Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1 Preview

A little late, but better late than never. I talked about this on my show on BlogTalkRadio, but here is my preview for Week 1 of the NFL.

Week 1 Picks
(spreads courtesy of Sporting News Today -

Local Picks
* Philadelphia is the road favorite (1) at Carolina: CAR (win and cover)
* N.Y. Giants is the favorite (6.5) at home against Washington: NYG (win and cover)
* N.Y. Jets is a road dog (4.5) at Houston: NYJ (win and cover)
* New England favored by 10.5 points at home against Buffalo (Monday): NE (win), BUF (cover)

Big-Game Picks
* Tennessee-Pittsburgh (Thursday) (PIT -5): PIT (win and cover)
* Chicago-Green Bay (GBY -3.5): GBY (win), CHI (cover)
* Miami-Atlanta (ATL -4): MIA (win and cover)

Knockout Pool Pick - Round 1
Saints (over Lions, Saints are -13)

Game of the Week: Tennessee-Pittsburgh (Thursday)
Right off the bat, the best game of the week is the first game of the week. It will be on NBC on Thursday night. Great running backs seem to do well historically against Pittsburgh, but I am still going with Pittsburgh since they are at home and their defense is better overall.

Picking the Winners
Tennessee at Pittsburgh (Thursday): Pittsburgh
Miami at Atlanta: Atlanta
Kansas City at Baltimore: Baltimore
Philadelphia at Carolina: Philadelphia
Minnesota at Cleveland: Minnesota
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Indianapolis
Dallas at Tampa Bay: Dallas
Detroit at New Orleans: New Orleans
N.Y. Jets at Houston: N.Y. Jets
Denver at Cincinnati: Cincinnati
San Francisco at Arizona: Arizona
Washington at N.Y. Giants: N.Y. Giants
St. Louis at Seattle: Seattle
Chicago at Green Bay (Sunday night): Green Bay
Buffalo at New England (Monday night): New England
San Diego at Oakland (Monday night): San Diego

Picking with the Spread
Minnesota (-3.5): 14 confidence points
Indianapolis (-7): 11 c-pts
Dallas (-6): 10 c-pts
New England (-10.5): 8 c-pts
Arizona (-6): 7 c-pts
N.Y. Jets (+4.5): 6 c-pts
Green Bay (-3.5): 5 c-pts
N.Y. Giants (-6.5): 4 c-pts
Miami (+4): 2 c-pts

Fantasy Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em
Start 'Em:
* Anthony Gonzalez/Pierre Garcon (IND vs. JAX) - Jacksonville has trouble in their secondary
* Reggie Bush (NO vs. DET) - Pierre Thomas will not be 100%
* Eddie Royal (DEN vs. CIN) - Brandon Marshall is not a happy camper

Sit 'Em:
* Mark Bradley/Bobby Engram (KCY vs. BAL) - Kansas City will throw, but Baltimore will shut them down
* Jamal Lewis (CLE vs. MIN) - His big-game ability is long gone and the Vikings defense is excellent
* Laurence Maroney/Fred Taylor (NE vs. BUF) - Brady will throw the ball all over the place in his return

We will analyze these picks on our next show (#24), as well as offer a recap on Week 1 action so far, this Sunday, September 13th, from 8-9pm. Join us live on

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Long Island Hold 'Em

If you are familiar with Texas Hold 'Em Poker, maybe you can help me with my analogy. Let's pretend the Islanders and the Town of Hempstead are engaged in a game of high-stakes poker because, well, they are. Let's call it: Long Island Hold 'Em. Sitting across the felt table from each other, looking at each other and sizing their opponent up. Just to make help you visualize this a little better, the Islanders are wearing a helmet at the table and the Town of Hempstead has donned a cowboy hat.

The Islanders have been losing for most of the game, but they are starting to gain some chips. They aren't quite what they were in earlier hands, as they had built quite a bankroll, but it was more than what they came to the party with. The Town of Hempstead quickly built up their winnings and burrowed it away. But, for as long as anyone can remember in this tournament, whatever they have won over the past hands has been squandered.

This hand will represent a sea change in the match. The winner here has to be able to outlast the other, perhaps call its enemy's bluff. If you followed this analogy so far, September 22nd is the last card to drop (the "river") and October 3rd is the call. The Islanders are going to call no matter what. Most people know they already have three of a kind and the river might give them a full house. No one knows what the Town of Hempstead is holding except the Town of Hempstead. The ToH thinks it has a lot to gain on the river, but it cannot help the ToH as much as it could help the Islanders.

We know the Islanders are all-in. The Islanders would gain more chips in the court of public opinion if the Town of Hempstead folds. If the ToH antes up and moves all of its chips to the middle of the table, it will be time for the Islanders to put up or shut up.

But, here's the dirty little secret: as long as the Islanders stay east of Manhattan, they can't lose.

That's why they are all-in and would call even if they had a pair of eights. The Town of Hempstead thinks they are negotiating with the Isles and making sure they put their money where their mouths are. An honorable request to protect its constituents. But, it would have made more sense to bring this up months ago or, at the very latest, very soon after the public hearing in August. Guess what? The Islanders do not have to. They can accuse the Town of Hempstead of stalling, a very believable accusation, and bide their time until October 3rd, when they would look like scorned lovers jilted at the altar and open their phone lines for outside the 516 area code.

The Town of Hempstead sent this letter to be sure if anything changes from what has been promised, the Town and its residents are not left in the cold. What does that mean? It means what everything else means in politics: money. If anything changes, the Town wants some skin in the game so it can get some of the money changing hands. Change the developer on the property after the shovel is in the ground? Not unless we get some money. We want all of the tax dollars you say we are going to get if this goes through. No problem, but, in Kate Murray's letter to the residents of the Town of Hempstead (thanks,, this was brought up now because the Town has only had eight-plus months to look at this and these provisions are part of any agreement. Why wait until month nine of this process when you know month ten means the asking price will go up? The only reason I can think of is because of pride. The Town, specifically Kate Murray, wants to set the timetable. The Town wants this to happen on their terms, not the County, and especially not a real estate developer and a sports team owner.

I have repeatedly heard this is moving fast compared to "business as usual" in the Town of Hempstead. Perhaps that is the problem. Also, this is hardly a usual situation. It represents the possible endangerment of the only major-league franchise in either Nassau or Suffolk Counties. It means jobs and fans spending money to ancillary businesses around the Nassau Coliseum would be gone, along with all of those tax dollars. If the Town of Hempstead loses the card game, it will have an empty arena with a barren parking lot around it, which is far worse than the status quo. Nothing could replace that revenue for many years, if not longer.

On October 3rd, the Islanders will surely call and most likely will take their chips and play in a higher-stakes game, a game that will be too rich for the Town of Hempstead. The Town could have made this happen before the final call and could have participated in that high-stakes game if the Town did not squander its chips over the years.


As an Islander fan who lives west of Manhattan in New Jersey, a move to Willets Point in Queens makes too much sense. Better infrastructure, (possibly) less politics, and a shorter trip would be something I would sign up for now. For the few thousand fans who drive west to the Coliseum from Eastern Long Island, their trip would be 20-30 minutes longer. The team would be more accessible for Bridgeport Sound Tiger supporters to see their babies play with the big boys.

