Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keeping You Posted -- Smelling the Roses

Remember that really adventurous tale I told you regarding my buying of Rose Bowl tickets? Well if you don't, you can read up on that simply by clicking here. It truly will never get old in my opinion.

And although this goes right along with that random irrelevant article, I am continuing it by keeping you up to date.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, December 31, 2008), I will be taking my flight to Los Angeles. I will be on Delta flight 81 and you can track my plane here or track it much more in depth here. On January 2nd I will be returning via Delta flight 78 which you can track in the same location.

When I return I will post pictures and discuss my experience with the world.

You can tune in to the Rose Bowl at about 1:30pm where I will be (PT), 4:30pm ET or 3:30pm CT.


Mark Elliot Wishnia <---------------------------CLICK!
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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Giants Won't Look So Good Next Year

As I look over the blog page, it is great to see everyone back. Many of the guys have not written anything in over a week and all of a sudden they are all back and ready to go.

If only the Giants can say that next year. However, during the bye week the Giants have coming up, both defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will be having interviews and the Giants do not plan to step in and stop it. Even if the Giants did step in, they would still have the same interviews in the offseason.

The Giants need to finish this year strong because without those two coordinators next year they will not be nearly as good no matter who comes in (especially on the defensive side).

Hopefully interviews this week do not effect the team's performance in the divisional round of the playoffs but it will without doubt effect the Giants next season.

With these 2 guys gone, you are losing the Super Bowl winning defense followed up by the number 1 seed defense as well as the Super Bowl winning offense and the number 1 seed offense.

To be honest, I do not care as much about Kevin Gilbride. It took me only 4 games as him heading the offense to be able to predict the next play coming with 93% accuracy. Kevin Gilbride is incredibly predictable and it gets very frustrating. However, something about him may change in the playoffs. Last year in the playoffs and especially in the Super Bowl I predicted plays with only 45% accuracy approximately. He seemed to call his plays much differently. Maybe it is all part of his plan. He is predicatable in the regular season (and it works) and then when teams think they know him in the playoffs, he is unpredictable.

That of course is not a bad plan and if that is actually what he thinks about when running his offense then god bless him. But he has not called in the playoffs yet this year so we have to wait and see.

Now if he is so predictable you may ask why it works. Even though teams may or may not know what play is coming, it works so well in this offense. Before becoming offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride was Eli Manning's QB coach. He knew Eli Manning inside and out. He knew his strengths and weaknesses. When Gilbride became offensive coordinator he knew exactly what plays to pick to fit Eli Manning's strengths.

But because Gilbride (at least in the regular season) is so predictable, I do not mind it if he is gone. Kevin Gilbride sometimes comes up with such awful awful play calls as well.

But the biggest problem is going to be the loss of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Giants defense during their "awful" years were just so pathetic. The Giants had the worst coerage ever and everything was so sloppy. Spagnuolo was able to really unite the defense and make this defense one of the strongest in the league. Spagnuolo's defensive style fits the Giants talent perfectly. People should just say Spagnuolo runs a "Giants Defense." It fits that team that well!

Despite how good Spagnuolo is, I still don't see the Giants stopping anyone on 3rd down in my lifetime. It is something the Giants could never do whether it was the 2000 Super Bowl, the 4-12 2003 season, last year's Super Bowl, or this year's number 1 seed team. The Giants are awful on 3rd down and for some reason do their worst defense on 3rd and 10 or longer. On 3rd and 10 they give up 15 yards, on 3rd and 22 they give up 25 yards. It is just the way they are.

But generally speaking, their is nobody in New York that I can see criticizing Steve Spagnuolo. No defensive coordinator will be able to come in and do as good a job as he did.

Next year's Giants schedule as we know it now looks like this:

HOME: Atlanta, Carolina, Oakland, San Diego, Arizona
AWAY: New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota

Luckily, the Giants are not facing too many teams with high powered offenses. Of course missing from the above schedule is the divisional opponents. So they will be facing the Eagles, and Cowboys but Tony Romo should really just quit football and Mcnabb could possibly no longer be an Eagle.

Either way, the Giants still will struggle a bit. The talent is still there but if someone not similar to Spagnuolo comes in, the defense will not work.

To sum it all up, I think you will notice only minor differences in the offense without Gilbride. I think defensivley, things will be so different. I think fans will get completely frustrated and ask themselves how this same defense was the Super Bowl champs and then the number 1 seed the next year. People are going to think that this current Giants defense is a huge fluke. It actually could be that bad.

The Giants need to finish up strong because I think the Giants could fall into another draught. Coughlin will really start looking a lot like Jim Fassel.....

Mark Elliot Wishnia <---------------------------CLICK!
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
"sportstalknypodcasts "

Masochistics Anonymous

I've come to the following conclusion:

The New York Jets will never participate in a Super Bowl in my lifetime.

I'm not sure of the exact moment that this happened on Sunday. It could have been during Brett Favre's first interception. Or his ill advised screen pass for his second interception. Perhaps it was the moment that the Jets were down by only a touchdown late in the game, and they had their heads hung on the bench as if they were the Detroit Lions or something.

More likely, this epiphany came to me the moment that I looked up from my seat in a near empty Meadowlands to see a stadium usher standing in the aisle looking at me waiting for me to leave 20 minutes after the game had ended while I was watching the SNY postgame show on the big screen. The usher didn't have the heart to tell me it was time to go. She just waited until I came to the conclusion myself. Heck, I had to leave eventually ... after all, there's a playoff game the Stadium has to prepare for. Of course, the Jets will not be at that game without tickets.

Or maybe it came to me while waiting 40 minutes for the bus to go home ... shooting nasty looks to people as they tried to sneak ahead of me in line prompting one guy to say to his friend "don't cut this man dude, he will shoot you down!" I guess that 40 years of this team will put even the most mild mannered bloggers in the foulest of moods.

But the reality of the situation hit me so let me repeat it: The New York Jets will never ... ever ... participate in a Super Bowl in my lifetime, your lifetime, and possibly your children's lifetime.

(I threw that last part in just in case somebody thinks that the solution to this problem would be to kill me.)

Now, don't mistake that statement for me abandoning the Jets ... rooting for another team ... putting my fandom up on eBay (passe) or anything else that involves me washing away the football team that I started rooting for when Scott Dierking roamed the backfield, and I was cutting pictures of Richard Todd out of the newspaper and using them to create a Jets crest to hand in to my second grade teacher as a homework assignment. I am not abandoning the Jets. I am fully aware that I'm attached at the hip with this team for better or for worse.

But I am now fully accepting of the irrefutable fact that this team isn't sniffing the Super Bowl without some sort of massive and severe food poisoning that inexplicably hits 28 NFL locker rooms. And now that I have come to this realization, I will be a happier fan going forward, and can finally enjoy Jets football.

How do I know that the Jets will never make the Super Bowl? Because things that work for other franchises don't work here. You tell me that the Jets would have been better off drafting Joe Flacco and handing him the reins because of what he did with Baltimore? Yeah, the Jets tried that rookie quarterback route. Broadway Browning Nagle didn't work out so well, did he? (Heck, he didn't even work out so well with the Buffalo Destroyers.)

