Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger help Flyers beat Isles again

Wachovia Center, Philadelphia- Before things turned ugly, the Philadelphia Flyers were having quite an impressive night.


In a game that saw many punches thrown, especially during a rough third period, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger both scored two goals, backing a strong goaltending performance by Sergei Bobrovsky, and the Flyers beat the New York Islanders 6-1 on Saturday night. Kimmo Timonen and Andreas Nodl also scored for the Flyers, who have won three straight since a lackluster 2-1 loss to Columbus on Oct. 25 that angered the players.

The slumping Islanders dropped their fourth in a row after a three-game winning streak. For a stretch, the game turned into a fight club, with the teams combining for 120 penalty minutes. The Islanders received the bulk of the time in the penalty box, accounting for 73 minutes.


"When you get embarrassed like that, there's lots of frustration," said Danny Briere, who was hit with 17 of the Flyers' 47 penalty minutes. "They didn't like that and had to respond some way, somehow. They did it with their fists."

Philadelphia has bullied the Islanders during the past three seasons, and continued that trend in their first meeting of this season. The Flyers have won 15 of 16 from New York, including 11 straight at home. The Islanders haven't won in Philadelphia since April 7, 2007. In front of many fans dressed in orange-and-black Halloween costumes, Timonen gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead 2:36 in. Scott Hartnell angled a pass from the side of the net to Timonen, who fired in a shot off of goalie Rick DiPietro's stick.

Carter made it 2-0 with 2:41 left in the first period, deflecting Claude Giroux's pass between DiPietro's pads. Carter's second goal early in the second period gave him five this season, one behind team-leading Briere. Carter led the Flyers with 33 goals last season. Carter nearly had a hat trick, but DiPietro deflected away his attempt. Pronger's first two goals of the season both came on one-timers off smooth passes from Timonen. The hard drives both sailed high and over DiPietro's shoulders. The veteran defenseman posted his 14th career two-goal game, and his seven shots were his most in one game with the Flyers.

Between his goals, Pronger was called for hooking Frans Nielsen on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot. Nielsen skated in, transferred the puck to his backhand and flipped it over Bobrovsky's left shoulder. It was the first time in Flyers history that a shutout bid was denied by a penalty-shot goal. Not allowing that to lead to any momentum for the Islanders, Andreas Nodl beat DiPietro after a centering pass from the left circle by James van Riemsdyk.


Tempers flared with one minute left in the game, and DiPietro, Nielsen, Briere and Dan Carcillo scuffled in a flurry of activity. Order was eventually restored, and 37 minutes of penalties were handed out.

The spark for the game's final melee appeared to result from Briere's crosscheck against Nielsen, and those two eventually went after each other. DiPietro shoved Briere as he skated by the Islanders net, and Dan Carcillo headed over to help Briere. Angry and looking for a fight, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound DiPietro ended up being restrained by the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Pronger, which wasn't in his plan.

"[Pronger] didn't want me going after Briere," DiPietro said. "I was just looking for somebody except him, to be honest."

DiPietro said that the Islanders are frustrated.


"Until you get a chance to get back on the ice and redeem yourself, it eats at you," DiPietro said. "There's no time to rest. You've got to expect some peaks and valleys, but we've got to get back to winning games."

Amid the highly charged play of both teams, which resulted in many stoppages, the 22-year-old Bobrovsky (5-2) remained focused in his seventh NHL game. He stopped 30 shots.

"It's hard to stay focused in such a long game and maintain concentration when the game continues for so long," he said, adding that he didn't want to fight anyone. "In the end, you just play."


Game notes

Flyers G Michael Leighton (back surgery) said he felt well after skating with the team for the first time since Oct. 11. He was expected to return around Nov. 22, but Leighton is hoping to be back sooner. ... Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said that Nodl and Andrej Meszaros will be out because of upper body injuries. They will be re-evaluated on Sunday. ... Islanders RW Michael Grabner missed his second straight game because of a groin injury.


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
At the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, I'm Brandon J., reporting for the Islanders.

Henrik Lundqvist stops 36 as Rangers blank Leafs

Air Canada Centre, Toronto- With only one gifted goal-scorer in the Maple Leafs lineup, Toronto is struggling to find to score -- at all.

The Maple Leafs' goal drought reached 122 minutes 24 seconds in a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Henrik Lundqvist played a big part in Toronto's second consecutive shutout loss by making 36 saves, but Wilson felt his club helped the Swedish goalie look good. The majority of the Maple Leafs' shots came from the outside. And when the team was presented with a good opportunity from in close, it failed to capitalize.

"We've got to just find a way around the front of the net," Wilson said. "Be sharper, be ready, think like a goal-scorer. We've got a lot of guys on our team ... who don't have a resume that says they've scored anywhere. We've only got two or three guys who feel comfortable with some scoring chances. Other guys, maybe they get a little nervous when they're in tight."

The Maple Leafs (5-4-1) have scored only seven goals in six games, going 1-4-1 in that span -- including two losses to the Rangers. Toronto is entering its first set of back-to-back games this season. The Maple Leafs hope to rediscover their offense before hosting Ottawa on Tuesday and visiting Washington on Wednesday.

"No one's going to come in and help us get out of this," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "It's the guys that are in this room that are going to get us out of this, and we're confident we will."

There is some solace to be found in the amount of chances they generated against the Rangers. Toronto attempted 92 shots -- 21 missed the net and 35 were blocked.

"He's good on his angles," Leafs forward Clark MacArthur said of Lundqvist. "If he's going to see pucks, he's going to stop them. He's fortunate to have a team like that where they're diving in front of everything and they clog it up. We had our chances, we had point-blank chances. We just didn't capitalize."

Playing for the third time in four nights, the Rangers didn't have a ton of energy. They were opportunistic with their chances, getting a first-period goal from Brian Boyle on the rush before Ryan Callahan converted a penalty shot late in the second.

"We started off slow, but we got our legs going," New York coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we did a really good job of playing a simple game and just grinding -- because it was a tired team, but we found a way to win."

Phaneuf had six shots through 40 minutes, sending every opportunity he could at the net. Tyler Bozak had three prime scoring chances, but still has only one goal this season. Lundqvist kept Mikhail Grabovski searching for his goal by sprawling in his crease to deny him late in the game. The discouragement was evident on the faces of the Toronto players when the second period ended. Despite outplaying the Rangers, the Maple Leafs left the ice following their fifth straight scoreless period.

