Monday, April 29, 2013

Tebow's Time Finally Up

If Tim Tebow is smart, and I am sure he is, he should celebrate this occasion.

It's not often that getting cut can be seen as a good thing, but in this case -- it is! The New York Jets have finally freed Tim Tebow from his shackles at Jets Atlantic Health & Training Center, ending one of the most bizarre NFL hostage crisis in memory. 

A little over a year ago, Tebow came to New York with much fanfare thanks to the Woody Johnson machine that brought him to New York in a trade with the Denver Broncos. Whether it was Johnson or then-GM Mike Tannenbaum, Tebow was promised the opportunity to compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting job -- that of course never happened.

Instead coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano kept Tebow glued to the bench primarily the entire season. The only moments Tebow came in was on special teams as a punt protector -- a job that he couldn't handle, as he was responsible for two punts being blocked for touchdowns, and he was seldom used in the so-called "Wild-Cat" packages.

Overall it was a gigantic failure for the entire organization. The turning point in the Tebow saga came late in the season when Ryan decided to deactivate Tebow before the Jets were to play the Arizona Cardinals. That week, Sanchez was putrid against the equally putrid Cardinals, throwing a pair of interceptions as New York trailed 6-0. With Tebow deactivated, Ryan had no problem inserting Greg McElory into the line-up. McElroy led the Jets to a 7-6 victory that day.

What stood out in that game was the fact there were manifold opportunities for Ryan to remove Sanchez from a game during the course of the season and insert Tebow into the line-up, but he never did. He let Tebow rot.

The Jets did Tebow a great disservice -- they totally destroyed his value around the league, as there are no NFL teams interested in bringing him aboard. He could have easily landed in the Arena Football League with Orlando back in February, but the Jets refused to give him his outright release. The AFL season is now well underway, and Tebow would be coming in having to learn a new playbook and league at the wrong time.

The only option for him now is to go to Canada and play in the CFL. Their season doesn't start until early June -- so he has some time to learn a new playbook.

Regardless, Tebow should be ecstatic that he is finally free from the misery that is the New York Jets. The Jets, as an organization should be ashamed with the way they handled his situation from the beginning.

Carmelo's bad shooting sinks Knicks comeback


This was a golden opportunity wasted by the New York Knicks. Leading three games to none in the best-of-seven first round series, all the Knicks had to do was put their foot down on the worn down Boston Celtics, and they could get some much needed time-off before partaking in what will be a very physical second round.

Instead New York fell behind by as much as 20-points, only to come all the way back to tie, but -thanks to some rather poor shooting by Carmelo Anthony - could never cap-off the effort and take full control of the game.

The result: the Knicks lose game four, and, now have to close it out at home on Wednesday.

The Knicks miraculous comeback started in the third quarter, as New York outscored Boston 30-14 in the period. Raymond Felton, who has had a monster series, was gigantic in game four. Felton dropped 17 points in the quarter, with three three-pointers, non bigger than the 26-foot three-ball that he hit with time running out in the quarter to cut the Celtics lead to three, 68-65.

After Felton's third quarter heroics, it looked like New York was destined to come all the way back to win this game and sweep the Celtics.

For a while it looked plausible, as the Knicks battled to an 82 all tie thanks to buckets by Anthony, Kenyon Martin and Iman Shumpert. 

But, that is where the fun would end for the Knicks. With the game still tied at 82, Kevin Garnett turned the ball over to the Knicks. Jason Kidd had Anthony open for a possible shot, but after receiving the pass, Anthony missed what could have been a game-changing 25-foot three pointer that would have given the Knicks the lead.

After Kidd rebounded the ball, he passed it back out the Anthony who proceeded to miss a 19-foot jumper for the lead. Anthony would later miss an easier 14-foot jumper in the same sequence. Three chances to take the lead -- three chances blown by the Knicks.

With the clock ticking past the two minute mark, Anthony drew a foul from Jeff Green, as he tried to desperately take one last shot at the hoop. Now at the line, Anthony who has been so good from the free-throw line suddenly turned into Shaquille O'Neal, as he missed both foul shots keeping the game tied at 82.  

With the second chance at life, the Celtics took full advantage. Paul Pierce nailed a 17-foot jumper to give the Boston an 86-84 lead to start overtime. After Raymond Felton tied it on a bucket of his own, Garnett answered with his own jump shot to give the Celtics the lead again.

The Knicks offense soon went limp the rest of the way, as New York missed four of its final five shots. Jason Terry posted the next nine points for Boston, as the Celtics survived 97-90.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jets draft Geno Smith, could mean end of Sanchez era

Soon Jets' fans won't have Mark Sanchez and his buttfumbles to kick around anymore.

When the Philadelphia Eagles decided not to take West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the 36th pick in the NFL draft, once again, the Jets knew they were about to get their man.

Rumors that had been swirling for a couple days became as intense as a tornado, Friday afternoon, that the Jets coveted Smith and were even looking to trade up in the second round to get him.

They didn't have to.

Smith fell to the Jets at 39, and Gang Green snagged what is now the latest addition to the Jets' quarterback version of musical chairs.

Smith received a mix of cheers and boos from a Jets fan-base which is understandably divided and puzzled by the Jets thinking. Who can blame them? The Jets have gone from Brett Favre to Mark Sanchez to Tim Tebow to Greg McElroy and now Smith in a period of five years.

Those thinking that Woody Johnson doesn't have an impact on this draft, think again -- Johnson loves headlines, and his Jets have made headlines for the second straight day at this draft. On Thursday the Jets made headlines nabbing Darrelle Revis' replacement in oft-injured Dee Milliner.

No matter how you cut it the Jets are not going to go into the preseason with six quarterbacks on the roster. Currently the Jets quarterback situation would be ok if Gang Green were a baseball team -- they would then have a full rotation with Sanchez, Tebow, David Garrard, McElory, and Smith. And don't forget about Matt Simms.

Obviously Simms is not going to be a Jet too much longer, but the real question is what do the Jets do with the other five, much more high profile, quarterbacks on this roster? Do the Jets cut Sanchez and risk taking a $12 million cap hit? Do they finally release Tebow from the dungeons of Atlantic Heath Center? Do they cut ties with McElory and Garrard? Does Garrard become the starter to mentor Smith?

So many questions, the most intriguing of which is Sanchez.

 Mark Sanchez has shown that he is not a franchise quarterback. His play has gotten increasingly worse over the last two years, and the stats show it; he's turned the ball over 52 times since 2011. The Sanchez defenders always point to the two AFC championship runs that Sanchez was apart of, but let's be real, Sanchez didn't lead that team to those two games--it was the Jets running game and defense.

With Geno Smith in town, it means that Sanchez's days are now numbered.

The Jets are rumored to be thinking about trading or cutting him, but if they do, they take that huge cap hit. If the Jets are comfortable getting rid of Sanchez and his contract, and knew they were getting rid of him, then why did they feel the need to trade Darrelle Revis -- who is more worthy of the kind of money Sanchez is being paid? Again, so many puzzling questions, so little answers.

As for Tebow, the Jets have no reason to keep him on the roster. The Tebow experiment has been a tortured and failed experiment that has both hurt the Jets own credibility and destroyed Tebow's NFL stock value. Nobody is going to trade for him -- the Jets should just release him from his contract. Tebow doesn't hurt the Jets' cap in any way. Just let Tebow go. 

Also, with the drafting of Geno Smith, this could mean renewed life for coach Rex Ryan. It has been assumed by many, including this writer, that Ryan was on his last legs as the coach of the Jets in 2013. However, the Jets drafted on the defensive side of the ball -- Ryan's specialty -- and now have a new franchise quarterback with Ryan still in place as the coach. Why would John Idzik draft a franchise quarterback now with Ryan still as coach, if he and Woody Johnson want a new head coach come 2014? 

Remember last season we all thought that Mike Shanahan could be in trouble in Washington until they drafted Robert Griffin III -- giving Shanahan renewed life as the HC in DC. If Smith lives up to the billing as this class's top quarterback, Ryan could stick around a year longer than expected. Then again this is the Jets we're talking about.

Another interesting aspect of this pick is this: The Jets have a new quarterback, but they still have the same problems. They have no offensive line, no running game, and no wide receivers, except Santonio Holmes. The Jets could have and probably should have drafted Alabama running back Eddie Lacy who would have given New York a legit running back to help the offense. Lacy was drafted at the end of the second round by Green Bay.