The Jets have also failed with older players ... whether it be this season, or whether it be in 1993 to try to cover up Nagle's stench. Brett Favre, Kris Jenkins, and Calvin Pace didn't work in much the same fashion that Boomer Esiason, Ronnie Lott, and Leonard Marshall didn't work. Two eras, two completely different groups of people, same result.

It works for other teams ... Reggie White worked for the Packers after he guilted the Jets into signing Esiason ("you know, if you went and got yourselves a better quarterback I might sign with you ... psych!") But it doesn't work here.

Build a team of no-names and let a Bill Belichick disciple coach them? Oh, yeah. Let's do it like the Patriots do it. That'll work.

No, you just become a cheap carbon copy from Kinko's which loses color and texture because a cheap imitation is just that.

(And speaking of Belichick, I'm beginning to think he's the smart one)

Rookie head coaches seem to work for other teams. Here, we only prepare coaches for their true dream job ... since the Jets can't possibly be anyone's dream job. The Jets are the DeVry of the NFL.

Build through the draft? Ha!

Instead of going through the litany of Jet draft picks gone down the toilet I'll only say this: I know for an absolute fact that there was an NFL team that considered Vernon Gholston a late second/early third round pick on their draft board this past April, and labeled him as a possible "bust of the year" candidate. The sad part: the team in question isn't exactly known for getting out of its own way much less success ... and they had Gholston down as a bust.

I knew Gholston was a bust.

So what do the Jets do? Draft him sixth overall. Of course.

You're starting to get the picture now? Nothing works. Nothing has worked, nothing will work. Certainly not as long as we have an owner who is content with letting his core fan base in Queens and Long Island erode by moving the practice facility out of Hofstra and going out to Florham Park in Jersey, and sharing a stadium with the Giants for the next hundred years. You thought you saw a lot of people wear Giants, Cowboys, Bucs, Steelers, and XFL jerseys at a Jets home game now? Wait until the core people in Queens and Long Island no longer want to take two, three hour drives to your stadium when it starts costing $5,000 per seat for their precious personal seat licenses. That new place will be teeming with nomad fans mixed with the wine and cheese crowd making a Jets home game look more like a tourist group passing through the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Oh, we may get to an AFC Championship or two ... maybe even three or four. But something will happen to mess it up. Something always happens.

Your response to me might be that instead of looking at the past, you'd be better served to look towards the future. Yeah ... the same future from August when the Jets traded for a Hall of Fame quarterback who, during week 17 in a must win game, threw a screen pass to a defensive lineman who returned it for a touchdown. At this point, what makes Brett Favre different from Bubby Brister?

Future? Okay. Let's draft a big time quarterback so he can get sacked 93 times.

Or, let's sign a big free agent defensive lineman so he can promptly forget how to play football (I'm looking at you, Kimo von Oelhoffen.)

Maybe the Jets can get some help for the secondary in the draft so he can be caught with five pounds of weed and three hookers in the back room of a Roy Rogers at the Dolly Madison rest stop. Because things like this happen to the Jets.

You tell me that the Jets had the chance to draft Dan Marino, Emmitt Smith, and Jerry Rice? I'll tell you that if that had happened, Marino would have retired as a rookie with multiple concussions, Smith would have blown out his knee, and Rice would have written a book called "Gimme The F#$%ing Ball!" (then been traded to Tampa to win a Super Bowl there.)

Bill Cowher? If I ever see Bill Cowher on the street I will tell him ... for his own sake ... to steer very far away from this franchise. A legacy doesn't need to be ruined here. Because once Cowher puts on that green windbreaker, it will make him do crazy things like, for example, punt after his kicker hits a 45 yard field goal with a good 15 yards to spare because your team was brain dead enough to commit a delay of game penalty on a field goal attempt. Or perhaps kick a field goal on fourth and an inch from the three yard line with 45 seconds left in the game. Or call all his timeouts in the third quarter.

The Jets could exhume Johnny Unitas, charge him back to life with the hard drive of a used iPod, and he'll still throw an interception at the goal line in the waning moments of a wild card game.

The Jets could draw DNA from Deacon Jones, use it to create a test tube baby, and draft him in 23 years. Once he puts on that Jets green, he's still a prime candidate to rough the passer on fourth down during a divisional playoff game to keep a Browns drive alive.

The Jets could play an AFC Championship in a domed stadium, and still find a way to wind up playing on a field of mud while their quarterback throws three interceptions to a defensive lineman.

It could be worse, you say? You could be a Mets fan, you say? I am a Mets fan! I was at Shea for the final game of '08, and I lived through the '07 collapse, the Yadier Molina home run, and the Subway Series. And I tell you that the New York Jets make the New York Mets look clutch. Hell, this year's Jets make the '86 Jets look clutch ... and they lost their last five down the stretch! But they didn't lose to the 3-11 Seahawks, the 4-8 Niners, or the soon to have their own collapse Denver Broncos. Mets collapses? Please. The Mets are a reasonable facsimile, but you can't reprint a Picasso. The New York Jets are the Picasso ... the Beethoven ... the Albert Einstein of EPIC FAIL!!!

You could be a Rangers fan, you say?

I'm a Rangers fan too. I root for the Hat Trick of Horror (as penned by Joe Queenan). And I'll say this: You know when a guy has a hitting streak going, but nobody really pays attention to it until he hits 40 and people start to take his chances of breaking DiMaggio's record seriously?

Well 40 is extremely close to 54. It's time to start taking this streak seriously. And as long as the Jets continue to be the Jets, 54 will be here before you know it.

It's inevitable. So I say ... embrace it. And when you get those fleeting moments of success like going to an AFC Championship game, or ending another team's perfect season to go 8-3 and be talked about as the best team in the AFC and on a collision course to meet the Giants in the Super Bowl, enjoy it. Then, turn off the television. Because it isn't going to get any better than that. I know this now, and I accept it.

See SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the iTunes store, keyword "sportstalknypodcasts".

Monday, December 29, 2008

Isles Lose Again!

Well my original prediction regarding this game was way off. I said the Rangers would win in 19 rounds of a shootout by a score of 2-1. Instead, there was a great high action back and forth game that ended in regulation and in favor of the Rangers. The Rangers won 5-4.

However, the Islanders did give the Rangers all they could handle. The Islanders had a 1-0 lead after the first period and a 2-1 lead after the second period. However, the Rangers outscored the Islanders 4-2 in the 3rd period.

Petr Prucha who played over Aaron Voros earned the first star of the game and had a goal. Prucha was outstanding.

The Islanders fought to the end though. With a 5-3 deficit with 18 seconds left in the game, the Islanders pulled to within one. The Islanders seem to be scoring late goals of late as that is the second game in a row they did that. Down 1 goal against the Sabres, the Islanders scored with 2 seconds remaining in the game but eventually lost in a shootout. The Islanders unfortunately on Monday night were unable to score the second goal that they needed late in the game.

The Rangers won their first game since beating the Kings 4 games ago and the Islanders are now 1-10-2 in the month of December and only 1 game in December left.

The Islanders continue to be awful and the Rangers are trying to get back on track...

