Tag Archives: Wilpon

Daily Rounds 12/23

Last night was the Knicks second and final preseason game, both against the New Jersey Nets soon to be of Brooklyn, and the Knicks won 88-82.  Frank Isola said that the Knicks will need their BIG 3 to step up all year long in order for them to be successful.  Mike Vaccaro likes this Tyson Chandler and says that Tyson Time (my own unique-but-not-really nickname) is off to a rousing start.  Barbara Barker wrote about the newly renovated frontcourt making its debut in the newly renovated MSG.

Just a few quick notes that I took from this game:

– Sloppy.  Its to be expected though considering that the Knicks barely had a training camp AND had to work in several new players including two rookies and a new starter.  Amar’e Stoudemire’s shot was off and he didn’t even play a single second in the second half which shows you how concerned D’Antoni is in keeping him healthy throughout the season.  What that means in the regular season will be interesting but Amar’es shot wasn’t falling and yet he basically sat throughout the second half while Avery Johnson kept his entire starting 5 out on the court for the final quarter.  Carmelo seemed to be the only one with a semblance of a good, consistent game.  Pick and rolls need to be worked on and so does alot of the defensive spacing but I like in general where the Knicks are going.

– Defensive prowess-  I’m not trying to use Clyde lines but you can’t help but try and talk like him after a Knick game.  There was definitely more effort on the defensive front.  My All-Defensive Knick team would be Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony (yes,), Renaldo Balkman and Tyson Chandler.  I love the effort these guys give on defense and Carmelo when he’s into it, can DEFINITELY excel at it.  How much effort he wants to give is completely on him.  As long as during crunch time he shows forth that effort to lock down his guy I’m ok with him giving not max on other plays.  Sounds like I’m advocating for taking plays off but for guys as talented as Melo, it can appear he’s taking plays but he’s still giving more effort than less skilled players.

Alot of that communication came from….

– The Tyson Chandler Effect.  Chandler has been a revelation on the court.  On the bench.  In warm up.  In practice.  Just his whole demeanor and leadership that he’s brought to this team is awesome.  It reminds me of….Amar’e from last season when he came.  Amar’e was a vocal leader prodding his underachieving, underrated line up.  The Knicks were a legit threat with all their supposed “non-talent” they didn’t have to trade for Carmelo Anthony.  What Tyson does is bring a presence in the middle of the paint which has long been a freeway for opposing offenses.  He’s so good at keeping communication open while he’s on the floor AND EVEN on the bench.  HIs biggest thing is keeping confidence up and keeping everyone loose.  I LOVE Tyson Chandler and I’m ready to get his jersey.  He looks like the real deal and a great fit.

– Questions about the bench are going to rise but I LOVE our bench.  One major bit of news that came out of D’Antoni’s post game presser, is that he’s going to use a rotation of 10,11 maybe even 12 guys to keep everyone fresh.  That would be awesome.  Aside from the starting five, expect minutes from Iman, Jorts, Balkman, Devin, Novak when he arrives, Baron Davis and Mike Bibby.  It would be completely out of character for D’Antoni and maybe he goes back to his old ways of riding his 8 man rotation out during the course of a season but you have to take a man at his word.  I believe that things like a good supporting staff are important as having superstars on your front line.  That’s why the Mavs won the title and the Heat didn’t.  If you’re top heavy its almost impossible to win titles because eventually the tops wear out because they are human.  The Knicks need to get alot of production from their bench and eventually their second unit is going to have to play above and beyond the call of duty.  I like that Jorts does NOT hesitate shooting that three and I’d like to ask Renaldo Balkman to NEVER chuck up threes like that.  I think Balkman’s cutting to the hoop is underrated and teams need to be wary of that especially if Carmelo is handling the ball.

– Knick rookies stepping up-  Jorts and Iman are the two guys who will have a large hand in determining how far the knicks go.  Jorts is definitely just an energy guy off the bench meant to spell Tyson Chandler and also provide defense and rebounding.  He still needs to work on getting proper boxing out techniques but I think he can improve.  Iman is a combo guard and for him that means chucking up the shot every five seconds.

