Overview

The Rangers continue their final three-game homestand of the season tonight when they faceoff against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), in an Original Six matchup. The Blueshirts currently rank fourth in the Atlantic Division standings, and ninth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 31-29-9 (71 pts.). The Rangers enter tonight’s contest having defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1, on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. New York has now registered a point in seven of their last nine contests, posting a record of 5-2-2 (12 pts.) over the span, including a 2-0-2 mark in their last four games at MSG. The Canadiens enter the contest with a 35-29-6 (76 pts.) record to rank seventh in the Eastern Conference. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers conclude their three-game homestand on Thursday, Mar. 18, when they will face-off against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their final meeting with a Western Conference opponent on the 2009-10 regular season schedule.

Game Notes
With the win on Sunday over Philadelphia, the Rangers are five points back of the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, held by both Philadelphia and Montreal (76 pts. each), and just one point back of Boston (72 pts.) in the eighth spot. With a Boston loss tonight (they play in Carolina against a red-hot Hurricanes team) and a Rangers win in regulation, the Blueshirts would slide back into the playoff picture. The Candiens however, will make a Rangers win difficult to come by. “Les Habitants” have won five straight, and seven in their last ten.

Every game now is a playoff game for the Rangers. The Rangers seem to be coming together and playing like a team down the stretch, making a serious push for the last three playoff spots in the East. The stars may be aligning at just the right time, but the next two games will be a real test for this club. “These are desperate times for us,” captain Chris Drury said. “Obviously every game is a big game and now we have to regroup and get ready for a real good Montreal team that is one of the hottest teams in the League.”

Prediction
“We have been in the same position before,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “Like I said, don’t look too far ahead. Don’t start thinking we have to win 10 out of 13 or something; we just have to win the next game.”
Lundqvist is 6-1-0 with a 1.86 GAA, and one shutout, in his last seven home starts versus Montreal. He has been terrific all season, and even better as of late. Although the Rangers have played extremely inconsistent from game-to-game almost all season long, they realize what’s at stake here. With just 13 games left, and 8 on the road, the Blueshirts know that each game gets more and more important if they want to play playoff hockey. They are prepared; they are focused; the playoff push continues tonight.

Rangers win, 3-1

Shot Calling – goal tonight for Marian Gaborik

About a week ago, New York Jets’ owner Woody Johnson suggested a coin toss to fairly determine which New York football team got to play the opening game in their new, evenly shared, stadium.  His idea was rejected, then he was told on Friday that the coin toss took place, and the Jets lost.  Here is his reaction that he released in a statement on Monday:

“An NFL coin toss has a few fundamental elements that are missing here, most notably the presence of the teams involved. That’s how it’s always done in the league, whether it’s determining the order of the draft or deciding who’s going to kick off the game. When the issue of which team would be hosting the first regular season game could not be resolved on the merits, I suggested a coin toss as the fairest way to resolve this issue. The league rejected that idea. Then, I was told on Friday that a coin toss had taken place at the league office and that the Jets had lost. We rejected a process in which neither team was present. The league departed from our time-honored tradition and declined the opportunity to set the matter straight with a transparent process.”

I understand his disappointment to a degree, but does he really think he got cheated in a coin toss by the league?  I highly doubt this.  And to help pacify him, the NFL gave the Jets the first preseason game in August, and they get the season’s first Monday night game in PRIME TIME on September 13.  I think this is beyond fair.

I agree that the Jets were a better team last year, they have done more exciting things this off season, and maybe it would make more sense that this team deserves the opener in the new 1.7 billion dollar stadium.  On the other hand, I think a coin toss is fair.

As a Jets fan, I think I would rather get what the Jets received here.  The first preseason game and Monday night game in prime time.  The entire football world will be watching that Monday night game, no matter who the opponent.

What do you think, football fans?  Who should kick off the 2010 season in the “New Meadowlands”?


Photo Credit:  blog.nj.com

Via Chad Jennings at The LoHud Yankees Blog

“Today’s lineup against the Astros:

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson LF
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF”

Manager Joe Girardi has hinted that this lineup will look similar to his Opening Day lineup. Interestingly enough, the Yankees have promoted Granderson to be their Center Fielder all off-season, but Gardner gets the start tonight. The first legitimate lineup will play on Sunday, April 4th.