It didn't get any better in the final 20 minutes.

"I don't think you worry until you don't get chances," Leafs forward Tim Brent said. "We're getting lots of chances. Guys are just a little bit snake-bitten right now. We're not pushing the panic button, we're doing a lot of things well. It's going to come for us."

Game notes

Christian Hanson was called up from the AHL Marlies and centered the Leafs' fourth line. ... Mike Zigomanis, John Mitchell and Brett Lebda were scratched for Toronto ... The Rangers sat out Todd White and Michael Sauer.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
At Air Canada Centre in Toronto, I'm Brandon J., reporting for the NY Rangers.

Brandon Roy, Blazers rally late in 4th to beat Knicks

Madison Square Garden- The elaborate pregame festivities were designed to emphasize that these are the "new" New York Knicks. Crunch time was the same ol' story. The unbeaten Portland Trail Blazers spoiled the Knicks' home opener, erasing a nine-point deficit in the final 5 1/2 minutes for a 100-95 victory Saturday night. "We felt the pressure was still on them, this is their home opener," guard Brandon Roy said. "We just wanted to keep consistent with our pressure and with our effort, and down the stretch we felt we forced them into some tough shots and we were able to get a win."

Roy scored 29 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Miller had 19 points and 10 assists as the Trail Blazers improved to 3-0. Aldridge hit the tiebreaking free throw with 25.5 seconds left, and both he and Miller made two apiece in the final half-minute as the Blazers weren't fazed by a close game after two double-digit victories to open the season. "You don't want to have to continue to do that, but these guys are not dropping their heads," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "They're playing a 48-minute game." Wilson Chandler finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who made only one field goal after taking a 92-83 lead with 5:31 remaining. Amare Stoudemire scored 18 points but turned it over six times in his home debut.

Raymond Felton, also making his Madison Square Garden debut with the Knicks, scored 16 points. It was encouraging home start for the Knicks -- until crunch time, when none of their new additions could find the basket. "We just didn't score. We were up nine. They made some nice shots. Things didn't go well for us," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. New York's lead was gone after Portland rallied to grab a 95-94 advantage on Miller's 3-pointer with 2:08 to play. Felton's foul shot tied it with 1:23 remaining, and it stayed that way until Aldridge was fouled on an offensive rebound and made one free throw for a 96-95 lead with 25.5 seconds left.

Marcus Camby blocked Felton's drive, Aldridge made another free throw, and the Knicks lost a chance to tie when a ball that was originally called out of bounds on Portland with 6.5 seconds left was overturned when instant replay showed it was off Stoudemire. Miller then made two free throws to put it away. "We're still getting used to each other, still trying to get that chemistry, but things didn't go our way," Felton said. "I think we made some good plays, some good calls. It's a tough loss, especially when you get a six-, seven-point lead going with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game. It's tough to lose a game like that. It was an all-too familiar finish for a team trying to move away from its awful recent past.

The Knicks have 10 new players on the roster as they try to return to the postseason for the first time since 2004. New York shares the league's longest current playoff drought with Minnesota and is mired in a franchise-worst stretch of nine straight losing seasons. Boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer introduced the Knicks before the game, saying it was time to "turn the page to a new chapter of the New York Knicks."


The first quarter was nothing new at all.

The Knicks surrendered 58 percent shooting, hit only 36 percent themselves, and trailed by as many as 10 points. The lead was still 10 midway though the second before reserve Chandler led a 16-3 run that gave New York a 42-39 lead on Felton's 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining. Chandler had 15 points and 12 rebounds in 17 minutes in the first half, which ended in a 44-all tie.


Game notes

The Knicks fell to 33-32 in home openers. ... Portland is 2-0 on a four-game trip that concludes with games Monday at Chicago and Tuesday at Milwaukee. ... A Blazers spokesman confirmed the team won't offer former No. 1 pick Greg Oden an extension on his rookie contract. The oft-injured center is still recovering from a fractured left patella last December that ended his season early.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
At Madison Square Garden, I'm Brandon J., following the Knicks.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Canadiens sweep home-and-home, deal Isles first regulation home loss

Nassau Colisium, Long Island- Alex Auld had gone nine months since his last NHL victory. It's not as bad as it might appear because the veteran goalie only played four games in that long span.

Auld made 30 saves in his season debut with workhorse goalie Carey Price getting a rare night off, and Benoit Pouliot and Travis Moen scored in the third period for the Montreal Canadiens, who beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Friday night for their fourth straight victory. The 29-year-old Auld, who hadn't won since Jan. 29, beat the Islanders for the first time in five starts. He didn't show much rust despite not playing since March 6 while with the New York Rangers. "First games, you have that deposit of nervous energy that comes with a new group and a new team," Auld said. "You have to control that emotion and make sure it's not too high."

His best stop came 4:15 into the second period when he thwarted Matt Moulson's short-handed breakaway. "I've been feeling good and feeling ready," Auld said. "I waited like this before so it was nothing new for me. You want to play and help the team win and hopefully get another shot." The Canadiens were locked in a tight, tied game in the third when Pouliot and Jeff Halpern connected for a precision passing play that put Montreal back on top. Pouliot, the trail man on a 3-on-2 rush, took a back pass from Halpern from the right circle dot and snapped a shot past goalie Dwayne Roloson 7:19 into the third.


"I was yelling at him to pass," Pouliot said. "He did a great play and he heard me at the last minute when the 'D' closed up on him. It was a perfect pass." Travis Moen deflected a pass from captain Brian Gionta for an insurance goal with 1:49 left. Montreal swept the home-and-home series from the Islanders, and handed New York its first regulation loss at Nassau Coliseum (2-1-1) and third consecutive loss overall. The Canadiens, who have won six of seven, are 11-0-3 against the Islanders since the start of the 2007-08 season.

Tomas Plekanec scored for the third straight game to give the Canadiens (7-2-1) a 1-0 lead in the first period. Matt Martin answered in the second for the Islanders with his first NHL goal. Roloson made 23 saves, but lost Montreal for the second time in three nights. Martin got the Islanders even with 3:15 left in the second when he took a perfect feed from Frans Nielsen from the end boards and one-timed a shot from the slot past Auld. "The coaches tell me to get in front of the net, so that's what I do," the 21-year-old Martin said. "The goal feels great, but it would have been better if we won." In the closing seconds of the period, Martin was finishing up a hardworking shift in which he landed several hits but then had to deal with 6-foot-7 Hal Gill, who came in to protect his teammates. Martin dropped the gloves first and then held on.

