The Yanks are surging

28 Aug
The Yankees are on a tear

Whether you are a believer or not, the New York Yankees are still in the thick of the American League Wild Card race.  Having won seven of their last ten contests, the Yankees have put themselves right back in the playoff mix.  Many people left them for dead, including me, but the recent acquisitions of infielders Chase Headley and Martin Prado along with pitcher Brandon McCarthy have proven vital to the Yankees recent success.  Say what you will about Brian Cashman and the lack of a farm system that he has assembled, but he has kept the Yankees in the race by any means necessary.  It seems that way in most years with the Yankees.  They are trying to win, and that is all you can ask for as a fan.

The Yankees are not going to catch Oakland or the Angels of Anaheim for the first wild card or Baltimore for the division, but the Detroit Tigers are reeling and the Seattle Mariners are playing way over their head.  If the Yankees can keep up their recent success, there is no reason why they can't sneak into the second wild card spot.  Tonight's game in my opinion is a huge indicator as to whether this Yankee team means business.  The Yankees are facing Pitcher Kyle Lobstein of the Tigers, an inexperienced pitcher who has one career major league start to his name.  Many Yankee fans know that the bombers have a habit of making rookie pitchers look like the second coming of Sandy Koufax, so it will be interesting to see how the Yankee's bats perform tonight.  If the Yankees can get out of Motown with a series win in today's rubber game, it will be a giant step towards the playoffs.  

Why would this be such a big step?  Solely for the reason that their next set of games is against a struggling team in the Blue Jays, and a streak of three or four more in a row will situate the Yankees right at the cusp of the second wild card and stage their September run.  The Yankees were in this position last year, and so they have a lot to prove.

However, this Yankee team has more talent than last season and has the added desire to win title number 28 for Derek Jeter.  This combination may be just enough for the Yankees to sneak in the playoffs, and once they're in, anything can happen.   

Masahiro Tanaka's injury demonstrates a growing problem in baseball

24 Aug
Tommy John is too common in the MLB

It seems as if every time you turn your head, another pitcher is tearing their Ulnar Collateral ligament in their elbow.  Masahiro Tanaka is the latest of many recent pitchers who have had their elbow ligaments fail them.  While Tanaka is trying to avoid surgery, he is merely avoiding the inevitable.  And this brings up a greater question; are all pitchers avoiding the inevitable?  Nobody wants to get surgery, but with the UCL tear in baseball becoming more common and the surgery being successful, it does beg the question.  To me, it starts at a very young age.  By the time many of these pitchers are getting into the the minor leagues, they have most likely started at least 15 games a year since they were about 13.  After all, pitching is not a natural motion for the elbow, so is there anything that can be done to limit the effects of something that is unnatural?  I think there is a simple solution for many of these young arms.  Don't throw as much!

People like to say how pitch counts nowadays have made the game soft, but if they were more prevalant at the lower levels of the game, you may not have 10-15 Tommy John surgeries a year in the major leagues.  Teams need to prepare differently now because of the uprise in Tommy John injuries.  You can never have too much pitching nowadays, even if you have up to 10 young arms in the woodworks in your farm system.  

The fact that kids at 15 and 16 years of age are receiving this injury proves that it is not a product of anything going on in the major leagues, but that it is a product of a major increase of throwing starting at the younger ages.  If you go back 20 or 30 years ago, many of those who played travel baseball will tell you that they only remember playing in the spring for their school and maybe a little bit in the summer.  There was no fall baseball and showcases and weekly tournaments across the country.  The problem starts at a young age, and those who control youth baseball have the power to fix the problem.  The official organization of Little League that runs the Little League World Series has gotten off to a great start by creating very strict pitch count rules.  

Once you get into the Babe Ruth leagues on the regular sized field however, pitch counts start to become less prevalent.  There are always going to be those who can throw forever and those who can only throw 5 innings in a game, but the increase in youth baseball games over the years has coincided with the increase of Tommy John injuries.  That idea cannot be refuted.

Another year of the same old Jets is upon us

19 Aug
The Buttfumble

Unfortunately, recent defensive injuries for the Jets have made the outlook on the upcoming season look much more bleak.  Rex Ryan may be saying one thing, but the team is doing another.  The first teams of both the Colts and Bengals annihilated the Jet's first team in the first two preseason meetings, proving that the Jets 2-0 record is the most misleading stat out there.  