Mark Elliot Wishnia <---------------------------CLICK!
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
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download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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Sundays New York Jet game made me keenly aware that my sports biological clock is ticking.  In 48 years my teams The Mets, Jets, and Rangers have reached the promised land a grand total of 4 times, let me say it again 4 times ! Now if I was to be a Yankee,Giant, Islander fan I would have popped the champagne corks  more then 3 times that amount. To put it in prospective there have been 137 opportunities in those 3 sports for my teams to win it , yet it is the team that hadn't won a championship in 54 years that last reached the promised land for me over 14 years ago ! It's been 22 years since my last baseball championship  and a whopping 40 since my last NFL championship. Now lets say I live to the ripe old age of  96, that means I have lived half my life, and all I have to show for is it is 4 frigging championships 2 of which happened when I was 9 years old ??? Are you kidding me ?
Meanwhile some 10 year old snot in New England has 3 Superbowl wins and 2 World Series wins ?  A 30 year old in Pittsburgh has 1 World Series, 1 Superbowl and 2 Stanley Cups. Something is just not right here ! The way my teams are going and the way the Mets have crashed and burned in the last two seasons, combined with the Jets collapse has be wondering what made me chose these teams. What in my genetic DNA made me want to suffer season after season of heartache ? Which of my teams will win a championship again first ?  I guess all things considered ,I  just should be thankful I am not a Cubs,Blackhawks,Bears fan, but perhaps when all is said and done they may bring there fans more championships they my big 3, tick ,tick ,tick..... 


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brett Would Rather Be MIA

Brett Favre played what could be his final NFL game on Sunday as the Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins 24-17. You could say Brett Favre would have rather been "Missing in Action" instead of playing.

Favre threw 3 interceptions in the loss and after every single one, Mangini looked as though he despises Brett Favre. Mangini had said publicly earlier in the season that he wants Brett Favre to throw less interceptions. He obviously does not realize that Brett Favre is known for throwing interceptions.

There was a time before the season when Jet fans believed Brett Favre would carry the team to the Super Bowl. Everything was Favre, Favre, Favre. They figured his shoulders would be sore from carrying the team! Well his shoulders were sore for other reasons. People thought Favre would still carry the Jets to the Super Bowl after the win against Tennesse. However, that still was not the case as the Jets missed the playoffs. Even if they had beat Miami, the Jets would still fall short because Baltimore beat Jacksonville.

Now the question is what does this mean for Brett and what does this mean for the Jets?

Well in my opinion, whether Favre wants to retire or not, I cannot see the Jets brining him back. I think the Jets will force him into retirement. The Jets cannot afford to just release him of course. As I said earlier, I think Mangini despises Favre. After seeing some of the faces he made I cannot imagine he wants to see Favre out there (this of course assuming Mangini is back but we will dsicuss that a little later on). I think the Jets are ready to see what Kellen Clemens could do or I can see the Jets making an attempt at franchsining free agent quarterback Matt Cassel. The Patriots are not going to pay a large sum of money to Cassel to play behind Tom Brady.

Even if Favre was a free agent I do not think he is at a point in his career where he wants to go team hopping and have 1 year stint after 1 year stint.

In my opinion as I mentioned on my internet radio show many times, there was no reason for Brett Favre to be with the Jets unless he got them to a Super Bowl. Why? Because if the Jets do choose to see what they have in Kellen Clemens, then Kellen Clemens could have come out this year and also not gotten the Jets to the playoffs. They did not need to bring in Favre to do something Clemens could have easily done. Clemens probably would not have thrown nearly as many interceptions either. Granted, if Favre never came the Jets would probably still have Pennington but when push comes to shove, Pennington is in the playoffs and Favre is not. So overall, now that Favre has not gotten the Jets to the Super Bowl let alone the playoffs, this was a royal waste. Now Pennington may have continued to struggle in New York. But then of course you would have seen Kellen Clemens who is now in a sense one year behind in his development. If Kellen Clemens got playing time this year, he would become better quicker. Clemens is not going to get younger.

Now as far as Eric Mangini goes. Well first off he shows no emotion and I don't know if that is the real Mangini. He may be putting on some sort of Bill Belichick or Joe Torre act. I do not know. But at the same time, Mangini has not done a very good job with this Jets team. In 2006 he brought the Jets to the playoffs where they lost to the Patriots. Follwing that, the Jets went 4-12 last year and then of course has the big collpase this year wih Brett Favre who was supposed to act as a football g-d.

In my opinion, there is no sense in keeping Mangini. I think the Jets and their fans have had enough of him. There are plenty of other possible coaches floating around that can probably do a better job. There are probably only a handful of people that would be angry to see the current head coach go and the only people that would not like it is anyone with the last name "Mangini."

The next question becomes, would I or the Jets feel the same way if the Jets beat Miami? Well, the Jets still would have missed the playoffs and if it was up to me I would still say he is gone. Granted if they won and made the playoffs I would have a different answer. But the bottom line is, the Jets were in a situation where the really seemed unstoppable. However, losses to Oakland, the 49ers and the Seahawks really do not make Mangini seem better. The Jets on the other hand may have thought differently. If the Jets won maybe he would stay anyway. Then again at the time of this blog post Mangini has not been fired and the Jets lost. I am just assuming he is gone.

Feel free to comment on any of this.

Mark Elliot Wishnia <---------------------------CLICK!
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

What to Expect in the Rangers Isles Showdown

The battle for bragging rights is always fun and New York is a great place to do it. So many New York teams in every sport (except basketball since NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK ARE 2 DIFFERENT STATES) and the battle continues on Monday as the Islanders will take on the Rangers at the Garden.

The Rangers have dropped 3 in a row. A close one in San Jose, an OT loss to Washington despite leading in the game 4-0, and then a fairly weak performance against the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders had lost 10 in a row until winning their first game of December against Toronto. However, the Islanders went right back on to losing as they lost the the Sabres in a shootout.

The Rangers seem to struggle a lot against the Islanders no matter how good or bad the Islanders are going. So far this season the two teams are 1-1 against each other.

The Rangers could not beat what was probably a fatigued New Jersey Devils team on Saturday night at the Garden. The Islanders despite losing 11 of their last 12, have played real well in their last 2 games by receiving a win and playing well against a Sabres team that for the moment I will call "decent."

The Rangers have given up a lead leading 11 short handed goals. The Islanders are 18th in the league in PP%. The Rangers are 25th in that same category.

If I had to make a prediction I would say the Rangers win this game 2-1 after 19 rounds of a shootout.

If the Islanders win in regulation or even at all, I will not be surprised.

The standings mean absolutely nothing in this game. Momentum is EVERYTHING. Energy is even more than everything.

Yours truly will be on hand!

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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Friday, December 26, 2008

If You Had to Guess, Which Team Would the T-Wolves Finally Beat?...

Well given the nature of this particular blog the answer to the above question is probably not going to be the Washington Wizards.

On Friday night the New York Knicks lost to what was a 4 win Minnesota team who had also lost 13 straight. The Knicks were awful defensively as usual and David Lee fouled out just 4 minutes into the 4th quarter.

The Knicks are just an awful basketball team and if Lebron James signs an extension in the offseason with the Cavaliers, the Knicks will really be in trouble.

That is all I have to say. The Knicks are awful and it is not fair to me to waste my time writing a full article on a team that is so incredibly pathetic.