One of the best bit of reporting I heard was that Baron Davis went up to the neophyte and told him that Deron Williams is laying off him on purpose to bait him to shoot.  Iman listened to him and began driving to the hoop which really helped the Knicks.  I would like for Iman to drive and kick out and pass.  He has a nice stroke but he has to know when he has the hot hand and when he doesn’t.  Last night’s 2 for 10 meant he didn’t.  At one stretch he began chucking up shots at the beginning of the 24 shot clock.  That’s not effective nor efficient if you’re not making them.  Toney Douglas began heating up after going a whole half without scoring.  Iman should’ve looked for Toney on some of those plays but instead tried to find his own shot.  I get that he is listed as a combo guard and I get that his athleticism makes him an excellent one AT THAT, but he needs to know WHEN he’s on and when he’s not and I think at 6’5 if he can make the transition to point guard it would be the best thing for the Knicks in the long run.  I dont want OJ Mayo 2.0 on my team.

Don’t get me wrong, on the defensive end the man is a tireless worker and trust me that jump shot is going to come, but I’d like for him to really work on driving and passing and understanding that.  I realize it may not happen this year and the shortened schedule will force the Knicks hand in giving him a ton of playing time, add into the equation that Toney Douglas may struggle a bit going forward and Knick fans will want Shump to play but I see that as a good thing.  Hopefully the Knicks move forward trying to push the idea to Shump that he needs to find the open man.

– Melo as a passer-  Man am I excited to see him run the point at times on this squad.  He’s such a gifted passer/scorer/everything offensive that we sometimes undervalue how good he is.  I mean the guy can do it all.  He had probably the best assists and he’s got the mind of a savant when he’s playing basketball.  His ability to pass will throw defenses for a loop and he’ll give his teammates really easy baskets and once the defense lays off him, this will give Carmelo tons of easy possessions and plenty of one on one opportunities which he’ll certainly take advantage of.  He’s really a pleasure to watch.

– Toney Douglas and Landry Fields worry me-  I realize they didn’t have terrible games but they disappeared for stretches throughout yesterday and it has to bug you that both of them are NOT having great training camps but nobody really is.  Everyone’s struggling and coming to grips with the fact that the NBA season is beginning Sunday, a measly two weeks after training camp started. They will need to work hard because Iman Shumpert is there and gathering steam.  He looks like the more active athlete, and the guy they want eventually taking over either spot (my vote is for point guard), but I think that D’Antoni would rather have these two succeed.  In the end, I think both of these guys would benefit coming off the bench instead of starting but that’s all depending on how quickly Baron Davis recovers and if the Knicks have anyone to play shooting guard.  Again, I’d rather Shump NOT pick up habits like wanting to score all the time like he already does, but hey, there’s always the hope that he picks up better habits like using his slashing, driving style to dish the ball out.

– Why all the hate towards Kris Humphries- Gotta love New York fans.  That’s all i’m going to say.

– Clyde Frazier is already in midseason form- “The only green I like is money” and “Where’s the Kardashian guy?” I’m ready to go!

Here is today’s list of Knick stories including Marc Berman’s contention that the waiting for a team to be built is over for the Knicks.  NOW is the time for Knicks to go out and win a title.  Amar’e Stoudemire says that the Heat are not ready to climb for the title but the Knicks are ready to contend against Miami or whatever that means.  Frank Isola of the Daily News tries to explain.  Speaking of the Heat, Tom Haberstroh of TrueHoop did an excellent report on Erik Spolestra going to Oregon to study the offensive scheme of the Ducks, the college team who made it to the national championship game last year and have been perennial contenders under the guidance of Chip Kelly.  Also, Seth Walder gives you the low-down on pricing of MSG tickets if you wanted to sit courtside.  

