Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Bad Can This Get?

The Giants have never lost more than 12 games in a season, but a quick look at the schedule suggests that “achievement”could be surpassed this year. They have eight games left, and after this Sunday against the winless 49’ers, every opponent, save the Raiders, is .500 or better, and the Raiders are a decent team that isn’t playing like one right now.

Lets say they win this week. Not a great bet, but this is the one game they clearly should win. Where does their next win come from?  At home against KC the following week?  I doubt it. On the road in Washington Thanksgiving night?  Almost certainly not. On the road in Oakland? I don’t think so. At home against Dallas and Philly?  No and no. On the road in Arizona Christmas Eve? Again, not likely. At home against Washington in the season finale?  Yeah, I could see that. Add it up and I have them finishing 3-13.

The real question is what would happen then?  The Giants almost never fire people, but a franchise record for losses would have to end in firings, right?  What I suspect is that Jerry Reese is already a goner and Ben McAdoo has the remaining games to save his job. The bar isn’t high. Finish the year with 3 more wins and I bet he comes back under a new GM. He would have two seasons left on his contract and with a major rebuild commencing, he would face a make or break 2018.

 

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A Disgrace

The U.S. did not qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. That in itself is a major headline, but the way they failed is absolutely breathtaking. Trinidad and Tobago has a population about 1/6th that of New York City and was the worst team in the hexagonal qualifying format that decides the 3 or 4 teams to qualify from CONCACAF for the World Cup.  How bad was this loss?  This article makes a compelling case that it was the worst ever by the U.S.

What happens now is the big question?  What makes this so frustrating is that youth soccer participation has almost tripled since the last time we missed the World Cup to over 3-million  To put that into perspective, that’s over twice the population of Trinidad and Tobago.  US Soccer needs to figure out why that isn’t translating into sustained excellence and who can put things back together.  This loss will sting for a long time, but even longer if the flaws it exposed aren’t corrected quickly.

 

This Could Get Ugly

College recruiting is an ugly process and this morning there was evidence of how ugly it really is. Coaches at four schools, Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC, and an executive at Addidas, were arrested.  It was part of a three-year investigation and the documents add that Louisville and Miami are also being investigated.

The feds caught everyone, including the NCAA, by surprise and the fallout from the could be massive  it’s naive to think that only six schools are involved and impossible to guess where this will all end.  What we do know is that two premier college programs are charged with bribery and wire fraud among other things. This won’t end well.

 

Draft Time

Here are my two beliefs about the NFL Draft.

 

1- The “experts” are generally wrong over half the time.

2- Because of this focus more on the positions a team drafts than the actual players.

Every year we get bombarded with mock drafts, draft grades and player thoughts and every year they’re are mostly junk. Look back at your favorite team’s draft and the analysis of it. Most of it turns out to be garbage once the players have actually taken the field. Lets face it, GMs get top dollar for making theses picks and they can’t deliver great and consistent results, so why do we rely on the experts?

That’s why I focus on the positions taken and the Giants have some pretty clear needs. Eli is nearing the end, but they want to make one more title run. The defense is returning 10-of-11 starters, so it is in good shape,  So, I would like to see the Giants come out of the draft with a bunch of of players who can help on offense. Specifically, I would like to see them get a running back, a tight end, and an offensive lineman. On defense a linebacker and a defensive tackle would be nice.

Things I would not want to see the Giants do include drafting for the secondary or taking a QB with a high pick. You may never be able to have too many cornerbacks, but the Giants have three good ones and two good safeties. If they get to a position where the best player on their board is a player from the secondary, I hope they trade down. And while it may be tempting to try to find Elis successor now, I would rather try to get him more help on offense in order to make one last run at a title. This is not the time to worry about the future QB of the team, a fifth rounder is fine, just not before that.

A Word On The Knicks

i wrote last July about how I didn’t understand the Knicks adding Joakim Noah as a free agent because it created a team on paper that could make the playoffs and possibly win a first round series. My feeling was that the Knicks would be better served in the long term by tanking in 2016-17 and getting a lottery pick while trading away everything except Porzingas.

Phil Jackson deserves no credit for the Knicks ending up in the lottery. That clearly wasn’t the plan at the start of the year and the Noah deal is clearly going to be a disaster. But the Knicks are thankfully in the lottery and can do themselves a lot of good by not winning any of their remaining four games.

The Knicks are currently sixth-worst in the league, but only one win separates them from “dropping” to ninth. If they got lucky, they could possibly get to fourth.