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
"sportstalknypodcasts "

Dipetro Returns... Jumper Cables Included

Rick Dipietro finally made his return back to the Islanders Friday night which may have finally jump started the Islanders who won a game after being winless in their last 10. Dipietro hasd played in 3 games prior to tonight; the last one being on October 25th. Dipietro lost all 3 of the games he has started until Friday. The Islanders beat the Toronto Maple Leafs on home ice in a 4-1 victory. Hopefully for the Islanders this is the start of something good. The Islanders will take on the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night in Buffalo followed by a trip to the Garden to take on the Rangers on Monday. Yours truly will be on hand for that one.

The Islanders desperately needed the win against a Maple Leafs team that has not been so hot as of late. Bill Guerin also recorded his 400th career goal in the win. It was a good night for the Islanders but they still are in dead last in the Eastern Conference.

We will see if the Islanders can make a climb. If I had to make a prediction I would say not. However, they usually play really well against the Rangers and a win on Monday could really give them a boost.

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
"sportstalknypodcasts "

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Swisher to Play Outfield for Yankees

Well it is now official what Nick Swisher will be playing in the outfield because the Yankees have landed a man by the name of Mark Teixeira. The Yankees now have a much needed number 3 hitter, a great first basemen for 8 years and lots of depth in the outfield. The Yankees now have a similar deadly combination that the Red Sox had with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Yankees' lineup will start with the fast contact hitter in Johnny Damon, the face of the Yankees with Derek Jeter, and then followed by the hazards of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

Nick Swisher will most likely move to left, Damon will play in center, and Nady will play right. Matsui, Gardner, and possibly Austin Jackson will also see time in the outfield. The Yankees have landed 3 huge free agents now. They added a huge boost to their lineup AND their pitching and they did it by getting 3 young guys still in their prime. They finally did not get old washed up guys.

Along with the New Yankee Stadium comes a New Yankee Era.

The Yankees just have to hope that some of Joe Girardi's questionable management tactics don't mess this up....

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
"sportstalknypodcasts "

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Is This Man Smiling ...

... when he should be laughing hysterically?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We, Jets fans, go through the same things ... make the same long trips to the stadium named after the other team in town, buy new jerseys with the past his prime/future Hall of Famer's name on the back or ask for them for Christmas, start making plans about who you know in that season's Super Bowl city so you can ask to crash at their place that week when the Jets finally get to go to the big game ... we do this year after year. Yet we expect a different result than we've gotten for the past 40 years.

We expect our coach to give a professional NFL kicker a chance to make a field goal from 50 yards out after hitting a 45-yarder with 10 yards to spare on a play called back by a penalty.

We expect to root for the team not affected by bad weather ... you know, being from New York City and having the quarterback that came from the frozen tundra and such.

And speaking of the quarterback, we expect the captain, leader, and field general not to have a perpetual blank look on his face on the sidelines as if his dog just ran away every time there's some sort of adversity on the other side of the ball.

We expect a team that beat New England and Tennessee on the road not to come within a Losman of pulling Paul McGuire II against four lousy teams.

Why do we expect this? It's simple. We're insane.

See SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the iTunes store, keyword "sportstalknypodcasts".

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Still Attend an Islanders Game

The bottom line is, the Islanders suck. They are absolutely awful. They have now lost 9 games in a row. They have yet to win in December. Their last win was on November 29. However, if you turn on your TV and wonder, why are there actually fans sitting in Nassau Coliseum, you are not alone.

I decided to come up with the top 10 reasons to still attend an Islanders game despite the fact they are awful:

10. Since the AFL season has been suspended in 2009, this is your only chance to go to Nassau Coliseum.

9. Soon, this old piece of junk will be gone. You might as well go ONE last time. But not more than that ONE last time.

8. You are from some random foreign country and you have never heard of hockey before until your American host family gave you Islander tickets so you did not know who they were and you did not know they sucked.

7. You have been in a coma since the 70's and when you woke up you thought they were still good.

6. You don't have MSG, MSG 2, or MSG + (even though this is probably a good thing)

5. It has been a while since you got some action and the next best thing is the Ice Girls

4. You think it is actually impossible for a hockey team to lose 9 games in a row and you think the media is deceiving you. You need to see a team this bad in person to actually believe it.

3. A member of your family is one of the referees and you want to go out to see him.

2. You work at Nassau Coliseum

1. You are a fan of the opposing team.

These are the only reasons to continue to attend games. I do not care if you are a die hard fan, I do not care if you get free tickets, I do not care if you are sitting in what you consider to be the best seats. The Islanders do not deserve to have you there!

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Miracle at the Meadowlands: The Sequel

Did my eyes deceive me? Because I could have sworn that Herman Edwards was back in the Meadowlands on Sunday.

The game was over. The season was over. The credits were rolling on the Jets' yearbook video that NFL Films does every year. And then, J.P. Losman wanted to remind the world why he's been benched 274 times in his brief NFL career.

As a Jet fan, you wonder a few things. You wonder what the Jets would have won by if they had brought the kind of pressure that Abram Elam brought on that unfathomable play all game. You wonder if that was the moment that will finally and accidentally get the Jets back on the right track. But most of all you just wonder ... what the hell just happened?

The Jets won the AFC East in 2002 because of a similar blunder. Not by J.P. Losman, but by former Dolphins head coach Dave Wannestedt who, backed up near his own end zone, up by three late in the game, and Ricky Williams having rushed for a zillion yards that day, decided to call three passing plays ... all incomplete, thus saving the Patriots three time outs, and giving them the ball back and set up a tying field goal ... then the winning field goal ... giving the Jets a chance to win the division in their final game of the season at the Meadowlands later that day.

The quarterbacks for that game? Pennington vs. Favre.

Six years later, J.P. Losman's slippery fingers have given the Jets a new hope to win the division on the final day of the season at the Meadowlands. One in which the quarterbacks will be ...

That's right, Pennington vs. Favre. But I imagine that this time the Jets faithful will be backing the other guy.

Merry Christmas, J.P. Losman. Because when you get a gift that says "Do Not Open Until Christmas", you don't wait. You go right ahead and open that gift ... and it's one that we can all enjoy here in New York.

See SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the iTunes store, keyword "sportstalknypodcasts".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Random Note... But Noteworthy

Although this is way off topic from this blog, being a staff member I feel I have the right to make this post. I think you will enjoy this post. It is comical, it is adventurous, it is torture, it is awesome.

As I am sure you can tell from the picture above, this post probably has something to do with the Rose Bowl and that is indeed correct. If you do not know, I am a Freshman at Penn State so the 95th Rose Bowl game being played on January 1, certainly applies to me.

So after 2 paragraphs of saying literally nothing, I will now get to my story.

It was a cold Thursday afternoon when I picked up Penn State's student newspaper called the "Daily Collegian." It told me that on Saturday, Rose Bowl tickets would be sold. However, in the past, Penn State has done very poor with its ticketing distribution due to camp out rules being violated and then Penn State not caring at all that the rules were violated. So the Collegian told me the athletic department was doing something smarter. Tickets would go on sale Saturday at 8am however the location of the ticket sale would not be made public until 6:30am on Saturday. This would prevent camp outs and make it fair for everyone to get tickets. They were also concerned about health issues and did not want people camping out for weeks in 20 degree weather. Do not worry however, because the health issue comes up a little later on again.