AJ Burnett will get the start on the hill.

Photo Credit: news.yahoo.com

New York City is the largest city in America. Roughly, 22 million people live in the New York Metropolitan area. Given the Yankees success, New York baseball fans have been spoiled for the past 15 years. If we rewind to 55-60 years ago, New Yorkers lived in Baseball Heaven. New York had three different baseball teams(Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers). During that time frame, each team featured marquee players. The New York Giants had all-time great, Willie Mays. The Brooklyn Dodgers had Jackie Robinson. The Yankees had Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. Between 1949-1957, the Yankees had won 7 World Series titles. Baseball was at its peak in New York.

In 1957, both the Dodgers and Giants moved to California, leaving the Yankees as the only team in the city. The Golden Age of Baseball in the city ended in New York. Five years later, Joan Payson found the New York Mets in 1962. However, the mystique of 1950s New York baseball has never been restored.

Point being: Can New York bring back a 3rd team?

Let’s dive into that question. The Collective Bargaining Agreement in MLB expires after the 2011 season. The financial behemoth New York Yankees will be at the forefront of re-negotiating this agreement. The Yankees outpace every other team financially, paying roughly $215 million for players in 2009. At the core of that new agreement will be revenue sharing. Many owners disagree with the current revenue sharing structure and are clamoring or whining(Hello John Henry) for a salary cap.

Could Major League Baseball institute a salary floor?

This would prevent smaller-market teams, like the Florida Marlins or Kansas City Royals, from pocketing luxury tax dollars from the Yankees. The only draw back to this plan would be increased inflation within the game. Teams would pay more for marginal talent and further drive up salary prices. This in turn, will make the rich, richer, player-wise.

Could Major League Baseball institute a salary cap?

The dreaded SC. Baseball did institute a luxury tax to prevent teams(Yankees) form spending an unlimited amount on free agent players. Since the luxury taxes inception seven seasons ago, the Yankees are a perfect 7 for 7 in exceeding the payroll threshold. $174 million of the $190 paid in luxury tax has come from the Yankees. The luxury tax has been good for the game. Teams who not break the threshold will claim a cut of the Yankees check. The Yankees have no problem paying the luxury tax, given their other sources of revenue.

Is it reasonable for a third team to come to New York?

Yes. I mentioned earlier that 22 million people reside in the NY Metropolitan area. Assuming all things being equal, each New York team has 11 million fans following them. In comparison, LA has 8 million fans per team. Chicago has 5 million fans per team. Injecting a 3rd team into New York would split that ratio to roughly 7.33 million people per team, justifiable in terms of geographic positioning. Teams who make the playoffs benefit greatly from playoff revenues. The Yankees made $20 million alone in ticket sales. This does not take into account for the large media revenues generated by the largest market in America. Alike the 1950s, a third team will renew borough rivalries. Any team or player stands to benefit greatly from the New York media exposure(Hi, LeBron).

Would the Yankees and Mets allow this move? Who would move?

I doubt the Mets or Yankees would allow this move. Each team has exclusive zoning rights in the city. The Yankees have a lot of pulling power in the CBA agreement. After building two stadium in the past year, public funding for a third stadium may be even tougher to come by. This does not even account for the new Nets arena in Brooklyn. I don’t think New Jersey, Long Island or Connecticut would want to foot the bill either for new a stadium. I doubt this new team would detract fans from either side, but players from the smaller market team would receive huge endorsement opportunities and exposure in New York. Tim Lincecum would become the modern day “Cy Young” in New York.

What team would move?

The Dodgers and Giants will not come back to New York. Population-wise, they rank 2nd and 5th respectively. Both teams do extremely well financially. Could the Royals move to New York? Kansas City only has 1.7 million people, but they don’t have the dollars to compete in New York. Ultimately, there really isn’t a great fit for a team to move.

It’s nice to watch film of Willie Mays’ catch with the New York Giants. Jackie Robinson changed the game forever by breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankee Dynasty of the 1950s was the best ever in baseball. We will always have these memories of borough baseball. It’s just not possible in today’s game.

