Deja Vu

It was a season that started with promise.  It saw an ascendant player turn in amazing performance and become and All-Star, and then everything came crashing down when his knee blew out as the season slipped away.

That season was actually 33-years ago and it immediately came into my head when I saw Kristaps Porzingas crumpled on the floor. In 1985, it was Bernard King, one of the most talented players in Knicks history and last night it was a guy of similar talents.

Bernard King missed the entire 85-86 season and almost all of the following one. In fact he only played six more games in a Knicks uniform. The only salvation for the Knicks was that they won the draft lottery and got Patrick Ewing a few months after that awful night.

Maybe history will repeat and the Knicks will get to draft another franchise player this June. Probably won’t, but at this point we have nothing to do but hope.

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How I Feel About The Super Bowl Explained

What A Mess

The Islanders are moving back to Nassau County, but it is going to be a messy process until they get there. The Barclays Center wants them out and soon, threatening to terminate their lease after next season if they won’t play at least half their home games at the renovated Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders have apparently agreed to play at least a third of their games there.  That probably means that for at least the next three years, you will have to really, really check the schedule before buying Islanders tickets or you may be in for a big surprise. And I have no idea what happens to season ticket holders under this situation.

I was trying to think of a parallel to this situation and drew a blank. The Packers used to play a couple of games in Milwaukee and the Bills did the same with Toronto, but football is a bad comparable. There are only eight home games. The Islanders have 41 home nights a year, this will be a logistical nightmare.

And, as usual, the reason comes to greed. The NHL doesn’t want any games played at the new Nassau Coliseum because it would be the smallest arena in the league with very few corporate suites. (I suspect that they are also worried that if the Islanders start playing there and people love it, support for building the new arena will crumble.). How does this end?  It will end with ticket-buying fans getting hosed once again.

Pat Shurmur

The Giants have hired their new coach, giving a five year job to the former Browns Head Coach and current Vikings Offensive Coordinator. It’s a solid move in my mind.

The knock on Shurmur is his time in Cleveland, but the thing is everyone fails in Cleveland. That team has averaged 3.8 wins per season since 2007. So, Shurmur’s nine wins in two seasons look good in that light.

He is unquestioned in his ability to develop quarterbacks and that is a critical skill for the Giants right now. With the second overall pick in the draft, they will almost certainly take a QB. If they choose right and develop him correctly, the Giants could go from 15 seasons of Eli to 15 seasons of the next guy. Few teams have ever had that.

But the real test of Shurmur will be changing the culture of the locker room which went completely off the rails this year. That may require some tough choices like cutting some big players and demanding accountability for others, but it has to be done.

The harsh reality is that coaching hires in the NFL is a crapshoot at best. Consider the seven coaches hired two years ago, a group which included Ben McAdoo. Three have been fired already and only one, of the remaining four, Doug Pederson, has a winning record.

Insanity

ESPN ran a story yesterday that the New England triumvirate of Kraft, Belichick, and Brady is about to fall apart over internal strife. Today the New York papers are suggesting that Belichick will come and coach the Giants as a result of that.

Let’s start with the ESPN report. It makes Tom Brady look like an egotistical athlete who cant handle getting older.  Does that sound familiar?  That’s what almost every star athlete wrestles with at the end of their career. How that would break up the Patriots is beyond me. But let’s just play along, let’s say Belichick is at the end of his rope and wants out. What happens then?

Sure, the Giants make sense. He fondly remembers his time here and he even owned a brownstone in Park Slope up until a few years ago, but beyond that think of all the obstacles that would remain.

First, Belichick would need to be willing to put his legacy on the line. This is not a small point. Right now, he is probably considered the greatest coach in NFL history. He is considered a football genius. Now, he very well may be both of those things, but he also might be one of the luckiest guys ever because Tom Brady is the greatest QB ever and Belichick got lucky with the 199th pick in the draft. This is all debatable, but right now not worth discussing. Now if Belichcik left New England and flopped here in New York, that would put a major dent in his legacy. And if he came here and won, would it really do more for his legacy?  In short, what’s the upside to coming back here?

Second, even if he did want to take the risk, the Patriots are not going to just let him walk out the door. Their initial demand will include the #2pick in this year’s draft plus a lot more picks in future drafts. The Giants can’t pay that price and expect to be able to rebuild successfully.

Third, the timing won’t work. Unless Belichick is so disgusted with everything in New England that he would take the unprecedented move of leaving his job before the Patriots played their playoff game, this cant happen. The Giants need to hire a coach in the next week or so, waiting for the Patriots to compete their playoff run to take a chance that Belichick would become their coach is crazy. All the good candidates would be gone by then and the Giants would be in the worst position possible-forced to pay whatever price New England wants for Belichick because there would be no plan B at that point.

So count me out on the whole idea. Unless Bill steps to a podium in New England in the next few days with a cocktail napkin that says, “I resign as HC of NE” Then things would get ineteresting.

Here’s to 2018!

2017 gave us some great sports moments from an amazing Super Bowl comeback, to a fantastic World Series. What will 2018 bring?  Here are my predictions.

January

Oklahoma survives a nail biter against Alabama to win the National Championship.