Though I never lived on Long Island, I spent a lot of weekends there over the years visiting my mother's family and loved the Island. I still do. Most of the family has moved away and, outside of the Islanders, I do not have much of a reason drive past Citi Field. At the start of this latest push to keep the Islanders at the Coliseum, my vote was to keep them in Uniondale. But, my distaste for the constant politicking and blaming that has gone on since the hockey season ended, as well as the shiny new baseball stadium in Shea Stadium's old parking lot has changed my opinion. My vote now is to move the team to Queens.

Queens has made statements to the media that they would welcome them with open arms. Brooklyn's proposed Barclays Center does not seem to be moving in the right direction and may never happen. Queens might be the eventual destination for the Nets, too. Better for the Islanders to get on the ground floor and build the arena primarily with hockey in mind instead of basketball. A beautiful new stadium would not be an inconvenience for fans like a Coliseum would be under re-construction. Plus, with the Mets in town April-October, it would make Flushing a year-round destination.

The time may have come for Nassau County to be the bedroom community the Town of Hempstead and the Village of Garden City seems to wish for. Before the Town pushes all of its chips to the table, it should be careful what it wishes for, because it has a lot more to lose than the Islanders do.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There's a Light...Over at the Frankenstein Place

The naming of David Ortiz to the list of offenders of 2003's Major League Baseball survey testing for steroids shined a brand-new light on the performance enhancing drug controversy. He was not the first to be named, as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez have been reported by The New York Times to be on the list. In all, there are 104 names on the list and, with 30 teams, that makes an average of 3 players per team. Major League Baseball wanted to get a handle on how rampant the problem was, and the Mitchell Report found the 2003 "hit rate" was about 7.94%, or 104 of the 1310 players that appeared in a game in 2003 (643 hitters, 667 pitchers).

My guess is that every "big-market" team or team that was trying to contend in 2003 probably has more than average. Why? Two reasons are clear as to why players take PEDs: to get to the Show and to stay in the Show. The prospects and players hanging on who felt they had to get to the big leagues through questionable means probably amount to about the same for every franchise. Every farm system has those players trying to do whatever it takes to make the majors. But, big-money veterans are more likely to command big money and the teams in contention want the veteran presence on their ball club and are willing to pay handsomely for those services. So, how many juiced players did the teams in contention average? 4? 5?

One of the great "side effects" for players and an allure for PEDs is the thought of another big free agent payday. When age starts eroding their talents, get another payday by staying in the Show for a few more years. When free agency was still shiny and new, you had two big paydays: one in your late 20's and one in your early 30's. Now, you have three, and don't think that is by accident, as players in the mid-to-late 30s scored big when they peddled their services around the league.

Whether your team is a "big-market" team or not, it is all just speculation anyway. Right now, the whole PED drama is more about the trash talk if you root for one of those teams. If you root for the Red Sox before Thursday, you trash-talked the Yankees and their fans. You laughed about how their fan base was duped and how their numbers are inflated or you would be angry at the shot they cost your team from making the playoffs or winning it all. Their records and titles are tainted, you would say. You could say the same if you root for the Mets now. You could call out the teams and the fans who root for them. But, we all know that it is a matter of time before a big name who played for the Mets in 2003 is "outed". You know what they say about people in glass houses?

If a player you loved has not already been tied to "the list" or failed a test since 2003, just wait. Just about every baseball fan out there has a jersey or a poster or a piece of paraphernalia that touts a player who has or will be tied to performance enhancing drugs. The Ortiz situation has helped me arrive at a (possibly convenient) conclusion. Red Sox fans will most likely offer David Ortiz a pass, not because he may not be guilty, but because they cannot possibly fathom disliking him. We all have players we love and we may hold him up higher than we should. But, what is more important: a clean game or a beloved player? The answer is always "a clean game" until you hear a player you love is on "the list".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ricciardi: Crazy...Like A Fox

Only 48 hours remain before the Trading Deadline, and one day has already passed since Blue Jay GM J.P. Ricciardi's self-imposed deadline, and Roy Halladay is still in Toronto. In fact, he is slated to pitch tonight (Wednesday). Ricciardi flew open the flood gates and proclaimed that Halladay was available. Now, the pundits are saying he misread the market badly and stands to have the whole thing blow up in his face.

I am going to take the other position because, well, somebody has to.

Ricciardi knew Halladay is going to be out of Toronto after 2010 and the team will not be in a greatly different situation at this time next year. So, before he is perceived as a "rental", he knew he wanted to deal Halladay by this year's Trading Deadline on Friday in order to maximize his return. After all, 45 starts are better than 12. When Ricciardi declared that all phone lines were open and operators were standing by, the proposals came in. Ricciardi counter-proposed and asked for the moon. With so many suitors, demand greatly outweighed supply.

Kudos to Mark Shapiro, Cleveland GM, who sensed an opportunity and swooped in to unload Cliff Lee to one of those suitors, bagging four prospects in return. However, the main chips in the rumored wish list from Toronto is still intact with the Phillies. Ricciardi might come down from his initial wishes because Shapiro increased the supply, however briefly. But, Ricciardi is still well in line with bringing back more than if he enlisted a closed-bidding process for Doc's services.

Perhaps the Phillies are no longer in the Halladay Sweepstakes, though they might be able to get him for slightly less than rumored earlier (Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, Dominic Brown). But, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, and Angels are all interested and there is plenty of suitors to coax Ricciardi to give Halladay up. The Blue Jays will turn out better for this, maybe not short-term, but for 2011. Blue Jay fans are upset because the team crashed and burned after a hot start and Ricciardi has basically written off the 2010 campaign. But, Ricciardi's intent all along was maximizing his return for a player that would walk after 2010 anyway.

And, for that, Ricciardi can still get the job done with a fluorish.

Bern, Baby, Bern

Finally. Mets GM Omar Minaya had a busy weekend and, in the end, he came to the conclusion that the rest of the Mets constituents already knew in their heart: Tony Bernazard was a stain on the Mets franchise that had to be removed immediately.

Minaya's credibility and his relationships -- both with the media and ownership -- took a hit this week. He has always been a good baseball man, but then again, so was Bernazard. Minaya has made some good moves and he has left the organization woefully thin in other areas.

The clock is ticking for Minaya to get on the ball here or he might be gone before his extension kicks in next year. If he can pull off a deal to help the Mets now and in the future before the deadline, especially under all of this duress, most of it caused by himself, that will be a feather in his cap and the first step on a long road back to personal respectability.

But, let's shine the microscope on the whistleblower for a second: Adam Rubin. Rubin is a product of the New York Media and helps perpetuate the stereotype. If he is not tough on the Mets when he has to be, no one will read him and readers will choose from several other reporters who is willing to "tell it like it is". And, that is all Rubin did here.

This is not an indictment on Mets beat reporters or print media versus visual media. The indictment is all around us. The Media would rather be negative than positive because it sells more papers. "If it bleeds, it leads", remember?

In New York, just as in any city, the Media is the product of its readers. New Yorkers are tough, gruff, and they don't take any guff. They expect nothing else from their reporters. Anything less would make Rubin irrelevant.

Since the incident at the Monday press conference, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, the future heir to the majority ownership stake in the Mets franchise, has spoken to quell the pen-wielding Dobermans and has also reached out to Rubin in an effort to mend fences. The New York Daily News has stated Rubin will continue to be the reporter on the Mets beat, but probably after a nice long vacation and at least a few of those aforementioned fences are mended.

