Monday, April 30, 2012


With the Knicks just being outclassed by the Heat and the Yankees starting rotation pathetic, I am going to turn my attention to the Kentucky Derby.

During this week there will be argument after argument on who is going to win the Kentucky Derby. I have not done my handicapping yet but there are a number of horses that are going to be favored. I believe this year there will be no horse going off lower than 4-1, which is good. A bunch of us are going to pool our money and play some trifecta bets.

As of right now the horses that I feel are the favorites to do well in the Derby are:

Union Rags
Trainer: M. Matz
Jockey: J. Leparoux
Last race: Florida Derby 3-1¼

Trainer: B. Baffert
Jockey: M. Smith
Last race: Arkansas Derby 1-9½

Creative Cause
Trainer: M. Harrington
Jockey: J. Rosario
Last race: Santa Anita Derby 2-nose

Trainer: D. Romans
Jockey: K. Desormeaux
Last race: Blue Grass 1-1¼

Trainer: T. Pletcher
Jockey: J. Castellano
Last race: Wood Memorial 1-neck

Trainer: M. Maker
Jockey: Undecided
Last race: Blue Grass 2-1¼

Saturday, April 28, 2012


It has been 12 years since the Knicks and the Heat have met in the play-offs. Those games always seemed to bring out the worst in both teams. The rivalry was intense, so intense it became violent. Fast forward to 2012 and we have another play-off series between the Knicks and the Heat.

Game 1 was an awful example of a renewed rivalry. The Heat trounced the Knicks. The Knicks did not help their cause at all. They couldn't make a shot and they treated the ball like a hot potato. And to make matters worse Iman Shumpert went down with a knee injury in the third quarter.

The referees didn't help matters either. They became LeBron James' personal security force. In the second quarter LeBron and J.R. Smith went into the corner for a loose ball. LeBron and Smith got tangled and when LeBron grabbed the ball, Smith raised his arm. LeBron fell out of bounds. Foul on Smith and give LeBron 2 free throws. A few possessions later, Tyson Chandler sets a screen at the foul line for Shumpert. LeBron  runs into a perfectly legal screen and flops. Foul on Chandler, Heat ball. A few seconds later,  Shumpert is pushing the ball up the left side and LeBron is backpedaling in a soft cover. Chandler sets a back screen and LeBron runs into it and does his best soccer player flop. He was rolling on the floor and then jogged around the court doing the funky chicken. They give Chandler a flagrant foul and two shots for LeBron and the ball to the Heat. LeBron, just like a good soccer player, recovers remarkably and catches fire. The cherry on top of this referee sundae was later on in the quarter. Carmelo Anthony gets a foul called on him. Anthony is not all that happy with the call and throws a one bounce pass to the referee so the Heat can get their free throws. Technical on Anthony. Watching all of the refs' shenanigans with their lopsided calls against the Knicks reminded me of all those great play-off games in the 90s.

The series might not be like the series of old but the referee's disdain for the New York Knicks are just like old times.


Game 1 is in the books and the Rangers win 3-1 with only 14 shots on goal. The Capitals play a smothering defense so for the Rangers to score 3 was immense. On the other end of the ice, Lundquist was not at his best but he had his best friend with him, the goal post. Washington hit the red pipe three times throughout the game.

The game was a tight fought game through two periods with each goalie giving up a weak goal each. The start of the third period the game was tied at 1. The big difference came with about 13 minutes left in the third period and his name is Chris Kreider.

It appeared as the game wore on that the Capitals were losing their legs and Kreider took advantage of it. At the 13 minute mark, Kreider got a step behind Roman Hamerlnk in the Rangers end. Kreider took two quick strides and he was almost five feet behind the Capitals defense. Kreider took the pass at center ice and strides into the Washington end. He veered left and shot right and buried it, putting the Rangers up by one.

After that goal, the Capitals looked like they were kicked in the stomach. A few minutes later deep in the Washington end, Kreider went into the corner to fight for a loose puck. He was able to make a nifty pass to Brad Richards who walked up to the Capital net and went 5 hole on Bradon Holtby. Rangers went up 3-1 and that's how it stayed.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Last night we went to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I have seen Springsteen 15 times and last night was one of the best shows I have seen from him.

I was wondering how they were going to sound without Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici and I was pleasantly surprised. Springsteen has added a full horn section that includes Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake. When I listened to the concert at the Apollo, at the beginning of the tour, some of the songs that he played during that concert were arranged differently for the addition of a large horn section.  There were a number of songs he played last night that Jake went note for note and had the feel of his uncle. If you closed your eyes, you could see the Big Man up there.