In the pro game Pittsburgh edges New England on a last minuet field goal to face Minnesota in the Super Bowl

Bonds and Clemens get into the Hall of Fame along with Chipper Jones

February

The Vikings win the Super Bowl

MLB hands down five 50-Game suspensions for sexual misconduct by its players

Vince McMahon announces the return of the XFL

March

Michigan State, Duke, Wichita State and Arizona State get number one seeds in March Madness

The MLB season opens to weather-related chaos

April

Michigan State cuts down the nets with a win over Duke

Tiger Woods plays in the Masters, but doesn’t factor as Jordan Spieth runs away with it

The Knicks make the playoffs and lose in the first round, the Rangers don’t

May

The expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights make history by advancing to the Finals in their first year where they face Tampa.

The Celtics return to the Finals against Golden State.

June

Tampa wins the Stanley Cup while Golden State cuts the nets down again

July

The Yankees are mired in mediocrity at the break three games under .500 and ten games behind Boston.  Minnesota has the best record in baseball

August

After running off a bunch of wins, the Yankees trade for Zach Grienke to fortify a shaky rotation

Jordan Spieth falls just short of the grand slam finishing sixth in the PGA

September

The Giants open the season with Eli Manning under center

Boston, Minnesota, and Houston win their divisions in the AL.  Washington, Chicago, and Colorado in the NL  Cleveland and New York are the wild card in the AL with Atlanta and LA in the NL

October

Houston meets Washington in the World Series with Washington winning it all.

The Giants finish October with a winning record, San Francisco is undefeated.

November

The Rangers fire Vigneault.

The Giants go into a tailspin and bench Eli for their number one pick, Josh Rosen

December

Five teams finish the NCAA football season with perfect records throw ing the playoffs into chaos.  Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Ohio State make it while USC doesn’t.

San Francisco and Jacksonville clinch the number 1 seeds in the playoffs

A blogger in Brooklyn vows to do better in 2019

Happy New Year!

 

 

Bye-Bye Brooklyn

Reports are that the Islanders have won the bidding for the right to develop a new arena on land adjacent to Belmont Park. While it isn’t unclear how long it will take to build the arena, this clearly means they will be leaving the Barclays Center very soon.

Hockey in Brooklyn just didn’t work and there are two main reasons why. First, this is Ranger country. The Islanders have a loyal following, but it isn’t in Brooklyn. Second, the arena is a terrible place for hockey. It’s asymmetrical and there are seats that don’t let you see the entire ice. That combination of forces led the Islanders to look for a new home.

The amazing thing is how many new sports facilities have been built this century in the local area. Every major sports team has either gotten a new building, or had their entire arena gutted and rebuilt. We’ve also added a soccer stadium and have another team looking to build one somewhere in the area. By my count, that’s six new buildings in about 15 years with a seventh on the way. Atlanta just built a new football stadium to replace one that wasn’t even 25-years old, so we may see more building in the near future. I hope everyone enjoys paying taxes.

Another Mistake

The Giants almost got it right today, firing McAdoo and Reese, but then John Mara muffed the easiest part- he said it’s up to interim coach, Steve Spagnuolo, to decide the starting QB Sunday.

That is just incredibly stupid. The Giants did the hard thing yesterday, benching Eli, why go back and revisit that decision?  And don’t give the decision to Spags, he is going to think short term because he wants to turn a temporary gig into a long term one. If he can finish the year 2-2, he just might convince the Giants to hire him as the next head coach.

Davis Webb has to start Sunday and he has to start the rest of the season. The Giants have four games to see what he is made of and they can’t keep hiding him on the inactive list. Start him Sunday, and see what happens. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t ready, the Giants have to see him on the field.

The last time the Giants picked in the top-5 they traded up for Eli. There are a few QB’s at the top of this draft that could warrant a selection. But not before the Giants find out about the player they selected in the third round last year.

If…

There are all sorts of reports that the Giants will fire Ben McAdoo tomorrow.

I cant defend McAdoo at this point. For a supposed offensive genius, it is damning that the Giants have never scored 30 points in a game under his management. Add in the appearance that the team has quit on him and you can’t argue with the idea of letting him go. But, to do it now, and to do it without firing Jerry Reese at the same time, would be ridiculous.

Reese gets credit for the last Super Bowl, and he gets partial credit for the previous one,  but that doesn’t excuse the past five years. Tom Coughlin was forced out and that was Reese’s mulligan. If McAdoo, the coach he hired, is going to be fired, the Giants need to clean house completely and part with their GM.

That’s not the way they typically do business, but firing one without the other would be a joke.

The First Move of 2018

The Giants announced today that Geno Smith will start at QB on Sunday. Eli Manning was given the opportunity to start and then give way to Smith and possibly Davis Webb, but chose to let Smith start.

This is the responsible move for the Giants to make, but they are going to take a lot of crap for it. Eli is the face of the franchise and hasn’t started every game since taking over from Kurt Warner in the middle of the 2004 season. Smith is perceived as a failure for his disastrous tenure with the Jets.

But here’s the thing, the Giants and nobody knows what Smith really is. He was a 2nd round pick and had some success. The team needs to get a good look at him before deciding what they want to do. They also need to get a long look at Davis Webb and with five games left, they will. That’s what these games have to be about, figuring out the future. And while they won’t say it, if Smith or Webb shows ability, they will be QB1 next year, not Eli.

This isn’t a day for happiness or sadness.  We can simply take grim satisfaction in the knowledge that the Giants did what they had to do today