Now, the clock is ticking for Minaya to get back to his job. His future, and the future of the Mets, are in the balance. Never mind how the franchise is perceived in the papers. If the reporters affected the standings, the Mets would be dead last, a mile away from the steps leading out of the cellar. But, Minaya can bail out ownership and salvage what he can from this situation by making the right move in the next couple of days.

The Mets might not be "buyers" or "sellers" this week, but Minaya is always looking for a move to improve the team now and in the future. He did this with the acquisition of Jeff Francoeur. He can do it again and the Mets players can continue to do their job by climbing back into relevance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When did ESPN jump the shark?

When ESPN started in 1979, it was a nobody, in the middle of nowhere, with a crazy idea. Now, they are the "Worldwide Leader in Sports", a monolith, owned by a major network (ABC), and, by extension, a major corporation (Disney). The term "selling out" might be a good description, but it is so much more than that.

As I talked about this in the waning moments of last week's show (#16), ESPN has fallen far. In this new frontier of the sports blogosphere, 24/7 updates to many sports websites, and league-owned cable networks, ESPN is not as necessary as they used to be.

The days of "The Big Show", "NHL2nite", and the halcyon days of "Baseball Tonight" are all in the rear-view mirror. Favoritism towards some teams, so centered on the Yankees at the beginning of the decade, I used to playfully call the network ESPNY. They also have showed favoritism to Boston in recent years, too. ESPN has become best buddies with the athletes and management they cover, getting athletes and other sports figures to do the "ESPN car wash" of "Mike & Mike in the Morning", "ESPN FirstTake", "Pardon the Interruption", and other TV and radio shows.

Then, there are the dreaded ESPYs. Awarding athletes to honor and spotlight the best in sports is okay, but turning the event into a red-carpet event, with the network and its reporters rubbing elbows with them shows a compromise of integrity and good reporting.

The whole situation this week with ESPN's treatment, or lack thereof, of the accusation of Ben Roethlisberger in a Lake Tahoe hotel and casino is an interesting study of how ESPN handles its bedfellows. The handling of the situation by ESPN has become the much bigger story here. I mean, the picture of Big Ben in the article on the site even has an ESPY logo in the background! Roethlisberger is also participating in an episode of a new reality show, called "Shaq Vs." with Shaquille O'Neal on ABC, which owns ESPN, on August 8th. Also, ESPN may want to tread lightly on this issue that involves the face of the defending Super Bowl Champions considering ESPN's wedded relationship to the NFL and its Monday Night Football television package.

This all got me to thinking...when did ESPN "jump the shark"?
* Was it when Keith Olbermann left, effectively ending the SportsCenter portion of "The Big Show" and leading to countless pretenders to jump in the anchor's seat and try to yell and catch-phrase their way to super-stardom? Word was that Olbermann had an ego the size of Rhode Island, but you have to agree when Dan Patrick-Keith Olbermann tag-teamed, it was "must-watch TV".
* Was it hiring Rush Limbaugh to join the cast on "NFL Countdown"? That was a dud if there ever was one. It started poorly and went downhill from there, climaxing in a racial comment on Donovan McNabb's abilities at quarterback.
* Was it introducing the ESPYs? They now have red-carpet reporting to greet the athletes and their guests waving and smiling as they enter the event.
* Was it the 25th Anniversary cross-promotion and endless chest-thumping and retrospectives? If I see Chris Berman on the sidelines of a 49er comeback victory in the early '80s one more time, I am asking my wife to put a parental block on ESPN and not tell me the combination to unlock it.
* Was it the pre-eminence of the "sport" of poker in prime-time? ESPN has aired fringe sports since its beginnings, but that was when they did not have money or access to get the big boys on their air. They can, but they still choose to air this stuff.
* Was it the corporate synergy of "ESPN Radio", "ESPN The Magazine", ESPNZone restaurants, "ESPN on ABC"? I thought "ESPN 8: The Ocho" was a joke, but I think it really is an idea about 10 years too soon for the ESPN execs.
* Was it the rise and subsequent downfall of Fox Sports Net? FSN forced ESPN to up the ante and dumb-down its content to appeal to the masses instead of staying the course and forcing everyone else to wise up. It came and went, leaving ESPN's better days in its wake.
* Was it the ill-fated attempt at a Barry Bonds reality show? I think that is when I consciously stopped watching.

I have greatly lost interest in ESPN, mainly because of the myriad other options available to the sports fan. The funny thing is: if ESPN was not so good at what it did in its infancy and its adolescence, perhaps we would not have the options we have today.

ESPN has pulled together programming from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and most recently, the National Basketball Association and every single Grand Slam in Tennis. Now, each sport has its own channel to dedicate programming and access to it.

ESPN Radio has formed a network across the country, simulcasting its morning show and making its hosts and contributors into celebrities. They were late to the sports radio boom, but with its sheer reach, access, and dollars, some of the smaller fish might be blown out of the water. But, satellite radio is a "big fish" answer to ESPN. Fox Sports Radio, league-run stations, as well as Sirius XM's own sports stations, are great alternatives.

The time will come where it will either cost ESPN an exorbitant amount of money to keep broadcasting major sports on its air or the leagues could air more of their own original content. For instance, when the MLB television contract with ESPN and FOX is up, MLB can charge an obscene amount of money for those networks to keep a MLB presence or else MLB Network could take a much larger position in its own product.

The monster that ESPN played a large part in creating may end up consuming them. They have made tremendous strides in covering sports, but, along with that, they have created personalities that think they are larger than the sports they cover and they have become just about unwatchable. ESPN has also helped further the new-world athlete personality by boiling down a game into a 40-second set of slam-dunks and home runs and coddling those athletes to stay on their good sides.

ESPN can still save themselves and perform a service to the sports fan, getting back into their good graces without turning them off with cross-promotion, over-promotion, and bombastic chest-thumping. They can halt the impeding exodus that indirectly points fans to get their information from the ever-growing list of alternatives.

How about showing highlights of every major sporting event, every day. You know, like in the old days? Enough with the commentary from your "experts" or puff pieces during the show.

How about retaining the right people and employing capable people to carry the SportsCenter torch? I have missed the Dan Patricks and Keith Olbermanns and Bob Leys from doing SportsCenter on a regular basis. If they soured on the product, there had to be a reason.

Nothing will happen until it has to. But, the time ESPN will have to do something may be sooner than you think.

Next show: Sunday night (7/26) at 8pm ET on

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Biron Means to the Islanders

First, required reading from about the Martin Biron signing and his latest take on the Rick DiPietro situation, a situation he had pegged from the start.

Martin Biron was the goalie I wished the Islanders would target out of the gate. While I was not really upset about Dwayne Roloson (he did play 63 games last year as a 39-year-old), Biron gives the Islanders a goalie tandem that could be our best goalie tandem since Glenn Healy and Mark Fitzpatrick. DiPietro can take his time and get better for good, if that is even possible at this point.

A couple of interesting notes after seeing the news breaking on Twitter and reading about this yesterday afternoon:
1. Biron and Roloson both have the same agent, Mark Witkin. The Roloson move made sense for Roloson, but, if you're Biron, are you wondering what your agent is thinking? Or is the market that dry for goaltending help? The only other potential "impact" goalie to move this offseason was Edmonton bringing in Khabibulin to replace Roloson.

