Thursday, January 13, 2011

Long Off-Season So Far

For Mets fans it probably feels as if this current off-season started in late August-early September.  We all knew by then that the Mets were on a fast track to irrelevance down the stretch and we began to dream about a new General Manager and Manager for our beloved club.

Well two of those items panned themselves out during the last few weeks of 2010.  Sandy Alderson became the General Manager and Terry Collins was hired as the Manager.  But since those announcements, there hasn't been any huge splash.  Nothing that would take over the back pages from the local NFL teams, or the Knicks, or even the Yankees losing.  A few signings here and there would sneak into the Transaction column in the newspaper, but again, nothing that would get the blood boiling.

And you know what?  I'm okay with that.  I've enjoyed this off-season for the Mets.

For both the organization and the fans, you can say this off-season is all a breath of fresh air.  We haven't been bombarded with huge signing and huge names.  Haven't had to witness any blockbuster deals that chipped away some of our farm system.  We've just been able to sit back, relax, rejuvenate ourselves, weed our the bandwagon fans from 2006 (and some of those who may have stuck on during 2007-2008), find the optimism in our club and get ready for Spring Training.

I want people to take a second and recall the first few months of the 2010 season and remember that the Mets were a legit team back then.  Into the middle of June, June 22nd if I recall correctly, this Mets team was in the thick of things, battling for first place.  Neck and neck with the Phillies.  And then the team bottomed out.  Exactly why, I have no idea and I'm not sure if other people can exactly pinpoint it.

It was a combination of a lot of things that caused the doom of the Mets in 2010.  The offense was pretty bad.  Jason Bay could not live up to his numbers and then couldn't get on the field.  David Wright continued to be very streaky and saw the strikeout total climb to an absurd level.  No pop from our catcher or second baseman.  Who was our shortstop?  Don't say Jose Reyes because that truly wasn't him.  Didn't see the real Carlos Beltran until mid-September, and by then, it was over.
I'm slightly a bit more optimistic for our upcoming 2011 season.  I believe that offensively, we should finally be healthy (barring anything unforeseen in Port St. Lucie).  Beltran and Bay and Reyes will have their assortment of injuries put behind them.  Wright should continue to prove that 2009 was a fluke and continue to produce, even if the strikeouts stay.  Ike Davis, a breath of a fresh air during the season, is a year older and more mature and should keep growing.  Angel Pagan, our offensive MVP last season, should just continue where he left off last season.  Hopefully we get a solid average from our catcher position and I think we will with the short stroke of Josh Thole.

Look, I know that no one expects much from the Mets this season.  But it's January right now.  The real games don't start until April.  So until then, no one knows what to expect from anyone.  I'm optimistic.  Maybe a foolish optimistic, but an optimist nonetheless.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Well that was nice

I know I said a few weeks ago that I was pretty much done with attending, and almost overall watching, the Devils this season.  Worst team in the league, worst scoring team in the league, almost totally done with the playoffs.  Yet, yesterday afternoon saw me at The Rock for the afternoon matinee against the Tampa Bay Lightening.  And still, even though I also said I wouldn't spend any more money over there, I found myself dropping some plastic on a beer and soda.  I felt good, what could I say.

Then, less than two minutes into the game, it happened.  Tampa scores on a cheap rebound goal and just like that, all my good vibes went out the window.  I laughed.  It was so pathetic and bad that all I could do was laugh.  And remind myself to not buy a second beer.

Going into the start of the third period, down 2-1, I figured this would be another 'close game' but we still just score one goal and the mukiness continues.  But, somewhat quickly, I noticed there was a difference on the ice.  The Devils were flying.  They were quick.  They were winning the battles in the corners.  They were blocking shots and clearing the puck.  They were creating.  They were scoring.  Five goals in the final period and a 6-3 victory at the end of the day.

It's waaaaay to late to have post-season dreams.  But, to be personal and selfish, it was good to see the first win of the season.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

One Down, Three To Go

Well then, after a night of some stomach pains I figured now would be a good time to talk about last night's thrilling back and forth game that ended in a 17-16 Wild Card Weekend Jets victory. 