Written By: Adam Poedubicky

Well, the combine is finally over. For those of you who spent the past weekend refreshing nfl.com to only find videos instead of numbers, here is a clearer idea of who, in my opinion, performed the best and the worst by each position, starting with the offense. This has a direct influence on the NFL Draft.

Best QB Performance:

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. Although Bradford didn’t throw at the event, he showed up at a chiseled 236, up from his playing weight of 210. He will throw before the draft, so he didn’t hurt himself at all before all of the scouts by bringing an unimpressive performance before he’s fully ready. Could he be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft?

Honorable Mention: Tim Tebow (Florida), Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan)

Worst QB Performance: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame. Like Bradford, Clausen did not throw at the combine. However, he showed up and measured out very averagely (6’2, 222) and couldn’t duck questions about maturity and leadership issues. He’s going to need to have a huge pro day to make people forget this weekend. There are many questions concerning Clausen heading into the NFL Draft.

Best RB Performance:

Jahvid Best, California. Best erased all questions by running a running back best (no pun intended) 4.35 40, besting C.J. Spiller of Clemson who was supposed to challenge Chris Johnson’s 4.24. The combine will not test how Best has recovered from his concussions, so one team will have to put some faith in his numbers.

Honorable Mention: Toby Gerhart (Stanford), C.J. Spiller (Clemson), Ryan Matthews (Fresno State), Ben Tate (Auburn),

Worst RB Performance: Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech. Dwyer, who played in the triple option offense under Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, played in the dive back position and in the wing. He ran an unimpressive 4.68 40, which was almost .2 seconds slower than expected. Either he was amped up too high, or he is out of shape, but considering the overabundance of quality running backs who performed at the combine, Dwyer is going to have to do some convincing at his pro day to move up.

Best WR Performance:

Jacoby Ford, Clemson. Jacoby Ford, get ready to become a superstar, at least until the draft. Ford blazed a 4.28 40, the fastest for any offensive player. He did show up smaller than expected (5’8, 186) so he’s going to have to prove that his speed translates to the field better than his 2009 numbers do (56 catches, 779 yards, 6 TDs).

Honorable Mention: Golden Tate (Notre Dame), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Arrelious Benn (Illinois)

Worst WR Performance: Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech. Demaryius Thomas is relatively unknown as a wide receiver in a triple option offense, so his performance at the combine would greatly assist his draft position. So showing up to the combine but not running or lifting because of a broken foot isn’t a good way of getting acquainted with NFL teams.

Best TE Performance:

Dorin Dickerson, Pittsburgh. Dickerson has been criticized for not having a true position, but he is mostly a tight end who can line up at H-back or wide receiver. Although undersized for a true tight end, he ran a blazing 4.4 40. This will make one team want to invest in this player who can create huge match-up problems across the board.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Graham (Miami FL)

Worst TE Performance: Aaron Hernandez, Florida. Hernandez measured up undersized at 6’2, 245 and did not run due to a strained back. He will have to run a sub-4.6 40 at Florida’s Pro Day to stay as an early pick. I covered, Hernandez earlier.

Best OL Performance:

Bruce Campbell, Maryland. Campbell had the second most reps on the bench while running the fastest 40 on the offensive line. At 6’6, 313 pounds, Campbell has all the makings to be a great left tackle, but he will have to prove that he can do it when he’s there.

Honorable Mention: Russell Okung (Oklahoma State), Bryan Bulaga (Iowa)

Worst OL Performance: Anthony Davis, Rutgers. Honestly, I don’t care how fast any offensive lineman runs their 40, but 5.4 for a professional athlete is ridiculous. Also, considering he only has 21 reps on the bench, it’s beginning to look like Davis could have used the extra year in school. Hopefully for his sake, teams look at his performance on the field instead of at the combine, which is always more important.

We won again yesterday as the Devils were victorious, 3-2. Today we look at the NCAA’s play-in to nab our 13th win of the month!

The Matchup: 7:30 PM Winthrop Eagles(19-13) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions(17-15)

Whoever wins this game becomes Duke’s sacrificial lamb on Friday. I’m taking Winthrop in this match-up. Las Vegas pegs them as a 4 point favorite heading into the game. Historically speaking, Winthrop has made the NCAA Tournament nine times since 1999. They even knocked off Notre Dame in 2007. Roll with the team with experience in this crapshoot.

