Monday, April 20, 2015

Sports this 'n' that

Two weeks into the baseball season, and what have we learned?

For the 2nd time in 4 years, the Miami Marlins have so far failed to live up to expectations. Most pundits picked them to finish 2nd behind everyone's presumptive favorite to win the NL East, Washington. Instead, the Marlins are back in a familiar place, in the basement, after getting swept by the Mets. And who would've believed that the Mets, and not Washington, would be in 1st place, 2 weeks into the season, despite the usual spate of injuries and misfortune that seem to dog every move the team makes?

Think back to 2012. The Marlins signed away defending NL batting champion Jose Reyes from the Mets, and acquired pitcher Mark Buehrle from the White Sox. Miami finished last. Reyes & Buehrle are now in their 3rd season in Toronto, and even though the Blue Jays had a bad week, now in a tie for 4th in the AL East, there are those that do see them as a playoff contender this season. In 2015, Miami already is making a move toward youth, benching veteran catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in favor of rookie J. T. Realmuto. Dee Gordon went 5-for-5 vs. the Mets on Saturday in a losing effort. Were he still with the Dodgers, it probably would've been a win. The New York press is putting out the rumor that former Mets star Wally Backman, currently the manager of the Mets' AAA team in Las Vegas, would replace Mike Redmond if the Marlins continue to falter because of the impatience of owner Jeff Loria. Loria's wasteful spending has gotten the Marlins in this mess again, because he hasn't learned from the mistakes of his, ah, role model, the late George Steinbrenner.

Kevin Kernan, writing in the New York Post nearly 2 weeks ago, nailed it when he suggested this might be the Mets' new attitude. "Make a mistake, and we own you.", he wrote. Miami's Tom Koehler was the latest victim on Sunday. After skating through the first three innings, Koehler melted down and gave up all 7 Mets runs, making a winner out of Matt Harvey (3-0). Next for the Orange & Blue Brigade is a rematch with Atlanta, followed by part 1 of the 2015 Subway Series with the Yankees.

He may have been away for a year, but Alex Rodriguez is off to a suspiciously fast start for the Yankees, with 4 home runs through 2 weeks. Unsurprisingly, this raises a red flag, considering his history. Did he really need to use PED's all that time when natural ability should've been enough? Or is he so stupid to think no one would notice if he's still using? We don't know for sure, and it's still early. The Yanks are at .500 going into tonight's game vs. Detroit.

Just when you thought it was safe to read about NFL news before next week's draft, word comes from Philadelphia that Eagles coach "Tortilla" Chip Kelly has brought in Tim Tebow, last seen working for ESPN's SEC Network, likely to be little more than a Wildcat QB should he make the team. Rumors have the Eagles trading either 2013 1st round pick Matt Barkley or Sam Bradford, whom the Eagles picked up from St. Louis earlier this year, to make their draft position better, but do they really need to attract a media circus? Tebow has not played a regular season game since 2012 (Jets), and was last seen on the field with New England in the 2013 preseason, and was one of their last cuts. Unlike Rex Ryan, now in Buffalo, and Bill Belichick, Kelly is an offensive coach, and he probably figures Tebow can be plugged into his high energy offense. We'll know come summer.

We're used to the New York Rangers being in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's been 21 years since they last hoisted the Cup, but they've been regulars in the tournament more often than not. Their 1st round series vs. Pittsburgh, a rematch from last year, is knotted at 1 going into tonight's game. Meanwhile, the real story is on Long Island, where the Islanders, in their final season in Uniondale, lead Washington, 2-1, after an overtime win on Sunday. It's been eons, it seems, since the Isles, who will play in Brooklyn next season, were in the playoffs, period. More than 30 years since their last Cup. Couple this with the early successes of the Mets and Yankees, and sports radio in NYC is off the charts.

We have to hand out a Dunce Cap to New Orleans coach Monty Williams for complaining about noise during a playoff game vs. Golden State. Unlike certain NFL teams, NBA teams don't need artificially enhanced crowd noise. Their arenas are a little more intimate in setting, and the acoustics work to the advantage of the home teams. Maybe he should use sign language and ear plugs.

Same goes for Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors. How this Dunce is still employed by the team after dropping some expletives during a team rally, in listening distance of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, for the 2nd year in a row, is beyond me. All that says to me is that Toronto isn't long for this year's playoffs.

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