Thank you Nick Folk for nailing a 35 yard field goal to win it.  But also, thank you Mark Sanchise for calling and completing the 18 yard pass to Braylon Edwards, and thank you Braylon for catching it.  Thank you Antonio Cromartie for a 47 yard kick off return to start that last drive.  Thank you Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene for Ground and Pound, running the football the way we came accustom to last season and keeping Peyton Manning off the field.  Thank you Rex Ryan for organizing a confusing defense and finally stopping Manning.

It was a great first quarter defensively.  Teams do not hold the Colts on three straight 3rd and 1's and force three and outs.  The Jets did.  The problem wound up on the offensive side of the ball.  They weren't bad, no, bad isn't the word.  But they weren't good enough.  Didn't do enough to get in the end zone, or even attempt a field goal for that matter.  Down 7-0 at the half, that proves it.

But old reliable reared it's great head in the second half.  Ground and Pound.  LT and Greene.  Just keeping running, keep pounding, keep grinding.  And that's exactly what the Jets did.  All the way down to Nick Folk's foot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Playoff Day

So today is the day us Jets fans have been waiting for since last January.  Leading the Colts 17-6 at half time of the AFC Championship game, we were soo close.  So close to the Super Bowl.  And we watched it slip away.  Colts come back to win the game and us fans get to watch another Jets-less Super Bowl two weeks later.

But here we are again.  Wild Card weekend in the NFL, heading back to Indianapolis for a rematch with Mr. Peyton Manning and the Colts.  And I firmly believe that this time, the Jets will get it done for us.  The Jets will prevail this evening and set up a third game this season with the Patriots next weekend in New England.

Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Ladanian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor.  All off-season acquisitions that were brought in for one purpose.  Today.  The Jets were close last year but as we all saw, not close enough.  These players were brought in to push us over the edge, to knock off all those opponents in front of them.  Tonight, we see that happen.

Mark Sanchise is a year older.  A year wiser.  A year better.  As a rookie he won two and a half playoff games on the road.  This year, he is ready to win the first road playoff game in 2011.  He has his weapons spread out wide around him so he will use them.  He will also use the two running backs behind him.

The biggest question mark will again the be the defensive backs.  They're still banged up and they can cause us fans to bang our heads.  But they will be stingy tonight.  They will not make it easy for Peyton.  And at some point, hopefully in the second half, we will witness the first interception of the season my Darrell Revis because Peyton will temporary lose his mind and throw in his direction.

We've waited for tonight for almost a year.  And it's close.  8 hours away.  Let's do it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's about time

That title right there can be for two things.  1) It's about time that I've updated the site.  In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Just consider it my two week vacation.  But more importantly it's #2 that the title is about.  And that is the New Jersey Devils have finally started their deconstruction.

Earlier today the Devils announced that they have traded captain Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars for a conditional 3rd round pick this June (there are some ways it can become a 2nd round pick and/or we gain a 2nd round pick next off-season).

I truly know that this could not have been an easy move for Lou to make.  He traded for Jamie back in 2002 and watched him help the Devils win the Stanley Cup a season later and then supported him being named captain a few years ago under Brent Sutter.  However, the way this season has played out, things have to happen.  This possible trade almost took place back in September when Lou asked Langenbrunner to waive his no-trade clause because the Devils needed the cap space and could have saved $2.8 million if the captain agreed to it, but he obviously said no, which four months ago was the right thing to do.  But when Lou asked again the other day, Langenbrunner did the right thing for himself by going to a contender and did the right thing for the Devils by allowing them to start their regrouping process.

Because when the season is over, that's what the off-season will be for them.  A re-group.  Not a re-built and not much of a breakdown.  Let there be a bit of a breakdown of the roster during the season.  Sell the players you have to sell but do not mortgage the entire roster.  Just look at it.  The talent is there but the chemistry, the magic, the touch, the something wasn't there with the talent this season.

Other players will have to go, this season, which will allow some salary cap space, allow for some of our younger players to get quality ice time so the team can proper evaluate them, and allow the Devils to gain some draft picks so we can restock our minor league team.

They may very well finish last this season in the league, and if that happens, I'm totally okay with that.  As Devils fans, think about it.  We've been so good, for so long, when was the last time we had a Top-10 pick? A Top-5?  Hell, have we ever had the Top Pick?  Let's all suffer this season, get the best young player and re-group for the 2011-2012 season.

Until that happens, Thank You and Good-Bye, Captain.