Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Potvin SUCKS!!!!!

I don't care what the records of these two teams are but the Rangers-Islanders rivalry is as classic as they come. During the seventies it was just excruciating to see the upstart Islanders doing so well while all of us Ranger fans sat in agony. Ranger fans still rejoice in knocking out the Islanders in the quarterfinals in 1979 after the Islanders finished the season with the most points, Trottier was voted MVP and Bossy scored 69 goals. Thank you John Davidson. It took them until 1980 to win the first of their cups.  After their run of greatness the Islanders deal with the devil was over. They have been the doormats for quite some time and I really have no sympathy for them. Potvin SUCKS!!!!

I took my wife to her first Rangers game at Madison Square Garden back in 2003. They were playing the Anaheim Ducks or as they were called then, The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In the second quarter, the fans started to chant, Potvin SUCKS!!! and my wife wanted to know who this Potvin character was. I had to explain to her the whole Potvin story. My wife was amazed at the passion of Ranger fans.

So on Monday night when the Rangers beat the Islanders 7-2, I was very excited. It is always nice to see the Islanders on the losing end of a Ranger-Islander game and a drubbing to boot.

Speaking of rivalries, the Rangers take on the New Jersey Devils tonight in another rivalry. The Devils to me are the Islanders of the 90s and 2000s, they were always putting a good team on the ice while the Rangers stumbled along. Thank you hockey gods for 1994. If not for 1994, it would of been unbearable to have to have seen the Islanders parade the cup and then have to watch the Devils parade it in 1995, 2000 and 2003. At least us Ranger fans paraded for one year and one year is better than none.

Oh, Potvin SUCKS!!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Knicks-Bulls Christmas Day 2010

Merry Christmas to all. This is the best time of year, family, friends, food, drink and the Christmas Day, Knicks-Bulls game, from the Garden, actually meaning something. I remember going to one of these Christmas games back in the 70s.

Like I have been saying for weeks, win or lose the Knicks are entertaining. Today was no different, the pick and rolls to Stoudemire, the blocked shots by the Knicks and the exciting hustle of Landry Fields. Even watching the game on ESPN, I could feel the excitement of the Garden crowd.

The Knicks went on to defeat the Bulls in a game that showed just how good the Knicks can be. They should of been up by a lot more with their three point shooting and points off of transition but the Bulls kept it close by pulling down a ton of offensive rebounds.
Today the Knicks gave it's fans something that we don't see very much, defense. The Knicks are the highest scoring team but they rank 28th in defense, so from all Knicks fans, thanks for the Christmas gift.

I know, Noah was not playing for the Bulls, but the way the Knicks were playing, especially on defense, I don't know if the outcome would of been that much different. The Knicks look like they are having the time of their lives. Felton and Stoudemire are both playing well together. Chandler and Fields just kill you silently and when Williams comes off the bench, he definitely spreads the defense with his ability to hit from everywhere. The addition of Turiaf has been huge.

This is all where it starts, piece by piece, step by step. The Knicks of the 90s didn't just spring up over night. Let's have patience and let's have fun. As Marv Albert used to say, "YES!!!!!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Knicks and Thunder 12-22-2010

Yesterday at the Garden the Knicks broke a 3 game skid. What I am impressed about is the team that they broke the skid against was the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are one of the premier teams in the West. This win improved the Knicks to 17-12.

Two things worked in the Knicks favor, one was a nice long rest and second they came out and fired on all five cylinders and the bench contributed too. All five starters scored in double figures. I just can't say enough about Landry Fields, once again he had a solid game, 14 points and 10 rebounds. I don't know what has gotten into Gallineri but yesterday he went up against Durant and played outstanding defense against him. I know that Landry Fields and Gallineri's names are being brought up in trade talks for Carmelo Anthony. The way these two guys have been playing makes you scratch your head at the thought of using them as trade bait. I understand that the Knicks need another quality player to get over the hump but at what cost. If you could work out a deal using Curry, Randolph and/or Shawn Williams for Anthony, that would work. I am pretty sure that the Nuggets won't go for that, so try for a three team trade or just stand pat and hope that he is available to you in free agency. Let's keep a young nucleus and build on it.