Its not about the first pick, that chance, even with fourth-worst record is small (about 11%). It’s about ensuring they have a pick as high up in the draft as possible. This is a deep draft, but scouts generally say the drop off happens somewhere between picks 6 and 8.

Finish with the fourth-worst record and the worst pick you could have is 7th. Finish with the ninth-worst and you only have about a 7% chance of picking higher than ninth.

So the Knicks need to lose. We need to hope that Sacramento and Minnesota win, and maybe even Philadelphia and Orlando. Fultz and Ball aren’t walking through that door, but getting Monk or Tatum would be just fine with me.

Nothing Could Be Finer!

It wasn’t pretty, but the Tar Heels came through  and won title number six. Roy Williams now one of only six coaches with three or more titles.

This championship is so satisfying for UNC fans because it was 364 days in the making. Kris Jenkins broke our hearts exactly one year ago today. It was great to see him sitting their last night, cheering on his brother, Nate Britt.

You could see this possibly happening early in the season. UNC went out to Maui and dominated the tournament in November. Meeks played like he did Saturday and they beat some good teams including Wisconsin. They got their doors blown off visiting Indiana, which raised some questions, but showed their mettle in a one-point loss to Kentucky in December.

There were a few hiccups in the ACC. They dropped easy games against Georgia Tech and Miami, but beat the best in the conference and won it outright at 13-5. Thr ACC Tournament ended prematurely when they played a Duke team that finally played to its potential.

And then they fought their way through the tournament. After a blowout in their first game, they pulled of a big escape against Arkansas. They handled Butler with relative ease, but needed some heroics from Luke Maye when Malik Monk almost beat them a second time. And finally they survived Oregon and Gonzaga to put the memories of last year to rest.

This championship validates Roy Williams approach to recruiting. He won’t guarantee anything to incoming recruits, so UNC misses out on the top one-and-done type players. Instead, Williams builds a program that can emphasize certain talents, but also develop them. Anyone who watched Kennedy Meeks as a freshman lumbering up and down the court has to be amazed at what four years of college did to revolutionize his game.

And now the Tar Heels will see a real change in their lineup. Meeks and Hicks are graduating along with Britt and White. Jackson will almost certainly leave for the NBA and Tony Bradley could too. But Joel Berry and Theo Pinson will be back to lead next year’s team, and new faces will emerge to replace the departed. But we will always remember and cherish this squad.

The Final Four

Raise your hand if you had South Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon, and UNC as your picks. Amazingly, 657 people did in the ESPN brackets. Sure, that’s out of 18.5-million, but it still seems high to me.

Thats how unlikely this Final Four is. Two teams that have never been there, one team that hasn’t been there since 1939 and the team that has been there a record 20-times. Once again, the conventional wisdom was very, very wrong. The East was going to be a battle of Duke vs. Villanova. The West would see Gonzaga picked off early. Oregon couldn’t possibly go to the Final Four after suffering a big injury in the PAC-12 tournament. Kentucky or UCLA would cut down the nets in the South.

It wasn’t what we thought it would be, but it should be a great Final Four. I think we will have a South Carolina-North Carolina Final which should include a side bet that the winning state forever is known only as “Carolina” and the losing state has to keep the directional part of their name. (That is quite a big deal down there almost as much as which state has the better BBQ)

The Madness Arrives!

To me Thursday and Friday should be national holidays because we have 32 college basketball games to watch. March Madness is upon us again and while I am still heartbroken about last year’s result, I think this year could turn out better for me.

So yes, I will pick Carolina to win it all in my “heart” bracket, but here’s an alternative view.

EAST- Villanova is a popular choice to repeat, but I don’t think they get past Duke. Duke was maddeningly inconsistent this year, but they are finally healthy and guys like Tatum will be easy lottery picks. This is probably the most talented team in the field and they are peaking.  Ignore them at your peril.

WEST- Gonzaga was a great story for years as an underdog, but they seem to me a team that is overexposed as a favorite. I don’t think they make the Final Four. I think Norte Dame, WVA, and Arizona are all their primary obstacles. In fact, I expect them to get eliminated by the winner of Notre Dame-WVA. I think Florida State gets bounced early too, and give me Arizona as the ultimate survivor.

MIDWEST

No team has ever won the title after losing their first conference tournament game. That’s what stands in the way of Kansas as they look to get through this bracket. I think they won’t buck history and that the biggest game in this bracket will be Louisville-Michigan for a spot in the sweet sixteen. Louisville is incredibly talented. Michigan survived a plane crash on Thursday and went and won the Big Ten title in a big upset.  I think Pitino cools them off and gets Louisville into the Final Four

SOUTH

UNC baby!  Ok, if you want a different pick give me UCLA. They have an amazing point guard and are very talented. Plus, I think Kentucky is going to get picked off by Wichita State which opens that side of the bracket. I picked UCLA to cut down the nets back in December, so I will stick with that.

