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A Christmas Story

Every year, children and youthful adults alike all anticipate the arrival of Santa on Christmas Day. Sure, there are some religions that don't worship the Santacious one, but for all intensive purposes, this is a universally giving Santa.

Santa's coming a little late this year. That's just the quaking in our bones, as all of us can tell that we'll have a brand-new shiny present for us come early January. Sure, it'll cost our franchise a good chunk of change, but he's coming. It really shouldn't matter. We won't get prices cut if they decide to sign Suppan instead.

Yes, we all know that Barry Zito's coming to town sometime soon. It always seemed like the likely destination for the long-haired idiosyncratic lefty. We've heard rumors forever about bringing Planet Zito to town.

And with Christmas approaching (and Hanukkah in the rearview mirror) the space under our ceremonial evergreen is mysteriously bare. We got a few of the presents we got last year again, but both of them looked old, dusty, and banged-up.

Later more presents appeared, including one with urine stains, and one that vaguely resembled Damion Easley. And sure, we even wound up with what had been our favorite present from a few holidays ago. It was repackaged nicely and I heard it was even a little cheaper.

But we're missing the great present, it seems. Where is that Lexus with the big red bow on it? Maybe times are tight and it makes more sense to settle for a Subaru. I don't think that's what we should be feeling this Christmas.

I took a peek in Omar's closet. I think that was dishonest of me. I'm sure, though, that it was in my readers' best interests. I know what he has up his sleeve. Ebenezer (or is Satan a more accurate name?) Boras is not going to ruin Christmas for the nation's greatest city.

I just hope that Santa can get here safely, what with Dontrelle Willis on the road and all. That's something that's just pretty hard to fathom. You're a professional athlete, making a couple million dollars a year, poised to get a huge raise, and you can't manage to hail a cab? Erm, wait, come to think of it given Mets history, you're probably safer driving drunk than taking a cab in Miami.

With all due seriousness, though, could anything make Zito a better fit for New York? Boras has expressed his client's desire to play for a championship contender. Zito also would fit in very well in the Mets' clubhouse, which includes his kindred spirits Pedro Martinez and Rick Peterson. Zito could refine his changeup with help from two of the top change-up pitchers of our generation in Glavine and Pedro. Orlando Hernandez and Julio Franco could tell him stories about the invention of the game, given that they played for Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's prior to the team's eventual migration to Oakland.

Zito's personality (and ethnicity) are both very marketable in this area. Undoubtedly, the Mets are in good position to pony up as well, given their new cable station (its shortcomings aside) and the arrival of a new stadium complete with a mondolicious naming rights package.

So fret you not, children, during this holiday season. Zito will soon remind us of the courtship of another Boras client whom we couldn't quite snag until after New Year's. Nevertheless, Mr. Beltran turned out okay after a little bit.

Merry Christmas. I'll be back on either Sunday or Monday for a little bit of Jets coverage.

Enjoy your substitute Santa (played above by Benny Agbayani).

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A Letdown

You have to worry about the Rangers. Even though the team is only a few games removed from a five-game winning streak and they still hold the division lead, it's not a bad idea to turn on the panic siren.

We hear about the flu striking the team, and sure, Kevin Weekes should not be starting for this team. Nevertheless, the Rangers have allowed a whopping 17 goals in their last three games while only scoring 6. Those numbers are made less stark by the 4-3 defeat last night at the hands of the Icelanders.

The problem with the Rangers is on some level due to a lack of depth. Young players with scoring ability, like Petr Prucha and Jarkko Immonen, are being buried on the third and fourth lines with incompetent goons like Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr.

The Rangers team is made up of many players without a lot of scoring output. Jason Ward, who shifted for a bit with Jagr last night, has two goals and five assists on the season. Marcel Hossa has one goal and two assists. Those two combined have missed three games. Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr, goons both, have played a bunch this season. Orr has skated in 23 games, while Hollweg has played in all 35 games this season. The two have combined for 0 points. Not one goal, not one assist. Combined they have taken 108 penalty minutes as well.

The shame in dressing these goons is that the Rangers are forced to rely on only their top two or three lines for scoring. Matt Cullen is disappointing (and now injured), and it's hard to see Immonen, as talented as he may be, stepping up to fill the void Cullen left.

If anything can tell you what's wrong with this season, it might be the following stat: penalty killer/solid faceoff man Blair Betts has notched 60 shots on goal and four of them have gone in. Lethal shooter Prucha has rarely been set up, only firing 49. Six of them have gone in.

The defensive corps is devoid of much offensive talent aside from Tyutin and Rozsival, as Marek Malik serves mostly as a physical presence. Karel Rachunek isn't all that special.