So my alarm goes off at 5:55am and by 6:10 I am all ready to go. All I have to do is wait until 6:30am, refresh the Penn State sports homepage and find out the location of the ticket sale. So at 6:30 it tells me that the location is the Bryce Jordan Center. My friend and I then dart out of his room, through the doors and outside. We are sprinting down the road along with hundreds of other Penn State Students. Upperclassmen were speeding down the street as the running students cut in front of them to get across the street. Yes, I would consider this a health issue. But do not worry, there is more health concern later on. So it is about 6:40 and the line is already in a big loop around the outside of the Bryce Jordan center. Everyone is in a nice organized straight line in front of the ticket window in many layers.

So, remember how I talked about health and cold? Well one genius from the Bryce Jordan Center decides that they are going to actually sell the tickets inside in a ticket center and have people wait inside. Penn State unfortunately thinks this is a perfect world. In a perfect world, people would stay in line and walk in the door. Well that is not how the world works. They decided to open 2 standard size doors both of which were separated by a closed door in the middle. Well of course the 2 doors opened and the hundreds of students (it was at least hundreds) just made a mad dash towards the doors. Now anyone who is a living person knows that you probably cannot fit more than 2 people in a doorway no matter what the size of the two people are. When there are hundreds of students trying to get into 2 doors you have something similar to what we know in America as Black Friday. When this occurs with all college students who are still drunk or hungover from the night that just ended maybe 3 hours before this whole debacle, we have what we know around the world as war. So there was pushing and shoving and organs being flipped, turned, and transported to all different parts of the body. At one point my feet were lifted off of the ground and the large crowd just carried me to the door. Some people were smashed up against the glass window next to the door.

Well after a little while every thing was settled (at least somewhat). Of course people did not have the same spot in line but I would say for the most part it was pretty close. So at this point we are all burning in our 50 sweatshirts and knit caps and there is still a good hour to go before the ticket sale. So people are just sitting and chilling on the Bryce Jordan Center floor until 8am.

At 8am the ticket door opens and for some reason, instead of people being normal and staying in line and just waiting for their turn, there is another mad dash. People sprint all over and get out of line. Now the difference between inside and outside are the walls. Once you are up against a wall, you cannot move anymore. As you may have learned at one point in science class, it is very hard for 2 solid objects to pass through each other. Especially, a human and a wall. So now people are squished together wall to wall, there is absolutely no line and nobody can move.

Every 15-20 minutes people would constantly push as the line moved forward. The hundreds of different body odors from all the people as well as the alcohol was not pleasant. People continued to push and shove like some kind of animals. Police were there and they just kept saying "form a line." Yeah ok, form a line. Maybe we can just magically poof into one since none of us can move! People were rubbing up against each other, holding on to their friends so they would not lost them. I was not that lucky. After about 30 minutes, my friend was gone. He was behind me on the complete other side of the scramble and I had no idea where he was. Well, that's the way life works. So I am all by myself, I cannot breathe, my heart is in my spine, my spleen is in my throat and it was just a huge mess. If I had to describe this debacle in 2 words.... "Gigantic Orgie."

One girl with bad asthma passed out. That's right. Someone passed out because of a ticket sale! It is good Penn State is concerned with the health of their students.

They were letting people into the ticket room about 10 at a time and people were trying to get through that door from all different directions. A cop was there though making sure it was orderly.

After being only 4 feet from the door for roughly 30 minutes, I finally got inside and all my organs were put back into place.

I got up to the ticket window and I did in fact receive a Rose Bowl ticket. It all turned out well in the end.

Keep in mind though, had we not moved inside everything would have run smoothly. People were in line in front of a ticket window and people would have just walked up to the window in a line and the next person would go. It was all nice and smooth until we moved inside.

But the bottom line is, I will be going to the Rose Bowl and I thought I should share my story. And do not worry, I am sitting close to my friend anyway. He is 1 row in front of me (despite getting his ticket after me) and 5 seats over. That is not bad and maybe someone will switch.

And for the hell of it, below is a picture of the ticket. Isn't it nice?

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
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P.S. Just for the sake of keeping this post somewhat relevant, despite the fact

Burnett is somewhat injury prone, he was a great acquistion for the Yankees.

Also I like the fact that the Yankees now have 2 pitchers whose first names are

known by just two letters: AJ and CC

This Second Helping Might Not Be So Sloppy

Rumors are fun, especially when they involve Sean Avery and the Rangers.

With the Dallas Stars set to reveal their plans for the "Worst Teammate Known to Man" on Sunday (it only took this long because blindfolding him, driving him to the middle of the sticks and leaving him there to find his own way home for a few weeks isn't a legal option), speculation abounds as to what Avery's fate will be.

Avery seems to be a hockey pariah these days ... so even if Brett Hull comes out and announces to the league that he's available in a trade (come 'n get 'em, boys), even Hull can't expect his door to be knocked down. The Rangers, the stop where Avery has had his best impact, has been mentioned as a landing spot for him. But Avery's comments regarding Steve Valiquette and his unnecessary attack on MSG's John Giannone provided enough gasoline to burn down the George Washington bridge.

Now, there's a rumor out there that the Rangers could still trade for Avery and make the room happy at the same time. Here's how: The Rangers trade Michal Rozsival (or Wade Redden, depending on what you read), for Avery. The Rozsival trade would free up about a million in cap room. Then, the Rangers would put Avery on waivers, and when nobody picks up Avery, he goes to the minor leagues (which in itself would make Valiquette giggle), and frees up another four million dollars.

And wouldn't you know there's a certain star player who's still looking for a job.

Oh yeah, Mats Sundin. I heard he might be available.

Right now, this is still in rumor stage ... but I wonder if a team that went 0 for 9 on the power play against New Jersey (and one for its previous 29), wouldn't think long and hard about letting Avery pass through New York on his way to the minors (or back to Vogue) for a chance at Sundin.

Would it all be worth it? You decide. While you're thinking about it, watch as both Avery and Sundin drive goalies to drink.

One real ...

One fictional.

See SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the iTunes store, keyword "sportstalknypodcasts".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Bronx can CC Sabathia

Although only 99.9% official at the time of this post, it appears as though C.C. Sabathia will finally be heading to the Bronx. The deal is reportedly for 7 years and 160 million dollars. The Yankees first offer was proposed around November 14.

C.C. Sabathia finally accepted when the Yankees through in an extra year and an extra 20 million dollars than the offer that was on the table for quite some time.

So how much will this impact the Yankees? Well CC was a Cy Young winner in 2007 and there is no reason for this not to help the Yankees. Even though ideally, CC Sabathia would prefer to be in California, I do not think it will effect his focus.

This is when fans find it nice that there is no salary cap since this deal would use it all up or go over it.

The only thing Yankee fans need to hope for is that Sabathia does not fall under the pressure. Sabthia received the largest contract for a pitcher in history. He really wanted to pitch in California and for an extra 20 million dollars he came to New York. Was it just for the money? Maybe. He has never been on such a big stage before.

But then for those who like players who are loyal, was Sabathia loyal? We thought that money would not speak loud enough for Sabathia and despite what the Yankees would give him he would stay in California. Just when we thought Sabathia would stay true to himself, he did not. Yankee fans at this point don't care. But maybe they will.....

I guess we will have to see what Sweeny Murti has to say about it on Sports Heaven with Mark and Evan this Sunday December 14th at 8pm ET.