2. Did Snow and Gordon make this move to make absolutely sure that DP does not come back too soon? I know the doctors and coaching staff will say one thing, but I can see DiPietro acting like a petulant teenager when he gets close to being game-ready. This way, DiPietro cannot persuade anyone and does not have to because the Islanders have major-league quality depth at the most important position in hockey.

Though the Biron deal fell into the Islanders' laps, they are also showing they are planning for more than a 12th- or 13th-place finish this year. What else do you think GM Garth Snow has up his sleeve? Alex Tanguay? A trade for Jonathan Cheechoo to help the Sharks clear out cap room? Sign Phil Kessel to an offer sheet? I've heard all of these are possible from my Twitter friends. I don't think the Islanders are done yet and they need more scoring and more grit. Grit is something that will be cheaper much closer to the season. But, scoring doesn't grow on trees.

Now, how does Islanders Country feel about the franchise goaltender? Personally, I have always liked DiPietro. I have always wanted to see him succeed and still believe he could be one of the top five goaltenders in the league for a long time. But, knowing that he put himself in front of the team by trying to play when he shouldn't put the team at a big disadvantage both before the season (no goaltending depth in the organization, thinking DP would be fine) and early in the season (DP was on the bench, but was really injured and could not play) was a bad move. It was almost as bad for the front office to believe him.

When the team got off to a rough start, the fingers were justifiably pointed at the most important position in hockey: goaltending. Yes, Joey MacDonald had a good November, but eventually, everything caught up with him. Sure, Yann Danis had some nice starts along the way, but December and January killed any chances the Islanders had of a good season.

But, look at the other side of the coin. If the Islanders had capable goaltending when DiPietro went down, maybe the Islanders are not one of the worst teams in the league, do not win the Draft Lottery, and do not select John Tavares for a franchise rebirth. Also, the organization may not have reacted this same way this offseason with respect to signing and drafting goaltenders to both fill out the Opening Night roster and replenish the farm system. If DiPietro put the team first, goaltending might actually be more of a question mark right now.

I had very low expectations for the Islanders coming into last season and I was hoping the kids learned. I said early in the year that I would be more upset with a 7-2 loss in March than I was in October (the Columbus Day game against Buffalo was bad, but I hoped we learned from it). That did not happen and they came in even lower than I expected. But, last season was a big sacrifice for everyone: players, coaches, front office, ownership, and, most of all, fans.

This year, a lot of that "learning" has to pay off. It already has in the front office, who will not be fooled again by listening to the franchise goaltender. No matter what other signings or trades the Isles make between now and October 3rd, when the season starts, guys like Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim, and (gulp) Jeff Tambellini have to learn from all of this and come out the other side much better for it. Otherwise, it'll be another long season.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Islanders Slash Radio Crew

News broke late last night about the decision by the Islanders to simulcast their television broadcasts on the radio next season. This means that the television announcing tandem of Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe will also be available on the radio.

For those of you who may not follow the day-to-day machinations of the Islanders, the radio "network" consisted of one station and that station was based in Smithtown, Long Island. Great for fans east of the Coliseum, but for those towards the city, or (gasp!), across the East River or Hudson River, fans there, including myself, is out of luck. Even for those further out on Long Island, the station (94.3 FM) does not have a long reach and conflicted with a station in the Bronx. So, on my way home from games, I could not listen to the post-game more than 15 minutes outside of the Coliseum on the Cross Island Parkway in Queens.

I am not sure if the FM station will air the broadcasts or if they will move elsewhere, but, after this move, knowing the indifference the Islanders organization towards the radio presentation of their team, I would expect them to move high up on the AM dial. The big hit will be for NHL GameCenter patrons and the games that are carried on Sirius XM for the satellite-listening public.

Here is the comprehensive post on the news by Greg Logan of Newsday:

Here is my reaction, which was posted as a Comment to Chris Botta's post on the story:

Both Steve Mears and Chris King were enjoyable listens. Unfortunately, I only got to listen to a little of their broadcast on game days because of the lack of range of their station (Cross Island Pkwy and in). Hockey radio play-by-play is one of the toughest things to do in sports broadcasting and he handled it with aplomb.

Mears got a great opportunity with the Islanders, considering his age, and he is ahead of the curve for broadcasters of his age and experience. He'll land on his feet quickly. I think Mears is a Pittsburgh guy, so it would be nice if he could land with the defending Cup champs.

As for Chris King, I identify a lot with him, as he was an everyman (computer engineer) who became a broadcaster. It gave me hope to one day make the jump from computers to broadcasting. King is a Long Island original, which makes this especially hard to take, and was with the Islanders since the dark days. He does not deserve this.

I also think Howie Rose is one of the best in the business and I like Billy Jaffe's analysis. But, as it has been said in this thread, radio broadcasting and TV broadcasting are two different things. You are appealing to a different audience with a different setup. Talking on picture would hurt the radio audience, just as over-analyzing the action on the ice would be superfluous on TV.

The Islanders TV and radio broadcasts have been a bright light in a difficult few years for the franchise. The New York area has been blessed with top-notch announcers for most of their teams. Cutting the original coverage in half hurts the fans, the brand, and, most importantly, the franchise.

In a time of shrinking media and shrinking travel budgets for traveling media, the Islanders should be on the offensive and provide more and varied coverage, as their team will quickly become worth watching (and listening to) again.

What's next? Stopping Newsday from having Greg Logan travel with the team?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Canada Day!

This is my latest entry from my BlogTalkRadio show page. I have been updating that blog much more than this one lately, but, not to worry, I will be updating this one over the next week, "in my spare time", to include the blogs from the past couple of months. Here is today's blog and Happy Hockey Christmas 2009!


An annual rite of summer, the free agency period is about to begin at noon ET today. It is also Canada Day, so Canadians have the good fortune to have a holiday from work. For us in the States, we have to be a little more discreet about our hockey fanaticism today.

It is a travel day for me, so I am trying to leave after the craziness begins, but early enough to catch the last couple of hours of TSN coverage, which will run from 2-6pm ET on NHL Network in the US. My recommendation is to tune in to NHL Live! on, if you are not by a television, or the NHL Network for the simulcast, if you are by a TV.

We will chat about the free agent frenzy at 7pm on Sports With The StatMan (#14), so please tune in for a recap of what has gone on so far and what may happen in the next few days.

As I said on the show last week (#13), the free agency signing period may be slower than the past few years, as the salary cap has had a few years to sink in and teams are not as willing to jump into the deep end of the pool.

For some light reading before noon ET, when the doors to the candy store open, I would recommend joining the Twitter revolution (I just did last week). I am "gstatman" and I have compiled a good group of people to latch onto for the latest information, including Darren Dreger of TSN, Kevin Allen of USA Today, Sean Leahy, better known as the Puck Daddy, Craig Custance of the Sporting News, and, of course, the rumor mill of them all, Eklund from Following the festivities this way add a whole new dimension, trust me. Also, websites like (thanks, NHL Free Agent Tracker) and to see what the cap hit is for every player in the NHL, including new ones as they are signed, and how much cap space is left for teams.

