Monthly Archives: February 2016

Good Move, But More Needed

The Rangers pulled off a very savy trade yesterday for Eric Staal. Staal isn’t the player he once was, but he provides the Rangers with a lot of flexibility. They can slot him in at center on the third line, moving Hayes out of that spot, and deepening their overall roster. Or they can put him on the wing, and let him add experience and grit to one of their top lines. Having him as a wing gives you a very good face-off guy on the ice as an alternate to your center. Don’t underestimate the impact of that in a playoff series.

And the price was right. This is a team built for today, so renting Staal makes sense. They needed another piece and they got it, the problem is Staal doesn’t solve their problems on the penalty kill or their defensive malaises this season. But ultimately this team is a team built around a goaltender. It’s still up to Henrik to carry them across the finish line.

That Was Fast

The Islanders and Barclays Center are apparently talking about a divorce. Yup, four months into their inaugural season in Brooklyn, the Islanders want out and the Barclays Center wants them to go. That’s shocking.

The original story was in the Post, but this story from Canada has some more interesting information. The Barclays Center pays the team $53.5 million each season and keeps the ticket and sponsorship revenue. Now a quick back of the envelope calculation says that for 41 home games that amounts to $1,3 million or so a game. With the Islanders averaging about 13,000 fans a game, that averages out about $100 per ticket needed to break even before you factor in sponsorship money or concessions or anything else. Yet, the Barclays Center is apparently willing to give that up to get the Islanders out. That’s a pretty stunning because the alternative is that the building is going to be dark for at least some of those lost nights.

And while I understand the Islanders’ motivations for wanting out- bad building for hockey and their revenue being capped- what are their alternatives? Long Island rejected a proposal to build a new arena. Their old home, the Nassau Coliseum, is being remodeled, but the seating is going to be reduced. I wish them luck trying to get a new arena built somewhere around here, that doesn’t seem very likely to happen. So maybe this is a sign that the Islanders might move out of the area? Their new ownership has New York roots, but if the difference is making millions in Kansas City versus pennies in Brooklyn, I think any owner would take the money.

We’ll have to wait awhile to see this all unfold, but it is amazing that we are at this point so soon.

A Great Rivalry

Tonight is the first part of the annual two-part (minimum) Duke-Carolina rivalry, and I am pretty excited. I love pro sports, and I love the rivalries in them, but their is something better about college rivalries and this is simply one of the greatest.

  • Both teams are ranked in the Top-25 right now. That’s not a big deal for this rivalry as the last time they played when neither one was ranked was in 1960!
  • Both teams have won 5 National Championships each, and combined for 34 Final Four appearances.
  • It is about 10 miles to get from one campus to the other down Tobacco Road.
  • They have two of the best coaches in the game, both for X’s and O’s and for the people they are.

So with the NFL gone, pitchers and catchers not quite here, and the NHL and NBA in their mid-February doldrums, why not check out a great college basketball game? After all, March Madness is just around the corner.

 

 

This Is Dumb

Have you heard how Eli Manning wasn’t happy when the Broncos went up by 12 late in the Super Bowl? Apparently, he wasn’t rooting for his own brother!

Take a close look at the video.(Scroll down) Do you notice anything? Do you notice the person directly to Eli’s right? That just happens to be the only other person in that picture who has taken a NFL snap, Peyton’s Dad, Archie. Does he look happy? Is he cheering? Perhaps, just like Eli, he is worried about the 2-point conversion and running out the clock? Or maybe he is jealous of Peyton too?

I would also guess that after this past Giants season, Eli had to have learned not to celebrate a thing until the clock reads 0:00.

The Cuts Start

The Giants cut three players today, Will Beatty, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Beason. The moves add $12-million to their cap space which should bring it to about $55-million. They can free up more cap space by cutting or renegotiating Victor Cruz’s contract. Cruz is set to make almost $8-million next year, which is ridiculous for a player who hasn’t touched the field in almost two seasons.

The Beason cut makes great sense, he couldn’t stay on the field. The other two are interesting. Erik Flowers wasn’t a good LT last year, but he might be a better RT. Beatty’s return could have allowed that to happen. Schwartz was very good before getting hurt, and there is not an obvious replacement right now on the roster. The Giants have spent two #1 and a #2 pick in the last three drafts on offensive linemen, are they really going to do that again?