Montreal was outshot 13-4 in the second, but was successful on the defensive end in killing New York's 5-on-3 power play that lasted for 1:43 midway through the frame. The short-handed situation was made more difficult by the fact that the penalties were committed by Gill and fellow defenseman P.K. Subban, who were both whistled for interference against John Tavares, the Islanders' leading goal scorer. "That was a huge point in the game," Auld said. "If you kill it, you get a lot of momentum." The Canadiens got off to a fast start and took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Plekanec scored his fifth of the season at 2:42 -- just 18 seconds into a power play. Mike Cammalleri's shot was blocked in front by defenseman Mark Eaton, and the puck caromed to Plekanec, who finished off a stuff-in from the left post.

Montreal kept up the pressure, but neither team could generate much offense on a tough ice surface, that produced many bouncing pucks and several flubbed shots. Some players even fell in spots. The Canadiens held a 9-2 shots edge 10 minutes into the game, but New York countered with an 18-7 spurt over the next 30 minutes through the second period. Credit them for doing some things really well," Cammalleri said. "I think we would've liked to do some things better, but at the end of the day we'll take a big two points on the road."



Game notes
Price had played in the Canadiens' first nine games. ... Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said that D Andrei Markov (knee) is expected to make his season debut Saturday at home against Florida. ... The Islanders assigned forward Rob Schremp (back) to Bridgeport (AHL) on a conditioning assignment. ... Martin has three points in seven NHL games. ... Islanders D Bruno Gervais made his season debut, but he played as a forward on a checking line in place of LW Trevor Gillies, who was scratched for the first time this season. ... Auld hadn't beaten the Islanders since Jan. 14, 2006.

NHL's youngest player Jeff Skinner scores two goals in Canes' win

Madison Square Garden, New York- The youngest player in the NHL took a ribbing from his Carolina Hurricanes teammates before his first game at Madison Square Garden.


"There is a lot of history in this building and the guys were really giving it to me, talking about it being my first game here," Jeff Skinner said. Skinner, the Hurricanes' first-round draft pick who is 18 years, 5 months, made it a memorable evening with his first two-goal game Friday night to spark Carolina to a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Erik Cole scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with 3:59 left with Skinner playing a pivotal role in the score. Skinner drew the hooking penalty by New York's Brian Boyle that put Carolina on the power play. He then made the pass to set up a wide-open Cole for the winner. "I knew when I went back there, the goalie was down," Skinner said. "Fortunately, I got a good bounce when I threw it out front. Coles was in the right spot to finish the play off."

And that first time in MSG? "It was pretty cool," Skinner said.

Tuomo Ruutu also scored for Carolina and Cam Ward made 40 saves. "It was fun, this is Madison Square Garden," Ward said. "It's always fun to come out here and play. You see the goalie at the other end making the saves he was making, you really want to step up and match him." Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and Brandon Dubinsky scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves for the Rangers, 1-3-1 at MSG. "We have to keep on fighting here and you can't break apart," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We need to stay consistent and I think things will bounce our way, home or away." Ruutu scored the only goal of the first period as the Hurricanes regrouped from a slow start. It looked like a long night for the road weary Hurricanes who started the season in Europe and have played only one game at home in nine contests.

Ruutu connected on the power play with 4:31 left in the period, hammering home the rebound of Anton Babchuk's booming point shot. It was only the second power-play goal for the Hurricanes in the last six games. The Rangers dominated early, holding a 9-2 edge in shots. New York had a goal waived off about a minute in when the referees ruled Michael Del Zotto kicked the puck past Ward. The Rangers later hit a post and a crossbar before taking a pair of penalties that titled the momentum in the Hurricanes' favor. Ruutu cashed in the second man-advantage and Carolina finished the period with a 12-11 shot advantage. Skinner took advantage of a lucky bounce to put the Hurricanes up 2-0 only 56 seconds into the second. As players battled for control behind the Rangers net, the puck bounced off New York defenseman Michal Rozsival's skate and landed in the high slot where Skinner hammered it home.

Callahan and Staal both scored on the power play as the Rangers evened it at 2. The bounces went the Rangers way on Callahan's goal as the puck hit him in the skate and popped in the air and he bunted it home at 4:06. Staal connected at 12:24, but Skinner struck again 55 seconds later. Staal turned the puck over at his own blue line and Skinner broke in alone on Lundqvist, showing forehand before whipping a backhander into the net putting Carolina ahead 3-2. "It's tough to think out there because it happens so fast," Skinner said. "You have to use your instincts."

The Rangers got the final tally of the five-goal period as Dubinsky rang a shot off the post and into the net behind Ward at 15:43 to even the score at 3-3. The Rangers outshot the Hurricanes 18-8 in the wide-open second period.


Both goalies were sharp in the third.

Ward stopped a point-blank stop from Derek Stepan midway through, and Lundqvist stopped Chad LaRose on a 2-on-1 break and then stopped Cole on a close-in bid before he got the deciding tally. "It is very disappointing," Lundqvist said. "It was a pretty good game. I thought we played pretty well with a lot of chances both ways. It was a tough way to lose a game."

Game notes

Lundqvist faced Ward for 14th time in the last 16 meetings between the two teams ... Both teams will be back in action Saturday night. New York plays in Toronto, and Carolina returns home to face Pittsburgh.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
At Madison Square Garden, I'm Brandon J., reporting for the NY Rangers.

Devin Harris, Nets forge late rally to dispatch Kings


Newark, New Jersey- The New Jersey Nets have started the season on another streak -- a winning streak.


After opening last season with an NBA-record 18 straight losses, the revamped Nets are going in a different direction under new owner Mikhail Prokhorov and new coach Avery Johnson. Devin Harris had 21 points and 10 assists and the Nets staged another late rally in a 106-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. This win came just two days after the Nets rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 1:40 to win their season opener against Detroit. "It says we're a team of a lot of heart but that's not something we want to make a habit," Harris said. "It's good to know we can make these comebacks. We don't want every game [to be] we lose it, then we're down 10 in the fourth quarter and we have to put time and energy to come back because it's a long season."

