Dreams Blog

February 28, 2014

Plan A
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) looked at what might be the next steps in the Anthony sweeps, “Anthony’s pay cut would have a greater impact in the summer of 2015. That summer, the Knicks are expected to be heavy players in free agency because the current deals for Bargnani, Stoudemire and Chandler come off the books.
If Anthony signs a max deal, his salary in the 2015-16 season will be $24,142,789, and the Knicks would have five players under contract at a total salary of $39,492,533. They’d also have a first-round pick.
This assumes that both J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton pick up their respective player options for 2015-16. It also assumes that the Knicks offer Iman Shumpert a qualifying offer, he accepts and the Knicks don’t pick up the team option on Pablo Prigioni’s contract.
If that’s the case, then Anthony’s pay cut would pay dividends in that summer. It would give the Knicks more flexibility to pursue max free agents such as Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo and should leave them with room to add other players on the market.
Anthony said that his “first priority” is to re-sign with the Knicks this summer, but he also made it clear he needs the Knicks to produce a clear plan that will lead to a title. He’s said several times that winning an NBA championship is his top priority.
So it’s on Mills and the rest of the Knicks front office to convince Anthony they can build a championship-caliber team around him.
If not?
“If that’s not the plan that they have, then we’ve got to talk about something else,” Anthony told reporters in New Orleans.”
Trade Deadline Dilema
Jonette Howard (ESPNNY.com) gave us her opinion of the Knicks’ inaction at the NBA trade deadline. “When you add up what this trade deadline has reminded us about the Knicks, it’s sobering. They didn’t have enough assets to trade for a player of significance even before Iman Shumpert — their trade bait version of Pau Gasol, a player often dangled but never shipped out — got hurt Wednesday night. They don’t have the draft picks to land a franchise player. They don’t have the salary-cap room to sign a big free agent right now. And there are no guarantees — just hope — Anthony will stay.
But hey, there’s always Summer 2015.
And the hubristic notion that everyone is dying to play in New York.
This sales job isn’t just a familiar storyline for the Knicks.
It’s gotten beyond old.
Bueno Banuelos
Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com wrote from Florida (how unfair is that?) about the recovery of Manny Banuelos from Tommy John surgery. “No matter what Banuelos does this spring, the Yankees should not take him on the Opening Day roster. They have thought about it a little.
“Banuelos has got that big arm,” a front office source told ESPNNewYork.com as part of our three-part series. “If it’s still there and the lightning still strikes then you’re going to see people say, ‘Bring him with us [on Opening Day].'”
The Yankees always have a win now attitude. If Banuelos is a better option than Cesar Cabral as a second lefty out of the pen after Matt Thornton, they may really talk about it. But they should not do it.
Banuelos has not pitched in games in nearly two years. He threw 24 innings in 2012, so he needs to put more mileage on his arm to make sure he is ready. He also needs to fine-tune his repertoire so he can be a more complete product when he gets to the majors. He has never dominated in the upper levels of the minors.
Even if Banuelos dominates at Triple-A, the Yankees should wait until around June and let him come up as a starter if he is ready to do that. Banuelos is a young pitcher the Yankees should nurture a little to see if they can maximize his potential.
The idea of rushing him early as a second lefty would only improve the Yankees slightly and could slow Banuelos’ development significantly. He has already lost enough time.
Banuelos sounds like a guy that is determined to make an impact. He is throwing at 93/94 right now, but hopes to let it rip soon to see if he can hit 96/97 again.
Ricketts Racket
The Sports Curmudgeon heard that Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said his Cubs were going to make the playoffs THIS YEAR and said, “I wonder how many more statements like that one before the MLBPA begins to demand random drug testing for club owners.”
Sandy Alderson
So, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that he could see the Mets winning 90 games this season. Yeah- right.
My Event
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) told me that I’d be a natural to compete in the Olympic style “Freestyle Chillin’ Out” event.
Early NFL Draft Talk
Ron Cook (Pgh. Post-Gazette) saw all of the Johnny Manziel ink and commented: “I look at Manziel and see another over publicized bust. Manziel already is Tebow’s equal in one sense. I’m completely and totally sick of him. Sick of his many immaturity issues, which appear to be following him to the NFL from Texas A&M. Sick of his endless self-promotion. Sick of him trying to talk his way into being the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans in the May 8 draft.”
The Sports Curmudgeon talked about the coaching woes experienced by the Detroit Lions. “There have been 15 coaches for the Lions since 1970 counting the current incumbent Jim Caldwell.
After each of the previous 14 coaches left the Lions (voluntarily or at the behest of management) not a single one of them ever was the head coach of an NFL team again. Not even for a single game.
In fact, the last head coach of the Lions who did get another head-coaching job in the NFL was Buddy Parker. He was the coach in Detroit from 1951 to 1956.”
In Closing
Scott Ostler (San Francisco Chronicle) said, “I always like to close with a joke: Russian judges.”


