Saturday, May 26, 2012

San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets Post Game Recap 5-26

Final Score: San Diego Padres: 0 New York Mets: 9
Johan Santana turned in one of his vintage outings this afternoon at Citi Field as he dominated the Padres throwing a complete game shutout.  This was Santana’s first complete game since August 22nd 2010 in Pittsburgh against the Pirates and his first complete game shutout since August 12th 2010 against the Colorado Rockies. 

San Diego sports one of the weaker lineups in baseball, so Santana was able to take advantage.  He kept hitters off balance all afternoon as the Padres were only able to get one player into scoring position.  Very few balls were hit well, enabling Santana to breeze through innings on a very nice May afternoon in Queens.  This was easily Santana’s best start of the season as he surrendered only four hits and no walks, adding seven strikeouts.

Scoring has not been something the Mets have done in Santana starts this season; so the nine runs today was a welcomed surprise. Entering the game this afternoon, Santana had a 1-2 record despite a 3.24 ERA.  Their overall record is 4-5 in his starts, which is disappointing with how well he has pitched.  A great start to the season would be that much better if a couple of those stellar Santana outings were backed by some offense.

With the Padres pegging lefty Clayton Richard as their starter, Mets manager Terry Collins made a few tweaks to his lineup.  Collins decided to stack his lineup with right-handed batters and it proved effective on this afternoon.  Scott Hairston blasted a three-run homerun for his 4th of the season in the first inning.  Two batters later, Vinny Rottino launched his first career homerun, staking the Mets to a dominant four run lead, never looking back.
The Mets offense was quiet for the remainder of the afternoon until the 8th inning, when catcher Mike Nickeas hit his first career grand slam and first homerun of the season.  Nickeas’ homerun, just like Hairston’s and Rottino’s earlier in the game, were aided by the new dimensions of Citi Field; which were put into place to make Citi Field more hitter-friendly. 

Today was the third game in a row in which Ike Davis knocked in a run.  Davis’ season long streak was continued with an RBI double in the 8th which gave the Mets a 5-0 lead.  Since being told 4 games ago that he will not be demoted to Triple A Buffalo, Davis has gone 4-9.  He now has 20 R.B.I on the season and raised his average to a still uninspiring .173. 

David Wright walked and scored in the Mets four run first inning, but was hitless the remainder of the game.  His average has dipped to .390 after going 0-6 in his past two games. 

Ronny Cedeno was forced from the game in the 8th inning because of an apparent leg injury.  It was later clarified that it was only a cramp that forced him from the game, and he should be good to go Sunday.  Cedeno returned two weeks ago from a left intercostal strain.

The Mets look to take three of four in the series Sunday afternoon as R.A. Dickey, 6-1 with a 3.45 ERA, pitches against Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, 2-4 with a 3.49 ERA, at 1:10 P.M. ET.

Knicks Remove Interim Tag, Name Mike Woodson Head Coach

The Knicks officially removed the interim tag from Mike Woodson Friday night, naming him their next head coach.  After leading the Knicks to an 18-6 record in the regular season and their first playoff win in over 11 years it became more and more evident Woodson would be the next head coach.  Support from the top three players on the team, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler also didn’t hurt. 

Terms of the contract were not disclosed by the Knicks, but sources are saying that Woodson’s contract has two guaranteed years with a third-year option.  Each year is worth approximately $4 million per season.  This is a significant contract because it has the potential to match up with the length of the contracts with Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler.  All three have shown support for Woodson and this gives them the opportunity to actually grow together and build some continuity, as the organization has seen nearly 70 different players come and go throughout the last three seasons. 

Woodson got this job because he was able to get the players to buy into his system and had them playing hard every night.  Woodson had a direct impact with the improved play and maturity of players such as Anthony and J.R. Smith.  Jared Jeffries said late in the season on ESPN radio that Woodson was better at handling personalities, compared to Mike D’Antoni who was focused more on coaching.  Woodson held everyone, including stars, accountable which helped him gain respect from his players.  Knowing how to deal with the different players and personalities on the roster mixed with his no-nonsense approach made for a great product on the court and led to him getting his contract.

Earlier this month, Woodson dumped his agent, Keith Glass, to be represented by CAA, Creative Artists Agency.  Woodson is now being represented by Terry Prince from the agency replacing Glass. CAA also represents multiple people within the Knicks organization, including Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and executive Mark Warkentien. 

Glass is the son of Joe Glass, who was the representative for Larry Brown during his tenuous season with the Knicks during the 2005-06 season.  Woodson says the decision to change agents was not influenced by anyone else and made the decision on his own.  “I have no contract with the Glasses.  I paid for my services and I elected to move on,” said Woodson.  Woodson continued, saying, “James Dolan had nothing to do with me making this decision.  It was Mike Woodson’s decision.  I had every right to make that decision, to move on if I choose to do that.”  The switch had little to do with the agency’s ties with the Knicks he would later add.