Let's face it, Geno Smith is not a franchise quarterback but it is inevitable that he will start for the Jets.  The one thing that doesn't make sense is that regardless of whether you are a Smith fan or not, it is obvious that Geno is going to be the starter, so why are the Jets waiting to name the starting quarterback?  It is detrimental to the players on the team to let this "quarterback" competition go on any longer.  The players need to know who is going to be leading them in the huddle so they can plan accordingly.  

As for Rex Ryan, did he seriously talk about using Michael Vick in a wildcat package?  It is almost as if Rex was not present for the 2012 season when Tim Tebow was thrust into a similar situation.  If you can remember, that did not have a pretty ending.  It is almost as if the Jets are purposely doing the wrong things.  

All of these problems don't even get into the fact that the Jets in essence felt that Dee Milliner would suffice at cornerback.  As a result of this mindset and his injury, they are paper thin at cornerback and are in serious trouble.  Although John Idzik is just starting out, that is 100% his fault.  It is understood that Idzik could not have foreseen the Dexter Mcdougle injury, but that is the only pass he should get.

Raise your hand if your tired about Rex Ryan saying that "nobody wants to face us" and "you tell em' were coming" because I know I am.  The only things that teams are worried about when they face the Jets is where they are going out to dinner after the game.  When looking at the first seven games of the season, it isn't out of the realm of possibilities that the Jets end up going 1-6.  The Oakland Raiders are a possible victory for the Jets during the opening week, but after that, the Jets face six straight pro-bowl caliber quarterbacks.  There is a saying, "It ain't over til the fat lady sings."  Well, the fat lady has sang.

Mets suffer destructive 4-3 loss in Monday matinee

04 Aug
Mets lose costly game late

With the Mets coming off of a 9-0 defeat on Sunday, they did not do themselves any favors by coughing up a 3-2 7th inning lead today and eventually giving up the go-ahead run in the 9th inning.  For some reason, the Mets sometimes seem to be in awe about past games and forget that they have a game to play in front of themselves.  After Jacob DeGrom's fantastic performance on Saturday, the Mets dropped two straight games.  Why?  The answer is that they could only talk about what DeGrom did and acted like everything was pointing up when in reality it was just one game.  The Mets seem to forget that the objective of the games they play is to win.  Instead, it seems to be more about promotions and everyone having a good time at the ball park.  

Before today's game the Mets were 6.5 GB of the Giants and 7.0 GB of the Cardinals in the N.L. wild card.  With two months to play, one could say they are still technically in the race.  However, their performance today was unacceptable for a team on the periphery of a wild card race.  Their is non-stop talk about how good the Mets young bullpen is and how Jeurys Familia and Jenry Mejia are going to be great arms for years to come for the New York Mets.  However, they both blew today's game.  When it really counts, they do not have what it takes to pitch in big spots.  It is time for the Mets to stop giving credit to other teams and to start taking ownership for their poor play.  

"There is always next year" is getting very old very fast.  Blowing a 3-2 7th inning lead at home against the team you are chasing in the wild card is absolutely unacceptable and their should be zero tolerance for it.  These kind of games are demoralizing and destroy team morale.  And with the talk about next year being the year, this type of performance will still be taking place due to the fact that these young bullpen arms are being deified before proving themselves.  

The team didn't even seem upset after today's loss.  There almost needs to be someone in the dugout who takes the water cooler and throws it to create a spark.  This kind of play cannot be tolerated anymore.  No excuses.  Yes, Daniel Murphy homered and Juan Lagares made a nice throw but both of those plays are nullified because they lost.  The objective is to win, not to almost win.  The Mets need to understand that.

The Yankees are at a crossroads

29 Jul
Are the Yankees on the downswing?

While some may still consider the New York Yankees playoff contenders at (54-51), they seem to be stuck in a peculiar position.  As the roster for the Yankees is getting older, the farm system is not getting any better.  Even though GM Brian Cashman is making moves to try to keep the team afloat, they are not long term transactions.  As the last link of the core 4 is retiring at the end of the season; Derek Jeter's retiring will mark the end of an era for the Yankees.  The question then becomes, who is next in the minors?  The alarming answer right now is nobody.  The Yankees have a scarcity of minor league prospects which is a not a good sign.