It can never be a long as last year, when the Nets won 12 games. They needed 21 games to get two wins last season. "It just shows how hard we've been working and the preparation we've put in," said Brook Lopez, who led the Nets with 29 points and six rebounds. New Jersey closed with a 17-3 surge over the final 3:40, with Harris scoring six straight late in the run. "Praise the comeback," said Johnson, whose team used a game-closing 13-3 spurt to beat Detroit. "Guys don't give back. Let's praise the comeback. That's what it's all about."

There were negatives though.

The Nets squandered an 18-point lead in this one, and gave up 32 points off turnovers. Still, they are 2-0 for the first time since 2002-03. Travis Outlaw added 18 for New Jersey and Jordan Farmar had 14, including four late free throws. Tyreke Evans, who missed the Kings' opener because of a one-game suspension for pleading no-contest to reckless driving, and Francisco Garcia had 18 points apiece for Sacramento. Carl Landry and Beno Udrih each had 14 points. The Kings were trying to open the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2003-04 and seemed to be on their way when Evans scored on a reverse layup with 3:41 to play for a 97-89 lead.

However, they quickly fell apart and New Jersey took advantage. "This is one of the guys we should have pulled it out," Evans said. "We had a problem with that last year so we have to take this loss on the chin and come back." Down eight, Lopez scored inside and Farmar hit a big 3-pointer for the second straight game to cut the lead to 97-94 with 2:20 to go. After Landry missed a reverse, Harris made another free throw, then put New Jersey ahead 98-97 with a 3-pointer with 1:12 left. Udrih missed a jumper and Harris sent a charge through the crowd of 13,482 fans when he made an off-balance shot for a 100-97 edge.


"As a young team, when we make mistakes we have to keep our heads up and continue to fight," said Harris, who was 7 of 10 from the field. "I think sometimes when we compound mistakes we sort of let it down a little bit and take our foot off the gas. But we have continue to fight through and we showed a lot of resilience coming back in the fourth quarter." Farmar and Outlaw made some key free throws down the stretch to ice the ugly game that featured 62 personal fouls, 38 turnovers, including 26 by New Jersey, and six technical fouls. While the Nets had more turnovers, they also had more free throws, making 36 of 45 attempts. Sacramento was 17 of 26.

"To give up 45 free throws is not the way to win the game," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins, the fifth overall pick in the draft, had 12 points before fouling out with 3:26 to play. Nets forward Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall, had 10 points. New Jersey, which shot 59 percent in the first half, built an 18-point lead late in the second quarter when Lopez hit two free throws with 3:33 left in the half. The Nets got sloppy after that and the Kings closed the half with a 14-4 spurt to cut it to 61-53. Sacramento kept chipping away at the lead in the third quarter, closing to 68-66 on a 3-pointer by Garcia with 6:54 left in the period. After the Nets pushed the lead back to 76-68 on dunk by Favors, the Kings went on a 14-point spurt to take the lead.


Game notes

Prokhorov took NJ Transit from New York to Newark and then walked the five minutes to the Prudential Center. ... Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, was at the game. ... Kings C Samuel Dalembert played 6:23 after missing the opener with a strained groin.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
In New Jersey, I'm Brandon J., reporting for the Nets.

Rajon Rondo's 24 assists highlight triple-double as Celtics hold off Knicks

Boston- Doc Rivers met with his team after Friday's shootaround to make sure everyone knew his role. Rajon Rondo's was simple: Spread the ball around. The Celtics point guard immediately put the lesson into practice. Rondo had a triple-double with a career-high 24 assists on Friday night to lead Boston to a 105-101 victory over the New York Knicks. It was second-most in franchise history and the most since Bob Cousy had 28 in 1959. "It means a lot, but I'll try and catch him," Rondo said of being on a list with the Hall of Famer. "[It's] all about the teammates. If they don't make the shots, we don't get team assists."

 Rondo had 10 points and 10 rebounds and topped his regular-season best of 18 assists set against Sacramento in March; he also had two playoff games with 19. "If you're not ready, he'll embarrass you. He'll hit you right in the head with the ball," said Kevin Garnett, who scored 24 points with 10 rebounds. "He'll see something you didn't see, but he'll make you see it." Rondo assisted on eight of Garnett's 12 baskets and six of the seven by Glen Davis. He had four assists to Paul Pierce, three to Ray Allen, two to Shaquille O'Neal and one to Marquis Daniels. The only players who scored and didn't get an assist from Rondo were Rondo himself and his backup, Nate Robinson.

"He pretty much got everyone involved," said Pierce, who scored 25 points with 14 rebounds. "He got the popcorn man involved. He got the announcers involved. Everybody. It was beautiful to watch." Amare Stoudemire scored 27 for the Knicks, reserve Wilson Chandler had 19 and Raymond Felton scored 17. Landry Fields had 11 points and 10 rebounds in New York's first loss after winning its opener on Wednesday. And Rondo was the reason. "He is one of the best point guards, no doubt," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Boston led most of the game before Stoudemire converted a three-point play with 37 seconds left to make it 102-98. After Pierce hit one of two free throws -- his first point of the quarter -- Stoudemire hit a long 3-pointer to cut it to 103-101 with 18 seconds left. But Pierce hit both free throws this time. Chandler had another 3-point attempt that would have cut it to one point, but he missed with about 13 seconds left. "I probably rushed it a little bit," he said. "I probably could have gotten a better shot." Davis had 16 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench before fouling out with 2:33 left in the game. Shaquille O'Neal had 10 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes; he left with a bruised right knee but said it was not serious.

With the much-hyped opener against LeBron James and the Miami Heat behind them, the Celtics got back to the long grind of the NBA regular season. The crowd had come down from the excitement of the opener, which Boston won 88-80 (before losing the next night in Cleveland to the team James jilted). The signs mocking Miami were gone, along with the celebrities in the five-figure courtside seats. So was the intensity on the court. The Celtics were sluggish at the start and had 10 turnovers at the half (giving them 50 in their first 10 quarters). Boston trailed 15-6 before scoring 12 of the next 13 points. Boston led 76-69 late in the third quarter when Toney Douglas hit a 3-pointer to pull the Knicks within four. But Pierce answered with a 3-pointer of his own. Allen opened the fourth with a basket, on an assist from Rondo, and Rondo set Davis up for a three-point play that gave the Celtics an 84-72 lead. The Knicks didn't get within seven points until the final 37 seconds.