Not lacking confidence is a good thing and frankly a welcome thing in these parts.  For years the Knicks and its fan base have had to be very quiet, patiently waiting for a winner to be built.  Well, the Knicks told everyone to open their eyes.  The Knicks are here and this is what the contender looks like.  Sure, there are still a few pieces to be added midseason.  The Knicks still have the $2.5 million room exception which can be used on someone like, say, a Kenyon Martin, but the Knicks know that in order for them to compete they have to go through Miami who almost certainly WILL get that number one seed.  Speaking of the Heat, that article scared me because of what it contained.  It looks like Spolestra was determined to make an offense that was part Showtime, part Amoeba, part crazy offense where Lebron and Co. will be playing a lot of smaller line ups to take advantage of their quickness and elusiveness.  Again, I dont know how it will work but I expect this shortened season to REALLY be the best thing for the Heat because if anyone is built for this kind of crazy schedule its young teams with very capable superstars.  Do I think the Heat will win the East this year?  Yes.  Do I think the Heat are better than the Knicks?  yes.  Do I think Lebron is the best player in the East?  Yes.  Do I think Dwayne Wade is better than Carmelo Anthony?  No.  I think its a tie but that’s only if Melo comes to play on the defensive end because Wade does.  Again, for the Knicks to contend I think Berman put it correctly, that Melo playing Point Forward HAS to work out and Melo has to play at an MVP like level.  I expect Amar’e AND Melo to bring 50-52 PPG and about 18-21 RPG.  I really hope that all goes well and they remain healthy and D’Antoni IS serious about a heavy rotation of players.

The Mets are officially in trouble says a brand new book by Mets blogger Howard Megdal who recently released an E-Book titled Wilpon’s folly.  According to Jeff Bradley of the Star Ledger, it talks about how much debt that the Wilpons have and how even with the investors they claim will purchase the necessary amount of shares to make $200 million that the Wilpons will be forced to sell the team.  Josh Kosman of the Daily News says the book made a claim that the Wilpons used their friendship with Bud Selig to make him look like the bad guy so if David Einhorn, who wanted to invest in the club and in effect take majority ownership SHOULD the Mets not be able to pay him back, ever tried to sue him the Wilpons could say that it was Major League Baseball’s decision not to approve ownership and not his.  According to Anthony Reiber, the Mets are cutting their GCL team in a cost-cutting move further developing fears within Major League circles that the Mets are indeed in a very seriously dire financial situation. 

Look, I’ll say it again: The Coupon family WILL NOT sell this team willingly.  It will take a bank robber and a ski mask and a machine gun to sell and even then they may take a few minutes to weigh death.  I hate what they have done to this team but in the back of my mind I believe they have had good intentions the whole way.  Have they made some poor investments?  Sure.  Have they embarassed the Mets enough?  Hopefully.  Is it the darkest before the dawn?  Scientifically I have no idea.  But I do believe that the Wilpons are true fans.  Unfortunately the team they root for no longer occupies Brooklyn but Southern California and they have been trying to get Jackie Robinson to play second base for their team for years and just can’t find a suitable contact number for him.

The Coupons are major league owners which should give the rest of us some hope that one day we could be total fuck ups and still enjoy the luxuries of owning a Major League franchise.  I think that the Mets are in a deep shithole and won’t be able to get out of it and this season’s ticket sales will be an issue.  Do I think the Mets can get enough investors to make the $200 million goal?  Yes.  Unfortunately business people will look at the Mets as a great investment considering they play in the biggest market and having an ownership stake in a franchise is huge for guys who are rich but not wealthy.  Remember kids there’s a difference.

But how much longer before they are asking those guys to invest more money in and how much longer before the math comes back to the Coupon family that they no longer own a majority share?  Again, these are questions that the Coupons really hope they don’t have to answer in the long run but its impossible to ignore.

A semi cool thing.  Ok its a major cool thing.  If you haven’t heard about Louis CK you’re living under a rock but if not check this article out on the New York Times about his come up- and his new comedy special which is coming out in a very unique way.  

Howard Beck of the New York Times also looks at how Brook Lopez’ stress fracture could ultimately deal a very big blow to the Nets chances at landing Dwight Howard.  Self explanatory but for those who want the elaborate answer.  


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Risky Equation

The Mets announced Mike Pelfrey as their Opening Day starter this week to the surprise of no one. No one was surprised because no one probably cared.