I suppose they could spend money to fill the holes these moves created, but what about all the other holes? Right now they need a #2 WR, a RG, a RT, two DE, a CB, and a FS, plus some linebackers. And that list is just starters. They will need to add some depth as well. It’s hard to see how draft picks and $60-million can fill all of those holes.

Firing The Coach

It isn’t really a surprise that the Knicks fired Derek Fisher. I actually was more surprised they hired him in the first place. Five years and $20-million seemed a ridiculous price to pay for someone who had never coached basketball, but for whatever reason, the Knicks paid it. Fisher didn’t cover himself in glory as a coach on, or off the court.

But honestly, I think everyone knew Fisher was a place holder at best. He was the guy the Knicks gave too much money to in order to try and turn the franchise around. I don’t think anyone thought he would be the coach if the team actually became a title contender down the road. Now the Knicks are going to go with Kurt Rambis as the interim coach for the rest of the season. That’s a smart move. They shouldn’t rush things, and they should take the next logical step- trading Carmelo for future assets.

That’s the way to kick this rebuild into high gear and get the Knicks where they need to be. We all know that Pozingis is the future, but Carmelo will be well past his prime when that future arrives. The Knicks need players to surround Porzingis with and using Anthony to accomplish that is the smart play. Unfortunately, Phil Jackson doesn’t seem to agree, and for now he is the only one who matters.

Super Bowl 50

Let’s start off with the best thing about this Super Bowl, the lack of Roman numerals. Because the NFL realized that a graphic of “Super Bowl L” would simply confuse people, they went with “Super Bowl 50” instead. I don’t think “Super Bowl LI” looks any better, so let’s hope this becomes a permanent change. The Roman Empire folded about 1,500 years ago, or about 700 if you want to count the Eastern, non-Roman, part. so I think we can let go of their numerals. (But not Latin, they should still teach Latin for a year in schools everywhere because it teaches kids how English grammar works. However, I digress.)

As for the game itself, ugh. That was an ugly, ugly, football game. Denver won and didn’t even get 200 yards of offense. If you liked punting, this was your game. Peyton Manning wasn’t very good, but he managed to avoid making huge mistakes- something Cam Newton did not. Newton was terrible, and his postgame performance will hurt him in the future.

And now football goes away for six months. I predicted in my New Year’s column that the NFL would make radical changes in the game to address head injuries, and I still think that will happen but not in the way I envisioned at the start of the year. The missed extra point which ultimately cost the Patriots a tie in the AFC Championship doomed my prediction that the league will eliminate that play. But, I still think something radical will happen this offseason that will change football more than we have seen it changed in years. Time will tell.

And tomorrow I will talk about Derek Fisher and the Knicks.

 

 

Another One Bites The Dust

Louisville took an unusual step today and self-imposed a one year postseason ban on its mens basketball program. I say unusual, because while this happens frequently in Division 1 basketball, I can’t recall it happening when a team actually had a shot at winning a title. Louisville is 2nd in the ACC right now and #19 in the country. They beat #2 UNC Monday night, snapping a 12-game winning streak in the process with a dominating defense. This is a good team, unlike Syracuse last year, which did the same thing. Now, this may be because the allegations are disgusting-using prostitutes to entice players to come to Louisville. And the timing is interesting. I can’t help but notice that the biggest sports event of the year is Sunday, so dumping this news on the Friday before it seems like smart PR, but it is still a notable event.

But this is merely a band-aid in the sham that is major college recruiting. The vast majority of these kids are getting taken by a system which chews them up and spits them out. The idea that coaches and administrators are interested in educating their players is laughable. They want players to stay eligible and provide them with A-level effort on the field/court. That’s it. Oh, and those coaches and administrators make a bundle off of those efforts.

Here’s a fun little exercise. Who do you think is the highest-paid employee of most states? In almost all of them it isn’t the governor. It isn’t the governor in almost every case, it’s a coach for an athletic team. And, they don’t really even need to be a powerhouse. Here’s Massachusetts’ data which shows that in 2014 the two highest paid state employees were the UMass Basketball coach and the UMass football coach. Your tax dollars at work!

It is time to abolish the NCAA, pay the players their share of the profits and get rid of this absurd idea that this is amateur sports. College sports are the minor leagues for basketball and football. Let’s stop pretending they are anything else.