Now the Jets have to hope that the draft leftovers produce some good offensive lineman, such as Brian Winters, whom they drafted with the 72nd pick, and a running back. That will be tough, because the best players at the positions of offensive line and running back are long gone. 

Regardless Geno is in, and Sanchez is on his way outta town.

JETS Acquire Ivory From Saints:

The Jets continue to wheel and deal in this 2013 NFL draft.

The latest news is that the Jets have acquired New Orleans Saints back-up running back Chris Ivory for New York's fourth round pick in this year's draft.

The Jets are expected to sign him to a long term deal, but that would be pretty insane considering Ivory has never been an every down back.

In fact that is the big hit on Ivory. He's never had more than 137 carries in a season, when he played in 12 games, starting only four back in 2010. Ivory has only had 119 carries for 591 yards combined the last two seasons.

If the Jets think Ivory can become their next Curtis Martin, they are making a really, really big gamble. The Jets don't have a legit every down back on the roster, and if they are satisfied carrying Ivory, Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight on the roster next season -- the Jets running game will continue to struggle.

Jets tap Alabama's Milliner to replace Revis

It's hard to sit here and call the Jets a bunch of geniuses after last night's NFL draft, because the supposed best cornerback in the draft fell into their laps with the ninth pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Days after New York jettisoned All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay, because they didn't want to pay him what he was worth, the Jets tried to sell that they found his replacement in Alabama's Dee Milliner.

But, let's be honest, it didn't take a stroke of genius on the part of John Idzik to make this pick. In a lot of ways, he had no choice but to pick Milliner. Milliner was expected to go very early in this draft, perhaps number three to the Raiders or number four to the Eagles. However, once Oakland traded out of the three spot, and Philadelphia went for an offensive tackle, it was clear that Milliner could drop to the Jets at nine.

He did, and the Jets with an immediate need at cornerback had no choice.

Milliner is a gifted athlete -- a shutdown corner when healthy for the Crimson Tide, who allowed only 13 completions last season. However, don't confuse him with Revis.

Milliner dropped in this draft for one simple reason: health issues. For a 22-year-old kid, Milliner has already had five surgeries, with the latest one coming in February to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. There has even been speculation that Milliner may not even be ready for training camp -- but the rookie shot that idea down last night.

Milliner's injury history is so long, it sounds like the game "Operation." In addition to the torn labrum,  Milliner has had surgery on his right knee (arthroscopic), right leg (tibia stress fracture), both shoulders and for a sports hernia. Talk about a laundry list.

If he can stay healthy, he will be under intense scrutiny because he is replacing the best cornerback in the NFL, and the comparisons will begin in earnest in Week One when the Jets face off against Revis and the Buccaneers.

With their second choice, which they had received in the Revis deal, the Jets made a very puzzling move drafting Missouri's Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is undersized for a defensive tackle, 6'2" 294 lbs, and plays the exact same position that current Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Kendrik Ellis play. In case you are keeping score, the former were all drafted in the last two seasons. With Richardson's drafting, it could speak volumes about how slowly Wilkerson and Coples have progressed for the Jets.

As one can tell the Jets have a knack for drafting defensive tackles like the Lions did drafting wide receivers every year under Matt Millen.

The drafting of Richardson is also puzzling from the fact that there were better defensive players on the board, Jarvis Jones, who went to the Steelers, and Alec Olgetree, who went to the Rams. The Jets also have glaring needs on the offensive line, and wide receiver, and ignored it completely. Notre Dame's 6'5" pass-catching tight end Tyler Eifert, who dropped all the way to the Bengals at 21, was available when the Jets selected 13th.

According to ESPN's Rich Cimini: " Idzik admitted he was "tempted" to pick an offensive player, "but you're not going to succumb to temptation." He said Milliner and Richardson were no-brainers because of their standing on the board, although he acknowledged they gave some consideration to trading down from the 13th pick.

"One AFC executive speculated the Jets were thrown off their game plan when pass-rushers Dion Jordan and Barkevious Mingo and wide receiver Tavon Austin went in the top eight," (ESPN).

Now the attention turns to what the Jets will do with the 39th pick in the draft, 7th overall in the second round. Geno Smith, who wowed Terry Bradway during the combine is still on the board. Keep in mind, Smith, who was previously ranked as the top QB in the draft has seen his stock plummet among NFL scouts and GMs. If the Jets are still determined to take a quarterback, and if Smith is gone by the time they pick, the Jets could go after Mike Glennon, the gigantic quarterback from N.C. State.

As for the Giants, they too took a precarious route in their draft pick, 19th overall in the draft. The G-Men selected Syracuse offensive lineman Justin Pugh, with the hope he could compete with David Diehl for the right tackle job. Pugh could play all positions on the line, which makes him a versatile pick-up. 

However, with defensive end being such a big need for Big Blue, they passed on Alec Olgetree, who was the top ranked pass rusher left on the board. Yet, the Giants don't seem to mind -- they have a plan. Read more...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Open Mike 04-24-13 Revis Situation & 2013 NFL Draft

In this edition of the Open Mike program, Michael Cohen discusses the breakdown between the Jets front office and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Michael gives his take on the situation, and it is quit explosive!! 

Michael welcomes in Triple Coverage's Dan Feuerstein to get his own feelings on the Revis situation. Michael and Dan later breakdown who will go where during the NFL draft, and the final seeding for both the Islanders and Rangers, before the NHL playoffs. 

Click on the LINK, and hit the PLAY button!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Knicks' defense demolishes Celtics again

KNICKS 87, Celtics 71 

Another night, another defensive gem by the New York Knicks.

After holding the Boston Celtics to a then-record low 25 second half points on Saturday in game one, the Knicks broke that record on Tuesday, holding Boston to a new record low, 23 second half points in game two, as New York triumphed 87-71, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

After trailing Boston 48-42 at the half, the Knicks exploded out of the gates in the third quarter, opening up the quarter on a 20-4 run. It seemed like every shot the Knicks took, even if it was off-balance, the ball found its way through the hoop; while the Celtics once again struggled to find an offensive flow.

Iman Shumpert's back-to-back three-pointers to open the quarter, combined with three consecutive misses by Boston (two of which belonged to Kevin Garnett) was the turning point of this game, as New York knotted it up at 48.

From there everything the Knicks touched turned to gold. Raymond Felton hit a layup, then Tyson Chandler connected on a layup of his own, and Carmelo Anthony nailed a 25-foot three-pointer and a 12-foot jumper to put the Knicks up 60-52. Felton finally forced Boston to call a time out, when he hit a fade away jumper to put the Knicks up 10 with 5:28 to go in the third.

Felton had a huge day offensively. He accounted for six of the Knicks 32 third quarter points; totaling 16 points and seven rebounds in the game. Felton was a force on both ends of the court. When he wasn't putting the ball through the hoop he was making great blocks and coming down with rebounds.

Even Anthony got into the block party. In the fourth quarter, Celtics' forward Paul Pierce was driving to the hoop in single coverage against Jason Kidd. It looked like Pierce would score, but out of nowhere Anthony came and swatted the ball away as Pierce tried to shoot. The ball ended up in the hands of Kidd, who gave it to J.R. Smith, who in turned it into more points for the Knicks.

Pierce was once again bad for Boston. Even though he had 18 points, he turned it over five times, and had a shot blocked. Pierce has turned the ball over 11 times in this series.

In the fourth, the Knicks put in their defensive line-up with Chandler, Kidd and Kenyon Martin, and once again they shut down the Celtics. K-Mart had three blocks in the quarter, while Kidd added another steal. By the mid-way point of the fourth, the Celtics had basically given up and started to plug in their reserves as New York ran away with it 87-71.

The 23 points allowed by the Knicks in the second half, was a franchise record low for points allowed in a half by New York.

Now the attention turns to the Boston Garden, where the Celtics return home a week after the terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon. Emotions are sure to be high at the TD Garden -- the key for the Knicks is to channel that emotion if they want to put a clamp on the Celtics in this series.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jets Officially Sending Revis Island to Buccaneers

Darrelle Revis, and his island, is taking his talents to Tampa, Florida.

The New York Jets officially finalized a deal to send their best player on the entire 53-man roster to the Buccaneers, pending Revis passes his physical.

The Jets will receive multiple draft picks including the coveted 13th pick in this week's NFL draft, from the Buccaneers. Tampa is now free to negotiate a long term contract with Revis, and many believe they are willing to pay him $14-15 million per season.

With Revis leaving it ends a brilliant era in New York, and officially ushers in total darkness for a Jets franchise stooped in incompetence from the top on down. The reason New York wanted to part with its best player had more to do with the fact that owner Woody Johnson didn't want to pay the best cornerback in the sport.