FInd out more on www.sportsheavenwithmarkandevan.webs.com

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
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download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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The K-Rod Signing: A Skeptic's View

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez:

It was only three years ago that Mets fans hailed the signing of another fireballer, the top-rated closer on the market at the time. But when Billy Wagner came to town, we saw a pitcher who had fallen in love with his breaking stuff, who seemed to have forgotten the heat that brought him his reputation, who seemed more focused on nibbling at the corners to get batters out and who seemed to put base runners on with frustrating frequency as a result. The blown saves that became the hallmark of the Billy Wagner era were due to the fascination with his off-speed pitches and his mystifying forsaking of his blow-them-away fastball.

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez :

It was only nine years ago that the Mets had a fireballing, blow-them-away closer, Randall K. Myers (as Rusty Staub called him) – only to trade him for a junkballer who managed to fool batters for a few years until they realized that John Franco wasn’t going to throw strikes and that if they laid off, Franco would walk the bases loaded until he had to groove one. Ignore the saves numbers. The John Franco era provided more frustration than satisfaction.

Lest we forget, amid the hoopla over the Mets’ signing Francisco Rodriguez:

The book on K-Rod says that he has fallen in love with his breaking pitches, that he has lost mileage off his blow-them-away fastball (does anybody believe that’s a conscious effort?), that he walks batters at the rate of one every two innings and that he gets himself into trouble before getting out of it.

Instead of bringing a new era to the Mets bullpen, a case could be made that the Rodriguez signing incorporates much of the worst of the last decade.

Yes, many Mets fans are celebrating today because the team has gotten who appears to be the best closer on the market to fill a gaping hole in the roster. And they may turn out to be right: K-rod may be a key to returning the team to the postseason.

But I would sound a cautionary note after looking at Mets history and K-Rod’s numbers:

Be careful what you wish for.

A.J. Carter, co-host

SeeSPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM EST at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword "sportstalknypodcasts "

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Giants Clinch NFC East Despite Loss

The New York Giants are the NFC East Champions despite losing their second game of the season on Sunday. The Giants did not look sharp in a 20-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at home. The cold weather and swirling winds as well as the loss of Plaxico Burress helped lead the Giants to a loss. Brandon Jacobs and Aaron Ross injured themselves during the game and has to be pulled.

The difference in this game was only 6 points and early on in the game Plaxico's replacement, Domenik Hixon, dropped a wide open pass in the middle of the field which would have eventually resulted in an easy TD. Could that play have been the reason the Giants lost by 6 instead of won by 1? Possibly. The Giants even had 2 blocked field goals in the game, one of which was returned for a TD, and they still lost.

The Eagles blocked a Giants FG as well. It is quite rare to see blocked FG's and to see 3 in one game is quite amazing. That of course is irrelevant to everything.

Despite the Giants loss, they clinched the NFC East anyway with the help of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys loss to the Steelers put the Giants through. A late Tony Romo interception which was returned for a TD put the game away.

Do I think the Giants can run the table without Burress? As long as the weather is good. Good weather = good play. Bad weather = bad play. This is why the Giants getting home field was not necessarily a good thing.

The Giants certainly have the weapons though. Although Burress is a big presence on the field and almost always draws double coverage, the Giants have plenty of other ways the screw with the minds of different defense's. Manning can throw to Domenik Hixon, Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, Kevin Boss, Michael Mathews, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Madison Hedgecock. All of these players have shown they know how to catch a football and can make clutch plays when called upon.

If Eli can find at least 8 of those 11 players at least 3 or 4 times early on, the defense will not know who to cover. That mixed with run plays and play action can help the Giants run the table.

Miscues like all the dropped passes and some penalties they had today during the Eagles game will not help them. The Giants even got away with some calls.

Predcitions moving forward:

Giants 24 Dallas 21

Carolina 13 Giants 14

Giants 30 Minnesota 31

The Giants will make it to the NFC Championship game. What happens from there? Watch FOX

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
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download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
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Thursday, December 4, 2008


F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that the hallmark of a “first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Well then, by Fitzgerald’s measure, Brian Cashman belongs among the great geniuses of modern baseball. Witness the contradictions.

In 2007’s off-season, deprecating costly, long-term contracts for pitchers, Cashman spurns a deal for Johan Santana, champions young, farm-grown starters, and entrusts 40% of his rotation to two rookies. In 2008’s, the GM offers CC Sabathia a 6-year contract commensurate to Santana’s, pursues two more 30-plus free-agent starters demanding 4-year deal besides, and announces that his two rookie prodigies, Hughes and Kennedy, now have to prove themselves in AAA.

Just this September, the GM can conclude an anemic lineup, down 180 runs scored from one year ago, bedevils the Yankees. By November, the GM can jettison two of his most productive hitters, Abreu and Giambi, and forswear Mark Teixeira, the one free-agent most equipped to compensate.

One April Cashman can risk his rotation to youth, inexperience, and innings caps because the offense is supposed to compensate. The next April, Cashman can risk his lineup to age, skill regression, and two 35-year old veterans rebounding from major injuries (Posada and Matsui) because the formidable high-priced, re-engineered rotation he envisions supposedly will ensure success.

One minute the Yankees GM is lavishing $6 million more dollars and committing two more years to Damaso Marte, a middle-reliever, a notoriously unreliable commodity. The next minute the Yankees GM won’t offer arbitration to one of his most consistent, durable, and productive hitters in Bobby Abreu because he fears having to pay him over one year $6 million more dollars than he’s worth. Yet the contradictions continue. For he’s, at once, binding the organization to rebuilding its farm system all the while, in forsaking compensatory draft picks, squandering his most fertile opportunity for doing so.

Is there a method to Cashman’s madness, a key to the apparent contradiction, a long-range plan? Not one, evidently, to which he’s either willing or seemingly able to adhere. To the contrary, the impression the Yankees Front-Office creates is of frantic, ad hoc, remedial reaction. Each off-season the Front-Office adopts a new recipe but without first learning the lesson the prior year’s failure exposed. A recipe best described as follows: Trial. Error. Abandonment…. Reaction. Overcompensation. Failure…. Rinse and Repeat.

Of course, consistency in the face of error constitutes its own kind of madness. And to Cashman’s credit, he’s currently trying to rectify the critical error in judgment he made last year by forgoing Santana and exposing 40% of his rotation to the inconsistency, innings caps, and injury-risks of rookie starters—an error that derailed the Yankees 2008 season.

Last year, to recall, Cashman calculated that the team’s prolific lineup would hedge against a rotation anchored by two rookies under 23. A hypothesis more sound in theory than practice. The Twins, after all, followed this very formula. In ’08, they finished 3rd in the AL in Runs Scored and their rotation of Blackburn, Slowey, and Perkins, all in their first full season, accounted for over 50% of the team’s starts. And the team found itself in September playing a one game playoff for the division title.

However, Minnesota isn’t New York. The Twins pitchers benefited from low expectations. In contrast, the clamor in the Bronx to demote Hughes started in April, even before he disclosed the rib injury. And the Scranton bus arrived for Kennedy soon thereafter. Not without cause, however. By May 1st, in the 12 games Hughes and Kennedy had started, they’d combined for a 9.16 ERA in 46 innings, and the Yankees went 2-10. The Yankees were 12-5 otherwise in April, and 14-15 in total. And from this middling performance, over the easy part of their schedule, the team never recovered.