Dreams blog

February 21, 2014

And So It Continues
Ron Borges (Boston Globe) threw down the gauntlet: “All Red Sox fans owe Masahiro Tanaka a debt of gratitude. He just gave us another reason to hate the Yankees.
All Red Sox fans owe Masahiro Tanaka a debt of gratitude. He just gave us another reason to hate the Yankees. Asked about Tanaka’s arrival, Dice-K pointed out a significant difference between them and it was not that Tanaka was a remarkable 24-0 record — the most wins by a Japan League pitcher since 1979 — in his final season in Japan. It was that Dice-K flew to Boston on a plane chartered by the Red Sox. “I didn’t pay,” he told a group of Mets beat writers yesterday. But thank goodness for Tanaka, because it takes the edge off the announcement yesterday that Derek Jeter will retire after this season. What will we do with all those obscenity-laden T-shirts we’ve been wearing to Yankee games for the past 20 years when he leaves? To be frank, it’s actually hard to muster up much bile for Jeter. He is a wonderful player, a well-spoken guy who never says the wrong thing (including “I won’t move to third base for A-Rod”) and a tremendous competitor. Even when we holler at the guy, we can’t really hate him. Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, just made it easy.”
Yankees View Tanaka
Andrew Marchand (ESPNNY.com) gave us a quick view of Masahiro Tanaka. “Two days before the official start of the team’s spring training workouts, Tanaka breezed through a 25-pitch bullpen session to catcher Francisco Cervelli on Thursday at New York’s minor league complex.
“I could see his face. Looks like he wants to have fun,” Cervelli said.
Tanaka threw two- and four-seam fastballs, splitters and sliders. Cervelli estimated Tanaka threw at about 60 percent strength, and he said pitcher Ivan Nova and coaches were around for the session.
“The fastball travels so well. I think his mechanics are so smooth,” Cervelli said. “Japanese pitchers, they all got five, six pitches. So it’s fun just to be behind the plate and catch it.”
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year in 27 starts and one relief appearance, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title. Starting pitchers appear just once a week in Japan, so Tanaka will have to adjust to the major league schedule of starting every fifth day.
“You have to retrain the arm a little bit,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “I’m trying right now to moderate his schedule according to what he’s done in the past because he’s stayed healthy pretty much throughout his career.”
As Cervelli correctly pointed out, you can’t tell anything from a bullpen. Still, he is excited to see what’s ahead.
“When you see those kinds of numbers, that is ridiculous,” Cervelli said. “24-0, that is ridiculous. A 1-point something [ERA]? We know this is the big leagues. They all come and show what kind of pitcher they are. Every time we face [Yu] Darvish, it is hard to hit that guy. I think hitters say the same thing about [Hiroki] Kuroda. It is going to be fun. I hope he wins more than 20.”
The thing is, no one is going to know about Tanaka until about June. Spring training will let everyone examine what type of stuff he has, but not how it will play in the season.
By June, when he has 10 or more starts under his belt, we will have a better idea of what type of pitcher Tanaka might be. But we know one thing for sure already — he can draw a crowd.
What Was Expected
The “Suits” managing our speed skating team thought the team would be able to have longer practices by having those practices in the Italian Alps. Good thinking! Except, the games were held in Sochie- at sea level on the Black Sea. How did that work out? Not so hot! The post-race press conferences heard the racers say that their legs felt heavy and they weren’t able to muster the energy necessary for successful final kicks. This was the real cause of the poor showing- not faulty racing suits with back panels.
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) quoted Alex Kaselberg, on Russian figure skater, Evgeni Plushenko withdrawing with a back injury, “As he was coming off the ice, he tripped and fell on the carpet and, out of habit, the Russian judge gave him a perfect score.”
Oshie In Sochie
One thing that T.J. Oshie’s OT marksmanship proves over, and over, and over, and over again is that if a shooter takes his time and aims he can pick his spot and score a goal.
Clyde’s Glide
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) quoted Clyde Frazier on Melo’s return, “Melo’s a good businessman and when you put all of this together, no one can pay him as much as the Knicks. I don’t think it’s going to happen; I think he’s staying in New York. It makes financial sense for Anthony to remain in New York. With the Knicks, Anthony can sign a max contract of five years and $129 million. If he signs with another team, Anthony would ink a max contract of four years and $96 million.
Anthony said on Friday that he’d consider taking a pay cut to re-sign with the Knicks if it put the team in a better position to sign other free-agents.
He called re-signing with the Knicks is his “top priority.” But he also made it clear that he’d like to see the Knicks’ plan to build a championship contender around him before signing on the dotted line.
“At the end of the season, [that] is the time that everything has to be laid out on the table, from both parties,” he said, according to published reports. “If it’s something that we can grow with, we can build on, we can compete at the highest level, then we’re rolling.”
Send In The Worm
I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the lack of new clowns emerging. Well, Greg Cote (Miami Herald) said, “It was not for a lack of trying by Dennis Rodman.”