The 17 piece band was firing on all cylinders and they brought an energy that had the crowd going for the nearly 3 hour concert.

Springsten did some crowd surfing, drank someones drink along the way, brought up a little girl from the crowd to help him sing the chorus for Waiting on a Sunny Day as well as just taking a walk through the crowd. He even brought up his little sister to just dance with him. I say this every time I see him in concert, "They just look like they are having so much fun!!!"

Tom Morello played with the band on three of the songs. He strutted his guitar chops on The Ghost of Tom Joad, that only Tom Morello can do.

The night only got better especially when the band did a medley of Temptation and Wilson Pickett. The band lined up in the front of the stage and sung a capella while the crowd joined in. The band also did a Riveras cover song, California Sun, which got the crowd back up on it's feet during his encore.
Twice during the show, Springsteen paid tribute to his great friend, Clarence Clemons. When he did his role call, Springsteen looked stage right where a spotlight shown on an empty microphone and called out, "If you're here, they're here!!!" 

If anyone knows how to go out with a bang, Springsteen is the master. During his last encore song, "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out", Springsteen took a walk through the crowd while singing the lyrics and when he got to a podium in the middle of the general admission floor seats, he climbed on it just in time to sing, "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band...."  The whole band stopped and on the video screen was a Clarence Clemons montage. The crowd cheered for a least two minutes and the band picked up right where it left off. Springsteen made his way back to the stage and when the song ended he said, "Goodnight Los Angeles." How do you not want more?

Below is the set list from last night's show.


Bill "Moose" Skowron passed away yesterday at the age of 81.

Skowron, a four time All-Star, was the Yankees' regular first baseman from 1955-62, averaging 21 home runs and 75 RBIs and finished his career with a .282 average, 211 homers and 888 RBIs. In World Series play he compiled a .293 average, eight homers and 29 RBIs in 39 World Series game.


The Rangers sent the Senators back to the capital of Canada, Ottawa, after defeating them in a very fast and furious game 7. After this 2-1 victory, the Rangers now get to take on the team from our nation's capital, aptly named the Capitals.

The Garden crowd was loud early and kept it up throughout the game, willing the Blueshirts to win. You could hear the crowd roaring throughout the national anthem and it would not stop during the game. The Garden did not come up with any fancy chant for Chris Neil, they just went straight to the point. Before Neil took the ice, the crowd started the chant of "NEIL IS AN ASSHOLE" and then when he came on the ice, the crowd would chant "ASSHOLE" whenever he touched the puck. Not very imaginative but it is what it is.

The Rangers came out with as much fire as the crowd had. The Rangers attacked the Senator's net and took the body when they had to. They were going to play their game no matter what the refs and Shanahan thought. Halfway through the first period, the Senators goaltender, Craig Anderson decided to take a stroll behind his net to play the puck. Brandon Prust came barreling in and there was some minimum contact and Anderson went down to the ice. Anderson basically laid there looking for a call from the ref. It was not going to happen tonight.

Chris Kreider, the newly signed Boston College hockey star, is going to be a star in this league. He basically set up the Rangers first goal with 4:46 into the second period. Kreider forced the turnover at the Senator's blue line with Callahan picking it up and dishing it to Derek Stepan. Marc Staal was filling in the left lane and Stepan put the puck right on Staal's stick. Staal one timed it past Anderson for a one goal lead.

Approximately 4 minutes after this goal, Dan Girardi put one in past Anderson for a 2-0 Rangers lead. Nice to see that the two goals scored by the Rangers were by defensemen.

With about two minutes left in the second period, Daniel Alfredsson scored a power play goal making the score 2-1.

After this goal, Lundquist became Lundquist, and need we say more.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


When the season started the Yankees seemed to have enough starting pitchers. The word around town was who was going to sit when Petitte returns? That question is slowly answering itself.

Yesterday, Michael Pineda, the young pitcher that the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for, is out for the season. He will undergo shoulder surgery and hopefully he can return to the fireball thrower that the Yankees traded for.

The Yankees seem to have bad luck with obtaining pitchers. The list is long and distinguished, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, Jeff Weaver and AJ Burnett. We now add Pineda to these names. I still think it was a good trade for the pitching deficient Yankees. A good young live arm pitcher is always worth the risk. I know right now it looks like the Yankees got bamboozled but a pitcher is a fragile commodity. I think he'll be fine, he's 23.

Let's take a look at the starting rotation as it stands right now.