And here we stand- no Cullen or Nylander in sight, for now, and former Islander Brad Isbister and Thomas Pock are up from the minors.

PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Panthers 5
  • Weekes, starting in place of the flued-out Lundqvist, gets shelled again. Malik should be out of the lineup again, accompanying Hank, Nylander and Cullen in the press box. (source: The Blueshirts Blog)

    Merry Hanukkah, Happy Christmas, the whole thing. See you back here if there's any resolution of anything related to Zito, the Rangers, the Knicks, or the Jets.

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  • 12.19.2006

    Thuggish and Sluggish

    I wish my notsomuch-anticipated return to blogging wasn't punctuated by a darling set of embarassing squads taking up residence at Madison Square Garden.

    Your New York Knicks actually won tonight, alarmingly at the hand of $tephon (a little too clever, perhaps?) Marbury, against one of the league's best teams. I've decided that's not really saying much, given the disgraceful state of the NBA. It's not just that there are brawls. Hockey has fights too, you know.

    What legitimately shocks me is the fact that the foremost role in the brawl was played by the league's leading scorer (Carmelo Anthony), who only a few days ago snagged the title from Allen Iverson, a man who has packed up his locker midseason to look for a better place. What is going on this league? Shouldn't the league's best players exhibit the most class? Take for example, the NFL, where elite wide receiver Terrell Owens is the epitome of class. Or you could maybe sneak a peek at the NHL a few years ago, where upper echelon scorer Todd Bertuzzi showed us how to respect the game and play with sportsmanship. Maybe you'll remember the tale of Barry Bonds, holder of many MLB records, who never broke any laws.

    I don't understand why people seem to think that the NBA is doomed as a league filled with thugs. All professional sports leagues are filled with thugs. That's why, in most cases, they become athletes. They have the killer instinct. And in some cases, like that of Bears' DT Tank Johnson, they express that killer instinct by retaining six unlicensed firearms in their homes. Eight Cincinnati Bengals have been arrested this year. Many Vikings were arrested last year.

    Baseball and hockey aren't devoid of criminal behavior either. Phillies RP Ugueth Urbina is still held in a Venezuelan jail cell on charges of attempted murder. Former #1 overall draft pick Josh Hamilton was recently selected first overall in the Rule V Draft, despite having prior battles with narcotics that netted him long suspensions. Hockey featured the Bertuzzi debacle, as well as an attempted murder allegedly organized by former Blues winger Mike Danton.

    The media problem with basketball stems from the fact that there's really no barrier between the fans and the action, whatever it may be. Also, the players are usually big, black, and tattooed, which unfortunately provokes a subconcious prejudicial disposition in many. Football players may have similar appearances, but they are shielded by helmets, pads, and occasionally sleeves.

    Basketball's problem is not unlike the others in sports. It's a mistake to compare this fight to that of a few years ago in Detroit. The fans had zero interaction with the sparring players during this brawl, and the league's suspensions and fines were dished out accordingly.

    And to those who say that this fight proves that basketball has a serious problem on its hands, I would counter with this: the fight only proved one thing – that Isiah Thomas must go. His words after the game were startling, as he talked about how the Knicks had surrendered and how Nuggets Coach George Karl was wrong to leave his starters in. Isiah also apparently tried to explain this to Carmelo Anthony during the game, telling him to stay out of the paint.

    What Isiah might lack, ironically, is that killer instinct. He lacks any sort of fire, and winds up through his action of dismissing Karl's friend Larry Brown inspiring the Nuggets more than the Knicks. It's not even that Isiah has done a poor job assembling this team, as his gamble on Eddy Curry seems to be a wise move. Hell, Thomas drafted wunderkind David Lee, and traded for Quentin Richardson, who has come alive this year. Marbury seems to be coming along as well.

    The problem may lie in Thomas' coaching style, as only a few Knicks see it fit to play defense. It's not as though it takes an inordinate amount of skill to play defense well. Isiah's passive style has yet to yield hustle from the team. He has to go very soon. Bring anyone in. ANYONE.


    The Rangers stink. I was at the game on Sunday. Oops.

    I will postpone judgment on Renney, Sather, the players, and Brian Leetch until tomorrow.

    Here's something of note: Sandis "Fruit of the Vine" Ozolinsh was waived today. If he clears waivers, which he undoubtably will, he will be assigned to Hartford and the Rangers save some of his cap money.
  • Thank god. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to prep more sarcastic remarks next time I went to the Garden.
    I was excited when we got him, but the former All-Star has less than nothing left in the tank, and really likes refueling that tank with alcohol before driving. You might remember when he scored on his own goal during the playoffs last year. Good riddance.

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