Game notes

Jermaine O'Neal was scratched with a sore left knee. ... Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed before the game that backup guards Von Wafer and Delonte West had a fight after the morning shootaround. Rivers said the team would handle it internally. ... Rondo was honored before the game for making the all-defensive team and for leading the NBA with 189 steals last year. ... Allen reached the 21,000-point milestone in the second quarter.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
In Boston, I'm Brandon J., reporting for the Knicks.

Yankee manager Joe Giradi re-signed for 3 years

Yankee Stadium- For Joe Girardi(picture on right), signing his new contract to manage the New York Yankees for three more years was about as easy as his job will get between now and 2013. Because now that the fun stuff is out of the way -- agreeing to a $400,000-per-year raise and another $50,000 in bonus money should he take the Yankees back to the World Series -- there are a lot of difficult tasks ahead.

First off, he's got to find a new pitching coach -- a search made more difficult by the likely fact that he wishes he still had the old one. But GM Brian Cashman made that call for him, firing Dave Eiland at the end of the season, so now Girardi has to start from scratch and form a new working relationship with whoever Cashman decides to entrust with what he calls "a hugely important position.'' But wait, it gets tougher. Then there is the looming prospect of having to ask -- no, tell -- Derek Jeter that the spot formerly reserved for him at the top of the Yankees' batting order isn't his anymore.

That ought to go well. And then there is the conversation he must have with Jorge Posada, in which he informs the charter member of the Yankees' Core Four that the seat that has been his for the past 14 years -- the one directly behind home plate at Yankee Stadium -- may not be his sole property anymore, either, and that he may be taking a seat on the bench between his at-bats a lot more often than he would like next season. Then there is the Alex Rodriguez problem -- as in, when do you tell your $32.5 million third baseman that it is time for him to become a part-time third-baseman or full-time DH? Hopefully for Girardi, that conversation is a full season away, after Posada's contract runs out. And presumably his GM will do something about the potential logjam of designated hitters on the Yankees' roster. Plus, there is the A.J. Burnett problem -- such as when, if ever, to use him again. And the Joba Chamberlain problem (same as the A.J. Burnett problem), and the David Robertson problem -- better known as "which bridge should I take to get to Mariano Island?''

For a team that won 95 games in 2010 and came within two victories of a second-straight trip to the World Series, Girardi seems to have inherited more than his fair share of problems along with his $9 million windfall. Part of the reason for that is, $213 million doesn't seem to buy what it used to. For all that money, by the end of their playoff run the Yankees found themselves short of pitching -- both starting and relief -- and thinner on the bench than Mariano is in the waistline. The problem is, so much of the team's payroll is concentrated on so little of its roster that sometimes it appears as though the rest is patchwork. For instance, if A-Rod or Jeter go down, who steps in behind them? Same goes for Mark Teixeira, now that Lance Berkman is gone.


And as for the truly unthinkable, what if Rivera goes down? In that case, there simply is no Plan B, because realistically, there can't be. At times during the playoffs, it seemed as though Girardi was managing with a roster of 23 players instead of 25 -- the equivalent of an NBA coach whittling his rotation down to seven players. He had Austin Kearns on his roster for no discernible reason other than he had no better choice. Same goes for Ramiro Pena. And when they lost Mark Teixeira to a hamstring injury in the ALCS, the best they could come up with to replace him was Eduardo Nunez. Girardi didn't get away with it in 2010, and it will be even tougher in 2011, when everyone is a year older and many of them are a year closer to retirement.


Already, Girardi is hinting at what he knows must be done. Without singling out Jeter, he acknowledged that lineup changes are probably on the way. And while praising Jeter and A-Rod for their defensive abilities -- "The balls that they get to, they make the plays'' -- what was left unsaid spoke volumes about their lack of range. Girardi knows his roster is aging. He also has no idea -- and neither, apparently, does Cashman -- if Hal and Hank Steinbrenner will authorize the kind of expenditures necessary to replace those aging parts with veteran major league-ready talent. "I have no anticipation one way or the other,'' Cashman said when asked if he thought his payroll would change in either direction for 2011. He is headed to a series of meetings in Tampa with the Steinbrenner Bros. on Monday to learn how fat his checkbook will be for next season.

It is assumed the Yankees will go all-out for Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers' stud left-hander who stifled them in Game 3 of the ALCS. After that, nothing is certain. Cashman has said he is happy with his outfield of Brett Gardner in left, Curtis Granderson in center and Nick Swisher in right -- making it questionable, and perhaps doubtful, that the Yankees will make a run at Carl Crawford, the Tampa Bay Rays outfielder who will be also be a free agent this winter. But there are other pressing needs that must be addressed. Who will replace Kerry Wood as the eighth-inning set-up man? Who will inherit the bulk of the catching if Posada is phased into a DH role? Will Cliff Lee be enough to shore up the rotation, especially if Andy Pettitte decides not to come back?


These are questions for Cashman to wrestle with in the winter, but they will be Girardi's problems once the season begins. Add in Girardi's own internal struggles -- he gives off a tense and intense vibe that may or may not affect the demeanor of his clubhouse -- and you are mixing up a potion that could simmer all season long and eventually explode. For now, the Yankees have made the right choice. Girardi, for all his quirks and compulsive behaviors, is a fine manager who seems to have the trust and respect of his players and his GM. His record here over the past three years certainly warranted a new contract for at least three more. But with that contract should have also come the promise of the kind of full support and backup he didn't have in 2010. Despite his protestations to the contrary, it would have been natural for Girardi to have at least toyed with the idea of taking the job managing the Chicago Cubs -- in the city where he grew up, with the team he rooted for as a kid and wound up playing for.


After that job went to someone else, Girardi's decision to stay with the Yankees must have gotten a whole lot easier. But come 2011, he actually has to manage them again. And that is going to be a whole lot tougher than it was in 2010.


