.

If you hear the former Mets now, even those who were the "bad" boys to be sure, they all had a great respect for Gary Carter. They admire him as a player and a family man. Those seemingly trite descriptions of "Kid" living a clean life and loving his wife and children do not seem that way to his former mates or to most of his fans either. So we remember Gary Carter for everything he was and the things he was not - and maybe that is what hurts most of all now.

Gary Carter is gone at 57. He left us much too quickly, but he will always be remembered as one of the great New York players, and I can picture him up there in heaven shaking hands with Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roy Campenella, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, and so many others welcoming him to the club. It is just hard to accept that he has to be a member so soon.

Rest in peace, Gary Carter!

Photo Credit- NY Daily News

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Grammy Awards 2012: No Country for Old Men?

Article first published as Grammy Awards 2012: No Country for Old Men? on Blogcritics.

Watching the Grammy Awards is always a mixed bag for me. I want to see the performances and the presenters, but the thing drags out too long and sometimes the host makes or breaks the deal. Last night LL Cool J handled the task well enough, actually starting off the show with the appropriate decorum and respect for the late Whitney Houston, whom he referred to as a "fallen sister." He asked the crowd to join him in prayer, and that was without question a great Grammy moment.

The rest of the show came off to me as a pastiche of performances, with some hits and misses, and I didn't like noticing that some these "live" performers were moving away from a microphone and their singing voices carried on without them. Whether this is double tracking or whatever other thing that is done during a show like this, it comes off as a disingenuous musical moment. No wonder why Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters made a big deal in his acceptance speech of making music in his garage for this latest album. As he rightly pointed out, music should be what is in the heart and mind and not about what's pumping out of computers. Alas, Auto-Tune is a reality that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

The oddest thing of the night was the parade of older stars (some looking better than others). While I enjoyed seeing musical vets Bruce Springsteen, Glen Campbell, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, and the Beach Boys on the stage, I was watching it with my tween daughter who did not appreciate their presence. Not only was she baffled by them being "old and singing bad," she also didn't know why the show devoted so much time to honor Whitney Houston. Of course, this is coming from a girl who watched the Super Bowl with me last week and asked, "Who is she?" when Madonna came out to sing. When I tried to explain she said, "Yeah, but they should have had a really big star." Okay, where is Lady Gaga when you need her?

I guess I was taken back by the head on crash between my reverence for these cultural icons and my daughter's disdain for them. I sat quietly as Paul McCartney performed a new love ballad (admittedly slow moving), while my daughter kept saying, "Boring!" It reminded me of when he used to sing "Yesterday" on stage accompanied only by his guitar, but my daughter didn't know anything about that and for that matter didn't care. She only wanted Rihanna, Taylor, Adele and company - proving once again that youth reigns supreme in the minds of many watching these broadcasts.

I have to say that seeing the surviving Beach Boys perform was a bittersweet moment for me. While they sounded pretty close to the band I saw singing "Good Vibrations" in concert thirty years ago, they looked their age and then some, almost like some SNL skit lampooning old rockers. I guess I appreciated them for the memories they invoked, but I can understand how my daughter saw them - like "people's grandpas" playing rock n' roll.

Overall, it wasn't the worst Grammy Awards show I had ever seen but not the best either. In the end I realized that there is always an overlapping of generations at moments like these, and I recall watching the show years ago with my parents and being asked, "Who is this guy Meatballs?" They were referring to the singer Meat Loaf, but you get the idea. They were looking for Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Perry Como and, while I could appreciate those singers for what they had done, I much preferred seeing Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Heart, and the Cars. Ah, those were the days.

So perhaps the Grammy Awards are no country for old men (and women), or maybe they are just a place where the past and present converge, to the delight or dismay of the individual viewer. Whatever the case, the show proved that while some acts can go home again, they might be better off staying in that undiscovered country where they remain mythical instead of being brought down to earth by the reality of time and place.

Photo Credits: LL Cool J; Beach Boys -

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Knick Knacks: Jeremy Lin Makes Watching the Knicks Fun Again

Article first published as Knick Knacks: Jeremy Lin Makes Watching the Knicks Fun Again on Blogcritics.