CC Sabathia and that's all we need to say.

Phil "I Had One Good Year" Hughes basically stinks as a starting pitcher right now.

Ivan Nova, the only hope the Yankees have for a number 2 starter right now, if Girardi would ever trust him.

Unsteady Freddy Garcia, wow does he stink.

Hiroki "Please Let The Wind Blow That Ball Back Into The Ballpark" Kuroda was supposed to be the heir apparent number 2 guy. I like him as a pitcher but he is going to have problems with those fly balls in Yankee Stadium, as well as anywhere else in the American "Softball" League. He is a good National League pitcher but it is going to be tough in the AL for him.

All we can hope is that Petitte is the Petitte of old because we need him to eat up productive innings.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I sure hope that the Rangers have a large bulletin board in their locker room at Madison Square Garden. Chris Neil's postgame threat to Del Zotto needs to be posted everywhere at MSG.

Chris Neil, Public Enemy Number 1, took a huge hit from Del Zotto in the third period of Tuesday night's game. Del Zotto's hit told Neil, "Since your leaving, take this with you!!!"

Chris Neil decides to state in his post-game interview, "I'm sure I will catch him with his head down one of these times."  Need I say more.

I hope for this. The Rangers should not comment because Shanahan will suspend any Ranger for the rest of these play-offs if they dare to say anything negative about the Senators or the referees. Come to think of it, I better shut-up, Shanahan might take my birthday away from me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Brandon Shanahan is definitely over his head. How did Chris Neil take the ice last night after the cheap shot that gave Brian Boyle a concussion in Game 5? Who knows? It's the NHL.

Whatever Shanahan was going to do or not do, a hockey game still needed to be played last night. The Rangers left Ottawa's building and their country with the series tied at 3. The Rangers played last night like their play-off hopes depended on it. Which it did.

The Rangers played the type of game that they have played all year. Infuriating. The Senators became frustrated, see Alfredsson slamming the bench door and watch the Senators coaching staff lose it in the press box.

The Senators took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. During the second period the Rangers erupted for 3 unanswered goals. Derek Stepan got the first and then with the Rangers on a 5 0n 3 power play, Richards put it in. Then with 40 seconds left in the second period, Chris Kreider scored his first NHL goal. Kreider joined the Rangers at the beginning of April after finishing his college hockey career with the National Champion Boston College.

The Rangers now fly back to play a do or die seventh game in the arena on 7th Avenue, Madison Square Garden. I have a feeling that for the seventh game of this series and only for this game, the Garden faithful will not chant POTVIN SUCKS. I think there is going to be some sort of chant for Chris Neil.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


There is always that one team that another team just has a hard time beating and for the Rangers the Ottawa Senators are that team. The Senators had a winning record against the Blueshirts throughout the season.

Last night the Senators came away from the Garden with a 2-0 win and a 3-2 series lead. The sixth game is at Ottawa. Is there a need to worry or are we going to resurrect the ghost of Messier?

I say we are going to resurrect the ghost of Messier and here's why.

The Rangers have been missing the one piece of their puzzle for the last three games. Every Stanley Cup team has had this puzzle piece. He is not the star nor is he the proficient goal scorer. This puzzle piece is the guy that does everything well and raises the level of everyones game by just being on the ice.  This puzzle piece goes by the name of Carl Hagelin and tomorrow night he returns from his three game suspension. The Rangers with Hagelin are a complete team. We will be coming back to the Garden!!!!

While we are on the topic of Hagelin's suspension, I have to ask Mr. Shanahan, exactly what are you watching and how do you come up with your decisions.

Let's take Game 2 of this series for example. You have Matt Carkner who jumps Brian Boyle and in the process starts to pummel Boyle while he is lying on the ice. Boyle just laid there, taking one for the team but what he didn't count on was the referees not jumping in to break it up. While Boyle lied there and was taking punch after punch, Dubinsky decided to do the refs job and jumped in, grabbing Carkner from doing any further damage. The refs huddle and Carkner and Dubinsky get tossed from the game. The refs should look real close and interpret what the rule "third man in" means. On this occasion, the rule did not apply. Needless to say, the Rangers are without Dubinsky, a big piece for the Rangers and the Senators are without Carkner, a big piece of crap for the Senators. Later in this same game, Hagelin goes into the corner with the Senators' Daniel Alfredsson. Hagelin throws a clean check but while he does this, Alfredsson's stick comes up and Hagelin reacts with his hands coming up to protect himself. He accidentally elbows Alfredsson and Alfredsson suffers a concussion.