Revis held out a couple years ago because he didn't get the extension he wanted from the Jets, and had to settle for a four-year extension with the promise that the Jets would negotiate a new deal in the near future. That day never came, as Johnson stood firm on his position that he wasn't going to pay him. This is also the same owner who once said last fall that he wants Tim Tebow to remain a Jet for three-years. This is also the same owner who Ok'd giving Mark Sanchez an unwarranted contract extension with guaranteed money a year ago. 

Perhaps the Revis deal is more about how frugal Johnson has been with his own money, than about putting a good product on the field.

If Johnson still thinks he can sell season ticket packages and PSLs, he has a better chance of catching a Marlin down by the Jersey shore. This is a total slap in the face at a fan base that has paid good money to become season ticket holders to Jets' games. After the last two seasons of Rex Ryan's big mouth, Sanchez buttfumbles and Tim Tebow -- nobody wants to deal with this franchise. 

The Bucs get a player who while great is coming off an ACL tear, and is the midst of rehab. He was cleared to run last week by Jets doctors, so there should be no problem with his physical in Tampa. If Revis returns to his old form, he gives the Bucs a shutdown corner, and much better secondary. In a division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton -- the Bucs need to rely on a strong secondary. Revis gives them instant credibility.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the Buccaneers travel to New York on opening day to play the Jets? A cruel joke by NFL officials, who must have been giggling at the very idea of having Revis return to his old stomping grounds and pick off the bumbling Sanchez a couple of times. Can you picture Revis returning a Mark Sanchez pick 60-yards for a touchdown, and dancing in the end zone in Buccaneer maroon and copper? I can, and so can the NFL. 

Now the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of GM John Idzik. Forget Rex Ryan, he's on his way out the door for sure with Revis out of town; another buttfumble move by Johnson, who decided to keep Ryan in town to do further damage to his resume and coaching credentials with a half-baked roster, instead of just letting him go at the end of a 6-10 season.

Idzik now has to be the Billy Beane of football this Thursday. Many speculate that the Jets could take Alabama cornerback Dee Milner with the ninth pick and nab a defensive lineman with the 13th on Thursday, but lets be honest -- Milner might be a good player -- he is not Darrelle Revis, and never will be.

No matter whom the Jets select on Thursday with these two draft picks, it will not take the sting away for Jets fans who are gearing up for another sub .500 season (yippie!). And the player(s) that are selected by the Jets will have to make an explosive impact on the roster immediately in order to validate the Revis trade.

If the Jets recent drafts are any indication - forget about it. Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Couples and Kendrik Ellis have all been very slow in their development; Ellis is even in legal trouble. Do those drafts again, and neither player is worthy of a first round selection.

Idzik is fighting history here. The Jets have a tortured history on draft day. For every Revis and Nick Mangold, there is a Mark Sanchez, Johnny Mitchell, Kyle Brady, and Vernon Gholston. So I can't blame any Jets fan for lacking confidence that this franchise can find a replacement for Revis, or find an impact player who can make Jets fans forget about Revis.

At the very least, unless Revis can't come to terms on a long term contract in Tampa, the Jets don't have to worry about seeing him play for the New England Patriots after this season.

While some will say the Jets are making the right financial move here, let's be fair -- the end of the Revis era is another dark day -- in a history of dark days -- for New York Jets football.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nets clobber Bulls in first playoff game in six years

NETS 106 , Bulls 89

This one was not even close. Looking to make a big time statement in their first playoff game in six years, the Brooklyn Nets clobbered a Chicago Bulls team that many thought would be too physical for the finesse of the Nets.

Right out of the gate Brooklyn laid the ground work for a major beat down as they built a 7-2 lead thanks to a handful of driving layups by Brook Lopez and Deron Williams to open the game. The Bulls looked sluggish on both ends of the court; they turned it over twice and missed four of their first five shots as Brookyln built a lead that they would never relinquish.

Whenever Chicago missed an open shot, there was a man in Nets black and white who appropriately answered; in a way Williams three-pointer to give the Nets an 11-6 lead off of a bad pass by Carlos Boozer was a metaphor for the entire evening.

In the first quarter alone, the Bulls were a putrid 8-of-23 (30%) including 1-of-7 from inside the paint, as the Nets both rebounded well, forced bad shots and turnovers; Reggie Evans was huge for Brooklyn recording 12 defensive rebounds on the night. The biggest testament to this game was points in the paint. The Nets had 56 points inside the paint against a Bulls team that has prided itself on playing solid defense, and Brooklyn made them look silly.

The size of the Nets front court stood strong throughout the course of the night, as they dominated the boards. In the first half Williams (22 points) and Lopez (21 points) dominated inside the paint, then in second half, against a gassed Bulls team, Andray Blatche joined the party dropping 12 points on the Bulls.

The Nets had six players in double figures in the victory.

Game two is Monday in Brooklyn.

Knicks rely on defense to defeat Boston

KNICKS 85, Celtics 78 

A superb defense effort by the New York Knicks in the second half of their playoff opener proved to be the difference as New York prevailed against the Boston Celtics 85-78 at MSG. The Knicks held the Celtics to only eight points in the fourth quarter, and 25 points overall in the second half -- a record low for Boston in their illustrious history.

The Knicks needed their defense in this one, because offensively New York just didn't have it. They struggled from down town in the second half, especially J.R. Smith who missed six consecutive three-point attempts, and other than Anthony's 36 points, no one really stepped up on the offensive end.

In the first half, the Knicks had a lot of trouble handling Boston power forward Jeff Green, who was deadly whenever the Celtics dialed up his number in a big spot. When Boston needed a three, Green hit it. Whenver Boston needed a jumper -- Green was there. He hit consecutive three pointers to give the Celtics a 32-28 lead in the second quarter, and later hit a key jumper to get Boston to within in one, 37-36.

Overall, Green was 7-of-10 in the first half with 20 points, and was the main reason the Celtics had a 53-49 lead at the break.

However, the Knicks ratcheted up the intensity on defense in the second half. They held Boston scoreless in the first 3:12 of the third quarter thanks to an emphasis on front court pressure, and an appetite for causing turnovers.

With 9:59 to go in the third, Anthony forced a turnover on an attempted pass by Paul Pierce and turned it into a 24-foot three pointer to get the Knicks to within 53-52. After Pierce missed the ensuing three point jumper, the Knicks answered when Smith hit an off-balance jump shot to make it 54-53, New York.

Still Boston had a run in them. The Knicks started to get sloppy with their shooting, as Smith missed three long distance shots, and Martin and Anthony missed shots of their own. Boston took advantage, as Pierce hit a couple free throws, Green hit and layup, and Pierce came back with a three-pointer to give the Celtics a 70-63 lead. It looked like Boston could be on their way to a Game One upset, but the Pierce three-pointer would be their last shining moment.

The Knicks became much more aggressive on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter, especially defensively where they forced eight Boston turnovers. Kenyon Marton's steal on a loose ball from Jeff Green soon resulted in free throws from Martin on the other end of the court, giving the Knicks a 72-70 lead, was only the beginning -- they would never trail again.

Even though the Knicks didn't turn all of the turnovers into points, they kept Boston off the board because of them. Jason Kidd, Smith, and Anthony each had a couple of steals to preserve the Knicks rather slim lead. The nail in the coffin came on Anthony's second steal of the quarter, when he jumped in front of a pass by Paul Pierce and went coast-to-coast for the bucket to give the Knicks an 81-76 lead.

The Knicks lead the series 1-0 and get set for Game Two on Tuesday night at the Garden. If New York hopes to take a commanding lead heading into Beantown for games three and four, they need to pick it up offensively, especially from long distance. The main reason the Knicks are here in these playoffs as the number two seed has a lot to do with their reliance on hitting three-point shots.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rex Ryan sticks foot in mouth about 2013 NFL Opener

Leave it to Rex Ryan to stick his foot in his own mouth ... again.

No he is not guaranteeing winning Super Bowl XLVIII ... at least not right now, anyway. No Ryan has decided to sound off on the Baltimore Ravens schedule. That's right a team that he is not even employed by!!

Ryan spoke out about how outraged he was that the Baltimore Orioles did not move their baseball game on Thursday, September 5 to accommodate the Baltimore Ravens potential home opener on NFL opening night.

As has become a tradition in the NFL, since 2004, the previous year's Super Bowl winner would open the season at home showcased on Thursday night, four days before the rest of the league opened its season.