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Mets go old school, hire Sandy Alderson to be their GM

Port St. Lucie, Florida- It's been a long time since Sandy Alderson built an organization, but if his past success in Oakland is an indication, the New York Mets got themselves the right man to run the club. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported first that the Mets hired Alderson to be their general manager, and an announcement could come Friday. At 62 years old, Alderson is 22 years the senior of the other top candidate, Josh Byrnes, who recently was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks after being their GM for four years. Alderson replaces Omar Minaya, who had run the Mets since Sept. of 2004. Under Minaya, the Mets reached the NLCS in 2006, but were mostly known for implosion and dysfunction.

The 'Ropolitans, for one, seem to have hope that Alderson will be able to stand up to ownership so they let him do his job. Heyman also says Alderson, whose team needs a new manager to replace Jerry Manuel, is expected to ignore calls within the organization to hire Wally Backman. Alderson's résumé is unmatched, having served as GM and later president of the Oakland Athletics from 1983 to 1997. With Alderson and manager Tony La Russa in the lead, the A's teams of 1988-1992 with Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Dennis Eckersley won four division titles and reached three World Series — winning it all in '89.

With Alderson as GM, the A's also turned out three straight AL Rookies of the Year — Canseco, McGwire and Walt Weiss. Canseco wasn't drafted by Alderson, but he should get credit for developing him. And those A's teams were constructed every which way — draft, free agency, trades, etc. If there's a downside to Alderson, it's that he hasn't run day-to-day baseball operations since '97, having served as CEO for the San Diego Padres until working for the commissioner's office this past season. He's also seen as a possible successor to Bud Selig.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!
In Port St. Lucie, Florida, I'm Brandon J., reporting fro the Mets.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cain’s pitching, offense give Giants 2-0 lead in World Series


Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas- For a team that barely made it to the playoffs, the San Francisco Giants are looking more and more like a baseball juggernaut. Matt Cain pitched 7 2/3 innings and combined with his bullpen on a four-hitter, Edgar Renteria reprised his October success with a home run and three RBIs, and San Francisco broke away for a 9-0 win Thursday night and a 2-0 Series lead. “We’ve put ourselves in a good situation,” said Cain, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in the postseason. “We’ve just got to take that confidence and some of the good approaches that we’ve had into these last two games and take them down to Texas with us.” Forty of the previous 51 teams to take a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the title, including seven straight and 13 of the last 14.
After a day off, the Series resumes for the first time in Arlington, Texas. Colby Lewis starts Game 3 for the Rangers on Saturday night against Jonathan Sanchez. “I don’t think we caught any breaks yet,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We certainly don’t feel like we’re defeated. We’re heading home. They took care of us in their ballpark, now we’re headed to ours.” San Francisco improved to 11-0 against Texas at AT&T Park and got its third shutout in nine postseason wins. The Giants sent the high-octane Rangers offense to its first shutout since Sept. 23. Not bad for a team that scored 19 runs in its six-game NL championship series win over Philadelphia.

By the ninth inning, giddy fans waving orange pompoms and scarves were chanting “Sweep! Sweep!” A four-game Series would end on a night for the Giants’ colors—Halloween. “Unbelievable,” said Renteria, who has just eight regular-season homers in the last two years. “You guys know I have power.” No team has overcome a 2-0 Series deficit since the 1996 New York Yankees against Atlanta. The Giants have won each time they took a 2-0 lead: in 1922, 1933 and 1954.

“We’re not playing the same,” said the Nelson Cruz, one of several slumping Rangers. “I don’t know what it is. I wish I could tell you. The way we’re playing, it’s different. It’s not us.” Cruz is 1 for 9 and Josh Hamilton is 1 for 8 with no RBIs. There’s a reason. “I think that more or less it has to do with the pitching we’ve been facing,” Washington said. “We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches.”

While the Giants had the best ERA in the majors during the regular season, they were just 17th in runs—the fewest among the eight postseason teams. Yet San Francisco has outscored Texas 20-7 and outhit the Rangers .314 to .227. The Giants’ offense if picking up speed faster than a cable car heading down Nob Hill. “You take all the runs you can get,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Four straight two-out walks by Rangers relievers let the game out of control, and Texas set a record for most runs allowed in a franchise’s first two Series games—five more than Colorado did against Boston in 2007. At this rate, team president and part-owner Nolan Ryan probably wants to grab a ball himself and get on the mound.

“It’s not going to bother us. We’re still confident we can win this thing,” said Derek Holland, who forced in a run with three straight walks. Loser C.J. Wilson didn’t pitch badly, allowed two runs and three hits in six-plus innings. He gave up Renteria’s fifth-inning homer, then left the mound accompanied by a trainer with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand following a leadoff walk in the seventh. Juan Uribe added a run-scoring single against reliever Darren Oliver. “This blister is something he’s been dealing with all year,” Washington said. “He’ll put some glue on it and do whatever he has to do to close it up.” San Francisco pulled away as Washington again made bullpen moves too late, and the Giants became the first team in World Series history to score seven runs in an inning after two outs and the bases empty.

After Holland’s bases-loaded walk to Aubrey Huff, Mark Lowe walked Uribe. Renteria, whose 11th-inning single won Game 7 of the 1997 Series for Florida against Cleveland, followed with a two-run single. Pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand hit a two-run triple against Michael Kirkman, and Andres Torres doubled in a run. Cain allowed all four hits, and has allowed only a single unearned run in 21 1/'3 innings over three postseason starts. He joined the Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933), the Yankees’ Waite Hoyt (1921) and Detroit’s Kenny Rogers(notes) (2006) as the only pitchers to allow no unearned runs in 20 or more innings in a single postseason.

Cain credited rookie catcher Buster Posey. “I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Cain said. “Buster’s doing a great job of putting down the right fingers. He’s been calling the right pitches.” Javier Lopez and Guillermo Mota finished. San Francisco has a 2.64 ERA in the postseason with 109 strikeouts in 109 innings—and just 35 walks. Now the Giants have to keep it up on the road. “Now we’re going in their ballpark,” Bochy said. “I’m sure they’re going to have a sense of confidence. We’ve been road warriors, so that’s what it’s going to take right now.” Texas had a chance to get ahead when Ian Kinsler drove an 0-2 pitch leading off the fifth to deep center. The ball hit flush off the top of the fence, just to the left of the 399-foot sign, bounded up and was caught by Torres, who held him to a double.

“I thought it was a home run,” Cain said. Replays showed umpires got the call correct. “A lot of times they do bounce out,” Bochy said. “But we got a break there.” Kinsler was stranded when David Murphy lined to shortstop, Matt Treanor grounded to shortstop and—following an intentional walk—Wilson grounded weakly to first.