Dreams Blog

February 14, 2014

Random Winter Games Evidence
Greg Cote (Miami Herald) told us that, “The Winter Olympics are not as popular as the summer games, and I think it’s because too many winter sports have bizarre names. Here are a few I’m looking at and what they mean to me.
Curling (which involves a broom): Activity taking place in a women’s hair salon.
Slopestyle: Plastic surgeon jargon for a nose job technique.
Certain other events are not Winter Olympics sports yet but should be. These include synchronized ice fishing, yodeling, avalanche surfing, and rhythmic shivering.”
The Motto for the Olympics has been “Faster, Longer, Higher.” Does this sound like Team Ice Dancing belongs?
Advice To Woody
Ian Begley (ESPNNY.com) wrote about Jeff Van Gundy’s advice to Mike Woodson, “Van Gundy was asked on ESPN Radio’s “The Ian O’Connor Show” if he had any advice for Woodson.
His message was simple: ignore the outside noise.
“Just do your job and don’t feel the need to update the media on your feelings because it doesn’t matter,” Van Gundy said. “Just do your job. You know how to coach and you’ve done it very well there. I wouldn’t apologize to anyone if I was him because I think he’s handled himself very, very well in a difficult situation.”
The Knicks are 20-31 and in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Charlotte for the eighth seed. They’ve lost four of five, leading to another round of widespread speculation that Woodson’s job is in jeopardy.
Van Gundy called the constant speculation over Woodson’s job “very, very unfair.”
If Woodson is let go, the Knicks would likely consider a big-name coach such as Van Gundy or John Calipari, among others, to bring in over the summer.
Van Gundy has said that he has no interest in taking over a team in the middle of the season.
Knicks Bench
I think that Mike Woodson has done an outstanding job coaching the Knicks, give the tools (players) with which he’s had to work. Last season his coaching brought the team to heights that had been only hopes. This MUST be remembered and because there isn’t anyone out there who can do better than Woodson would do.
Possible New Knicks
The Klucks are still trying to trade Shumpert. He might be the only attractive player to a trade partner. Kenneth Faried’s name is coming up a lot. Faried is a 6-8, 225 power forward who shoots a little over 50% from the foul line (I don’t know where he’d fit in the rotation. Jordan Hamilton (6-7, 220 sm. Forward) might come with him in a salary equalization deal. I don’t think either one of these guys are an equal of Shumpert. But I’ve got to remember that it’s the Knicks making this deal and they haven’t had many successes in the market.
Sports Quiz
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) asked-
“Peyton Bender is:
a) A three-star QB who signed with Washington State
b)The no.1 reason that Broncos fans were unable to get to work on super-Monday.”
Last Look Back