The Pick: Winthrop Eagles(19-13)

March Record: 12-3

Bookmark Us And Check Back Tomorrow For Another Pick!

Photo Credit: adcut.net

Written By: Alex Lowenthal

Sunday vs Florida

Johan Santana returned to the hill Sunday against the Marlins looking to bounce back from his shaky first outing.  He did just that.  He pitched four shutout innings while striking out four.  He throw 45 pitches (32 for strikes) and only allowed three hits.  We hope to see more of this from Johan as we move forward.  The Mets, however, lost the game 5-1.  Here are some other Sunday points:

-John Maine came in after Santana and struggled, throwing 37 pitches in just two-thirds of an inning, allowing five runs on five hits with three walks

-Jason Bay had a triple and Luis Castillo was two for three with two base hits

Monday vs St. Louis

Today’s game against the Cardinals turned out to be just about as exciting as Spring Training can be.  Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese were the main Mets’ pitchers, as they are both fighting for the fifth spot in the opening day rotation.  Neither looked great.  Nieve pitched the first three innings, giving up five hits, two runs, a walk, and no strikeouts.  Niese was slightly better, pitching innings 4-6, allowing three runs (one unearned) on four hits, with two Ks and no walks.  The bullpen looked great, including Sean Green (7th), Pat Misch (8th), and Francisco Rodriguez.  This was K-Rod’s much awaited Grapefruit League debut, as he has been battling pink eye.  He looked excellent, throwing just seven pitches in the top of the ninth inning.  He got a weak ground ball out, a pop out to right, and a K to end the perfect debut.

The real story of today’s game was Angel Pagan, who played all of about ten minutes.  He came in to play right field for Jeff Francoeur after the Mets left the bases loaded down 5-4 in the bottom of the 8th.  K-Rod came in and did his thing, while Pagan made a routine fly ball catch.  He also was up third in the bottom of the frame.  With one out and the bases empty, Mets brought in the red hot pinch hitter, Chris Carter, who I will discuss in a minute.  He chopped a single that took a nice hop over the head of Cardinal 2B, Ruben Gotay.  Then came Angel Pagan.  He ripped a 3 and 1 fastball over the right field wall, for a walk off 6-5 victory.  This also gave K-Rod the victory.  Nice 9th inning Angel.  Pagan is battling with Gary Matthews Jr for the opening day CF job, with Beltran out.

Now let’s get back to Chris Carter quickly.  The Mets acquired him in the deal that sent Billy Wagner to the Red Sox.  He’s quickly gotten himself the nickname “The Animal” in the dugout.  After today’s 9th inning single, he is 6 for 12 with 3 HRs and 8RBI this spring.  Mets coaches are seriously considering Carter as a primary pinch hitter if he keeps this up.  Carter, Mike Jacobs, and Frank Catalanotto are all looking to be potential opening day pinch hitters.

Check out Pagan’s Walk off

Side Notes

-Jason Bay was 2 for 3, scored twice, and got hit by a hard Jason Motte fastball in the 8th, but jogged to first and was fine

-Fernando Martinez look brilliant once again, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and 2 RBI

-Despite Martinez’s terrific spring, Omar Minaya said this morning that there is no way he will start the year in the big league

Photo Credit:http://weblogs.cw11.com/sports/thehuddle/JOHAN%20SANTANA%201.jpg

http://citifield.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/angel.jpg

The Yankees lost another game to the Pirates yesterday, 10-5. CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees and lasted 4 1/3 innings. Sabathia gave up 3 hits and 1 run. However, he left the game with runners on base. Reliever Jon Albaledejo, allowed both of the runners to score, ultimately damaging Sabathia’s ERA. Outside of the 4th inning home run to Iwamura, Sabathia looked good.

As we get closer to the season, we hope to see each pitcher tweak their mechanics and get into a groove. So far, Sabathia is following along with that plan.

Nick Johnson hit his 3rd home run of the spring yesterday, a 6th inning blast off reliever, Vinnie Chulk. The back appears to be alright.