The one thing about the Yankees is that they will be in the A.L. wild card race until the last week of the season, solely because they go for the playoffs every year and won't give up on the season.  However, similar to last season, they just don't have the horses to make that deep playoff run that they used to year in and year out.  It is almost shocking to fathom the fact that the Yankees could miss out on the playoffs for a second year in a row.  That has not happened since before 1996 which seems like a lifetime ago.

The 1990's Yankee dynasty was predominantly homegrown, but this current Yankee team is almost all  filled with players who have been bought from other teams.  Lost in Derek Jeter's farewell tour is the fact that the Yankees have very few players coming up through the pipeline.  If I were the Yankees, I would trade a guy like Carlos Beltran or Brett Gardner to a contending team for a boatload of prospects.  The Yankees face a similar problem to the Philadelphia Phillies.  That problem is that if they don't get younger, they will fall into an abyss of mediocrity.  

The Yankees have a tremendous winning pedigree and should turn out to be just fine.  However, Yankee fans should start to be a little concerned about the lack of long term solutions the Yankees possess in the farm system.  The lack of prospects does not mean they are going to stink.  It just means that they are going to have to break the bank for free agents to continue to compete for the playoffs in the American League.

Can Odell Beckham Jr. be just what the doctor ordered for Eli and the Giants?

28 Jul
Does Odell Beckham Jr. have what it takes?

Assuming that recent Giants draft Pick Odell Beckham Jr. will be able to stay healthy and be on the field, can he really be as explosive as people think he will be?  The jury is still out on that question.  However, until the Giants offensive line can protect Eli, does it matter if Beckham can be true to form?  Yes, Victor Cruz cannot do it alone on the field anymore, and he needs help.  But if Eli doesn't have time to release the ball, what difference does it make?

The Giants revamped their offensive line this offseason with some draft picks, but none of those picks are guarantees to be successes.  Personally, I think Odell Beckham will be perfect for Eli and company.  If any of the Giants offensive lineman can mature and protect Eli, Beckham could be the next breakout star in the NFL.  Beckham's great mix of speed and strength is going to create matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators around the league, thus taking some of the heat off of Victor Cruz as well.  

Odell Beckham Jr. averaged 19.0 yards per reception last year at LSU and caught for over 1,000 yards.  Any production close to this from Beckham will spell great things for the Giants moving forward, especially with the new offensive system they are putting in place.  

Beckham also brings another dimension with his game.  He is a very skilled punt and kick returner which could bode well for the Giants just in case offseason signing Trindon Holliday doesn't pan out at kick returner.  All in all, Odell Beckham should going to take the league by storm.  The only thing holding him back will be any injuries that he sustains and the offensive line's play.  He has sure hands and will not be intimidated by any opposing defenses.  The sooner Beckham can get on the field at training camp, the better off he will be in the Giants new offense.

Things are looking up for the Knicks

27 Jul
The Knicks will make the playoffs this year

With some recent moves by the Knicks brain trust led by Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks have put themselves back in the playoff conversation.  It is clear that since Phil has come to New York he is not going to put up with any nonsense.  He immediately traded away Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler following the season allowing for the Knicks to acquire an upgrade at point guard in Jose Calderon. 

Another thing to note is that the Knicks usually have had poor coaching staffs and losing attitudes in the past.  Because of this, Jackson was able to hire Derek Fisher, an NBA champion, as the head coach.  Also, another NBA champion in Kurt Rambis was hired to be an assistant to Fisher.  It is clear that Phil is trying to create a winning circle in the coaching staff and establishing the mentality that losing and poor behavior will not be tolerated.

This kind of management is a breath of fresh air for the Knicks; considering that owner James Dolan is always finding a way to embarrass the team.  Recent draft pick Cleanthony Early seemed to be the steal of the NBA draft.  With the recent addition of Early and the development of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert; it would appear that the Knicks are building a nice nucleus of players.  Carmelo Anthony can rest easy knowing that he has an 11-time champion now manning the ship.  And that champion is Phil Jackson.