The Ravens were unable to do this, because the Orioles had a scheduled home game that very night, September 5 at Camden Yards. The Orioles and Ravens share the same parking lot. Obviously have both games go on at the same time would have been logistically impossible. Therefore Baltimore will be forced to open the season in Denver.

But don't tell that to Ryan, the former defensive coordinator of the Ravens. He felt the need to opine on an issue that had nothing to do with him, his team, the New York Jets, and was totally uncalled for.

 Ryan said Thursday, "You've got 81 at home, maybe you could have done the right thing and given one up."

Umm, what? Give up on, Rex. What the heck are you talking about. Scheduling baseball games are hard enough -- they all have to be played -- all 162 of them!!

In fact, Ryan's outburst irked Orioles manager Buck Schowalter, who told the fat coach to keep his big mouth shut: "I'd be a little more concerned about Nov. 24 when the Jets come here and try to figure out a way to beat the Ravens." Showalter added, "I try to stay out of things I don't know about. I would stay in what is my area of supposed expertise."

Thank you Buck, at least some people are not afraid to give Ryan the business. 

Jeter suffers setback likely out after All Star Break

Derek Jeter's season, and likely his career is in jeopardy after the latest diagnosis on his left ankle revealed a crack that will keep him out of baseball activity until late July/early August.

Initially the Yankees were hopeful that Jeter would return for Opening Day, but every step of his rehabilitation process featured several setbacks, so much so that the Yankees hoped he would return May 1. However, after cutting down his intake of fielding practice this week, it became clear that the future Hall of Famer will be out longer.

Jeter turns 39-years-old in June, he certainly doesn't need the money, and he already has plenty of milestones from 3,000 hits to five world series rings. He has been the center of the Yankees universe the past 17 years -- the face of the clubs dynasty in the late 1990's.  

Now might be the time for Jeter to call it a career. It has taken him over six months in this recovery from a hideous ankle injury against the Detroit Tigers in game one of last October's ALCS; and it is a fact that as people grow older the longer and harder it is to heal and rehab. Who is to say that Jeter will even be ready to contribute to the big league club come August; he wasn't even ready to participate in a minor league rehab assignment before the crack was revealed.

Jeter is scheduled to meet with Dr. Robert Andrews about the injury, and is to meet with the New York media come next Friday, when the Yankees return home.

The best news regarding the injury is that it will not require surgery, and the crack is expected to heal on its own in four to eight weeks. Thus a comeback is possible, and we can once again seen number 2 grace his presence on the field and end his career in the correct way -- but if Jeter is smart the time may be now to start thinking about life after baseball. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jets Get Bucs, Giants Get Dallas to open 2013

The 2013 NFL schedules are now out!!

With no surprise the Baltimore Ravens will open the season, Thursday, September 5 in Denver against the Broncos in a rematch of last season's epic playoff game won by Baltimore. The Super Bowl champion Ravens have been forced to open the season on the road this year, because the NFL couldn't coax the Baltimore Orioles, whom the Ravens share a parking lot with, to move their baseball game to earlier in the day on Thursday.

As for the local teams, the Jets will open up the 2013 season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that's right the same team they are in dead lock negotiations with in a proposed Darrelle Revis trade. Will Revis be wearing a Bucs uniform in this game? We shall soon find out. As for the Giants they will open up against the Cowboys for the second straight season, this time on Sunday night football in Big D.

Eli will face his brother Peyton, in what could be a Super Bowl preview at the Meadowlands in week 2 at 4:25 on CBS.

TAMPA BAY ...... 1:00 FOX
@ New England .. 8:30 NFLN*
BUFFALO .......... 4:25 CBS
@ Tennessee ....... 4:05 CBS
@ Atlanta ............ 8:30 ESPN
@ Cincinnati ........ 4:05 CBS
Bye Week
@ Buffalo .............. 1:00 CBS
@ Baltimore .......... 1:00 CBS
MIAMI .................. 1:00 CBS
OAKLAND ........... 1:00 CBS
@ Carolina ............ 4:05 CBS
CLEVELAND ...... 1:00 CBS
@ Miami ............... 1:00 CBS

@ Dallas ............ 8:30 NBC
DENVER .......... 4:25 CBS 
@ Carolina ........ 1:00 FOX
@ Kansas City ... 1:00 FOX
@ Chicago .......... 8:30 NFLN
@ Philadelphia ... 1:00 FOX
Bye Week
OAKLAND ........ 1:00 CBS
GREEN BAY ..... 8:30 NBC
DALLAS ............ 4:25 FOX
@ Washington..... 8:30 NBC
@ San Diego ....... 4:25 FOX
SEATTLE ........... 1:00 FOX
@ Detroit ............ 4:05 FOX

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Open Mike 04-17-13 Remembering Pat Summerall & Bad Weather Baseball

In the first hour of the Open Mike program, Michael Cohen takes issue with baseball's bad weather issue. Has MLB scheduled themselves into a corner with interleague play and an unbalanced schedule? Later, Michael welcomes in Roger Ahl of WNYW channel 5 and MY9 Channel 9 to remember the life and career of late broadcaster Pat Summerall.

In the second hour of the Open Mike program, Michael takes his licks at the recent Mets debacle in Colorado, and previews the NFL Draft with MTR Morning Throwdown host Mike Sanfilippo. 

Click the link HERE, then hit the play button. 

Mets snowed out in Colorado ... again

The wicked weather in the North-Midwest and baseball's unbalanced schedule continue to torment the New York Mets on this road trip. For the third time in this trip the Mets had a game snowed out, as their Wednesday night contest in Colorado was postponed as the Mile High City got hit with 4-6 inches of snowfall.

Monday's contest was postponed because of eight inches of snow, and had to be made up as part of a double-header on Tuesday; a double-header that turned into a nightmare for the Mets.

In case you are keeping score, Sunday's game in Minnesota was also canned because of snow.

Thanks to baseball's unbalanced schedule the Rockies, the Mets and MLB have yet to determine what they will do with the game that was snowed out on Wednesday night -- there will be no double-header on Thursday. That means, the league has to find a date later in the summer where they can make up this game between the two teams.

The fact that a make-up date could not be determined immediately speaks volumes to the schedule that MLB has made this year.

Once the Houston Astros moved out of the National League to join the AL West, it created an unbalanced schedule where teams are now required to play interleague games over the course of the entire year, AND as a result can not play teams from the own league more than once in a certain city. For example, the Mets get only one visit to Colorado, and the Rockies make only one trip to New York in 2013. 

In the previous schedule, when there were 14 teams in the AL and 16 teams in NL, it allowed MLB more flexibility to schedule games -- meaning there would be a chance that a second trip to a particular city would occur during the season, allowing possible make-up games to be used during that trip.

Now that is not the case. Now, teams have to struggle to find room in a crammed schedule to make up games over the course of the season.

The Yankees already had two games whipped out in Cleveland last week, and it took three days for officials to find a date to play the two games, which is May 13.

The Mets are scheduled to play in Minnesota on August 19, after a west coast trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. Now they have to find another day to make up this game in Colorado -- which won't be easy since the league and both the Rockies and the Mets have to find a reasonable and common off day for both teams.

If this trend continues, teams will run out of common off days, and the league would have to consider the least tasteful option: canceling the rained out games altogether.

How can MLB fix this problem? Forget a dome on stadiums in the North-Midwest, taxpayers will never go for it; they didn't even want domes on their ball parks when the stadium was constructed the first time.

There are three options: 1) Schedule teams from the north to open the season on the road for the first 10 days of the season. That means the ilks of Colorado, Detroit, Minnesota, and both Chicago teams would open their seasons away from home -- and can't have their home opener until the middle to later part of the month.

2)  Instead of scheduling interleague and league games in the month of April, schedule divisional match-ups only in the first three weeks of the season so if those games were to face a weather related cancellation, they can easily be made up later in the year. Currently the Mets play the Padres, Twins and Rockies in the first two weeks of the season, and only six games against the NL East. Not good.

3) Get rid of Interleague play? Would love to do it, but with 15 teams in each league it can't be done. Without interleague play teams would be forced to take unwarranted off days because there is no opponent for them to play on a given day.

If MLB had kept the the AL with 14 teams and NL with 16 teams, they could have easily done away with interleague play and not face the harsh reality an odd number of teams creates in each league. Thus, another option would be expansion. Expand the majors to 32 teams, with 16 teams in each league could make riding baseball of interleague play a possibility.