Renteria led off the bottom half by pulling an 0-1 pitch at the letters down the left-field line, where it landed about eight rows deep, next to an alleyway. Renteria had gone 53 straight at-bats without a home run since connecting off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Ted Lilly on Sept. 4 and had not homered at AT&T Park since July 27 against Florida’s Brian Sanches. All the bounces have gone the Giants’ way. “I don’t think we caught any breaks yet,” Washington said. “We certainly don’t feel like we’re defeated. We’re heading home. They took care of us in their ballpark, now we’re headed to ours.”

NOTES: Former 49ers QB Joe Montana was at the game and was shown on the videoboard, as was Journey’s Steve Perry… The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Megan Armstrong and Nancy Mitchell, daughters of Bobby Thomson, who died in August. Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World won the 1951 NL pennant for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers. … Texas hadn’t forced in two runs in an inning with bases-loaded walks since Rich Harden(notes) did it on April 7 against Toronto, according to STATS LLC. … Elvis Andrus(notes) and Cruz failed to get hits, stopping their 12-game postseason hitting streak.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
From Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Texas, I'm Brandon J., reporting from the World Series.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Linsecum, Giants rock Lee, Rangers in 11-7 win

AT&T Park, San Francisco- The Giants turned game 1 of the World Series into an extra, long round of batting practice aganist the Rangers. Freddy Sanches sprayed balls down the lines. Cody Ross and Aubry Huff hit line drives up the middle. Juan Uribe hit a towering drive over the wall for a 3-run homer. So much for the unbeatable Cliff Lee. The Giants battered Lee and the bullpen with Sanchez hitting 3 doubles in a key 6 run outburst for an 11-7 win that looked lopsided. What started out as a good pitchers duel turned into a rout. By the end of the game, The Rangers made 4 errors and Rangers Manager Ron Washington may have waited too long to pull his ace. “It wasn’t quite the game we thought it would be,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Great pitchers, sometimes they’re a little bit off.” Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds had plenty to cheer for from his seat next to the San Francisco dugout, especially when a tie game suddenly became an 8-2 thumping in the fifth inning. Rangers president and part-owner Nolan Ryan sat there glumly in a suit and tie, his prized pitcher a wreck.

Down early 2-0 to Lee, the Giants swung things in their favor in a hurry. “We weren’t too worried,” Sanchez said. “We were actually surprisingly calm in there. We were able to get some things going. … We still felt like we had a chance. “We know he throws a lot of strikes,” he said. “We know he’s one of the best pitchers in the game, especially in the postseason. We just wanted to attack him early.”And they did. Lee threw first-pitch strikes to 15 hitters, seven of those hitters swung. “I saw the Giants work him pretty good,” Washington said. “We left some pitches in spots we didn’t want.” The Rangers did late damage, scoring three times in the ninth. Nelson Cruz hit a two-out, two-run double off Brian Wilson(notes) before the Fear the Beard closer finished it off. Added up, the Giants improved to 10-0 against Texas at AT&T Park. Showers are in the forecast for Game 2 on Thursday night when Matt Cain and his 0.00 ERA in two playoff start takes on C.J. Wilson and the Rangers. Sanchez finished with four of the Giants’ 14 hits, which included six doubles. Right after Lee walked off the mound in the fifth, Uribe greeted sidearming reliever Darren O’Day with a three-run jolt that broke it open.

Sanchez became the first player to hit a double in each of his first three Series at-bats. He nearly had a fourth, too, but the play was scored a single and an error. San Francisco had gotten through the NL playoffs because of their dominant pitching, plus an ability to win one-run decisions. None of that came into play on this beautiful night for baseball. Lincecum struggled at the beginning, making a strange mental error, but settled down as the game progressed. The shaggy-haired ace walked off to a standing ovation in the sixth, his glove in his right hand and his head down. The Rangers tagged him for eight hits, two of them shots off his left leg. What happened to Lee was simply remarkable. He came into the game with a 7-0 record in postseason play, one win shy of matching the record set by Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez for the best start in these big games. But the lefty who loves to stick to his routine—and his messy hat—was all over the place on eight days’ rest. He couldn’t control his curve and when he did throw it over the plate, it was flat. With the score 2-all, Andres Torres hit a one-out double in the Giants fifth. Sanchez, a former NL batting champion, followed with a sharp double and Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux was already on the way to the mound as the Rangers got the ball back to Lee.

There was no break for Lee, however. NL championship series MVP Ross, who hit his first major league homer off Lee back in 2003, lined an RBI single up the middle on the lefty’s 100th pitch. That hit prompted Lee to slam his pitching hand into his glove, and Huff’s RBI single to center finished him. Uribe capped the big inning by connecting on the third pitch from O’Day. The homer was accompanied by sights and sounds that make AT&T Park unique—burst from a fog horn and blasts from a water cannon. “We just clicked on all cylinders,” Bochy said. The last time the Giants had scored six runs in an inning during the postseason was in the 1937 World Series. The Giants have not won the World Series since moving West from New York. Texas made its first Series appearance in the franchise’s 50th season. This has been the Year of the Pitcher, especially in the postseason. Yet Lincecum and Lee hardly looked like Cy Young winners in the early innings. Instead of expert Cys, there were exasperated sighs on both sides. Neither team looked especially sharp at the start, in fact, mixing physical and mental mistakes. Big-game jitters? The twilight start? Whatever, when Tony Bennett sang his famed “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” on the field after the first inning, it was easy to wonder where the Giants and Rangers had left their gloves and minds. Lincecum seemed caught in a fog, inexplicably losing track of the runners and outs in the opening inning.

Vladimir Guerrero hit a one-hopper off Lincecum’s leg for an RBI single, leaving Rangers at the corners. The slight righty then fielded a tapper by Cruz in front of the plate, but simply let Michael Young scamper back to third. Lincecum buckled down with the bases loaded, getting Kinsler to ground into an inning-ending double play. After the heady Sanchez was doubled off second on Buster Posey’s shallow fly in the bottom of the first, Texas struck again in the second. Cheered during pregame introductions, former Giants catcher Bengie Molina heard groans after a leadoff single. Lee bluffed a bunt, pulled back and lined a double that made him 4 for 12 (.333) lifetime in the postseason. From the dugout, all the Rangers clenched their hands in a claw—the team’s signal for a big play. Lee merely stuck his hands out to side, as if to say, “What luck!” Elvis Andrus’(notes) sacrifice fly made it 2-0. A misplayed grounder by Young at third base helped the Giants get even in the third. Sanchez lined an RBI double just past Young’s glove and scored the tying run on Posey’s single.