Knicks J.R. Smith Arrested 5-24

Knicks backup Guard J.R. Smith was arrested Thursday night around 8:30 P.M. in South Beach, Florida.  Smith had a standing bench warrant pending against him, so once the cops realized it was him they arrested him.

The warrant stems from an arrest last year in which Smith was operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license said Sergeant Bobby Hernandez. After Smith did not appear for a court date in July to answer his charges the bench warrant was issued. 

Smith was not engaged in any illegal activity at the time of his arrest Hernandez stated.  Smith was taken to Miami-Dade County jail, where officials say he was let go on bond early Friday morning.

Hernandez also stated that Smith will appear in front of a judge to answer for the charges, but no court date has yet to be announced. 

Smith has a player option for $2.5 million for next season.  It is unclear whether he will exercise that option or opt-out and become a free agent.  The Knicks would like to have him back if they can afford to.  The Bird Rights court hearing in June will have a big impact on the Knicks this off-season as it will dictate where the Knicks are forced to spend their money. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rough Start to OTA's for Giants

It seems like yesterday that the Giants were playing against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLI, but in actuality there is a new NFL season right on the horizon.  This week was the beginning of Organized Team Activities for teams in the NFL.

With their Super Bowl rings in hand and June 8th being the date set to visit the White House, the Giants are preparing to defend their title this fall and winter.  The start of OTA’s signals the start of a new season, meaning it is again go time for the Giants.

OTA’s are relaxed spring practices.  They do not include pads and have no live hitting.  It is an opportunity for rookies and veterans alike to get a feel for each other, building chemistry and continuity.  Teams are also only allowed to have up to 14 practices scheduled for the “down time period” of the NFL.

The Giants have a large number of people returning from season-ending injuries trying to get back into shape.  This gives them an opportunity to get re-acclimated with teammates and coaching staffs.  With such a relaxed atmosphere, there is nothing that can possibly go wrong you would think.  The worst thing usually is veterans holding out wanting a contract extension or more money.  For the Giants, worse things happen.

Through the first two days of OTA’s the Giants are two for two in losing a player.  During the first workout, cornerback Brian Witherspoon was lost for the season again, tearing his ACL for a second consecutive season on the same knee.

“It was heartbreaking,” said cornerback Terrell Thomas, who is returning from his own season ending knee injury last year.  “Just a basic Cover 2 drill, seemed like the knee just gave out.”  Witherspoon added depth to a Giants squad that was very thin in the defensive secondary last season.  Backup Antwaun Molden was also taken off the field with a hamstring injury, but his is not thought to be serious.

The injuries for the Giants did not end there.  Earlier today, on the second day of OTA’s for the Giants, Wide Receiver Hakeem Nicks fractured his right foot.  He will be out for approximately 12 weeks.  The Giants are hoping he can be back during the preseason.
 If for any reason Nicks’ rehab does not go as planned, the Giants will have a huge void in their offense.  Victor Cruz has added pressure with the departure of Mario Manningham and the loss of Nicks will only magnify that.  Hopefully Nicks is back as soon as possible as he is a very important part of the Giants currently and into the future.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yankees Pitching Not the Only Problem

The 2012 season has been nothing short of a disappointment for the New York Yankees. They sit at the bottom of the American League East with a 21-21 record.

All eyes were on the Yankees pitching rotation at the beginning of the season. Could the Yankees give C.C Sabathia enough support? How are the Yankees going to replace the injured Michael Pineda? Is Hiroki Kuroda going to fill the number two spot with wins? And of course, what Phil Hughes will the Yankees get this season?

Now 43 games into the season, the pitching isn't the only problem the Yankees have. Can anyone remember the last time the Yankees got a hit with a runner in scoring position? In their 6-0 loss to the Royals last Tuesday, the Yankees were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position, including one inning where they had bases loaded with nobody out and could not score.Last night in their 3-2 win over Kansas City, the totaled just six hits for the game, and one hit with a man in scoring position.

The only bright spots in the Yankees lineup this season have been Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, and Raul Ibanez. This wouldn't seem so bad, having four guys that are having great seasons so far, but they are outweighed by the players who are having dismal seasons at the plate.

The middle, or heart, of the Yankees order has been the weak link of the lineup. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira have slumped all season long.

Robinson Cano is hitting above .300 for the season, but has only 5 home runs, and 17 RBI in the first 43 games of the season. This is not the line the Yankees were expecting from their potential MVP candidate.

Alex Rodriguez has also been a major flop this season. He has been anything but clutch, failing to get the big hit when the Yankees need it the most. Rodriguez is hitting .276 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI. These should have been A-Rod's numbers after the month of April, not the end of May.