This is one giant snowball that is becoming the size of a mountain, and it is time for MLB to address this ASAP.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Red Hot Mets Pound Twins in Chilly Minny

METS 16, Twins 5

A spring snow storm blazing through Minnesota was not enough to deter the red hot bats of the New York Mets as New York pounded the Twins 16-5 on a frigid night that was better set for a Vikings football game than a baseball game.

Right out of the gate, the Mets offense was on fire, as they tattooed former Phillies pitcher Vance Worley for five runs in the first inning.

Jordany Valdespin led off the game with a single; Daniel Murphy then doubled, and David Wright drove both runners in with a double of his own to center field.

But that was not all. Ike Davis walked, and John Buck grounded into a fielders choice after an error by third baseman Trevor Ploufee allowed Wright to score to make it 3-0 Mets. It took six batters before Worley even got an out in this inning when he struck out Lucas Duda, and even with that, it was not enough to stop the bleeding. Marlon Byrd's two run double into the gap put New York up fat 5-0.

After Minnesota scratched out a couple of runs in the bottom of the first inning, the top of the Mets order once again exploded in the top of the second scratching out five more runs before an out was recorded in the inning.

Like they did in the first, Valdespin and Murphy led off the inning with singles, setting up the table for Wright, who drove in Valdespin with an RBI single to right. After Worley was removed when he loaded the bases with a walk to Davis, John Buck destroyed a pitch from reliever Pedro Hernandez, knocking it over the left field wall for a grand slam to give the Mets a 10-2 lead.

Worley was charged with nine runs and seven earned.

The homer was the fifth straight game in which Buck had homered. He has six bombs on the season, and 19 RBI, which broke a club record for RBI in the first 10 games of a Mets' season.

Even though Minnesota chipped away at the Mets lead, it never felt as if this game was going to become competitive. The Mets had the Twins right where they wanted them  all night long.

New York put the exclamation point on the night in the seventh inning, when Murphy cleared the bases with a three-run double to right center to expand the Mets lead to 13-5. Murphy would come in to score on a triple by Wright.

The top of the Mets order was unbelievable. Valdespin went 2-for-5 with three runs scored; Murphy went 4-for-5 with four RBI; Wright was a homer away from hitting for the cycle, he went 3-for-5 with four RBI, and John Buck, of course, had a grand slam.

Jon Niese, while he wasn't spectacular got the victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Bad news for the Twins who struggled on Friday, they have to face Mets ace Matt Harvey on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

CC dominates as Yanks beat back O's

YANKEES 5, Orioles 2

After watching the final two games of their four game series in Cleveland get washed out, the Yankees were back in action Friday, and didn't lose a step,
defeating the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 at the Stadium to climb over .500.

CC Sabathia was the star of the evening for New York. The hefty lefty hurled eight innings of eight hit ball, giving up only two runs; he struck out nine. After a rough opening day start, Sabathia has had two brilliant starts in a row to get to 2-1 on the season and lower his ERA under three.

Offensively, the Yankees bats remained hot. In the third inning, the Yankees tied the game at one on a RBI single by Kevin Youkilis, his seventh RBI of the season. Youk went 3-for-3 on Friday, and is hitting .421 in his new digs in the Bronx.

Robinson Cano, who had a monster series in Cleveland, drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth, on a single up the middle to make it 2-1 Yankees.

Later with the game tied at two, the Baltimore bullpen imploded allowing the Yankees to come back to take the lead for good. Francisco Cervelli walked, Youkilis was intentionally walked, and Travis Hafner was hit by a pitch to load 'em up. Next Vernon Wells popped up to center field in what should have been an lazy fly out, but, the usually sure-handed Adam Jones couldn't handle the ball, allowing all three runners to score and allowing Wells to move to second.

While it wasn't a conventional way to win, it's a win anyway. The Yankees are now over .500, and believe it or not, have a share of first place in the AL East.

Islanders & Rangers set for battle with playoffs in the air

When the NHL decided to have a season this year the expectations were high for two of New York's three hockey teams. The Rangers were considered by many to be the proverbial favorite in the east after their incredible run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and their off-season acquisition of Rick Nash.

The New Jersey Devils, while showing their age in front of the net, and losing Zach Parise to Minnesota in the off-season, still had one of the best scorers in the sport in Ilya Kovalchuck and were defending Eastern Conference champs coming into the season.

Almost everyone forgot about the third team in New York, the Islanders.

Always the last to the party, and the most forgotten team in a town of 10 professional sports teams in New York/New Jersey, it is easy to forget that the Islanders even play in this zip code. In fact most people probably would associate the MLS New York Red Bulls with this area, before they ever think of the Isles.

That is how far the Islanders have fallen in the last decade plus. Terrible hockey, coupled with a crumbling arena, and rampant rumors that the club would move to Kansas City, Missouri, and you can easily forget the Isles even exist. And this is the hockey team with more Stanley Cup titles (4) than the more popular Rangers (2), and Devils (3).

This year has been a reinsurance year for the Islanders. They have punched their ticket to become co-tenants with the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclays center come 2015, and are building a young team that is this close to clinching a playoff spot. That's right the Islanders and playoffs in the same sentence.

The Islanders lead the big spending Rangers by a game for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, while the Devils, thanks to injuries and inconsistency, are going to miss the playoffs for the first time in a very long time.

On Saturday night at the crumbling Coliseum, the Islanders and Rangers will square off in a game that will bring more than bragging rights back to the fold for the first time in years.

Playoff seeding is on the line.

Both teams are trying to hold off the Winnipeg Jets just to qualify for the playoffs; and both are hoping to jump up the standings just to avoid the death sentence of facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.

It helps the Islanders that they are coming into this game on fire. They have won eight of their last ten games, including a thrilling 2-1 victory in Boston on Thursday.

Evegeni Nabokov, who wouldn't even think about grabbing headlines from fellow goalies Martin Brouder of the Devils and Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, is probably playing the best of three goaltenders in this area.

Nabokov has given up only six goals in the last five games, including making 30 saves in 31 chances against the Bruins on Thursday, and making 26 saves in 27 chances against the Flyers this past Tuesday. In the month of April, Nabokov has saved 95 percent of the shots attempted on goal -- the highest percentage of the season. He is a big reason for their success of late.

Offensively the Islanders are getting fantastic play from the kids: Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Michael Grabner, and Matt Moulson. All of them have found ways to contribute in many ways, whether it's putting the puck in the net, or setting up their teammates with assists, or creating massive confusion for opposing goalies -- the Islanders have done it.

Now, can they take out their neighbors from downtown Manhattan?

Any Ranger fan will tell you that this season has been disappointing in many ways. Some nights the Rangers look like kings of the East, others they look like a group of overpaid slouches. And don't confuse Public Relations with Rangers coach Jon Tortarella.

After getting blanked in consecutive games to end the month of March, the Rangers have played better of late. They have won four of six, including playing two impressive games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers blew out the Penguins two Wednesday's ago 6-1, then fought like hell to get a point in a overtime loss to them the next night.

We all know that the Rangers success begins and ends with Lundqvist in goal. The Rangers are also getting more consistency through their line-up. Rick Nash (17 goals), Derek Stephan (14 goals), and Ryan Callahan (11 goals) lead a talented, unpredictable line-up -- and probably the toughest test Nabokov has faced during the Islanders streak.

Both teams are likely to make the postseason, but for one last test before the real games begin this will be a treat for New York hockey fans.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mets Rumormill: Alderson looking to trade for Giancarlo Stanton

Nothing does wonders on a slow news day, and an off-day for that matter, than another rampant edition of the MLB rumor mill.

On today's edition, there is a story circulating from the New York Daily News that the Mets are looking into the possibility of trading their prized and much ballyhooed prospects, Zach Wheeler and Travis D'Arnout to the Miami Marlins for outfilder Giancarlo Stanton.

Before any Mets' fan jumps at this proposed trade -- let's keep in mind its based on rumors from so-called "sources." According to the writer of the article, Andy Martino, the Mets are still in a desperate search to find an outfielder after striking out on an opportunity to acquire Justin Upton, and failing to sign Michael Bourn in the off-season; now the Mets are monitoring two potential trade partners in the Marlins and Colorado Rockies and their own prized outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez.

Martino even sites that Mets' General Manager Sandy Alderson spoke casually during spring training with the Marlins about Stanton, but no serious negotiations occurred.