FINAL FOUR- Duke, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA.

FINALS- Duke-UCLA

Champ- UCLA

But go Tar Heels!

 

Super Bowl Boredom

otI’ve been asking around, and apart from my neighbor who comes from Atlanta, I am not finding people excited for the Super Bowl. Now granted, if you have a reason to root for one of the teams, then this game is exciting to you, but I’m not feeling it. I’m not sure why. I usually love the Super Bowl and am excited for whoever is in it. This year I am struggling to even commit to watching it. I have thought about this for awhile and I have three reasons for this.

1- The teams

2- Football itself

3- The world

Let me delve into each.

1- I don’t hate the Patriots. In fact, I like Bill Belichick and I used to be a Patriots season ticket holder. But I have Patriots fatigue. I have seen too much of them and heard way, way, too much from both sides about deflated footballs. And while Matt Ryan seems like a good guy, I have zero interest in the Falcons. They have always struck me as a team that never lived up to expectations and not that interesting. So I find myself not caring at all about which team wins and that makes it pretty hard to get excited about the game.

2- I am having a harder and harder time watching football in general because it seems pretty clear that these players are killing themselves. HBO just did a Real Sports story on the death of Kevin Turner. If you click that link you will see pictures of him as he got close to death. He had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and had lost the ability to talk or walk by the end. He donated his brain to science and they came to the conclusion that repetitive blows to the head caused his disease. The doctor who does the study looks into the camera and says that people should stop playing football. I know that if I had a son, I don’t, I would not let them play football so I am really wrestling with the moral question of what I am watching and condoning by watching.

3- Without delving into politics too deeply, the world seems to me to be a pretty scary place right now and we are as divided and angry a country as I can remember. It’s hard for me to put all my feelings and concerns aside right now and escape into sports. I find that to be true with not only football, but hockey and basketball as well.  Maybe baseball season will break me out of my funk, but right now sports aren’t giving me the joy they usually do.

So that’s why I am considering skipping the game. I imagine what I will actually do is check the score a bunch of times and then flip it on if things are close in the 4th quarter. At least I hope so.

Here’s to 2017!

My 2016 predictions were mostly very wrong,  but I did predict a Cubs World Series, a change of scheduling for the CFB playoffs,  and the Giants making the playoffs, so there’s that. Here’s what I see sports wise in 2017

January

A record seven players get elected to the Hall of Fame-Bagwell, Bonds, Clemens, Guerrero, Hoffman, Raines and Ivan Rodriguez.

Ohio State beats Alabama to win the CFB playoffs

The Raiders beat New England on a snowy field in the AFC Championship and advance to the Super Bowl where they meet the Cowboys.  The Giants lose their first round playoff game.

February

The Cowboys win the Super Bowl and Donald Trump takes the credit.for making the Cowboys great again

A-Rod shows up at Marlins camp in “phenomenal shape”and ready to compete for a job.

March

Duke and UNC both secure #1 seeds along with Villanova and UCLA in the tournament.

A-Rod retires again.

April

UCLA cuts down the nets after beating Kansas in the championship game

Tiger Woods actually plays in the Masters but misses the cut  Bubba Watson wins his third title

MLB sees two major stars get suspended for PEDs.

The Knicks and Rangers make the playoffs. The Knicks get eliminated in the first round

May

The Rangers lose in the conference finals to Montreal. Canada closes down for the Stanley Cup.

Cleveland and Golden State make quick work of the other NBA teams and head for their third-straight Finals matchup.

June

Durant is the difference as Golden State takes the crown.

Chicago wins another Stanley Cup over Montreal.

Jordan Speith wins the U.S. Open

July

Despite no longer “counting” MLB’s All-Star Game ratings actually improve over last year.

Phil Mickleson wins his last major at the British Open

August

Clint Frazier makes his Yankee debut while Aaron Judge gets optioned back to AAA.

September

Yankees finish the year at 83-79

October

Cubs make it two-straight with a sweep of the Astros.

November

The Knicks open the year 4-0

The 49ers are the surprise of the NFL, finishing November in first.

December

Florida State, Alabama, Michigan, and USC face off in the CFB playoffs

A blogger vows to do better in 2018 than he did with his predictions in 2017.

Happy New Year!!