Bob Molinaro (HamptonRoads.com) commented, “We get it now: Seattle had the better team; the younger, quicker, more aggressive athletes. Still, I don’t think enough has been said about what a poor job John Fox and his staff did getting Denver ready for the Super Bowl. Though it’s always simpler just to blame the quarterback.” Dog Show
Norman Chad compared the Westminster Dog Show to Woodstock; but without Wavy Gravey. The headline act was Hound, Setter, Beagle, and Hound (Arlo Corgi sang Alice’s Dog Treats). “The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a four-legged Woodstock; better yet, rather than a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s a once-a-year ritual. Dogs come from all over the world for the chance at canine fame and getting their mug on CNBC and USA Network. Once again, intrepid Siberian husky Chuchi’s Yuki kept an exclusive journal for Couch Slouch on his week in New York.” He even picked up a painting of dog owners playing poker.
Mea Culpa
Jack Finarelli (The Sports Curmudgeon) commented about the possibility of an apology by Alex Rodriguez. “There will be a mea culpa eventually once the image handlers have polished the text and have determined that the time is right to present “contrite A-Rod”. The problem they will face at that point is that “contrite A-Rod” makes “belligerent A-Rod” from the last six months look like an even bigger liar.”
The Just Go Away Club
While the Sports Curmudgeon was creating his A-Rant, it struck him that A-Rod and a few other folks need to be inducted into an elite fraternity about now. No, not the HOF but the Just Go Away Club. I would like to present my 6 charter members in this club. Readers may feel free to add others to this pantheon. But first, two ground rules: 1. I do not wish any harm to befall any of these folks. I just want them to go away and never bother me again. 2. Politicians and political pundits/commentators are not eligible for the club because there are far too many candidates of that ilk to list – let alone to consider for membership.” The SC list: Jon Gruden, Terrell Owens, Danica Patrick, Regis Philbin, Dennis Rodman, and of course the person who was responsible for the need of this list Alex Rodriguez.
From The Are You Kidding File
Rich Cimini (ESPNNY.com) told us that, “Ed Reed, who played last season for the Houston Texans and New York Jets, told police he withdrew $50,000 from one bank and drove to another bank, presumably to make another transaction.
The future Hall of Famer left the money on the passenger seat of his gray 2006 Audi, registered in Florida. When he returned to the car, the passenger window was smashed and the money was gone, according to the police report.
The incident occurred around 3 p.m. The police report said the cash was in a “bag,” although it was described as an “envelope” in another report, a police spokesperson said.
Police believe Reed was followed from one bank to the next. The report didn’t state why he was carrying such a large amount of cash. The investigation is ongoing.