Last year’s error, however, has instigated this off-season’s ill-considered knee-jerk reflex. Overcompensating for one deficiency now risks incurring its inverse. A rotation constituted of youth, inexperience, and fragility in 2008 will have wrought in 2009 a lineup composed of diminished power, infirm veterans, and fading stars.

The plan for 2009, reportedly, contemplates as follows. Cashman hopes to leverage $80 million dollars in expiring contracts by signing two among Sabathia, Burnett, and Lowe, and re-signing Pettitte at a lower salary. If successful, his rotation would consist of Wang, Pettitte, two free agents, and Joba, the 5th starter, confined to approximately 130 innings. As such, Scranton would provide in Hughes, Aceves, and Kennedy a ready stable of arms to bolster the Bronx rotation when fatigue, injuries, or innings limits exact their toll, as they invariably will, and require reinforcements.

All well and good, except for the caveat. Signing two of Sabathia, Burnett, and Lowe, according to Cashman, would preclude a third for Teixeira. And with the departure of Abreu now all but certain, the Yankees need Teixeira as badly as they do Sabathia.

For as Cashman himself conceded just two months ago, the lineup’s regression in Runs Scored, On-Base Percentage, and RISP average in 2008 accounted as much for the Yankees’ finishing in 3rd place as did their injury-decimated rotation. But thus far rather than remedying the problem, Cashman has seen fit to exacerbate it.

He’s disposed of two of his most productive and patient hitters. Giambi and Abreu ranked 2nd and 3rd in OPS+ at 128 and 120, respectively, and led the team in pitches per plate appearance at 4.3. Meanwhile, the acquisition of Nick Swisher mitigates their loss but hardly compensates for it. For all Swisher’s youth, proficiency in drawing walks and pitches per plate, his career OPS+ is only 112. And in the 3 of his 5 major league season, his OPS+ didn’t exceed 101; that is, the league average.


For some reason, Cashman imagines that without Abreu, Giambi, or hitter of Teixeira’s caliber, his lineup nonetheless will be sufficiently formidable to contend in the AL East. His projection ostensibly depends on (i) Matsui and Posada fully recuperating and recapturing their 2007 seasons; (ii) Cano, A-Rod, and Swisher, all rebounding from sub-par 2008s; (iii) Damon and Nady reproducing their prolific 2008 stats and not reverting to their mediocre 2007 numbers; and finally, (iv) his revamped pitching rotation affecting a dramatic improvement over its last two incarnations in performance and stability.

The irony is that the GM’s plan for 2009 rests on assumptions no less tenuous or speculative than his plan for 2008. Actually, the associated risks of depending on Hughes and Kennedy’s in 2008 mirror the associated risks of relying on Posada and Matsui in 2009. The one is the converse of the other. The youth, inexperience, and fragility of Hughes and Kennedy made their performances as impossible to predict as age, injury, and skill regression now cloud the futures of Posada’s and Matsui’s.

Posada, after all, will be a 38-year-old catcher in August, a position notorious for the precipitous fall in productivity its players undergo as they age. (Mike Piazza, recall, didn’t last beyond the age of 38.) More problematic still, Posada is recuperating from a torn labrum, about as dire an injury to catchers’ and pitchers’ career as exists in the age of modern medicine. To compound the unknown, this is the second time in Posada’s career has had surgery for the injury. How can the Yankees expect Posada, at 38, and recovering from injury no less, to equal his career averages, let alone reprise the unprecedentedly productive season he had in 2007?

Expecting Matsui to reproduce his 123 OPS+ suffers from the same willfully blind optimism. Matsui is no youngster either. He turns 35 in March, and among the Yankees’ cohort of over-33 players, Matsui has aged least gracefully. Perhaps, his consecutive game streak in Japan has worn him down. Whatever the reason, the chronically arthritic knees he suffers from has robbed him of mobility, precipitated two separate operations on them last year, and subjects him to an ongoing risk of swelling. (His two operations last year only addressed its effect; the arthritis itself is incurable.) Matsui was a notorious streaky hitter to begin with. It’s doubtful he can go an entire season without the pain or swelling impairing his swing.

Now, Cashman, it’s true, can project greater productivity from A-Rod and Cano in 2009. But that’s only half the picture. The other half assumes what they add, Damon, Nady and perhaps, even Jeter won’t subtract by contributing less than last year. Damon’s OPS+ was 118 last year. His career average is 103; and in 2007, it was 97. The Yankees should expect a regression accordingly. Same applies to Nady, whose OPS + was 128 last year (105 with the Yankees), 107 in 2007, and 108 for his career.

As for Jeter, his OPS+ in 2008 dropped 18 points below his career average, 120 (career), 102 (2008). But then again, how much offensive improvement can the Yankees expect from a 35 year old short-stop?

Then too, as their roster is currently constituted, the Yankees don’t have a genuine three hitter. The three-hole is a critical position in any lineup, but especially in the Yankees’ because the player precedes A-Rod, a guess hitter, who depends on disciplined hitters like Abreu and Teixeira in front of him to work counts and to expose a pitcher’s full repertoire.


Of course, Cashman’s new model stresses pitching and defense. Never mind that the above lineup only upgrades his outfield’s defense and Posada’s return may diminish it behind the plate. Never mind because signing two premiere starters, Cashman contends, supposedly will buy in runs allowed what he sacrifices in runs scored.

Once again, though, the Yankee GM’s model excludes too many unseemly details that qualify it. First it scants the competition. In past off-seasons, merely keeping pace with the Red Sox was enough because the Yankees still could make the playoffs finishing behind them. The emergence of the Rays, however, means that the Yankees, by keeping pace, fall behind. It isn’t merely six wins—the six wins separating Boston and the Bronx last year-- the Yankees have to gain. It is six wins over and above their constantly improving competition.

The addition of David Price to the Rays rotation, even under innings caps, and a left-handed bat either to DH—possibly, Jason Giambi-- or to play right-field will only further strengthen a team that was 8-wins better than the Yankees last year. And the Red Sox will do likewise by signing Mark Teixeira and trading Lowell, as they hope, and/or by fortifying their bullpen, with Ramon Ramirez’s acquisition and/or that of another free-agent reliever.

Unfortunately, the current Yankees’ lineup for 2009, listed below, examined through the prism of age and injury, pales before any the team has fielded in recent memory. Compare it, by contrast, to their two AL East rivals’ projected lineups.

To excel the Rays and Sox, the Yankees need to improve then in every facet, not just their starting pitching. In fact improving the pitching while neglecting the offense—a lineup that now has to contend with either Gardner or Melky in CF-- offers a prescription less for surpassing the Rays and Red Sox than for emulating the Blue Jays or for worse, disaster.

Recall: the Blue Jays finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the entire AL the last two seasons in Runs Allowed, 610 in 2008, 699 in 2007. However, they won 83 games in ’07 and 86 games in ’08, largely because of a deficient lineup. They scored 753 in ’07 (10th in the AL) and 714 in ’08 (11th in the AL). Below, I list the Yankees totals, for comparison, and their league rank.

The table illustrates, first of all, that the Yankees sustained the greatest change either team experienced over the last two seasons in both aggregate numbers and rank, and their lineup accounted for it, not their pitching staff.