Mark Teixeira has been a disappointment offensively since he came to the Yankees in 2009. Over the past three seasons, Teixeira's average has steadily dropped, and this season doesn't look to be any different. Teixeira is hitting an abysmal .229 with 5 home runs, and 20 RBI. Raul Ibanez has 9 home runs with 27 RBI in four less games.

The heart of the Yankees order has combined for 15 home runs this season, Josh Hamilton has 18 home runs so far. It's time for Cano, Teixeira, and Rodriguez to start producing the numbers Yankee fans are used to seeing. Rodriguez may not be the A-Rod of old, but he is certainly better than the numbers he has posted this season.

The Yankees of the past five years have relied heavily on their offensive output, and it has carried them through, and the Yankees need them now more than ever with their pitching staff struggling again.

There is no room for error in the American League East, every team has a lineup that can put up runs, so there is never a night off for the pitchers. The Yankees offense needs to get back on track and help the team win games, or there will be no postseason in the Bronx this season.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Iman Shumpert Named to All-Rookie First Team

Today Iman Shumpert was named to All-Rookie First team by the NBA.  Shumpert is joined by Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving, Minnesota Timberwolf Ricky Rubio, Denver Nugget Kenneth Faried, Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson, San Antonio Spur Kawhi Leonard and Detroit Piston Brandon Knight.

Normally there are only five players named to the team, but there was a three-way tie between Leonard, Knight and Shumpert so all three were given recognition.

The All-Second Team featured Houston Rocket Chandler Parsons, Sacramento King Isaiah Thomas, New Jersey Net MarShon Brooks, Minnesota Timberwolf Derrick Williams and Cleveland Cavalier Tristan Thompson.

Shumpert averaged 9.5 points 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season.  He was also seventh in the NBA in steals at 1.7 per game.  Shumpert suffered a serious knee injury in Game 1 against the Miami Heat in the playoffs, tearing his ACL and meniscus.  He faces a 6-8 month rehab process, with the Knicks hoping he is able to return in December or January.

New York Mets vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Post Game Recap 5-21

Final Score: New York Mets: 4 Pittsburgh Pirates: 5!/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.JPG 
Johan Santana was unable to protect the four run lead staked to him tonight, as the Mets dropped the opening game in the series against the Pirates tonight 5-4.  A 7th inning homerun by catcher and number eight hitter Michael McKenry off Santana tied the game, starting a slide the Mets were unable to recover from.
 Because of a miscommunication with leftfielder Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis dropped a fly ball starting off the bottom of the 8th inning off the bat of Neil Walker, leading to a three-base error.  Walker later scored in the inning off a sac fly by Clint Barmes off Jon Rauch.  Walker barely slid in ahead of a Lucas Duda throw from right field.

This was the second time this season that Nieuwenhuis had a big error while manning center field.  The last occurrence was April 21st against the San Francisco Giants when he over ran a ball, prolonging the game.  The Mets were able to come away with a victory in that game, as the Giants returned the favor with their own miscues.

David Wright stayed hot at the plate, raising his average to .415 after going 2-4 with a walk and RBI.  Wright’s RBI single in the 2nd inning capped off a four run inning against Pirates starter Erik Bedard.  Where Wright was wrong tonight was in the field, where he committed his second and third errors of the season.  Luckily for the Mets, neither error proved costly as the Pirates were unable to take advantage. 

After coming out strong off his return from the DL, Andres Torres is now in a big slump.  Tonight he went 0-4 with a walk, now hitless in his last 14 at-bats.  Over the last 11 games, it doesn’t get much better as Torres is 2-38.  Tonight he stranded the go-ahead run in the 8th inning, hitting into a fielders choice.

Ronny Cedeno had a strong performance in his return to Pittsburgh, where he was the starting shortstop last season.  Cedeno went 2-4 tonight with one run and one RBI. 

The Mets and Pirates face off in the 2nd game of their three game series tomorrow night at 7:05.  R.A. Dickey will toe the rubber for the Mets, sporting a 5-1 record and a 3.76 ERA.  He will be opposed by James McDonald, who has been pitching outstanding for the Pirates recently, sporting a 3-2 record with a 2.68 ERA.

Brooklyn Nets Launch

The long awaited move for the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn is finally taking place.  This past season was the last for the Nets in New Jersey and will now call the $1 billion Barclays Center on Atlantic and Flatbush in Brooklyn.

With the move, the Nets now have a new logo and color scheme.  Out is the red, white and blue Net fans have been accustomed to for years; in is a new black and white color scheme.  Rapper and part owner Jay-Z played a major role in the decision making for the colors and new logos.