The Knicks beat the Thunder 112-98, which is a step in the right direction but they still have a few teams coming up that the Knicks need to play just as well against. The Bulls on Christmas Day and the Heat in Miami on the 30th.

".... this win pretty much lets us know how good we can become if we keep getting better."
-- Stoudemire. I couldn't of said it any better.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Horse of the Year - Zenyatta

In my last post, I discussed the issue of the demise of horse racing. In this post I would like to talk about one of the most entertaining things to happen to horse racing in a long time. I would like to talk about Zenyatta.

During the coming week voters in the Eclipse Awards will be casting their ballots for a number of different categories, 17 to be exact. One category is the Horse of the Year and my vote would go to Zenyatta.

Zenyatta is a 6 year old mare who retired after this year's Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs. She won her first 19 races and lost her 20th by a head bob in the Breeder's Cup Classic. Even though she lost, she brought mainstream America to sit up and take notice of a sport that is hurting. Here was Zenyatta, a horse who had a personality and a will to win. Zenyatta was a horse who would dance for the crowd and all she wanted to do was run for the fans.

To win 19 races in a row is impressive but what is really impressive is the way she would win (take a look at the above video clip and watch). She would never run in the lead nor would she run near the front. She was always in the back. If a horse is constantly in the back of the pack, you got to hope for a perfect trip. You can't get boxed in, you can't get crushed on the rail and you got to hope for some day light. These are big ifs in one race, let alone 20. This is what makes her so great, is that she was always finding a way to get through and when she did, she just would blow past you.

Zenyatta brought so many people out to the racetrack. Everyone knew about this horse that couldn't lose. Even in her only lose, it was exciting. Horse racing needs to examine itself and what the fans want. By electing her Horse of the Year, it will bring a legitimacy to a sport that is shrouded in crookedness. If the writers decide to elect another horse, the general public will have only one thing to say, another fixed race.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Demise of Horse Racing

 Before going into my take on the demise of horse racing, I would like to make a comment on another sport that seems to always get a bad rap, boxing. Three fights that I remember vividly were the Micky Ward-Arturo Gatti battles. I was always a Gatti fan and I would be glued to the television during those memorable bouts. Having seen those fights, I decided to go see the movie, "The Fighter", the story of Micky Ward.  It was one of the best movies I have seen this year and hats off to Christian Bale, playing Micky Ward's brother. I would recommend this movie to anyone, whether you are a fight fan or not.

Now back to our regularly schedules program.

As a horse racing fan, I am always looking forward to December 26th. This is the day that Santa Anita Race Track opens the doors on the winter meet here in Southern California. With this occasion coming up in less than a week, I was reading the other day that the Off-Track Betting parlors have all closed in New York State. I remember when I was in my early teens and I learned the art of handicapping from the neighborhood guys in Brooklyn, New York, I was hooked. I remember going to the OTB in my neighborhood and I remember having a phone account, no internet then, a phone account was pretty high tech. Since those times in the seventies, the world of horse racing has basically taken a beating. Think of it like this, but New York's OTB is probably the only bookie that ever went broke.

Once internet gambling was legalized, people did not need to go to the track. They could make bets over the internet and also watch these races on television, either on HRTV or TVG. This was supposed to make the game more accessible. It didn't. The horse racing game needs to do a few things in order for it to make a resurgence. The game of horse racing needs to have a national organization running it and not each state making its own rules. Having different organizations is like having professional football having different rules from state to state, that would be ridiculous. Horse racing needs to consolidate its racing meets in order to get bigger fields and more betting interests, it is a little hard to constantly go to the track and see fields of 5 horses. Everyone is the favorite. But the biggest thing that needs to be done is to try to get the younger generation interested. Right now the track is dying a slow death because most of its customers are in their sixties or later. The game is going to die with them. An idea that has worked in other parts of the country has been the installation of slot machines at the track. This brings in more people to play the slots and then they see what the excitement is with this whole horse racing thing.

This is why Hollywood Park is always in a state of limbo. It is sitting on prime real estate and it is just a matter of time before it gets bulldozed. The attendance is almost non-existent on an average day.