Shanahan watches all of this and decides that Carkner, who sucker punches Boyle and then pounds the tar out of him gets a slap on the wrist and Hagelin gets three games!!!! What the eff!!

Last night Brian Boyle took another cheap shot from the Senators' Chris Neil that ended up with Boyle suffering a concussion and out indefinitely. Rafi Torres of the Coyotes delivered the same type of hit on Chicago's Marion Hossa and Shanahan gave Torres 25 games. Let's see what Shanahan dishes out on this one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Starting Thursday night, the Rangers' second season will start. The Rangers finished the season with the East Division's best record and the number 1 spot in the playoffs. They will play the number 8 seed, Ottawa Senators in a best of seven play-off. The word is that the Rangers need to worry about this Senator team because the Rangers have lost the season series to them.

You have to take every team seriously when it comes to chasing the Stanley Cup. These play-off series are more intense than the regular season and everyone is coming to play.

This year's New York Rangers team is a different team than in the past. I know that they have lost the season series with the Senators but it always appears that the Rangers step it up a notch when they need to.

If the Rangers play the type of hockey that got them to this point, I see them moving to the next round. The Rangers need to continue to block shots, play defense and allow Henrik to be Henrik. The Senators are an offensive team that can be slowed by big hits and tenacious forechecking.

Thursday can not come fast enough for the second season to start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Sunday was Easter and there was another resurrection. This time it was not for just the gentiles but it was for anyone who has been a parishioner in the Mecca of Basketball, Madison Square Garden.

The New York Knicks have been resurrected again!!!

Let's take a look at this gospel. I will call it, The Book of Dolan.

When the season began, the Knicks added Tyson Chandler to a team that already had two superstars in Carmelo Anthony and A'mare Stoudemire. The chemistry never developed and the Knicks were dead as doornails. Anthony got injured and Stoudemire had some family issues and it appeared that the Knicks were going to just mail it in.

Along comes Jeremy Lin and the team has it's first resurrection and everyone makes the Knicks, Jeremy Lin's team. Everyone is rejoicing and D'Antoni has been saved by the Harvard graduate.

Carmelo Anthony recovers from his injury and Stoudemire comes back and the chemistry is lost. The Knicks are slowly circling the drain and D'Antoni decides that he will not circle the drain with this team and he leaves. His second in command, Woodson, takes over the sinking ship.

Woodson performs a miracle and resurrects the Knicks once again. It is now Woodson's team. Anthony is playing well, Lin is playing well and Chandler is the productive center that any team needs. Life is perfect again until.....

Jeremy Lin goes down with an injury that puts him out for the season and Stoudemire is done with a bulging disc. The Knicks are now close to that drain again.

Easter Sunday brought the Chicago Bulls into the Garden and the Knicks are just a whisker in front of the Bucks for the last spot for the play-offs. The Knicks go out to a 21 point lead only to give that up. Every Knick fan is hearing that drain's sucking noise. Anthony and the Knicks don't give up and in OT, the Knicks win the game 100-99.  Out of all days to resurrect yourself, Easter Sunday!!!!

You wouldn't expect anything less from the New York Knicks.

Monday, April 9, 2012


This past weekend the world of racing had two big Derby prep races and Hall of Fame jockey, Mike Smith, posted his 5,000th win. He was aboard Amazombie in the $150,000.00 Potero Grane Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. Congratulations!!

In the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, Gemologist went on to win for Todd Pletcher. This was Gemologist's second race this year. He raced on March 16 at Gulfstream Park where he won by by seven-lengths. Closing out Gemologist's juvenile season in 2011, he posted a win at the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Handicappers will look at Gemologist's fondness of the Churchill Downs track.

Gemologist ran the Wood Memorial in 1:50.96. Not a blazing time for a mile and an eighth race but it was good enough to win.

Hansen, last year's two year old champion will be racing next week in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and Union Rags, the Derby front runner right now, is coming off a disappointing Florida Derby last week.

The big race out west, the Santa Anita Derby, saw the big 9-10 favorite, Creative Cause, get beat by a nose by I'll Have Another. The Santa Anita Derby is another mile and an eighth Derby prep. I'll Have Another ran this mile and an eighth in 1:47:88. Creative Cause's trainer, Mike Harrington took the blinkers off for this race. Creative Cause was wondering in the stretch during it's previous races and Harrington needed Creative Cause to focus more. The blinkers will stay off for the Derby.