As we delve into free agency, here are the cap numbers for the local teams in the Northeast Corridor, according to Remember, the salary cap is at $56.8 million:

* Boston - $7.865M cap space, 15 players signed (ranks 24th in cap space)
* New York Islanders - $25.765M cap space, 17 players signed (ranks 4th in cap space)
* New York Rangers - $25.336M cap space, 9 players signed (ranks 5th in cap space)
* New Jersey - $13.367M cap space, 15 players signed (ranks 18th in cap space)
* Philadelphia - $4.249M cap space, 18 players signed (ranks 30th -- dead last -- in cap space)
* Washington - $12.520M cap space, 14 players signed (ranks 20th in cap space)

This will help define the shopping list, but do not rule out the possibility of trades on the first day of free agency to clear out cap space. The Rangers did this by dealing Scott Gomez on a seemingly unsuspecting Montreal Canadiens, acquiring the moderately-priced Long Island-native Chris Higgins, who represents the type of finishers the Rangers desperately need. It was a win-win for the Rangers, getting rid of a lot of salary for a guy who can score goals. The extra room will be put to use today, as they will either make a deal for Dany Heatley (if he does not go to the Oilers) or get themselves an impact player via trade (Lecavalier?) or free agency (Sedins?).

Basketball has had a salary cap for a lot longer than the NHL, so you can look to what they do this time of year. Sign-and-trades are in vogue in the NBA and the NHL will undoubtedly follow suit in the near future as NHL GMs continue to acclimate themselves to a salary cap world.

Personally, I am leaving milk and cookies for Garth Snow -- the second time in a week I have done so -- with a note for my Hockey Christmas list. Last Friday, my draft list was answered, and John Tavares became an Islander. Today, my list contains a 1A goaltender, a tough forward to ride shotgun with Tavares, and a responsible signing that provides another spark to the franchise while being young enough to be considered part of the "core". Let's see if Santa Snow can come through again.

Next show: Tonight (July 1st) at 7pm ET right here at

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Semifinal Predictions

The Conference Quarters, better known as the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are over. I was right on 6 of my 8 picks, missing out on Anaheim surpassing San Jose and the much ballyhooed miss of Chicago surviving against Calgary. If you forgot that I picked Calgary, just ask Heather or listen to my radio show.

#1 Boston def. #8 Montreal in 4 games (I picked Bruins in 6)
#2 Washington def. #7 N.Y. Rangers in 7 games (Yes, Caps in 7...we have a BINGO!)
#6 Carolina def. #3 New Jersey in 7 games (I did not want to be right on this one...I had Carolina in 6)
#4 Pittsburgh def. #5 Philadelphia in 6 games (I thought Crosby & Co. would win in 5)

#8 Anaheim def. #1 San Jose in 6 games (on the one hand, I'm upset I picked wrong, but, on the bright side, the Islanders earn the 26th overall pick (San Jose's pick) in the 2009 Draft in June)
#2 Detroit def. #7 Columbus in 4 games (Columbus, just happy to be here)
#3 Vancouver def. #6 St. Louis in 4 games (St. Louis, ibid.)
#4 Chicago def. #5 Calgary in, gulp, 6 games (I picked the right amount of games, wrong team...Toews looks at me disapprovingly as he helped carry me to the fantasy hockey league title a couple of weeks ago)

Well, now, it's on to the Second Round. Heather and I submitted our picks in a secret ballot. She listed them on her latest blog entry, but here are mine:

#1 Boston vs. #6 Carolina >>> BOSTON IN SIX
The fight for the championship of the old Adams Division and you can hear Brass Bonanza blaring out at the Mall in Hartford. I know the 'Canes have a Cup to their credit, but, for this series, I think I will call them the Whalers, just for old time's sake. Bruins beat Frank Pietrangelo, Kay Whitmore, Kevin Dineen, Geoff Sanderson, Zarley Zalapski, and Kelly Chase in six games. As the refs said in Slap Shot when the Hansons got into a full-scale brawl in the pre-game skate, the Bruins have "too much, too soon" for the Whalers.

#2 Washington vs. #4 Pittsburgh >>> WASHINGTON IN SEVEN
The old Patrick Division will be decided by the two most dynamic players in hockey today: Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. They each have a great second banana. Pittsburgh has "Geno" (Evgeny Malkin) and Washington has Alexander Semin. I think this will come down to home-ice advantage and Washington's Power Play finally busting out. Let's all hope that Dan Bylsma doesn't take the bait that Tortorella took in Game 5. Keep the water bottles on the bench!

#2 Detroit vs. #8 Anaheim >>> DETROIT IN FIVE
Detroit is the Big Red Machine of hockey and Anaheim will curiously bow out without much of a fight. Not that Anaheim will go soft, just that Detroit does not engage in the fisticuffs. According to, the Wings only have 11 fighting majors all season and five were by Darren McCarty, who was in Grand Rapids at last check. Detroit will skate around Anaheim and Jonas Hiller will not be able to stop the long line of world-class forwards coming his way.

#3 Vancouver vs. #4 Chicago >>> VANCOUVER IN SEVEN
Roberto Luongo put St. Louis away quickly in the First Round, but this round will be where Luongo starts to make a name for himself as an elite playoff goaltender. He needs to win this series and Vancouver can help him be stingy. Vancouver has some good grit in their lineup with Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, and Alex Burrows and they will have to win the battles in the corners with Chicago's grit of Ben Eager, Adam Burish, and Matt Walker. But, in the end, if the Canucks win, it will come down to goaltending and I think it will. Chicago will have the home fans behind them, so I think it will go the distance.

Listen in to Sports With The StatMan, this Saturday night at 11pm ET, as we talk about the Second Round with Heather Yunger. To tune in, go to the show page at

Saturday, April 25, 2009

PSA Final Round Recap: Hofmann Cup Final


The LBP Final pitted husband against wife, as the Rochester Americans, owned by Greg Jorgensen, trounced the Pittsburgh Pumpkins, owned by Sarah Jorgensen, 408.7 to 268.2, in the third challenge for the Hofmann Cup. Rochester outscored Pittsburgh each week during the 22-day match and pulled away in the second week of competition, 195-112. What was a 32-point lead became a 115-point advantage, which made the final week an easy finish to the Final and the season for Rochester.

Rochester was the highest-ranked team not to make the Goodman Cup Playoffs and laid in wait as #9 Pittsburgh defeated #8 Chicago in the LBP First Round to gain the right to meet Rochester in the Hofmann Cup Final.

Rochester captured its second LBP Championship and first Hofmann Cup. The winner of the LBP Final used to claim the Athletic Cup between 1998 and 2001. The Athletic Cup was renamed the Hofmann Cup in 2007. In 2000, Rochester won the only tight LBP Final ever when the American defeated Cleveland by a single point. This was the second-largest margin of victory in LBP Finals history, trailing only last year's Long Island victory over Rochester (173.8 points). Pittsburgh's LBP Final appearance was its first in franchise history.

#5 Rochester 408.7, #9 Pittsburgh 268.2
Week 1: ROC 112.4, PIT 80.4
Week 2: ROC 195.0, PIT 112.0
Week 3: ROC 101.3, PIT 75.8

F Alex Kovalev - 9-8-17, 6 PPG (57 points)
D Nicklas Lidstrom - 3-6-9 (44.5)
PF David Backes - 7-2-9 (44)
F Jeff Carter - 7-6-13 (49 points)
F Alexander Ovechkin - 6-10-16 (44)
PF Scott Hartnell - 4-3-7, 20 PIM (42.5)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PSA Final Round Recap: Newman Cup Final


Saint John sped off to a strong start and closed strong to pull away at the end in an upset. The fourth ranked Stompin' Toms defeated #2 Yukon, 455.5 to 359.5. Saint John scored more any other team in the Final Round and more than Goodman Cup Champion Long Island in both rounds, but did not have the good fortune of playing the Sounds in the playoffs. Yukon was the defending Goodman Cup Champion and won its division, but finished fourth among the four playoff teams.