On its surface, a trade to get one of the best-young power hitters in the game today is a no-brainer for the Mets. Stanton is only 23-years-old. He is has three years left on his rookie contract, so the cash strapped Wilpon's don't have to pay him right away, and oh by the way, he has 93 homers in his first three seasons in the big leagues.

However, trading Wheeler and D'Arnout for him might be a lot for New York, especially if Wheeler is included in the deal. Anyone watching the Mets this season will know that this team needs starting pitching; they have two studs at the top of their rotation in Matt Harvey and Jon Niese, and no one else after them.

Wheeler has been tagged with the fast track in the minors; many expect him to join the big league club come mid-summer. Scouts throughout the majors have touted Wheeler as a kid with "ace" potential for years, going back to his minor league career with San Francisco. There is a reason why the Mets dealt Carlos Beltran fro him two years ago -- the kid has the"stuff" to be an ace.

D'Arnout on the other hand, is a guy who has been labeled as a top catching prospect in the majors for a few years. Injuries have prevented his rise to the majors, and he was deemed expendable by the Blue Jays who dealt him to the Mets this winter for R.A. Dickey.  Still, D'Arnout is drawing plenty of praise with scouts saying he could be a 10-15 time All Star.

Trading both of these guys could be a death warrant for both Alderson and the Mets, especially if Wheeler and D'Arnout live up to the hype.

If the Marlins are willing to negotiate, the Mets should do everything they can to keep Wheeler from FLA. Pitching comes at a real premium, especially good starting pitching. The Mets have enough prospects down on the farm now that they can throw into the deal to get Stanton and keep Wheeler in camp.

This doesn't mean the Mets should not make the deal.

They have to make a deal -- bringing in a big time bat like Stanton who is even younger than D'Arnout, and, who has a chance to become of the games premier hitters is a boon for this franchise. If the Mets want to make themselves attractive to prospective free agents this winter and down the road, bringing in Stanton would be a huge draw.

However, if I had to choose between acquiring the 23-year old Stanton and the 27-year old Gonzalez from Colorado, I would go with CarGo. Why? Gonzalez is in his prime, and has proven to be a much more consistent hitter than Stanton. Stanton can hit the long ball, but he strikes out a ton, and is only a career .268 hitter. Regardless, the Mets can't go wrong either way.

That being said, let's keep in mind this is just a rumor. The Marlins are in control of Stanton for three more years, they don't have to trade him right now. If Jeffrey Lurie is smart (talk about an oxymoron), he would try to keep Stanton as long as he can just to increase the package he could get for him, as well as put some people in the seats.

It is always fun to talk prospective baseball trades, even if they aren't really based on reality.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Harvey Bests Halladay as Mets trounce Philly

METS 7, Phillies 2

It was a match-up of the old ace against the new ace.

Roy Halladay had been considered one of the best pitchers in the sport for nearly a decade, but in 2013, it appears that a new ace is on the horizon in Mets' pitcher Matt Harvey; and for the first time the pair went toe-to-toe in Philadelphia, and it was Harvey, not Halladay, who led his team to an impressive victory on Monday.

It is not fair to call this a changing of the guard as far as pitchers are concerned. While Halladay has struggled this season, he has earned the right to figure things out and prove he can return to form. Teams are just starting to learn about Harvey.

However, when John Buck cracked a three-run home run to right center, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead, it felt like a one time Mets nemisis was no more. Halladay was 7-0 in his Phillies career against the Mets -- they were his personal whipping boys ever since he switched leagues, but on this night the Mets flexed their muscles and pushed the Phillies best pitcher back on his heels.

The Mets patience at the plate against Halladay didn't stop there. Daniel Murphy and David Wright drew walks in the third inning setting up a scoring opportunity for Lucas Duda, who coming into this game never had a hit against Halladay.

That changed too.

Duda sliced a single to center, driving in Murphy to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

Then in the fifth, Murphy cracked a ground rule double to right, moved to third on a Halladay wild pitch, and came around to score on a David Wright single. Ike Davis chased Halladay out of the game when he singled up the middle to put two runners on with none out in the fifth.

After Marlon Bryd and Buck failed to get the runners home, Phillies reliever Chad Durbin threw a fat pitch to Ruben Tejada that the struggling shortstop nailed over the head of Chase Utley to bring in two runs making it 7-1 Metropolitans.

As for Harvey, he backed up last week's one-hitter against San Diego in ace-like fashion. He went seven innings, gave up only three hits and a run, while striking out nine batters. So far this year, Harvey has 19 strikeouts, and an ERA of 0.64. He had a usually potent Phillies lineup guessing all night.

The surprising Mets are now 5-2 on the season, and only a game back of the Braves in the NL East. Another day, another litmus test passed. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yanks offense alive and well in Cleveland

YANKEES 11, Indians 6

A day after they got a "must win" -- 7-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers, the Bronx Bombers returned to their namesake on Monday as they pounded the Cleveland for 11 runs on 13 hits and three homers.

The key to the Yankees success? The man they needed to turn things around: Robinson Cano.

After struggling at the plate to start the season during the Yankees 1-4 start, Cano lit up the afternoon sky in Cleveland with a 3-for-4 day with two homers, two RBI and four runs scored.

Cano got his afternoon started unassumingly with a walk in the top of the first. That unassuming walk however was the beginning of a monster Yankees day. After Cano's walk, Kevin Youkilis singled, setting up the table for Travis Hafner. The former Indians slugger made his old mates pay belting a three-run homer to right to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

Hiroki Kuroda, making his first start since taking a ball off his middle finger got roughed up in the first. He walked two, gave up three hits, and three runs in his opening inning, with a clear lack of command.

Eventually, he would settle down a bit, and gave up only two hits and two walks over his last four and a third innings pitched for the Yankees to get the win, but there is reason for concern moving forward about Kuroda health and effectiveness.

Meanwhile the Yankees continued to pound the baseball. Hafner delivered again when he drove in Cano with a single to center in the third to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Then in the fifth, Cano cracked his first homer of the season - a 404 foot bomb to left to make it 6-3 Yanks. After Hafner walked and Vernon Wells singled, Ichiro Suzuki ended his early season slump by driving in Hafner with a single to right.

But that was not all.

Cano came back in the top of the sixth and homered again, this time to right center to give the Yankes an 8-3 lead.

New York scratched out three more runs in the seventh thanks in part to some terrible fielding by the Indians. A throwing error by Asdrubal Cabrera allowed Hafner to score on a Suzuki infield single. Wells soon came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 10-3 Bombers.

At 3-4, suddenly things are looking up for the Yankees. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Knicks earn 12th straight W with big win in OKC

KNICKS 125, Thunder 120

It had the atmosphere of the NBA Finals as the Knicks went toe-to-toe with arguably the Western Conference's best team in the Oklahoma City Thunder, and, as a result, New York put forth one of their best performances of the season -- a total team effort that saw the Knicks rebound extremly well and make one big time shot after another en route to their 12th straight game.

There were many chances for the Knicks to fold and play like the same ole Knicks on a huge stage against a top opponent, but they never wavered, never let the packed house in Oklahoma City get to them, and never allowed OKC's fastbreak offense and size intimidate them.

No, not these Knicks.

These Knicks have completely transformed themselves into a serious postseason contender the past 12 games, and definitely looked the part, responding to adversity when they needed to the most.

In the first half, the Knicks relied heavily on their prowess behind the arch, hitting 11-of-18 three-point shots as the Knicks erased a 31-30 deficit in the second quarter, with the bench playing a large roll in the effort. Chris Copeland hit two long distance three's in the quarter, while Steve Novak and Jason Kidd each added three's of their own, as the Knicks built up a stunning 58-49 lead on the Thunder.

In the third quarter, the Knicks found themselves in a battle to hold onto the lead, as the combination of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the OKC bench began to make their presence felt as the Thunder closed the gap.

With New York up by four a humongous three-pointer by Thabo Sefolosha brought the Thunder back to within one, 75-74. One could easily imagine the Knicks falling apart after this play, but they didn't J.R. Smith connected on a pair of free throws, before Raymond Felton hit a layup to keep the Knicks afloat 79-76.

Still, OKC wouldn't go away. Kendrick Perkins hit consecutive jumpers to cut the Knicks lead to one, and Westbrook drilled a 24-foot three-pointer to keep OKC near at 84-83.

Yet, the Knicks would not flinch. After Smith missed a three pointer, Jason Kidd stepped in and made a huge rebound, kicking the ball back out to Carmelo Anthony at the top of the arch so he could drop the three-pointer, giving New York a 87-83 lead.