At this point the New York Knicks are interesting again because of a young player named Jeremy Lin, the first American born player of Chinese descent (and only the fourth Chinese player in history) in the NBA. Coming over to the Knicks from the Golden State Warriors, Lin has come off the bench in the absence of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire and lit up Madison Square Garden. I am happy to say I have a reason to watch Knicks games again.

In the past I would have turned last night's game off long before the fourth quarter because I would have just figured they would lose, but I kept watching and was not disappointed. With 4.9 seconds left in the game against Ricky Rubio (another sensation that has salvaged his team's season) and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lin hit a free throw and the Knicks won their fifth straight 100-98. If he keeps going like this, one day this kid will have his jersey hanging from the rafters at the Garden, at least it seems that way right now.

This enthusiastic and talented young player is 5-0 as a starter and has brought the Knicks up to 13-15. The team has won those five games without their big stars, and one can see a difference in the whole team. Certainly coach Mike D'Antoni looks like a different man (like someone with a reprieve from the gallows?), and he was not that long ago looking like New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did after his Giants lost four in a row last year. Of course, we know things turned out quite well for Coughlin as he won the Super Bowl, and now there is light at the end of the tunnel for Knicks fans, and we have reason to watch or to even venture out into the cold and go to the Garden to see games again.

What does Lin have that has made the difference? I think if you look at all the reasons why the Knicks were doing poorly before Lin came off the bench to change things, it especially had to do with the two big guys looking weary out there, and that created a lethargy in the team as a whole. Now we know Anthony is hurting and feared the worst about Amar'e being able to make it through this condensed season without breaking down, and it seemed there was just no defense even with the welcome arrival of Tyson Chandler this year.

Jeremy Lin at point guard has scored 126 points in five games as a starter. He has also shown such determination, dedication, and has inspired his teammates and fans with his winning attitude. So people can say that "he came out of nowhere" or whatever else they want to say, but this young man may not only be the reason to watch the Knicks but actually to hope for a chance for the playoffs.

We have to wonder what will happen when Anthony and Stoudemire return, but they themselves must be invigorated by seeing what this kid can do, and you can rest assured that D'Antoni is going to have Lin in that lineup every night. He had better because Lin has saved the coach and the season. I can honestly say I can't wait to see the next game against Toronto, and I haven't had that feeling in a long, long time. Thank you, Jeremy Lin!

Photo Credits - NY Daily News

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mets Mess: Short and Tweet - GM Alderson Hints at Grim 2012

Article first published as Mets Mess: Short and Tweet - GM Alderson Hints at Grim 2012 on Blogcritics.

In a story featured in the New York Post, we learned that Mets GM Sandy Alderson has discovered the joys of Twitter. Unfortunately, this does not equate with any joy for fans of the New York Mets. Of course, at this point, any joy in Metsville seems to be unexpected for the upcoming season.

In the tweet Alderson writes: “Getting ready for Spring Training-Driving to FL but haven’t left yet.” He goes on making things even more dismal. “Big fundraiser tonight for gas money. Also exploring PAC contribution.”

After this was revealed in the Post in all its inglorious splendor, Alderson contacted the newspaper to say he was driving because he had to get his dog to Florida and needed a car while there, but this helped light up the phones on sports talk radio here in New York. The general feeling of the fans calling in was that the first tweet was not meant to be funny as the damage control is trying to spin it. The reasoning is that Alderson has to drive to Florida because with the Mets' financial woes he cannot afford a plane ticket.

This leads to the even bigger fear that the Mets are done before they even get started in 2012. The way it seems is that the team will be back mostly intact, which should send ticket sales at Citi Field down into the black hole that has been created with the Bernie Madoff scandal that is still sucking the life out of the team ownership. We start to get the picture that Fred Wilpon doesn't have two cents to rub together, meaning a dismal 2012 for fans of the New York Mets.

Right now I believe we have to wait and see what takes place, but don't be surprised that the team will be out of contention well before the July trading deadline. Which means get ready to say "Hasta la vista" to David Wright and Mike Pelfrey and whoever else can bring some young players to a team that has no choice but to look toward the future, no matter how many years from now that may be.

As Mr. Potter asked George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (one of my favorite films) "Do I paint a grim picture, or do I exaggerate?" In this case no exaggeration is necessary. It is going to be a grim 2012 for Mets fans and we had better get used to it.

