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.

Bye-Bye Brooklyn

Bloomberg is reporting that the Barclays Center will kick the Islanders out after the 2018-19 NHL season.

This is not a major shock. Barclays simply wasn’t built for hockey. It’s asymmetrical, leading to terrible seats on one end of the ice, and the scoreboard hanging over one of the blue lines. Furthermore, the Islanders are simply not drawing fans to the games, ranking third to last in the NHL in attendance which they also did in their inaugural season.  (And yes, they should have built the Barclays Center for hockey, but the original design was massively changed when the financial crisis hit in 2008.)

The question is what happens now? The new owners have been trying to get into a partnership with the Mets to construct an arena near Citi Field, but I can’t see how anyone would bite on that financing. We already have the completely redone MSG, the very new Prudential Center in Newark, the completely redone Nassau Coliseum reopening this spring, the very new Barclays Center, and the sitting in mothballs Izod Center at the Meadowlands, in the immediate area. How many arenas can we realistically support? And while a return to the Nassau Coliseum would have made sense, the renovations have lowered the capacity for hockey to 13,000. The Barclays Center is already the smallest in hockey (15,800) would the Islanders really move to an even smaller venue? Would the league even allow them to do so?

I am afraid that barring some miracle, this probably spells the end of the Islanders in the tri-state area. That’s a real shame. As much as I dislike the team, it has a passionate and loyal following that deserves better. My only hope is that if relocation is the final decision, they go to a real hockey hotbed, like Quebec, and not to some sunbelt city that doesn’t have the passion for the game. The Islanders can opt-out of their lease after next year, so we could have a quick resolution to this. Expect the rhetoric to ramp up quickly.

 

Good Idea/Bad Execution

So give the Knicks points for trying to shop Carmelo Anthony as per this story. Take away points for going to Cleveland and asking for Kevin Love. Should the Knicks trade Carmelo? Absolutely, and hopefully this was just the start of their efforts, but they need to get real. They are not going to get a Kevin Love-type player in return.

And that’s ok, the important thing is to get some more draft picks or young players who might turn into something rather than try to fool anyone into thinking they can remain competitive. This is not a team that will win a championship as currently constructed, so you send Anthony and Rose out of town, give Noah a seat on the bench, and surround Kristaps and Willy with some young guys. For the first time in probably a decade, the Knicks control all of their future first round picks, so losing this year really isn’t a problem. You head to the lottery and see what happens.

They have about a month before the deadline and they are 20-26. A smart team would sell aggressively. The Knicks have never been a smart team.

 

Right Place/Wrong Team

The Giants making the playoffs after a four-year absence is a wonderful thing. The problem is, they are running into the worst possible first round matchup they could have drawn.

Yes, they have beaten Green Bay in Green Bay before in the playoffs. In fact, the last two Super Bowl victories went through Green Bay. And yes, in both of those seasons they lost to Green Bay in the regular season, just like they did this year. But tell me, what does that have to do with the 2016 Giants? There are five players still on the entire roster from the 2011 team, and one of them, JPP, is not playing Sunday. Eli Manning looks a lot more like the 2007 version of himself than the 2011 version and Green Bay is the hottest team in the league right now, winning six-straight to make the playoffs.

I’m not saying the Giants can’t win. They can, but they will need a lot of things to break their way. They will need to fluster Aaron Rodgers, no easy task. They will need to hold up in their protection of Manning, again no easy task. They will need to run the ball in very cold conditions, something they haven’t shown a consistent ability to do. Add it all up, and I don’t see the Giants walking away with a win on Sunday, no matter what “history” says will happen.

Hopefully, I am wrong.

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!!

 

 

 

That Was Ugly

The Giants played a clunker last night, one that should calm all the best team in the NFC talk for awhile. The good news is, they are almost guaranteed to make the playoffs. In fact, it would be quite an upset if they didn’t.

Do I sound too confident? I don’t mean to, but consider what has to happen for the Giants to miss the playoffs.

1- They need to lose to Washington next week. Win and they are in.

2- The Packers beat Minnesota this week and Detroit next week.

3- Detroit beats Dallas Monday and then loses to Green Bay.

4- Tampa beats New Orleans and then Carolina.

5- The Falcons need to beat Carolina and New Orleans.

In that scenario, the Giants end up in a three-way tie for the wild card and lose on tiebreakers. Again, every one of those things, a total of 9 different outcomes, needs to happen or the Giants make the playoffs. The way things have gone the past few years around here you would be crazy not to think there is a chance, but it is a pretty small one. So relax, enjoy Christmas weekend and get enjoy the nine days off before the next game. We have all earned it.

 

Vereen Is Done

Shane Vereen is now really out for the season. He missed nine weeks, came back and lasted parts of two games. Tough year for him. Ryan Nassib is also out for the season with an elbow injury. I would assume, that this will be the end of Nassib’s career in blue as he is a free agent after the season and I would guess that the Giants might draft Eli’s replacement this offseason.