With the Eastern Conference being weak and void of several good teams, the Knicks seem to be right in the playoff mix.  Phil has a few things left he must do before the season starts.  First, Jackson needs to find a solid big man down low that can anchor the Knicks front court.  Also, Jackson must cut J.R. Smith to get rid of his attitude and negative affect on the team.  If Phil can get these two things done before opening day, the Knicks will be in great shape.  

It is hard for Knicks fans to be optimistic coming off of last season's train wreck, but things are definitely looking up for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.     

Between the Jets and the Giants, who will bounce back?

24 Jul
Do the Jets or the Giants have the ability to bounce back?

The Jets and Giants both struggled last season.  Which team will bounce back this year and get back to winning ways.  Weigh in with your thoughts.

Sandy Alderson has the skills to be a lawyer, not a general manager

23 Jul
Sandy Alderson has dropped the ball yet again

While some may say that the Mets are developing a young nucleus of talent in the minor leagues, it has taken an inordinate amount of time.  When Sandy Alderson took the job as general manager for the New York Mets in 2009, he stated that he had a five year plan to bring a winner back to New York.  Well, it has come to that fifth year, and the Mets are looking at their fifth consecutive losing season.

The New York spotlight demands winning, and when winning is not achieved, those who are responsible are usually held accountable.  For some reason, Sandy Alderson barely takes any slack from the media or the fans.  Time after time he is seen smooth talking his way out of questions to reporters spewing the same old company line, but at the end of the day, he needs to produce a winner.  All we heard from the Mets the past few years was that 2014 would be the year the Mets would compete for the playoffs.  Now all of a sudden, they are talking about 2015 and how the future is very bright as if people are supposed to forget about what they previously stated.  

I am puzzled as to why this has been able to fly in New York.  Yes, things need time to fix, but at a certain point people must show up and produce.  It is apparent that the Mets are more concerned with stadium promotions and their pockets than the team actually winning meaningful games.  When you hear Alderson talk, if you didn't know any better, you would think that the Mets are 20 games over .500.  He praises players that are terrible and says that they are doing good things.  One must beg the question, what team is he watching?  His attitude and the Mets performance is beyond response at this point.

Alderson's lack of touch with the fans and his ignorance on many issues had led to another poor season to date for the Mets.  He may be building a nucleus in the minors, but I highly doubt that people want to wait another five years for what could be a serviceable team at best.  Thanks for nothing Sandy.  Former G.M. for the Mets, Omar Minaya, wasn't as bad as people may have thought.  At least the guy made transactions once in a blue moon.    

Why the Buffalo Bills may be the best New York football team this season

22 Jul
Watch out for Sammy Watkins and the Buffalo Bills

While everyone is talking about the Jets and the Giants and the bravado that comes along with them; people seem to be forgetting about that team up in Orchard Park, NY.  While the Buffalo Bills are coming off a losing season, don't let that fool you.

Although the Bills learned of a devastating blow recently when Kiko Alonso, their star on defense went down, the Bills still have a stout front seven on defense.  This stout front seven is led by Marcel Dareus at defensive end who is a force at the line of scrimmage.  The secondary is led by veteran safety Jim Leonard who brings stability to the back end of the defense.  On offense, the explosive capability is off the charts.  C.J. Spiller and Sammy Watkins are both home run hitting weapons alongside Robert Woods who is a budding slot receiver in the league.  Although E.J. Manuel is feeling the pressure to live up to the hype, he seems to be un-phased by the challenge that he faces.

This Buffalo Bills team is young, explosive, and extremely dangerous.  Teams who are looking past them on the schedule may want to think twice before prematurely penciling in a victory against this young Bills team.

While the Bills have a possible problem at quarterback, the Jets and the Giants have multiple problems.  The Giants do not know what they are going to get from recently acquired Rashad Jennings at running back and are not sure on what their offensive line will be like this year.  As for the Jets, like always, they have a quarterback controversy.  This time the controversy is between recent draft pick Geno Smith and veteran quarterback Michael Vick.  The Jets also have the potential to have one of the worst secondaries in the league if they don't get their act together. 

Rex Ryan doesn't want to worry about the Patriots, but he may need to pay a little attention to what is going on in Buffalo.  And oh yeah, he may want to pay attention to the Patriots as well being that they have won 11 of the last 13 AFC East titles to be had.  New York, don't sleep on the Buffalo Bills.