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

As Gang Green Turns: Rex and His Men Surprisingly Quiet As Giants Celebrate

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: Rex and His Men Surprisingly Quiet As Giants Celebrate on Blogcritics.

The sounds of silence from Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his men are deafening. As the Giants enjoyed a ticker-tape parade in lower Manhattan, there was nothing to say for the Jets. Their fans (I am one of them) watched the celebration and felt like they were robbed or deprived or mislead, and that has to do with all Ryan's boasting and bravado that gave them a false feeling of security. Of course, we should know better. Ryan has been promising a championship for three seasons now, and all we have to show for it is watching Big Blue retake New York.

I for one do not take anything away from the Giants or their fans. They definitely deserve the accolades, the keys to the city, the parade down the Canyon of Heroes, and all the rest of the bounty of their victory. We Jets fans can even feel good about it in knowing that the Giants took down Darth Belichick and his Imperial Stormtroopers. Oh yes, Jets fans, we must admit that the force was undeniably with Obi Wan Coughlin, Eli Skywalker, and their Jedi. Please forgive these references to Star Wars, but I am losing it here.

You see, when it is all said and done, Jets fans should have nothing but admiration for the Giants, their victory, and their coach and quarterback. This is a class act all the way, and if we bleeders of green do not admit it, then we do not deserve a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood. In fact, Jets fans are down and out for the count right now, and there is no way for any of us to get back on our feet and face the future unless we come to grips with some disturbing facts.

1. Rex Ryan lied to us. He knew he was lying, and if he did not know, then he is even worse off than we thought. It is easy to shoot one's mouth off to friends and family, but when you stare into the camera and guarantee a Super Bowl berth to your fans, you better be able to back that up. Sadly, Rex has three strikes against him now, and unless I am wrong, that means he has struck out.

2. Mark Sanchez is not going to be an elite quarterback. There are those amazing guys who can be the QB that is in the stratosphere, the anointed ones like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or even Tom Brady. I think this Super Bowl victory elevates Peyton's brother Eli into this fraternity, but Jets fans have to realize that Sanchez is not even close to this crew. Sanchez may evolve and become a good QB, but I doubt he will ever rise as high as those named above.

3. Jets ownership tried to get by in 2011. There were questionable moves, especially the addition of Plaxico Burress. The offensive line seemed incapable of protecting Sanchez. He always seemed under the gun. One might say, "No wonder he threw all those interceptions." And the defense, what the supposedly masterful defense expert Ryan established, did not live up to expectations. In the overall picture, it seems that the Jets were short on personnel and on the support necessary from Woody Johnson to get the best players no matter the cost.

So now, the parade is over. Manning has been to Disney World, sat down with David Letterman to chew the fat, and got to drive his new Corvette as Super Bowl MVP. The Giants are the toast of the town and the country too. They beat the evil empire of the Patriots to the delight of many (including this Jets fan). Yes, the Giants have New York again and we can only stare in disbelief, as the Dutchmen probably did when Peter Stuyvesant relinquished the town to the British.

Yet there has to be hope for all fans of Gang Green. Our motto has always been "Maybe next year," but that can be either a joke or a reality based on what happens next. Whether or not the Jets make a play for Peyton Manning, there have to be some major changes coming for this season.

Are you listening General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum? Do you hear us Woody Johnson? Just take a look at what the Giants did. See what kind of coach Tom Coughlin is, what kind of quarterback Eli is, and the way the team handles itself. This is a winning organization, a class act all the way. Big Blue deserves all the praise and more. So now do the Jets ever evolve from being that other team with the big-mouthed coach, the erratic QB, and the shoddy offense and questionable defense? Or do they remain lost in the ether, acquiescing New York to the Giants and playing out the string?

Okay, Jets fans, we can wait for the answers to these questions, or maybe the answers will never come. If that's the case, then we have our responses by default and we will know that 2012 won't be much better, and maybe even much worse, than last year. Yes, it is tough being a Jets fan, but that's just business as usual for us. Perhaps that is the cruelest truth of all.