The Nassib injury is of no concern, if he was playing the Giants were in trouble, but Vereen’s injury could be a problem. They can’t run the ball, so using Vereen’s receiving ability gave them the option to try short swing passes instead of running.  Since none of their other running backs have shown the ability to catch the ball, that option is dead. If you are a NFL team looking to defend the Giants, I would force them to try to run the ball as much as possible. Unless Paul Perkins can develop at a quicker pace, I wouldn’t expect much success.

The critical injury is to Janoris Jenkins, who isn’t practicing. The Giants head to Philly on Thursday and while Jenkins may play, he would probably be limited. Apple and DRC have been very good this year, but Jenkins may be the best corner in the league right now. He simply shuts down the opposition’s best receiver. The Giants have an interesting dilemma with him. Do they rush him back this week if it could aggravate his injury? Or do they let him rest, knowing that a win in either of their last two games gets them into the playoffs? (And yes, I am not expecting a NFC East title because I don’t think Dallas loses their final 2 and that is the only way it could happen.)

It’s a tough call because as much as you want to win Thursday and get into the playoffs, you do have the fallback of the following Sunday in Washington plus the fact that Tampa and Green Bay would need to both win out for the Giants to be eliminated. We’ll see what happens under the lights Thursday.

Now Comes The Hard Part

Give the Giants credit. They are 8-3, winners of six-straight. We can point out a lot of flaws, but they are doing something right, and it isn’t just a fortuitous schedule. The problem is, the schedule turns really ugly now.

The final five games are brutal: @Pitt, Dallas (Sunday Night Football), Detroit, @Philly (Thursday Night Football), @Washington. When I picked games before the season started, I had the Giants sitting currently at 7-4, and finishing 1-4 to go 8-8. I still think a 1-4 finish might be all they manage. I don’t see them beating Pittsburgh or Dallas. Detroit looks really good recently. Washington will be problematic. They could and really should beat Philly even on the road.

That would leave them at 9-7 which might get them into the playoffs, but would also leave them with little momentum and a probable first round exit. A good team has to come out of this stretch at 10-6 or better. Are the Giants that kind of team? I still say no, but this is the reason you play the games.

Not Buying It

Yes, the Giants are 6-3. And yes, I think they might be 8-3 in two weeks. But no, I’m not ready to say this is anything more than a mediocre team.

Start with some stats. The Giants are a minus-8 in the takeaway/giveaway department. They have scored two fewer points than they have allowed. They are 24th in yards gained and 15th in yards allowed. Does anything strike you as above-average there?

They can’t run the ball, ranked 31st in the league at that. They can’t pressure the QB, ranked 30th in sacks. And they don’t convert 3rd downs very often, ranked 25th in that. The one thing they do really well is protect Eli, allowing the second-fewest sacks in the league.

Yet they are 6-3 and would be a playoff team if the season ended today.  And as I mentioned earlier, with a home game this week against Chicago, and a road game the next week in Cleveland, 8-3 is a distinct possibility.

The problem is, after that they could crash and burn to 8-8. Look at the schedule. Home against Dallas, road game in Pittsburgh, home against Detroit, finish on the road in Washington and Philly. They might be favored in the Detroit game, but as of right now, that’s going to be it.

So enjoy this. Admire the standings for th next few weeks. The pain is coming. This is a 4-4 team at best masquerading as a playoff team. It won’t last.

Predicting The Giants Season

Ok, here I go, a game-by-game guess at how the Giants end up.

Game 1- @Dallas- Two weeks ago, I would have said loss, but that was before Romo got hurt, and a rookie QB stepped in. Add in a rookie RB and I think the Giants will play enough defense to win this game.

Game 2- New Orleans- While I would bet less points are scored than last time, I don’t think the Giants can beat Drew Brees.

Game 3- Washington- Giants win this one, go to 2-1 and then the pain comes.

Game 4- @Vikings- Could have been the same situation as Week 1, but the Vikings brought in Bradford, who beat the Giants twice last year. Make it three-straight.

Game 5- @Green Bay- Not even close to winning this one.

Game 6- Ravens- I think these two teams are about equal, so I give it to the home team Giants to get back to .500.

Game 7- @Rams (London)- I think the Giants can win this and will to enter their bye week at 4-3

Game 8- Philly- They can beat these guys and will.

Game 9-Bengals- Nope, they can’t beat these guys.

Game 10- Bears- Back to the win column.

Game 11- @Cleveland- Closer than it should be, but another win to get to 7-4.

Game 12- @Pittsburgh- Not even close, a big loss.

Game 13- Dallas- Romo’s probably back or the rookie has thrived. Either way, the Giants lose this at home.

Game 14- Lions- I think Detroit could be a really good team this year, chalk it up as a loss.

Game 15- @Philly- This team is a mess and I think they win this.

Game 16- @Washington- I think they lose this to finish 8-8. The crazy thing is 8-8 could win the NFC East, especially if the Giants are 4-2 in the division as I predicted.

For comparison sake, I had them at 6-10 last year which was dead right and means I will be dead wrong this year.