I hope that I don't see the disappearance of horse racing during my lifetime but until then, I will make my way down to Santa Anita, pay my clubhouse admission and make the biggest decision of the day. Where should I sit, there are so many empty seats?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jets/Steelers 12-19-2010

It definitely was a tense one. From the opening kick-off return from Brad Smith to the last 2 seconds with ball in Big Ben's hand in the redzone.

Let's give credit, where credit is due. Schottenheimer re-grouped and came out with an offensive game plan  that pretty much mimicked the game plan that got them to the play-offs last year. Run the ball with confidence and set-up the passing game and when you do go to the passing game, make it high percentage.  After the last two weeks, instilling confidence in a team that was shell shocked was of the utmost importance. I really feel that Schottenheimer did the job this week.

Can we talk about the defense because it does not appear to be the defense that this team was built around. This three man rush is for the birds right now. They are getting no push, which is allowing the opposing QB to feel no pressure and have all the time to wait for someone to get open. The catch and run for the opposing team has been killing the Jets. I don't care who is covering who but if you give a QB all the time in the world, a professional receiver will eventually get open. I really feel that the Jets might need to go with a four man rush and use Taylor a lot more. It definitely appears that the Gholson project is pretty much over. Tweaks are needed but it is definitely glaring that the Jets have no rush.

What I saw today at the end of the first quarter is something that is nerve racking. With 2:20 to go in the 1st quarter and the Jets driving into Steelers territory, a costly penalty turned a possible touchdown into a punt. The punt was a good one that pushed the Steelers back to their 4 yard line. You think this is good considering our defense will stop them and the offense will have a short field to operate on. The football gods are strange creatures because when you are driving the ball and you are up 7-0 and you are this close to going up 14-0 and you negate the drive by taking a penalty, strange things happen. The Steelers go on a march of 96 yards and put the ball into the endzone, a 14 point turnaround and a shift in momentum. But the strange thing during this drive was allowing the Steelers an extra down.

Steelers have a 1st down at the Jets 35 yard line. Rashard Mendenhall carries the ball to the 26 yard line. There is no mistake that the ball never made it to the 25 yard line. The referees signal 1st down. The chain gang is confused because they all seem to think that nine yards does not equal a first down, but play continues. What is not apparent to me is that the Jets coaching staff did not seem to make a fuss. Here is an idea, make a fuss, throw the red flag (I really think Rex is a little gun shy with that flag after the Patriots flag in the first quarter), just get them out of their rhythm.  It's these mistakes that get compounded and come back to kill you in the post season.

Congrats to the Jets for winning on the road against a very good Steelers team. Lets carry this to Chicago and get us a place in the playoffs.

Check this out

While I was watching the New York Jets game, I came across this blog called All About Cards. As a card collector from years back, this site is cool.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who is Sal Alosi

When I saw the sideline trip on Nolan Carroll, I said to myself, who on the Jets sideline is acting like a 5 year old brat? To find out that it was Sal Alosi, I was shocked. The reason for my shock was I had no clue who Sal Alosi was.

Then to find out that he was fined 25K and suspended for the rest of the regular season, I was really confused. Here is the Jets strength and conditioning coach, on the sidelines, being a buffoon and bringing more undue attention to the Jets, as though they didn't have enough of that earlier in the season. How about just firing him.  It really says something about a person that will resort to an unsportsmanlike gesture like that. If he goes and pulls a stunt like that, what other stunts has he pulled that he hasn't got caught for. He is the strength and conditioning coach, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Image and reputation means a lot in the world of sports. The Jets have been acting like they have a sense of entitlement. I understand the bravado and swagger a football team needs to play a game such as football. But when this swagger and bravado turn into the schoolyard bully, everyone is looking for you to fall. Quit acting like the Raiders of yesteryear. The Raiders were able to act like that because they would back it up and win. The New England Patriots basically beat down the bully and then the Dolphins played, "Made You Flinch", with the bully.  The bully is now going to another schoolyard in another city where the kids there really don"t care where you came from or who you beat up.