The Mets are not expected to go very far this year. If you’ve been living under a rock that doesn’t have a direct feed of ESPN- the Philadelphia Phillies fresh off losing the NLCS, the third consecutive Championship they went to and the first they lost during that span, went and decided that 3 aces weren’t enough, they needed another one. Thus the Cliff Lee saga, which had dragged the Yankees and Rangers for far too long had revealed itself as one big con job, dragged long enough to bring in the team he had always wanted to be on- the Phillies.

While downtown Philly is preparing for what should be the most exciting summer in ages and quite possibly a very historic one- down the turnpike things were uncharacteristically quiet.

While the Yankees were licking their wounds and spending their money like spoiled trust fund babies (see signing of most expensive set up man- Rafael Soriano), the Mets went a separate route altogether.

The Mets finally decided that in order to win and defeat the Yankees they couldn’t go about it the same way they always had: trying to go dollar for dollar with them. If you bring your payroll to $150 million they will go up to $200 million. They have the history and mystique that not many teams in all of SPORTS have.

They needed to be successful going a different route. Call it smalll market mentality with a big market budget. More emphasis on amateur scouting. Shorter contracts that would give the team flexibility in the future. A deeper statistical analysis on players to assign a dollar value to any potential free agents. A team run as a corporate business basically.

From the day that Sandy Alderson took over he spoke about how much the Mets had to spend given their current budget entering the year. Their eyes were fixed on 2011 when almost $60 million would come off their budget.

His honesty was like a breath of fresh air. For a long time, the Mets front office- perhaps instructed by the Wilpons- were told to be as evasive as they could be about what ability financially they had to make moves leaving Met fans to come to the conclusion that while charging high ticket prices and concessions the Mets were not doing everything possible to be a winner like the Yankees did. If they had the money, and continued to charge the fans what they did, why not put that back into the team?

Make no mistake, their sudden change in philosophy has PLENTY to do with the still unclear Bernie Madoff scandal. Only the Wilpons know what amount was taken by Mr Madoff but it doesn’t take a genius to see that even the Wilpons couldn’t keep stretching the lie that the Mets were unaffected by the Madoff scandal.

But this is a natural step if the idea was for the Mets to be more fiscally responsible. In the present economic climate, being able to save is key and the Mets are now employing three of the more well known names who pushed the whole statistical model long before it became status quo.

Sure the Mets are late to the dance but better late than never right? But like I said before its no koinky dink that this suddenly financial stinginess was a necessary attribute in the next GM after the cloudiness of the whole Madoff situation.

So the Mets are more careful about who they spend their money on. So its relievers on one and two year (max) contracts. Minor league contracts for players they are taking shots in the dark on. That’s wise decision making on the Mets behalf. Its about calculated risks and no one has geekier calculators then Alderson’s gang.

So what’s the consensus on this group? It could be a wild success or what every Met fan feels will happen: the Mets will be a third place team at best and maybe a last place team at worst.

But here’s what we do know: they aren’t giving up the farm for anyone. They promised to use the big market dollars on the draft so they are saving up their pennies by signing the Chris Young’s of the world. Offering carrot-on-stick incentives to players so there isn’t terrible risk and, if things go well, a whole a lot of reward.

I suppose in the end, the Mets 2011 season is just one big risk or reward scenario. I just hope our set of stat geeks have the right formula for success.

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“The Ten Year Rule” and how it affects the Jets.

I don’t like to broadcast my lack of access to a lot of the players I write about.  The lack of access, to most, means lack of credibility and to those who say that, I’d understand where you’re coming from.*  But in some matters you don’t need high level access to see when something is just fundamentally wrong.

*= after you walked away, I’d probably say something about you and your momma though.

This was originally intended to be a “hey Jets, don’t be stupid, pay Revis” kind of article.  The garden variety of which you probably don’t need to read another one of.  But I thought I’d use this space to attack an even bigger enemy threatening all of us sports fans: bad ownership.

Which of course brings me back to the lack of access.  I don’t need access to know bad ownership when I see it.  In fact, two teams I root for are owned by two of the biggest dolts when it comes to owners that its easy to see why their teams are where they are.