After two weeks, Saint John and Yukon were separated by less than 10 points, but Saint John blitzed Yukon, 170.3-84.7 in the final week to provide a healthy 96-point margin of victory, which was, by far, the largest in the history of the Newman Cup Final. The previous record was in 2007, when Long Island defeated Rochester by 34.4 points.

The win was the second Newman Cup for Saint John, which won the Newman nine years ago with a 0.9-point win over Long Island. To this day, the 0.9-point margin is the closest of any postseason series in PSA history. The Newman Cup Final was the first appearance for Yukon. Saint John's Newman Cup victory increases the Stompin' Toms all-time Goodman Cup Playoffs record to 2-6 while Yukon's loss evened the Sunbathers all-time playoff mark to 4-4.

#4 Saint John 455.5, #2 Yukon 359.5
Week 1: SJN 167.9, YKN 120.1
Week 2: YKN 154.7, SJN 117.3
Week 3: SJN 170.3, YKN 84.7

D Scott Niedermayer - 3-10-13 (67 points)
G Chris Mason - 8-1-1, 2 ShO, 2.09 GAA, .921 SPCT (61.4)
F Martin Havlat - 7-9-16 (53.5)
G Roberto Luongo - 6-3, 3 ShO, 2.07 GAA, .930 SPCT (64 points)
F Henrik Sedin - 7-9-16, +11 (60.5)
F Daniel Sedin - 5-9-14 (50.5)

PSA Final Round Recap: Goodman Cup Final


Congratulations to the Long Island Sounds, who are kings of the Puck & Stick Association for the second time in the closest Final in League history. Long Island held off a furious charge from the New England Slam Chowdah, which was also looking for its second title, in a game that was in doubt until the final whistle. The final margin was 7.7 points, as Long Island prevailed, 371.1 to 363.4.

Long Island jumped out to an early lead after the first week of the aggregate-score match, 136.3-98.3, and increased its lead by one point in Week 2, 135.9-134.9. But, New England had a great last stand, hanging 130.2 points compared to 98.9 for Long Island. But, the goodwill the Sounds built up over the first fortnight was enough to carry the lackluster third act.

Long Island won the 3rd challenge for the Goodman Cup in 2001, defeating Wall Street in the closest Final in history at that time, which was 10.9 points. New England (then Massachusetts) also defeated Wall Street for the Cup the previous season, in 2000, in a lopsided Final. New England is now 1-2 in Finals all-time while Long Island has won Cups both times the Sounds have reached the Goodman Cup Final.

#3 Long Island 371.1, #1 New England 363.4
Week 1: LI 136.3, NE 98.3
Week 2: LI 135.9, NE 134.9
Week 3: NE 130.2, LI 98.9

PF Corey Perry - 9-5-14 (64 points)
D Mike Green - 3-6-9 (40)
F Jonathan Toews - 5-4-9 (37)
PF Ryan Getzlaf - 4-13-17, 22 PIM (63.5 points)
G Niklas Backstrom - 6-3, 2 ShO, 1.89 GAA, .941 SPCT (63.4)
G Tim Thomas - 6-0, 1 ShO, 1.82 GAA, .951 SPCT (56)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

NHL Playoff Predictions

Even though the Stanley Cup Playoffs have already begun, here were my predictions as the Playoffs got underway. As I said in my online radio show on, In the East, Carolina would give the Devils a tough time because the Canes have played well against New Jersey in recent years. The Western Conference has great first-round matchups with San Jose-Anaheim, which is the first time two California teams faced off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1969, when the California Golden Seals played the Los Angeles Kings.

#1 Boston vs. #8 Montreal >>> BRUINS in SIX
Boston is very deep at forward and they are hungry, especially against its biggest rival in Montreal. The Habs have always dominated in their playoff history against the Bruins, so even though Boston has the better team, one team almost never dominates the other.

#2 Washington vs. #7 N.Y. Rangers >>> CAPITALS in SEVEN
The best pure goal-scorer in the world, Alexander Ovechkin, will be the best player on the ice just about every game. Meanwhile, the best player on the Rangers, goalie Henrik Lundqvist, has to be better than Ovechkin just about every game. This will come down to Washington's PP against the Rangers PK.

#3 New Jersey vs. #6 Carolina >>> HURRICANES in SEVEN
Carolina has had the Devils number in the last few seasons, but the Devils have had so much playoff success over the years with Martin Brodeur in net, how can you count the Devils out? The Hurricanes are on the better run and Carolina has done this in a 3-6 matchup before against New Jersey.

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Philadelphia >>> PENGUINS in FIVE
Philadelphia had more 25-goal scorers than anyone (six, Carter, Gagne, Richards, Hartnell, Knuble, and Lupul), but they have had a rough go of it in the last month-and-a-half, going 11-10-1 to close the season. Pittsburgh made the best deadline deal for former Islanders captain Bill Guerin and has playoff-proven firepower in Crosby and Malkin.

#1 San Jose vs. #8 Anaheim >>> SHARKS in SEVEN
The Sharks have been the class of the league for most of the season. Their defense has been the story with Dan Boyle joining an already-impressive crew on the blueline this season. Evgeni Nabokov is an Ironman between the pipes. Anaheim has the playoff pedigree, and they still have Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, but the wild card is the Ducks netminding.

#2 Detroit vs. #7 Columbus >>> RED WINGS in FIVE
The Red Wings are the defending champions and they got better in the offseason when Marian Hossa signed with the winners after losing to them as a Penguin in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Wings eat rookies for breakfast. Enter Columbus. The franchise is a playoff rookie and their star goaltender, Steve Mason, is also a rookie.

#3 Vancouver vs. #6 St. Louis >>> CANUCKS in FIVE
Roberto Luongo is becoming a top playoff performer and could be the hot goalie that carries a team deep into the postseason. St. Louis tries to be the unstoppable force to Luongo's immovable object. The Blues had the best second-half record in the league, but a hot goalie can stop a surging team, especially a young team that was not expected to make the playoffs.

#4 Chicago vs. #5 Calgary >>> FLAMES in SIX
Will the Blackhawks be a team too young to be scared or were they just happy to break their six-year playoff drought? They have young leadership in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Kris Versteeg, but the goaltending is much better in Calgary. The Flames have the second-best deadline deal in acquiring Olli Jokinen from the Coyotes. Their leadership is older and playoff tested (Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf, Miikka Kiprusoff).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PSA: Final Round Update - 4/11/09

Thursday helped all three leaders get themselves into better position and Friday was the calm before the storm tonight. New England has every player in action on Saturday, while Long Island has all but one (Pekka Rinne) playing on Saturday. Yukon has everyone in the lineup on Saturday except Nik Antropov, while Saint John only has 11 of its 15 players in action on Saturday. Pittsburgh has one more player in action (14 of 15) than Rochester (13 of 15) on Saturday.