Thanks Sal for all your help.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Knicks Win 8th Straight

In the last 14 games the Knicks are 13-1 and today they won eight in a row. The knock on them was that the 13-1 record were against mediocre teams. Today the Knicks beat the Nuggets, with Carmelo Anthony, who was back after sitting out two games with a knee injury.

Stoudemire has been a great addition for the Knicks. It certainly appears that he is making people play up to their capabilities. Stoudemire has scored 30 or more points in the last eight games, breaking a Knicks record that   had stood since 1962. 

Raymond Felton has been such a great addition and he is having a career year. It appears that he is really happy playing in the run and gun D'Antoni system. Today he scored 19 points and had 17 assists, this has pretty much the norm for Felton this year.

How can you not like Landry Fields? The rookie is playing great basketball and doing it very quietly.  My worries are that he will be used as trade bait for Carmelo Anthony. Not that I wouldn't want Anthony as a Knick but right now Fields looks like a great draft pick.

You know it has been 14 years since the Knicks had a start like this and I am enjoying every moment.  And of course with a young team next two games against the Celtics and the Heat will be a good test to where the Knicks really stand.  But not like past seasons, these games will at least be entertaining.  

Jets/Dolphins 12/12/2010

Here we go again.

A 10-6 loss to Miami is not what was intended.  As we look at the schedule the Jets are 9-4 and slowly fading. Their next two games are on the road at Pittsburgh and Chicago. Their last game is against the Bills at the Meadowlands. I pretty much think that the Jets will end the season at 10-6 and they have a good chance of not making the playoffs. Hello, you guys have not scored a touchdown in 2 games.

What in the world happened?  The league has figured out the Jets and the Jets are in a panic mode. They seem to tighten up when their backs are against the wall. The Jets were 6-21 on third down, with a countless number of dropped balls, errand passes, wrong routes, wrong reads and just poor ball control.

When you pride yourself on running the ball to set up your pass, you got to be able to run the ball. 87 yards rushing!? Are you kidding me, you're running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Sanchez had more yards than Shon Greene, this is Thomas Jones' replacement?  This is pathetic.  You're running game didn't work so you tried the passing game and that went completely south. How many passes can we drop?  You will always need to go for it on fourth down because noodle leg Falk is accurate from nowhere.

Don't want to put a lot of blame on Sanchez but if he takes care of the football, Jets win 6-0. It appeared that Sanchez was still shell shocked from Monday's game. A pick and a fumble on two consecutive possessions, in the first quarter, lead to all of Miami's points.

Rex and Schottenheimer need to shake things up a bit. This can become one of the biggest collapses in Jets history if they don't right the ship.

Last week week was a lose and today it is becoming a trend.

New York Jets 12/12/2010

Today we will all see if the game against the Patriots was an anomaly or did it show the NFL that they are just another team in the middle of the pack.  I have thought through a number of things and I hate to say this but I feel the Jets are a team that needs a lot of tweaks before they can be considered a Super Bowl contender.

Let's all remember that last year the Jets were 7-7 going into the game against Indianapolis. The Colts knew they were making the playoffs and pretty much sat their ones in the second half.  The Jets made the playoffs at 9-7 and eventually lost to the Colts.

The Jets have a sophomore quarterback who is still coming into his own. His offensive line is definitely allowing him to develop but the decision making is still suspect.

The Jets pass rush does not exist. Ryan cannot just keep blitzing because the other teams are picking it up and adjusting. Since the pass rush is not there, the opposing quarterback has plenty of time to decide on his options. Big problem with that is the teams are catching and carrying for big gains. Until they get a pass rush, their defense cannot perform as efficient as it is capable of.

Defensively, the Jets are in quite a hole with the loss of Leonard and of course Jenkins. Very hard to replace them at this point of the season.

The running game has not been the running game that took them through the playoffs last year.  LT is slowly tiring and Shon Greene is too inconsistent.  In order to get to air the ball out, the running game needs to become more dominant.  

And the kicking game is quite suspect. Falk is shaky at best and if you think that you can get by with that type of kicking in the post season, you are sorely mistaken.

I had high hopes for this Jets team but their weaknesses are becoming more and more glaring.