Bad owners can ruin sports for fans in so many ways.  They can tank seasons.  They can not care to pay anyone and allow good talent go to other teams.  They can sit back and collect gate profits while you suffer through another dreadful season.  Bad owners, worst of all, can make sports bad and that is the worst crime of all.

Watching sports is a hobby, I get that and those who tell me to pipe down at games probably are doing so to offer me a dose of perspective I need.  But I do know this.  There are plenty of people like me who live and die with every play.  Recently I was asked a question: why am I a Met fan?  I answered by saying that I chose my fate when I decided to go to a Met game in 1992 against the Cubs (Which they won) as opposed to waiting a day to go to the Stadium to watch the Indians (which the Yankees lost).  At that point I had no historical idea of who the Yankees were and what they meant to the sport sport.  I thought Babe Ruth was a candy bar.  But after going to the Met game and having the rules of fandom explained to me by others, I decided to stubbornly stick to my pick.  That other team has won 5 titles in the last 18 years and my team has seen the World Series once.  The world series they lost to that other team.

Needless to say through it all, I stuck with the Mets.  But why the dramatic response to such a simple question?  Because its that serious for me.  I love the Mets.  People who don’t like baseball wonder how I can sit through a 3 hour baseball game that ends 1-0.  I, in return, ask them how they can sit through whatever it is they enjoy doing?  Its a simple analogy.  We love it, so we sit through it.

My feeling is, the owners don’t have that same love.  Some do.  Don’t get me wrong.  The late George Steinbrenner had that zeal and passion for the Yankees, despite the fact that he wanted to own the Cleveland Indians first.*  Mark Cuban has that same love for his team.  You just know that some do, but the truth is, MOST don’t.

*= I’m sorry to anyone from Cleveland who has to be reminded again of how bad their city has it.

Owners for the most part are billionaires.  Part of an exclusive membership of society that 99% of the world will never achieve.  Its just fact.  So its tough for them to associate with us common folk who have this zealot like love for their home teams.  They look at owning a sports franchise as another goal, another victory, another win for them.  Its a trophy that they put on the shelf.  Many collect dust, some come out and clean it once in a while but most don’t.

Two of New York’s teams are run by idiots such as these.  Fred and Jeff Wilpon and James Dolan own the Mets and Knicks respectively.  Their businesses and their daddy’s money, have given them the opportunity to run two of the most wealthiest clubs in all of sports and yet they’ve done nothing to enhance its value.  Fred and Jeff continue to deny that after being swindled for a still undisclosed sum of money (but many believe it to be around $300-$500 million), that it won’t affect how they conduct their business despite roster moves that say the opposite.  Then there’s James Dolan who recently brought back a guy who disgraced the organization publically with a sex scandal all while destroying any chance of it being a competitive unit by taking on horrendous deals for washed up/overrated veterans.*

*= I’m not going to sit here and bash the guy completely because all his moves weren’t terrible, but the ones he made that were completely overshadow any good move he did make so it makes sense to go overboard.

So I sat back and thought how could we possibly do something about this?  I came up with an idea that I believe all four major sports should implement immediately.  Its called the “Ten Year Rule.”*  The “Ten Year Rule” is simple, it gives owners ten years to get the organization going in the right direction.  In ten years, it will come to a vote, and this is the best part, all season ticket holders will get a vote.  They will have a say as to whether the owners get to keep the organization or they have to immediately put it for sale to another owner who would be willing to buy the franchise at whatever value it is up to that point.  If the team stinks, then the value will go down and some rich guy can come in and swoop a franchise out of the doldrums and get a bargain.  Teams with new stadiums, ten years down the road will hit a brick wall like the Mets are eventually going to do.  They had the biggest drop off in attendance and this is only year two of their new stadium.  If they continue to see a drop off in attendance, the Wilpons, with their burgeoning debt will be forced to relinquish the franchise in a few years.

*= notice the business like, get-right-to-the-point nature of the name.  I didn’t want it to be flashy because I didn’t want anyone to confuse it and no other 10 year rule that I saw really came close to being as important.  Also, I couldn’t come up with anything clever so I figured, let’s keep it simple stupid.