Even with the Knicks best efforts to stay in front against the fast charging Thunder, it was not enough; Oklahoma's momentum became too much to handle as the forth quarter started. Kevin Martin's three pointer to cut the Knicks lead to 100-97 gave OKC an extra added boost as OKC kicked off the quarter with an 8-4 run giving them a slim one-point lead over the Knicks, 105-104.

Jason Kidd would soon answer the bell. After a couple of Knicks misses, the Kidd got the ball wide open in the left corner, and nailed his fourth three of the day to give the Knicks the lead back at 107-105. It is fair to say that the Kidd three gave the Knicks renewed life, as they finally pulled away from OKC in the wanning minutes.

Tyson Chandler's layup and Anothy's jump shot gave New York a 114-111 lead with three minutes to play. J.R. Smith finished strong, hitting two big time shots; one a 23-foot jumper to give the Knicks a 117-113 lead, and a 28-foot three ball to give the Knicks a runaway seven-point advantage, 120-113.

The Knicks had six players in double figures on the afternoon. Anthony led the way with 36, Smith had 22. Jason Kidd contributed 14 points, and Chris Copeland added 13 off the bench. Tyson Chandler finished with 15, and Raymond Felton had 16 on the day.

With the win the Knicks capture their 50th win of the season, the first time New York earned 50 wins in a season since the 1999-2000 season. The Knicks magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division is down to one. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rangers lose but gain point on Devils

Penguins 2, RANGERS 1/SO

New York's three inconsistent hockey teams continue to slip and slid over one another for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference as the playoffs approach.

Needing a win to jump over the Islanders for the seventh seed, all the Rangers could muster was a point in a shoot out loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While it is a loss, the Rangers do indeed gain ground on the New Jersey Devils, who are sinking fast. With 40 points, the Rangers are now one point ahead of New Jersey for the final playoff spot in the East. The Islanders, who looked dead weeks ago, entered the playoff conversation after they won five of their last seven to take over the seventh seed in the playoffs.

The Rangers were pretty impressive in this very difficult stretch with a back-to-back against the Penguins, the best team in the East. New York destroyed Pittsburgh 6-1 on Wednesday, then on Friday they hung with them as long as they could.  If anything the Rangers showed that they can play with Pittsburgh, if and when the two meet up in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh held a 1-0 lead for a better part of the third period, and with less than five minutes remaining in the period, Rick Nash netted a clutch goal, his 14th of the year, to tie the game at one, and force overtime, guaranteeing the Rangers at least a point in the standings.

After neither team scored in the OT, it went to a shootout where Jussi Jokinen won it for Pittsburgh.

The chances for the Devils to even make the playoffs is getting tough. They lost Ilya Kovalchuck, their best offensive player to injured reserve with a shoulder injury, and is not likely to return. They just got goalie Marty Brodeur back, but at 41, he hasn't been the same. The Devils will need to win some big games here, and hope both the Islanders and Rangers lose a couple in regulation in order to make the playoffs.

If not, it looks like both New York based teams are playing serious hockey come late April.

Anthony's monster night propels Knicks to 11-wins in row

KNICKS 101, Bucks 83

Maybe it was the words of Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, who said to the Knicks faithful at a halftime ceremony honoring the last Knicks team to win the NBA title in 1973, that it is time to believe and hope that this year's team can capture the title after a nearly 40 year drought.

Whatever it was, the Knicks erased a nine-point first half deficit thanks to an offensive explosion by Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith as the Knicks posted 42 third quarter points en route to a dominating 101-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

For an entire first half, it looked like New York was going to make this a rather difficult night against an another inferior team in the Bucks, but something snapped inside this team and in Anthony who put up 18 of his game high 41 points in the third quarter.

the turnaround started with a simple jump shot by Anthony to cut the Bucks lead to 45-38, but soon snowballed into a Knick freight train. Soon Anthony connected on a three-pointer and Raymond Felton hit a jumper to cut the Bucks lead to 47-45.

After Brandon Jennings scored the next 10 points for Milwaukee to keep the Bucks afloat, the Knicks momentum proved to be too much as New York went on an amazing 25-2 run. Anthony, J.R. Smith and Felton were trading 20 foot jumpers like it was going out of style. At one point the trio connected on four consecutive three-pointers as the Knicks took a comanding 70-59 lead.

With the Garden crowd already in a tizzy, Smith hit another long distance three from the corner to give New York a 73-59 lead. Finally, Jason Kidd put the exclamation point on the evening when he connected on a desperation 59-foot three-point heave from behind mid-court that dropped in like a small crumbled up piece of paper into a wastebasket, giving the Knicks an astounding 78-66 lead.

The Knicks would never look back. Anthony had 41, Smith had 27 points. The Knicks now own the NBA's longest current winning streak at 11.

NOTES: Kudos the Knicks crowd for giving former Knicks' great, and of course, NBA coaching legend, Phil Jackson a loud standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd during the 1973 New York Knicks honorary ceremony at halftime.

There had been speculation that since Jackson is best known by younger fans for tormenting the Knicks as a coach of the Bulls and Lakers, and for never coaching the Knickenbokers, he would be booed. But thankfully, he got the loudest cheer.

Jackson has always been rumored to be in line to either coach or work for the Knicks for years, but it never happened. Jackson doesn't seem interested in coaching again ... at least right now.  

Jackson, who has won 11 NBA titles as a head coach for the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers, reunited with his old Knicks mates for the first time in years. In fact this was the first time in 40 years were almost all of the members of the '72-'73 team were together.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Doing it Old School: Pettitte dominate in Yanks first win

YANKEES 4, Red Sox 1

It was a blast from the past of sorts for the Yankees, as Andy Pettitte answered the bell and delivered the Yankees to their first win of the season.

After two disheartening performances, the Bronx Bombers desperately needed someone to step up and the veteran Pettitte did. Pettitte didn't look like a 40-year-old pitcher, as he cruised through the Boston lineup over eight innings, scattering eight hits and striking out three in the process.

The Red Sox never had a chance against Pettitte going 0-2 with runners in scoring position against the lefty.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got just enough offense to pull away. For the first time this season, the Yankees showed some muscle, as Lyle Overbay finally delivered a big time hit -- this one a two-run double that gave New York a 2-0 lead in the second inning.

Later the Yankees got a power surge from a couple unlikely places. Brett Gardner ripped a 346 foot homer to right to make it 3-0 Bombers in the third; Francisco Cervelli launched a homer deep into center fiield to extend the Yankees lead to 4-1 in the seventh.

Finally, the Great One, Mariano Rivera made his season debut for the Yankees. While he was at top form, giving up a hit and a walk, Rivera was still effective in the ninth inning, capping it off with a strike out of Jackie Bradley Jr. to win it.

The 1-2 Yankees now head to Detroit for what will be a very difficult weekend series.

Mets' offense silenced in frustrating loss to Padres

Padres 2, METS 1

So you had to know that eventually the Mets were going to lose a baseball game.

Yet, that still doesn't take the sting away from a frustrating 2-1 defeat at the hands of the San Diego Padres, as the Mets offense went into hibernation, Thursday afternoon, struggling to take advantage of multiple opportunities to plate runs which cost them the ball game.

The Mets were 0-for-5 with RISP, and left nine men on base over the course of the afternoon. The biggest opportunity for New York to do something against San Diego start Eric Stults came in the second and third innings. In the second, New York had two runners on base via a John Buck single and Ruben Tejada walk, but a force out - on a ground ball by Dillon Gee ruined the chance for the Mets. Then in the third, after Justin Turner doubled and David Wright walked, Ike Davis grounded into an inning killing double play.

The Mets would never get another chance with runners on base against Stults. Even though he threw 95 pitches in five innings, Stults only surrendered three hits, walked two, while striking out seven Mets.

As for Dillon Gee it was a tough loss for a guy in his first regular season appearance since being diagnosed with a blood clot last season. Gee got in and out of trouble in the early innings, but couldn't avoid trouble in the fourth, when he gave up an RBI double to Jedd Gyorko to give San Diego a 1-0.

The Padres held that 1-0 lead pretty much throughout thanks in part to the Mets own ineptitude with the bats. San Diego would plate another run on a wild pitch by Jeurys Familia in the eighth.

The Mets finally got on the scoreboard in the ninth on a solo home run by John Buck, his second of the season, but, unfortunately nobody was on base.

The Mets open a series with the Marlins Friday night.

NFL releases 2013 preseason schedudule

Yes, I know baseball season has just started, and the NHL and NBA seasons are in the midst of their stretch drive to the playoffs, but April also means the release of the NFL schedule.