It may come down to Sunday, where there are four games on the NHL slate and these are the players who will be in action in the PSA Postseason:

* Detroit-Chicago (2pm ET) (Datsyuk LI, Conklin PIT, Franzen ROC, Kronwall PIT, Lidstrom ROC, Red Wings ST ROC, Zetterberg SJN, Campbell NE, Havlat SJN, Huet YKN, Keith YKN, Toews LI)

* St. Louis-Colorado (5pm ET) (Backes ROC, Mason SJN)

* Boston-NY Islanders (5pm ET) (Chara PIT, Ryder LI, Savard NE, Thomas NE, Wideman PIT)

* NY Rangers-Philadelphia (5pm ET) (Antropov YKN, Drury SJN, Naslund PIT, Carter PIT, Hartnell PIT, Timonen SJN)

For the Thursday-Friday games, here are the latest updates:
Sounds defenseman Mike Green potted a goal and added two assists for 14.5 points to pace either team in the past two days. Long Island received secondary scoring from two of its other defensemen: Sergei Gonchar (6.5 points) and Jay Bouwmeester (4.5 points). Sidney Crosby led New England with a power-play goal and an assist (8 points). Tim Thomas stood strong for New England in getting past the Canadiens on Thursday night, winning in overtime and stopping 35 of 39 shots (6 points).
LI 335.2, NE 309.5 (This Week: NE 76.3, LI 63.0)

NEWMAN CUP FINAL (3rd Place Game)
Saint John has pulled away in the final week of the match, turning a 10-point lead into a much more formidable 76 points, in part by trouncing Yukon, 57.8 to 9 over the last two days. Saint John was rewarded with three players who scored in double figures during that span (Niedermayer 12, Dumont 11.5, Pominville 10) while Yukon only had its star goalie, Roberto Luongo, pitch a 20-save shutout for its only double-figure producer (13 points).
SJN 405.9, YKN 329.9 (This Week: SJN 120.7, YKN 55.1)

HOFMANN CUP FINAL (Loser's Bracket Playoff Championship)
Rochester is a study in domination during this match, as the Amerks all but sewed up the Hofmann Cup after two weeks and now leads by 146.5 points. Rochester has outscored Pittsburgh, 40.9 to 19, over the last two days on the strength of six goals, including four on the power play. Pittsburgh was led by another win for franchise goaltender Martin Brodeur (8 points).
ROC 393.2, PIT 246.7 (This Week: ROC 85.8, PIT 54.3)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

PSA: Final Round Update - 4/9/09

We are shaping up for an historic weekend in the Goodman Cup Final, as the game keeps getting closer and closer before the big finale of the 22-day match on Sunday. This is really too close to call because of the remaining games and addition of Special Teams statistics, which are manually calculated each week after the final games are played.

The following updates are from last night's NHL action (4/8/09):

A goal and power play assist from Brian Campbell (6.5 points) helped New England to an 8.5 to 5 edge on a slow Wednesday night. There were two players in action on either side of the ice.
LI 304.8, NE 299.3 (This Week: NE 66.1, LI 32.6)

Yukon had secondary scoring on Wednesday night, while Saint John was a one-trick pony. Yukon's Duncan Keith (0-2-2) scored 8.5 points and Rick Nash (1-1-2, +1) chipped in 6 points. Saint John only received good production from Jason Pominville (7 points).
SJN 350.1, YKN 320.9 (This Week: SJN 64.9, YKN 46.1)

A true off-day for the Hofmann Cup Final to crown the LBP Champion, as no one played on Wednesday.
ROC 352.3, PIT 227.7 (This Week: ROC 44.9, PIT 35.3)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PSA: Final Round Update - 4/8/09

Here are the updates in all three postseason series from last night's (April 7th) action:

The Goodman Cup Final just got a lot more interesting, as New England had an impressive 37.4-point output on Tuesday night, compared to 0.8 points for Long Island to pull within 9 points of the lead with four days to play. Nicklas Backstrom won his game and saved 27 out of 28 shots to score 7.4 points. Three different skaters chipped in 6 points (Brian Campbell, Sidney Crosby, Ron Hainsey).
LI 299.8, NE 290.8 (This Week: NE 57.6, LI 27.6)

Saint John keeps pulling away from Yukon, outscoring the Sunbathers by a 42.3-26.2 count. Alexander Edler had a big day for the Johnnies with two assists, one on the Power Play, and a +2 rating for 12.5 points. Roberto Luongo was impressive in net for Yukon, though, scoring 11.2 points on a 46-save win while only allowing one goal.
SJN 341.1, YKN 306.4 (This Week: SJN 55.9, YKN 31.6)

The Loser's Bracket Playoff Final has just about been clinched by Rochester, as both the Americans and Pittsburgh are trading points right now. Rochester used Eric Staal's four-point night, including his fourth hat trick of the season (19 points), to lead the way, while Pittsburgh received another goal and assist from Jeff Carter (9 points). Rochester won the day, 22.4-17.8, and lead by almost 125 points.
ROC 352.3, PIT 227.7 (This Week: ROC 44.9, PIT 35.3)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PSA: Final Round Update - 4/7/09

Here is an update of the Puck & Stick Association, the official fantasy hockey league of this blog (and, conveniently, the league that I run and the league in which I own a team):

In the final week of the Final Rounds in the Goodman Cup Playoffs, Long Island is adding a few insurance points over New England in the title game, Saint John and Yukon are keeping it close in the fight for third place, and Rochester is continuing to pull away from Pittsburgh in the last game for the best of the rest.

(scores through Monday, April 6th)
#3 Long Island 299.0, #1 New England 253.4 (LI by 45.6 pts)
Week 1: LI 136.3, NE 98.3
Week 2: LI 135.9, NE 134.9
This week: LI 26.8, NE 20.2 (LI by 6.6 pts)

NEWMAN CUP FINAL (3rd place)
#4 Saint John 298.8, #2 Yukon 280.2 (SJN by 18.6 pts)
Week 1: SJN 167.9, YKN 120.1
Week 2: YKN 154.7, SJN 117.3
This week: SJN 13.6, YKN 5.4 (SJN by 8.2 pts)

HOFMANN CUP FINAL (Loser's Bracket Playoffs)
#5 Rochester 329.9, #9 Pittsburgh 209.9 (ROC by 120 pts)
Week 1: ROC 112.4, PIT 80.4
Week 2: ROC 195.0, PIT 112.0
This week: ROC 22.5, PIT 17.5 (ROC by 5 pts)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Launching "Sports With The StatMan" on BlogTalkRadio

A lot of time has passed between my college years and now. It is only 11 years, but it seems much longer. In that time, I have worked in my chosen profession and done pretty well at it, but I have always yearned to get back into my true passion in college: radio.

I was a Sports Director at Lehigh University's campus radio station (WLVR) back in 1997-98 and put in over 2 years at the station, broadcasting games, manning the board for a weekly 2-hour oldies and 80's music show, and in '97-'98, hosting a 30-to-60 minute Sports Reporters-like round-table show with the WLVR sports broadcasters. After finishing college and actually using my major (yes, doing this actually is a novelty -- a Computer Science degree yielding a job in computers!), my radio days appeared farther and farther behind me in my rear-view mirror.

This was a memory best left to be a memory, lest I be one of those hangers-on to college. What if I tried on a professional level and failed? What if I realized this was not for me after all? After a few times visiting the old school and saying hello in the radio booth at a couple of football games, the time had passed and I was on to different -- if not, better -- things. But, I always wondered...until now.