Dreams Blog

February 7, 2014

The Sun Felt Good
I was happy to read about Derek Jeter taking batting practice. It was a session of 5 rounds totaling 39 pitches and he hit with authority to all fields.
The grass smelled sweet and wonderful but then I remembered I was still in icy NY.
How many of you, also, felt that safety was an omen of bad things to come for Denver on their first offensive play?
Gene Collier (Pgh. Post Gazette) gave us an unbiased look at the Super Bowl. “On the night “Omaha! Omaha!” got changed to “Oh my God! Oh My God!,” a typically furious flock of Seattle Seahawks plastered Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos with one of the most dominating defensive performances in Super Bowl history.
The so-called Legion of Boom, the defense that had more takeaways, more interceptions and the most dramatic turnover ratio of this entire NFL season, laughed off Denver’s record-breaking offense as though it couldn’t possibly be serious.
Your final from the first outdoor, not-so-cold-weather Super Bowl:
Immovable 43, Unstoppable 8. Even with their defense on the sideline, the Seahawks got an unexpected adrenaline boost from wide out Percy Harvin, who had been struggling with concussion issues. Harvin gave ’em 137 all-purpose yards, 45 on two end-around plays in the first, then 87 on the kickoff that started the second half, a backbreaker that made it 29-0.
‘We had bounce-right, counter-right, something we were calling for all week,’ Harvin said. ‘We knew it was a good chance. We’d put that on film all year so the guys did a heckuva job blocking. As soon as I caught it there was open field.’
Any chance Manning had of bringing his team back methodically vanished at that moment, and the Seahawks seemed to think all of last week that their moment was coming.”
Dan Daly wrote, “Can hardly wait for the Super Bowl to be over so we can begin the Countdown to Curling.”
Dwight Perry (Seattle Times) quoted Craig Ferguson saying, “Well done, Seattle, I think they needed this to cement their reputation. Before last night, the meanest guy from Seattle was Frasier.”
Two Words: Keep Carmelo
Ohm Youngmisuk (ESPNNY.com) quoted Michael Wilbon’s position that the Bulls should take a run at Carmelo Anthony and add a few of his own thoughts, with which I agree. “There are scouts in the NBA who believe Anthony will be the same player going forward he’s been the past 11 years, which is to say a professional scorer who has never been committed to defense or the nuances of being a great teammate, which just happen to be the obsessions of the coach Anthony would be playing for in Chicago. But there are others who believe that while the above assessment is undeniable, the Bulls are in desperate need of what Anthony still does as well as anybody in the NBA not named Kevin Durant: score.
My take? The very reasons Wilbon argues the Bulls should go after Melo are the very reasons the Knicks should hold on tight. As Wilbon says, big stars win in the NBA. You can argue all you want about whether Melo is a “superstar.” But any perennial All-Star who can win a scoring title against the likes of Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James is the kind of legitimate star that doesn’t come around often. Melo might not make others around him better the way Michael Jordan did. That’s fine. There have been only a handful of stars like that over the past couple of decades. The Knicks have to understand what Melo is and find a way to put the right pieces around him. He needs a better point guard, a consistent second scorer and an inside presence. Sure, acquiring the right pieces while signing Anthony to a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years will be difficult. But trading Anthony and starting over with draft picks is a risky proposition. Drafting prospects today is the furthest thing from a sure thing. And the Knicks don’t exactly have the best track record in that department. Besides, is there a team willing to give up high-round picks in this upcoming, tantalizing draft?
I’ll take my chances with a guy I know can score 62 on any given night and electrify the Garden like no other Knick has since Bernard King.
The Sports Curmudgeon gave us a warning that the NCAA’s existence might be in danger. “Chaos Theory is a branch of mathematics that considers how the initial conditions of a situation and minute variations in those initial conditions might have immense consequences on the outcome of that situation. The most common example given is that the flap of a butterfly’s wing at just the right moment could lead to the formation of a hurricane hundreds of miles away. I am not going to devote any more time to the math or the physics of such a conjecture but I believe that we may have seen the flap of a butterfly wing yesterday in the sports world.
Athletes at Northwestern University announced their intention to form a union. As is to be expected, the NCAA stands opposed to that idea. Everyone should stand ready to take on a barrage of rhetoric with regard to the righteousness or the iniquity of this idea. I am not prepared to “take sides” on this yet because I have no idea how the positions of each side of this argument will evolve over time. I will choose to reserve judgment to provide a more informed argument at a later date.
If – I said IF – in the end, a union to represent college athletes comes into existence; the NCAA as it exists today will go extinct. The announcement by Northwestern athletes in Evanston, Illinois yesterday was a small time event; it might have a huge effect on an institution in Indianapolis, Indiana about 200 miles away. Chaos Theory at work…”
Marcus Browne
Browne (9-0,7 KO) won his latest light-heavyweight 6 round match in a unanimous decision with 3 scores of 60-54. He IS the real deal whose progress is being closely watched.