While the regular season schedule does not come out until the evening of April 16, the preseason has been revealed.

The Giants will open up the preseason in Pittsburgh against the Steelers, before play the Indianapolis Colts in week 2 of the preseason, which will be broadcast nationally on Fox.

As for the Jets, they open up the summer slate in Detroit, and welcome Jacksonville into the Meadowlands in week 2.

The Giants and Jets will meet in their annual preseason clash in week 3.

For the complete preseason schedule follow this link.

@ Pittsburgh ...... 8:00 WNBC
Indianapolis........ 8:00 FOX
NY Jets .............. 8:00 WNBC
@ New England..7:00 WNBC

@ Detroit .......... 8:00 WCBS
Jacksonville ...... 8:00 WCBS
@ NY Giants..... 8:00 WNBC
Philadelphia ...... 6:30 WCBS 

Harvey Dazzles as Mets romp Padres again

METS 8, Padres 4

Ever since the 2012 season ended, and the Mets front office began looking toward 2013, they pinpointed to their two young starting pitchers, Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey, as the gems of the franchise -- the two pitchers who will lead this team out of the mist of Wilpon and Madoff mayhem.

While it is still only two games into the season, the Mets got a glimpse of what kind of ace Matt Harvey could be for them down the line. Harvey was amazing. He struck out 10 Padres in seven innings and gave up only hit, a single by Everth Cabrera in the fourth inning. He even retired nine consecutive batters twice over the course of the start.

Meanwhile the Mets offense was unbelievable for the second consecutive game. A day after both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda struggled on opening day, both played a major role in the victory on Wednesday.

In the second inning, after Marlon Byrd singled, Duda cracked a two-run homer to right to give the Mets a 2-0 advantage. Then in the fourth, Duda doubled into deep right to start another Mets rally that was capped off by John Buck's two-run blast to make it 4-0, Mets.

Duda finished the night 2-for-3 with two RBI's while Buck finished 2-for-4 with three more RBIs; he has four RBI on the season.

Finally in the fifth the Mets exploded offensively for four more runs, putting the game totally away at 8-0.

After Collin Cowgill reached on a throwing error, and Daniel Murphy grounded into a fielder's choice, David Wright drove in Murp with a line drive double to left. Then, Ike Davis, who struck out four times on opening day, turned on a pitch and rocketed it out over the right field wall giving the Mets a 7-0 lead. 

The Mets lead MLB in runs scored with 19, but the real story of this early season is the starting pitching of the Mets, which so far has looked superb.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kuroda Injured as Yanks Fall to Woe and 2

Red Sox 7, YANKEES 4

It has gone from bad to really bad for the New York Yankees and there is still 160 games
left to play.

Hoping to rebound from their inept performance on Monday night, the Yankees came up small again against the Boston Red Sox, and may have lost a pitcher in the process.

With Boston already leading 1-0 in the second inning, Yankees' pitcher Hiroki Kuroda took a baseball off of his fingertips as it was shot up the middle by Boston outfielder Shane Victorino. Kuroda tried to field the ball with his hand, which is not the smartest thing to do, and watched it bounce off his fingers into the outfield.

From there Kuroda lost complete control, hitting Jackie Bradley Jr., walking Jacoby Ellsbury and hitting Daniel Nava to drive in the Sox second run of the evening. Kuroda was pulled after that having pitched only an inning and a third; he was diagnosed with a middle finger contusion and is listed as day to day.

The last thing the Yankees can afford in this early season is to start losing their pitchers to injury. The pitching staff is the only strength for the Yankees this year, and Kuroda was one of their best pitchers last season. It remains unknown whether Kuroda will make his next start, but don't be shocked if his is skipped in the rotation when his number comes up.

Once Kuroda left, the Red Sox jumped all over the Yankees' bullpen. They tattooed Cody Eppley for four runs in the third inning via small ball. Shane Victorino drove in Jared Saltalamacchia with a single to left. Then Bradley knocked in Victorino with a single of his own, before Ellsbury's single drove in both Bradley and Jose Iglesias to give the Sox a dominating 6-0 advantage. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees offensive woes continued. New York was 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and if it weren't for a solo homer by Travis Hafner and three-run homer, late, by Vernon Wells the Yankees would have gone quietly into the night.

The Yankees 0-2 are now two games behind the Red Sox and Orioles. These Bombers better turn it around quick and get into the win column. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Red Sox Pound Yankees in opening day blowout

Red Sox 8, YANKEES 2

After a spring training full of nothing but pure misery and worry about the health and age of the 2013 New York Yankees, the Bronx Bombers did little to end the hand wringing by Yankees fans, as the Boston Red Sox came into town and beat up the Bombers 8-2.

The Yankees offense was putrid; 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and only one RBI hit with two out. Whenever the Yankees asked someone to get a big hit, no one came up to make it happen. The biggest culprit was Robinson Cano, who has a lot of pressure on his shoulders coming into this season, considering that Derek Jeter, Mark Teixiera, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez are out of the line-up.

Cano went 0-for-2 with RISP, flying out to left for the final out in the third with a runner on second,, and, again in the seventh, he struck out with two runners on base and the Yankees down three runs.

It didn't help matters that the Red Sox tattooed CC Sabathia for four runs in the second thanks to a two-run RBI single by Shane Victorino and an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia.

The Yankees never recovered as they went quietly into the afternoon against Jon Lester and the Red Sox pitching staff. Lester was good, not great. He pitched five innings for Boston, struck out seven, but threw 96 pitches in the start.

Sabathia lasted only five innings surrendering the four runs on eight hits. 

The only offense for the Bronx Bombers came on a two-run single by catcher Francisco Cervelli, but unlike Yankees' teams of the past, there was never a feeling that the Bombers would come back. 

The Red Sox continued to pound the baseball deep in the game, putting away the Yankees in the ninth when Jacoby Ellsbury brought in two runs on an infield single, and Victorino drove in rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. with the final run of the day.

Cowgill leads Mets to Amazin' opening day victory

METS 11, Padres 2

This is the kind of start that Mets' fans would only dream of.

After another frustrating off-season, and with a baseball team coming off of three straight seasons of pure ineptitude, the Mets came out like gangbusters in their season opener pounding the San Diego Padres, 11-2.

A day that started in the bask of glorious sunshine, and the shuttering sound of boos and groans from the crowd as each member of the 2013 Mets (with the exception of David Wright) was introduced before a fairly full Citi Field soon turned into memorable afternoon full of cheer and hope for the season ahead.

Coming into this season, it was fair to say that the Mets needed to get an indication from several players on this roster, that they are ready to become part of the future success of this ball club moving forward. While it is only one game in 162 games, this was a step in the right direction.

Ruben Tejada, John Buck, Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy, and the star of the afternoon, Collin Cowgill answered the opening gun like sprinters. All contributed in key spots as the Mets went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring positon, with Tejada, Byrd, Cowgill and starter Jon Niese providing 2-out RBI hits.

The Mets brought the lumber out early and often in this one, plating multiple runs in consecutive innings (the second, third and fourth) to put the contest away early. In the second, Tejada's double to left drove in Buck for the Mets first run of the season. Tejada would advance to third on the throw; then came in to score on Niese's  RBI single to make it 2-0 Mets.

Byrd joined the party in the third when his single to shallow center drove in David Wright to make it 3-1. Buck would add his first RBI as a Met on a single of his own to give the Mets a dominating 4-1 advantage.

As for Cowgill he had a huge afternoon. He doubled to center in the bottom of the fourth, and came around to score on on a David Wright ground out giving New York a 6-1 lead. Later in the game, after a walk to Lucas Duda, and singles by Buck and Tejada, Cowgill came up with the biggest hit of his career.

The virtual rookie outfielder lifted a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall for his first ever grand slam; the first grand slam by a Met on opening day since 1995.

For Cowgill, the Mets have become his first real golden opportunity to play everyday in the majors. He was forced to spend each of the last two seasons riding the pine in the major's and the buses of the minors with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland A's. Since coming to the Mets, he entered a wide open competition for all three outfield spots in spring training, and edged out Jordany Valdespin for the starting job in center.

He is off to a flying start.

Niese was solid in his first opening day start, pitching six and two-thirds of four hit ball. His only mistakes coming on a homer to Yonder Alonso and a RBI-single to Carlos Quentin. Other than that, Niese was very good.

The Mets return home on Wednesday to continue this opening three-game series. Matt Harvey will get the ball for the Amazin's.