Secondly, the Jays’ failure to improve by more than 3 wins from ’07 to ’08 despite yielding 90 less runs illustrates the peril of neglecting your offense. The Jays’ static lineup, ranking about the same over the two seasons, vitiated whatever they gained with pitching.

Do the Yankees really want to emulate the Jays in this regard? That’s the risk they run by letting their lineup founder, however dramatically they augment their pitching staff.

Then, too, would signing Sabathia and Burnett automatically improve the rotation as much as we’d like to believe. They’d have to. In 2009, Wang can only hope to duplicate Mussina’s 2008. Innings caps, again, will confine Joba to about 130 innings. And how much would AJ Burnett’s 4.07 ERA and injury risk really improve the rotation anyway? If the Yankees have $80 million dollars in expiring contracts then why should their payroll preclude them from signing Sabathia ($25 million) and Teixeira ($21 million) and re-signing Pettitte at ($10-12) for a total of approximately $60 million? Especially, when after 2009, Damon’s, Matsui’s, and Nady’s contracts, totaling another $35 million, expire? Regardless, isn’t a $21 million a year investment in a 28-year-old first baseman a sounder investment than a $15 or $16 million one for a fragile 32-year old Burnett or an aging 36-year-old Lowe?

All of which begs the question: in Brian Cashman, do the Yankees have a first-rate intelligence and a second-rate General Manager.

Matthew S. Schweber, Yankees beat reporter for Sportstalkny

See SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword "sportstalknypodcasts "

A Tale of Two Organizations
If you want to see side by side examples of a first-class sports organization and one that still doesn’t get it, look no further than the actions this past week of the Giants and the Knicks.
First-class organization that they are, the Giants acted swiftly to rid themselves of a headache and a potential distraction on their road back to the Super Bowl by removing Plaxico Burress from their midst and taking a stand on behalf of civilized behavior (We’ll leave alone for the moment whether the team acted properly the night/morning of the incident. I don’t buy Mayor Bloomberg’s argument that Giants executives not on the scene should have reported the incident to police. That’s for the hospital Burress was told to go to, and for Burress himself or Antonio Pierce).
Even before the shooting, Burress had become a sideshow whose on-field brilliance was sporadic and whose disregard for team rules and me-first approach don’t fit in with the team-first attitude Tom Coughlin and his staff have worked so hard to develop.
The Giants’ decisive action made a clear, strong statement that they don’t condone Burress’ actions, a position more important than the effect Burress might have on the team’s won-lost record. They found the high ground, rushed there and staked out their position. Yes, they’ll try to recoup Burress’ signing bonus and try to negate the rest of his contract, but those actions will come after they excised him from the roster.
Would that the allegedly new-era Knicks take the same road in their dealings with Stephon Marbury. The longer Donnie Walsh and Jim Dolan allow the Marbury situation to fester, the more the once-unthinkable happens: they generate sympathy for a player whom they hung out to dry, night after night. And for what end? To save a couple of million bucks? When did Madison Square Garden start reading the economic news on the business pages?
It’s one thing to say they don’t see Marbury fitting into their plans. It’s another to bounce him around from having him show up for practice one day, suit up to sit on the bench during a game, make him sit on the bench in street clothes for others, require him to attend practices, offer to make him a starter for the rest of the season, banish him from practices. What’s next? Offer him out to entertain at kid birthday parties?
I don’t believe the contention that Marbury refused to play. If that were the case, the solution would be to dress him for a game, tell him he was going in and see if he refuses. Short of that, I lean toward his side: that he expressed his preference not to play but never refused.
I’m no fan of Marbury’s. I’m one of those who take note of the fact that every team Marbury has played on got better after he left. But he does deserve being allowed to maintain his dignity as he and the Knicks part ways.
If you believe reports about buyout discussions between Marbury and the Knicks, they’re only a couple of million dollars apart: chump change for an organization still paying Isiah Thomas, Alan Houston and, who knows, Frederic Weis? But chumps that they are, Walsh and Dolan are holding out, which only reminds us that despite a change at the top, the organization still hasn’t changed.
They should take a lesson from the Giants. Do what has to be done, quickly and decisively. Fully sever the ties with Stephon Marbury.
Only then, can the Knicks’ new era truly begin.

A.J. Carter, co-host

SeeSPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est atwww.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword "sportstalknypodcasts "

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yes Sean Avery is the poster boy for rude ,crude , outrageous comments. But the NHL's appointed "next one" conduct on the ice is becoming just as detrimental to the game. The league looks to punish off ice idiots like Avery, yet turns a blind eye to Sidneys constant whining at every single whistle, Crosby has somehow obtained Wayne Gretzky status in the eyes of the NHL who use his face to promote everything. Not only is Crosby not in Gretzky's league it can easily be argued that he isn't even the best player on his team let alone league. In his years in the NHL he has lead the league in scoring once. Yet he is allowed to cross check anyone who shadows him. Don't get me wrong Sidney Crosby is an elite player, and before his time is done he will warrant a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, however he should not be the NHL's poster boy. His constant whining to the referees is an act that is growing old fast. Watch a Penguins game with an objective eye, watch at the end of everyone of #87's shift that ends in a whistle and watch him go to the ref to complain about some injustice he has suffered, enough already start giving him a delay of game penalty, Sean Avery certainly would get one. As far as Avery goes the suspension is a joke, everyone knows that Averys a loose cannon who says and does stupid things, what he said hardly warrants a suspension. Oh by the way all Sids whining couldnt get him a win tonight and had his cross check on Colton Orr because Crys-baby was upset that Orr actually shadowed him , he would have been in  the box rather on the ice to set up the Pens first goal, they wouldn't have even gotten a point in the game . And as long as I'm venting here's another real detriment to the game, Don "have another donut" Koharski, what an awful ref ! Wow imagine if the Rangers lost how mad I'd be !

Mark Rosenman


Lundqvist Deserves to be Paid Overtime.....Shootout That Is!

Henrik Lundqvist helped the Rangers to yet another shootout win on Wednesday night. It was the 8th shootout of the season for the Rangers and their 7th win in the shootout. With all the extra work Henrik Lundqvist is putting in, he deserves to be paid overtime. However, with all the shootouts, one can argue he should be paid "shootout."

It was the second time this season the Rangers beat the Penguins in a shootout and both times Fredrick Sjostrom got the winning goal.

Henrik Lundqvist recovered very well from the last game he played. Against the Panthers on Sunday night, Lundqvist was pulled from the game after allowing 3 goals on 23 shots in 36 minutes of play. Fortunately for the Rangers, Lundqvist is morally opposed to having two consecutive bad games.

Lundqvist allowed 2 goals on 31 shots in the shootout win against the Penguins.

Aside from Lundqvist, the Rangers came back from a 2-0 defecit. Petr Prucha who refused to be sent down in order to play scored the game tying goal late in the 3rd period. Prucha had been a healthy scratch for roughly a month.

The Rangers will take on the Canadiens this Thursday in Montreal.

Mark Elliot Wishnia
SportsTalkNY Blog Team

SPORTSTALKNY every Wednesday night live from 9 PM to 11 PM est at
www.sportstalknylive.com. Check out past shows on the archive page and
download all past interviews in the itunes store keyword
"sportstalknypodcasts "