You have the Blue Grass Stakes next week which is basically the last of the prep races. The horses have all run a few races as three year olds and on May 5, it will be the moment of truth for these there year olds.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Over the past week three athletes from my childhood past away. One of these athletes might not be considered an athlete but an entertainer. The three athletes that I am speaking of is Giorgio Chinaglia of the New York Cosmos, Ron Stewart of the NY Rangers and Chief Jay Strongbow of the WWWF.

The odd thing about the death of Chief Jay Strongbow was the fact that my cousin and me were talking about him the day after my birthday and then lo and behold, he's gone. We were talking about wrestling from back in the day and how Chief Jay Strongbow had his famous "Sleeper" hold. Little did I know that I would be taught how to use the "Sleeper" hold later in my life. The only difference was that I wouldn't do the obligatory Chief Jay Strongbow war dance right before applying the hold.

Then there was Giorgio Chinaglia who passed away from a heart attack. Chinaglia was one of the members of the NY Cosmos. This was the team that introduced me to the game of soccer. Back in the seventies I watched Chinaglia, Pele, Beckenbauer and a plethora of stars playing for our local team. Thanks to him, I am a soccer fan.

Ron Stewart who passed away the other day was a center on the first NY Rangers team that I followed back in 1973. His claim to fame was a fight that he got into with his teammate and Hall of Famer, Terry Sawchuk back in 1970. The fight left Sawchuk with a bruised gall bladder that needed surgery. A month after the surgery, Sawchuk died of a bloodclot.

Rest in peace to all these three athletes that I enjoyed watching back in the 70s.


Last Sunday was my 50th birthday and my wife asked me how I wanted to spend a milestone birthday. She asked if I wanted a big party and I said that the idea of the big party is great but you never get to spend time with everyone who attends and before you know it, the party is over. I decided I wanted to spend it doing one of my favorite hobbies, going to Santa Anita Racetrack. She asked where I wanted to go to dinner and I said that I had always wanted to go to the Derby Restaurant, which is 7 furlongs from Santa Anita.

Last Sunday you couldn't of asked for a more beautiful and picturesque day. The San Gabriel Mountains that forms the backdrop for the Great Race Place was crystal clear.  Below is a picture I took during the first race at Santa Anita.

Back in October/November of 2011 I developed a system for handicapping races. It is a simple system that involves nothing but putting a few numbers in numerical order and subtracting. I have been using this system during all of my tips to the track and I have not had a losing day yet. I gave this system to a fellow worker, who has just started to go to the track, and in the three times she has visited the track, the system has come up a winner.

I began my racing day looking through the form and I found a few good betting interests and my system went 5 for 8 on the day. The two big bombs were a 14-1 shot and a 23-1 shot. Fun was had by all and when it was time to pack up, we were able to pack up with some money in our pockets.

When we left Santa Anita, we headed the seven furlongs down Huntington Drive until we got to the Derby Restaurant. We were a little early for our reservation so we decided to just go in and sit at the bar. We entered the Derby Restaurant and it was one of those old school steak houses with the high wooden ceilings, the wood paneling, fireplaces everywhere, the red leather booths and of course Sinatra playing overhead. We were pointed down a hallway to the bar. Lining one side of this hallway there was a glass case that caught my attention. In the first case was a tribute to Zenyata and her jockey Mike Smith. As you know, I am a big Mike Smith fan. They had pictures and trophies of Mike Smith's accomplishments in this case along with his signed boots and whip. In the other cases there were so many different tributes to the jockey's that have rode at Santa Anita, Laffit Pincay and George Woolf and one of the greatest horses, Seabiscuit. 

It was fairly empty in the bar, there was a family eating dinner at a table and an older woman sitting at the bar. We decided to sit at the bar and the bartender came over and started to talk to us. She asked us if we had just come from the track and we said yes. The bartender engaged us in rose racing conversation and then introduced us to the older woman sitting at the bar as Elizabeth. She told us that Elizabeth is a trainer at Santa Anita. We exchanged pleasantries and our horse racing conversation began. We spoke about the nature of the game and where it is headed. I asked her very pointed questions in regards to diminishing crowds to slot machines. I gave her my views and to my surprise she was pretty much agreed with me. We ended up talking about horse racing for about 45 minutes. When we were about to be seated, Jeff Mullins came into the bar. I would of loved to have a conversation with him and see what he thinks but it was time to eat.

What a cool place to hang out in after the track. Everyone in the place likes to talk about horse racing and you never know who is going to stop in. The thing that I have noticed about the people in the horse racing business, they have no problem having a conversation with you about their business. Try that with any other sport and se where you get.