Yankee manager Joe Girardi plans to unveil his Opening Day lineup on Tuesday against the Astros. Expect to see this lineup:

D. Jeter, SS

N. Johnson, DH

M. Teixeira, 1B

A. Rodriguez, 3B

R. Cano, 2B

J. Posada, C

C. Granderson, CF

N. Swisher, RF

B. Gardner, LF

No Yankee stuff today. No games, practice, etc. The team gets the day off.

Photo Credit: brewcrewball.com

Instead of sitting here and wasting your time, join our Yahoo! group and fill out a bracket today.

Group ID: 93240

Winner Gets A High-Five, Maybe A Guest Post On Any Topic. We’ll See What Happens

Written By: Mike Ulatoski

One game after coach John Tortorella made Sean Avery a healthy scratch, Avery delivered a performance that should keep him in the New York Rangers lineup for the rest of the season.

Avery scored two goals and drew two penalties as the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The win was the Rangers’ second straight, and moved them within one point of the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“He was huge today,” Rangers captain Chris Drury said of Avery. “When he is playing straight-ahead hockey like he did today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more effective guy. The hits he had, the goals he had, the way he got under their skin. It was just huge for us.”

Michal Rozsival’s power-play goal in the second period put the Rangers ahead for good.

Henrik Lundqvist made saves when they needed to be made, stopping 17 out of a total of 18 shots. This is his second win in a row after getting yanked against New Jersey on March 10 for allowing five goals on 17 shots.

The Flyers are tied with the Montreal Canadiens with 76 points, good for sixth place in the East. But Sunday’s regulation loss trimmed their cushion on the ninth-place Rangers to just five points.

Avery played with a purpose on Sunday after he was a healthy scratch against the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. Aside from his two goals, he delivered plenty of big hits and drew a roughing penalty on the Flyers’ Scott Hartnell during the second period and an interference call on Braydon Coburn in the third. [I thought Hartnell deserved a four-minute minor during the ensuing scrum with Avery. Aves never dropped his gloves, yet Hartnell threw punches and continued to do so while Avery was being held by an official.]

The Flyers scored on their first shot on goal. With Olli Jokinen in the penalty box for slashing, Danny Briere wristed a shot through heavy traffic that found its way past Lundqvist, just 4:13 into the game, to make it 1-0.

The Rangers tied it off of a faceoff win by Erik Christensen, who pulled the puck back to Wade Redden. He ripped a shot that was initially stopped by Flyers’ goalie Michael Leighton, but Avery beat Flyers defenseman Matt Carle to the front of the net and backhanded the rebound chance just 1:53 into the second period to make it a 1-1 game.

Michal Rozsival put the Rangers up 2-1 with a power-play goal just 3:01 later. His rocket from the point deflected off the inside of the post and past Leighton, who was helpless against a great screen directly in front by Chris Drury. Christensen was credited with his second assist of the game on the goal, and I feel he is making a very strong case to be a part of the future plans of the Rangers.

With the Rangers playing a solid defensive third period, Avery had a monster shift that swung the game permanently in the Rangers’ favor. First, he harassed Flyers’ defenseman Ryan Parent and forced a turnover at center ice, which led to a scoring opportunity for Drury. Then, as the Flyers tried to regroup, he received a pass from Dan Girardi on the left wing, skated into the circle, and whipped a wrister past Leighton at 14:05 of the third period.

Avery was far from the only skater wearing the blue sweater who played with passion on Sunday. Rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto was a consistent physical presence and played a very smart game in his own defensive end, and defensemen Marc Staal and Michal Rozsival also played big minutes on Sunday.

Brandon Dubinsky drew a standing ovation from The Garden Faithful when he put a beating on Flyers’ captain Mike Richards in their center-ice fight with 3:46 remaining in the third.

“That’s a good club we played, coming off a huge win for them (against Chicago),” said Tortorella. “I thought we stood in there in the physical part of the game, and played very well as a team. We can enjoy it and then get back to work for our next game against Montreal.”

The Rangers faceoff against the Montreal Canadiens at MSG on Tuesday night, the second game of a three-game homestand for the Blueshirts which concludes on Thursday with a contest against the St. Louis Blues.

Three Stars
1st: Sean Avery – 2 goals
2nd: Michal Rozsival – 1 goal (powerplay)
3rd: Henrik Lundqvist – 17 saves on 18 shots