I will admit, the thought of the concept of talking on the phone or through my computer does not strike me as terrestrial radio at its best, and it is not. Think terrestrial radio with unlimited channels, shows, and time slots. If you do, you have My cousin, Wills, told me about it in February, and I immediately registered. The only question was: how can I get started?

I figured out it was as easy as scheduling a show and calling into a conference line with a phone. That's it. You can talk through your computer and it would probably enhance the quality, but before I sink some dough into getting a podcasting microphone or invest in any other equipment or VoIP service, I wanted to get ahead of this and, ahem, start the show.

I wanted to start fresh with the start of the baseball season (you know, hope springs eternal, renewal of spring, every team is 0-0, blah, blah, blah). So, I wanted to launch my show the night before Opening Day, Sunday, April 5th. Up until a few days before last night, I was still unsure whether I would do it. The old jitters started coming back. The old questions started to re-appear.

But, although I may try to make it sound professional, it is a little fireside chat with few people, if anyone. I am not on anyone's payroll and it was free to do this. And, there is only one way to find out if I still have what I think it might take to do this someday.

I scheduled the show at 6pm for an hour. My one guest, Heather Yunger, may not be joining me, so I was thinking of cutting the show to 30 minutes. Nope, let's go for it. I decided to try to fill it myself. Half of me wanted to run out to a dump to see if I could find the old Merv Griffin set and dress up like Kramer. Really.

At 6pm, I was on the air and even the on-air feelings came back. This has to be real, right? It isn't the glorified "imaginary tea party" my guest (who ended up accidentally standing me up) termed it to be. Well, it is an imaginary tea party and my imaginary friends had a good time! I had a hard time stopping at 60 minutes, but I did. I wanted to talk baseball, hockey, fantasy baseball, and fantasy hockey, and I only had time for MLB and NHL talk. I did not even have time for predictions. But, since no one was probably listening, there's always next week.

A difference between WLVR and BlogTalkRadio is that all episodes are archived in MP3 format, so you are immortalized forever. Any mistake can be replayed a hundred times. As a perfectionist, I have already done that, 18 hours after the show. At WLVR, once you made the mistake, it was out there and gone, just like that. That is, except for the occasional comment that sticks in your colleagues' heads, like trying to take time out for a 2-minute warning in college football (oh, yeah, there is no 2-minute warning in college football). Sometimes, learning the hard way is the best way.

I am already looking forward to my next episode next weekend. In time, I hope those imaginary friends make some room for some new friends...and enjoy the tea.

To check out my show, visit my show page at Episode No. 1 can be heard in its entirety right there or you can download it and play it on iTunes. Let me know what you think in Comments.

Hockey Coming To A Close...When You're Non-Playoff Bound

HAPPY OPENING DAY! This is the day a long-suffering Islanders fan has been waiting for all winter. More on the upcoming baseball season in a bit, but first, let me put a wrap on the Islanders talk for the season...well, at least until the Draft comes around...

As much as I would have liked to detail every game -- most of them losses (yeah, we've got a lot of them) -- there are plenty of other news outlets to get your Islanders information (well, a and are my two sources).

Much like Newman's comment that he can barely tell the difference between generic wax beans and the regular kind, I think if I continued that stream of consciousness, we would have officially bottomed out.

During this hockey season, I have watched the Islanders sink into oblivion, but rise with the youngsters on the road to respectability. Of course, it does not mean much unless you can do it when the pressure is on and the pressure will not be on until next fall. It became apparent early that this team was not going to push for a postseason berth. The initial talent level made it tough to begin with, but 550+ man-games lost will also do that to you.

It has been fun watching these Islanders since the All-Star Break. I feel like a hockey dad, watching the young team and feeling proud of them when they score a goal, make a great save, or have a good shift. The Isles have to start with the building blocks of a solid franchise because the franchise itself is being rocked to its foundations.

The really sad part in all of this is the possibility the Islanders may move -- to Kansas City, Saskatoon, Hamilton, or wherever outside of the area. The first preference is to stay at the Coliseum and see the Lighthouse Project come to fruition. If they move to Suffolk County, I might still go to the games if it is not that far out on the Island. Queens would be the best move, both for the team's relevance in the New York sports scene, but also as a "partner" to the Mets and new Citi Field.

I have only one problem with moving to Queens, and it is not alienating the East Enders because, after all, I have made the trip from Northern New Jersey as a season ticket holder since 2002. My issue is that we would be losing part of our identity as a small-town team with a close-knit group of people you recognize at the games, again and again. My fear is that this would become "too corporate" an organization. While it may be a good thing for the level of play and stature among the nine major pro sports teams in this town, the Islanders and the gameday experience would lose its kitsch. But, if you put a beautiful new arena next to Citi Field, what a destination it would be?!

So, the season was tough to take, but hopefully, Islander fans will look back on this season as some formative training for the years -- and successes -- ahead.


The fantasy hockey season has been a big success. Our 8th full season of the Puck & Stick Association (PSA) is culminating in a big Goodman Cup Final between two charter members of the league: the Long Island Sounds (owned by yours truly) and the New England Slam Chowdah (owned by Jon Strauss). We are entering the final week of the three-week final and Long Island leads by 39 points, 272.2-233.2. Here are the rest of the scores for the Goodman Cup Playoffs up to this point:

Game "A": #1 New England (17-5) vs. #4 Saint John (12-10)
Too little, too late for Saint John, getting blitzed in Week 1 of the two-week match by 45 points, as the Stompin' Toms 146.6 points in Week 2 did not make up enough ground.
FINAL: #1 New England (Jon Strauss) 237.0, #4 Saint John (Tim Bresnahan) 223.3

Game "B": #3 Long Island (12-10) vs. #2 Yukon (13-9)
Long Island was lucky to snatch the third seed from Saint John in the final week because the Sounds scored less than New England, but advances to the Final by playing the only team that scored less than Long Island. Long Island was consistent, scoring 110.6 in Week 1 and 110.4 in Week 2.
FINAL: #3 Long Island (George Stathopulos) 221.0, #2 Yukon (Eric Brown) 166.8

#1 New England (18-5) vs. #3 Long Island (13-10)
Consistency has been a boon to Long Island again, fetching 136.3 in Week 1 and 135.9 in Week 2. Long Island has built a 39-point lead after two weeks in this three-week match, but New England is coming on with 134.9 points in Week 2 to only drop one point further behind.
AFTER 2 WEEKS (1 week left): #3 Long Island 272.2, #1 New England 233.2

NEWMAN CUP FINAL (for 3rd place)
In a not-so-rare occurrence, teams from this game outscore both teams in the Goodman Cup Final for the championship. But, both teams are outscoring both teams in the Goodman Cup Final. The game is tight, as Saint John had the upper hand by 47.8 points in Week 1 and Yukon returned the favor, outscoring Saint John by 37.4 points in Week 2. This makes for a contest that will go to the wire.
AFTER 2 WEEKS (1 week left): #4 Saint John 285.2, #2 Yukon 274.8

In the Loser's Bracket Playoffs, #9 Pittsburgh (Sarah Jorgensen) got by #8 Chicago (Pete Yunger), 194.0-186.1, and the Pumpkins are facing rival (and husband) #5 Rochester (Greg Jorgensen). After 2 weeks, Rochester is leading handily by 115 points, 307.4-192.4.

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