Photo Credit: ABC News

Saturday, February 4, 2012

As Gang Green Turns - This Jets Fan Want a Big Giant Win

First published as As Gang Green Turns - This Jets Fan Want a Big Giant Win at Blogcritics.

This Jets fan has a confession to make: I want the Giants to win. There, I did say it! Incredible? Absolutely. Bizarre? Most definitely. Still, when I look at Bill Belichick and his smug supermodel marrying quarterback Tom Brady, I can't help wanting them to lose in a big way. Since Gang Green imploded this season, I cannot have the pleasure of seeing my team in there, but the always likable quarterback Eli Manning and his rock steady head coach Tom Coughlin are deserving of a championship for all the reasons the Jets were not this year.
Make no mistake, I am not donning a Big Blue shirt or hat - wearing anything Giants would make me melt like a vampire on the beach in the Cancun sunshine - but I am going to be rooting for them because in this Super Bowl battle they are the good guys. It's kind of like being in King Kong's corner when he is up against Godzilla; they're both monsters, but at least Kong had a heart and wouldn't hurt the girl. Godzilla would have used his fire breath to roast her and have her for dinner, so he had to go down.

It is the first time (and probably the last) in my life that I am rooting for the Giants, but as someone who bleeds green for his Jets, this is not a difficult choice. Sure, I will be thinking about the Jets players, many of whom will be home watching the game in disbelief. I am certain Rex Ryan will be sitting on the sofa, enjoying the taste of his toes rammed down his throat as he watches the game. As most Jets fans know by now, Rex has a proclivity for foot in mouth disease. I doubt he will learn his lesson, but something has to give next season for the Gang that is Green and their fans, so let's hope Rex is taking notes.

Right now the focus has to be on Indianapolis and Super Bowl XLVI for Jets fans. I don't care about anything but seeing the Giants take down Brady and company. That's the first order of business. Then, after the game is over, the next thing on the list should be for Jets owner Woody Johnson to break the bank and sign Peyton Manning and trade Mark Sanchez to get some help on the offensive line. Imagine two Mannings playing in New York (really New Jersey, but that's another story); and can you further imagine a Super Bowl pitting brothers Manning against one another? That would be bigger and better than any Subway Series or even the Rangers playing the Islanders for the Stanley Cup.

Okay, the soap opera As Gang Green Turns is still on hiatus, and I'll catch up with the action soon enough, but for now this Jets fan is hoping that Big Blue takes the trophy and sends Brady and company home for a long winter's nap.

Photo credit - USA Today

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Knicks Are All Sound and No Fury in Loss to Heat

Article first published as Knicks Are All Sound and No Fury in Loss to Heat on Blogcritics.

The New York Knicks played the Mike D'Antoni way last night, but that proved to be their downfall in a 99-89 loss to the Miami Heat. The D'Antoni way is simple - continually try to score and score. In this philosophy defense is secondary and the goal is to simply outscore the opponent. Unfortunately for these Knicks, there is a great deal of sound but little fury in this practice, as was evident last night in Miami.

The Knicks (7-12), playing without Carmelo Anthony, were led by a still struggling Amar'e Stoudemire who scored 12 points and looks nothing like the player from last season who seemed to own the court (and to some extent the team itself). That was before he had to share the spotlight with Anthony, and since his arrival Stoudemire has not looked the same and that is one reason the team is faltering.

The other reason is the coach and his approach. He had the team trying to score 3-pointers all over the place last night, but the problem with this offensive strategy is when you miss the basket (making just 18 out of 43 field goals). D'Antoni should have known better, or maybe it didn't matter when you are up against the likes of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade (a combined 59 points).

So perhaps we can blame all this on Anthony being on the bench, or that D'Antoni is probably a lame duck, or the fact that the defense is sorely lacking (even with Tyson Chandler at center). Whatever the case, the Knicks are in what seems to be a downward spiral and there is no end in sight.

In this shortened and condensed season, the Knicks have fought against time and injury. It seemed that Stoudemire was going to need more time off with these back-to-back games, but with Anthony out they need him in there. The trouble is Stoudemire cannot do it all alone, and right now it seems like this team will barely play .500 ball and not make the playoffs.

Oh, and the Nets are just a half game behind them in the standings. If that doesn't shake these guys up, nothing will.