A question some of you may have is, how do you know another owner will pop up and buy a team?  Because that’s what they do.  They love bragging about this kind of stuff.  Its a status symbol.  Owning a sports team is the dream of alot of these yucks.  They will jump at the opportunity to make pay in the franchise.  Now imagine a team like the Royals who continue to be in rebuilding mode or the Peter Angelos run Baltimore Orioles, could in ten years get new ownership?  Imagine how much the fans would be rejuvenated by that idea?  Also, think about it this way: imagine what it would do for season ticket holders.  Those who may want to have a say will buy season tickets and want to be one of those on the voting panel when time comes to make a change.  Its the greatest form of democracy in sports that I see.  This will give the owners that they send packing a little extra pocket change.

The other thing it does is, is it brings accountability to these owners.  Imagine them not being able to hang their hats on just owning a franchise.  Imagine them having to actually run it.  To be competitive.  To be smart.  Imagine them having to put some time in at the office instead of just showing up at the owners box.  It would be different and it would certainly make some owners wake up to the harsh reality that their team sucks and its because no one was held accountable.  Perhaps teams like the Mets would have owners who cared to spend because they were afraid that their team would be taken away from them.  Imagine the absolute humiliation a billionaire would face having a franchise taken from them?  This rule has to happen.

Now, I know it can’t happen and will NEVER get passed as long as owners are voting on this, but if a rule was made in Arizona to harass every single Hispanic resident there without any warning or any real evidence, I don’t see why someone would be crazy enough to pass this in the Supreme Court?*

*= I know I sounded like a twelve year old bringing in the Supreme Court, but I don’t know where else we could go with this?

Which of course, finally brings me to Woody Johnson.  Who apparently wants to join the list of jokers we have in New York sports ownership with his latest comments on the Darrelle Revis contract negotiations.  Woody thinks there’s a distinct possibility that Revis won’t play a down in this upcoming season.

For the record, I think this is just posturing by the Jets and not allowing Rex Ryan’s mouth to do any more damage for their side.  After all it was Rex who called Revis the best player in the game.  Not the best corner, the best player.  But the Jets can not afford to go into the season with Revis holding out.  In weeks one through five they face the Ravens, Pats, Dolphins, Bills and Vikings.  Two of those five (Pats and Vikings) were in the top 5 in offense last year and the Ravens and Pats just made trades to get big time WR’s who will be able to stretch the field.  So if in fact there is some truth to Woody’s comments, the Jets will be put to the test early and teams will gun for their secondary early and often which  will leave them severely shorthanded without a shut down corner like Revis.  If contract negotiations go into the season, which in my opinion they can’t let that happen, either Revis or the Jets will have the advantage based on how they play.

The Jets have legit Super Bowl chances this year and are in jeopardy of putting all that to waste by allowing Revis to stay on the sideline.  Revis has three years left on his contract and obviously doesn’t have much but his pride to stand on at this point and the Jets realize this.  It will come down to who blinks first.  The August 10th deadline came and went, which was the deadline for a player to report to camp to be able to accrue this upcoming season as one for free agency purposes and with the new upcoming labor talks a lot of the rules will change.  So Revis has sent a clear message to the Jets that he is willing to let it play out until the Jets come to their senses and sign him.

The Jets have a new stadium opening up.  They have the super bowl hype, the Hard Knock cameras following them and all the build up that they themselves created and are now facing a potentially embarrassing situation with their star player, and the world watching.  The Jets can NOT let this drag on and must do whatever they can to give Revis what he craves because at the end of the day, a Super Bowl, bragging rights and more importantly Woody’s reputation as owner will be on the line here.  If Woody can’t pay the man cash (which he’ll eventually have to), the Jets will be forced to deal with the fact that at age 27, Revis will certainly pack up and take his services elsewhere and imagine the possibility of Bill Belichiek waiting by Revis’ door at 12:01 waiting to sign him and send another blow to the Jets?

I know it sounds dramatic but I’m a fan.  That’s what we do.  Woody, do the right thing.  Pay him.  Do what it takes.  Just pay him, or else, you may end up on the cutting block yourself if the “Ten Year rule” ever takes effect.

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