From the teams press release, it is said, “Jay-Z’s design for the team’s brand identity incorporates a timeless black and while color palette of the old New York subway signage system, including its clean ‘RollSign’ typeface.  The treatment celebrates the history and heritage of Brooklyn by drawing upon the familiar classic signage from when the borough last had its own major professional team in 1957.”

The launching of the new Brooklyn Nets brand has created a buzz around the Nets that hasn’t been seen in years.  Sales through have been more than double the team’s sales for all of the 2010-2011 season.  Modell’s Sporting Goods, the Nets official sporting goods retailer, sold more merchandise on the night of the launch than all of last season.
The sales of season tickets have also seen a spike because of the launch, as the Brooklyn Nets have now sold three price points.  Traffic to their new site has also seen a gigantic spike, increasing 1,700% between April 30th and May 2nd

Understandably with a launch of a new product there is going to be a lot of excitement.  I do not blame people for being excited because if the team I liked had a launch like this you better believe I would be first in line for all this stuff. 

With saying that, I am not a huge fan of the actual logo and color scheme.  It is a little boring and bland for my taste.  I understand that there is a reason behind it, trying to get the old school feel of Brooklyn, just I thought there could be more done.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not an artistic or creative person by any means, but with as much money and resources the Nets owners and management have you would think there would be a little more creativity put into it.  It is a nice, clean, simple logo and color scheme that will please plenty of people.  Just for my taste, it is a little bland.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jeremy Lin and Agent Talk After Lin Selected to USA Select Team

Since the Knicks season ended, it has been widely believed by many that Jeremy Lin would be back next season in a Knicks uniform.  For some it was a foregone conclusion, even Mike Woodson is quoted as saying “absolutely” Lin would be back next season.  That may no longer be the case for Lin says his agent, Roger Montgomery.

The NBA, in the NBA is a business, so people can say all they want but until pen is put to paper, anything can happen.  “I don’t expect that.  We’re not anticipating that’s going to happen.  We don’t have assurances of anything,” Montgomery said during his interview with the New York Post.  “I know history shows most restricted free agents go back to their team, but I’m not going to assume anything.  We’re waiting to see what happens.”

Because Lin is a restricted free agent, the Knicks can match any offer made to him thanks to the Gilbert Arenas clause in the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Another factor in the free agency of Lin is if his Bird and Early Bird Rights will carry over to the Knicks.  Those rights allow teams to go over the salary cap to re-sign players.

The Union and League are currently at odds over the clauses, with an arbitration hearing expected to alleviate the problem.  The Union says the rights should go with players who are waived and picked up, while the League argues that the rights should not transfer with a player.  Whatever the decision made by the arbitrator is will have an effect not only Lin but Steve Novak as well.  The decision will have a big impact on the Knicks off-season agenda
Lin was selected to be a member of the USA Select team alongside Ryan Anderson (Orlando Magic), DeJuan Blair (San Antonio Spurs), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Derrick Favors (Utah Jazz), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers),  Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), and John Wall (Washington Wizards), hence why his agent was available for comments today.
Jeremy Lin says, “There’s always going to be uncertainty until the final contract is signed, so definitely nothing is set in stone.  Nothing’s set in stone until it’s really written.”  It will be an event filled off-season for both Lin and the Knicks.  

A Look Back; Game 4 of the '94 Eastern Conference Finals

The New York Rangers took a 2-1 series lead on the Devils Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 shutout. Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in net, and made many key saves including one on Ilya Kovalchuck's breakaway chance.
The New Jersey Devils came out strong and fast in Game 4, and blitzed the Rangers in the first period. Midway through the first period Stephane Richer scored on the power play and gave the Devils a well deserved 1-0 lead. Later in the first period Bill Guerin beat Mike Richter on a breakaway, and the Devils held a 2-0 lead after the first period.

Head Coach Mike Keenan decided to pull Rangers goaltender Mike Richter, and replace him with Glenn Healy in what looked to be a move to motivate his team, and relay his frustration to his team.

The Rangers play improved in the second period, and Game 3 hero Stephane Matteau cut the Devils lead to 2-1.

In the third period, the Devils extended their lead to 3-1 with just under seven minutes to play, when Glenn Healy made a gaffe behind the Rangers goal, and allowed Valeri Zelepukin to put the puck into an empty net.  The Rangers could not recover and the Devils took Game 4 by a 3-1 score, and tied the series at two games apiece.

Mike Kennan made multiple controversial moves in Game 4 that over shadowed the game itself. Aside from pulling Richter in the first period, Keenan kept both Mark Messier and Brian Leetch on the bench for long periods during the game. Keenan tried to send a maessage to his team that he was not going to accept their intensity and play. The Rangers answered with a goal in the second period, but the Devils were too much.

The series moved back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5, and the series even at two.