Notes: Andrus singled to start the evening. He has hit safely in all 12 postseason games. … Exactly 21 years ago, the 1989 World Series resumed after a 10-day delay because of an earthquake in the Bay Area. … Willie Mays was set to throw out the first ball, but was ill and missed the game. Juan Marichal, Monte Irvin and Willie McCovey were among the Giants greats who took part in the ceremonies. … The team that took the World Series opener went to win the championship 61 percent of the time.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Features of our site

Here at Brandon J.'s News, not only are we devoted to news, we are devoted to make things easier for people visiting our site.

For our Doppler 3000, you just click on any city for you to zoom in. You can switch between a satelite and a map, and between Radar, Satelite or both. Also, don't put the transparency above 35% if you want to see the rain, snow, etc. You can also stop the radar, time it every 5 minutes or freeze it by clicking on the buttons on the bottom. The radar is brought to you by Bing and the Weather Channel.

You also have a 7 day forcast. It might say North Carolina at first, but just click the little box, type in the zip code for where you live(Ex:10027). Don't click the hourly forcast unless you are in a another window or put in a new tab. It will fill the screen with something, and you will have top reload the page in order to see it again.

We hope you enjoy our site, and we hope you will continue to come back and see our latest stories, and our new widgets.

Thank You.
Brandon J., President of Brandon J.'s News

Mets have options- Many of them bad part 2

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE

Angel Pagan. The outfielder agreed to a $1.45 million salary last season to avoid arbitration. Now eligible for the second time, and under the Mets' control through the 2012 season, Pagan's salary could jump to the $4 million range.

Mike Pelfrey. Because Pelfrey's original multimillion-dollar deal with the Mets as a first-round pick expired after the 2009 season without the right-hander's having gained enough service time to be arbitration-eligible, the Mets were able to exercise a $500,000 option for this season. Now, Pelfrey has the required three years of service time to be eligible for arbitration. As the Mets' wins leader, he could be due for a hefty raise. ESPN's Keith Law forecasts Pelfrey could be due at least $4 million.

R.A. Dickey. Despite having debuted in the majors in 2001, Dickey cannot be a free agent until after the 2011 season -- and that's contingent upon him spending 165 of the 183-day season on the major league roster next year. Regardless, Dickey could perhaps triple the $600,000 salary he was due to make this year -- or earn even more.

John Maine. Maine's Mets career is almost assuredly over. Because Maine made $3.3 million in 2010, the Mets will be forced to cut him, since a player has to make 80 percent of his previous year's salary in arbitration -- and a pay cut almost never happens. (A.J. Burnett once received the same salary after missing a full year recovering from Tommy John surgery.) Maine, who underwent shoulder surgery again this year, could wind up with Milwaukee, where pitching coach Rick Peterson long has been an admirer.

Sean Green. Green ended up on the disabled list after one April appearance with a fracture in a rib. After his rehab assignment expired, the Mets left him at Triple-A Buffalo until rosters expanded in September. Green made $975,000 this season and likely would not be due a raise in arbitration. He also has a minor league option remaining. Will the Mets cut Green by the Dec. 2 deadline, after which they must commit to arbitration? The current front office likely would drop Green, but let's see who is running things when the decision needs to be made.

UNLOADABLE?
Oliver Perez. Rather than signings this winter, the bulk of the energy may be spent trying to unload contracts. Good luck finding someone to take on Perez. There seems zero chance Perez actually makes it to Opening Day with the Mets. Still, it seems equally unlikely another organization would take on any of the $12 million owed to Perez in 2011. The Mets likely will be forced to eat the remainder of the contract.

Luis Castillo. Although not as rock solid, Castillo likely is a goner, too, with the Mets perhaps finding an onerous contract elsewhere to match up with the $6 million owed to Castillo in 2011. If the Mets stay internal for a replacement, some combination of Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada could be the answer at the position for next season. Murphy is now playing second base in the instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla. He then intends to continue his education at that position with Aguilas in the Dominican Republic this winter.

Carlos Beltran. Beltran had shown some recent signs of life before leaving last Tuesday's game with right knee pain. The Mets undoubtedly will explore trading options. That should be a chore. Multiple baseball sources suggest the Mets would need to heavily subsidize the $18.5 million owed to Beltran in the final year of his deal in 2011 in order to find a taker. The Mets rarely have shown an inclination to pay such subsidies. And during a season in which they may be forced to underwrite Perez and Castillo playing elsewhere, lumping Beltran in that group, too, seems like a long shot. That brings up another messy question. Would the Mets move Beltran to right field and have Pagan play center field next season? They have already eroded a ton if goodwill with public sniping over whether Beltran had permission to have surgery and whether he had a valid reason to not join teammates on a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C.

KEY DATES
Nov. 23. Final day to offer arbitration to Mets free agents to get draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere. Feliciano could be a Type A free agent, which would net the Mets two picks. The danger, though, is that Feliciano could turn around and agree to arbitration with the Mets, and return on a one-year deal with a contract costing as much as $4 million.

Nov. 30. Last-day free agents offered arbitration can accept and return to their 2010 clubs with the right for a hearing.

Dec. 2. Deadline to offer arbitration to players still under control, or to nontender them and cut them loose. That's the group with three to six years' experience that includes Pagan and Maine.

Jan. 18. Salary arbitration figures exchanged.

Feb. 1-21. Arbitration hearings.

Feb. 13. Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.

Feb. 18. Voluntary reporting date for position players.


OFFSEASON ACTION
Just because the Mets' regular season is complete does not mean play is done for the winter. The Mets are currently holding an instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla., for farmhands. The group includes Murphy, who is learning to play second base as he returns from a knee injury, as well as top prospect Wilmer Flores and 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey, a right-hander who signed for $2.525 million out of the University of North Carolina.

The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 12, with the Mets' farmhands assigned to Mesa. The top prospect participating: outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Catcher Kai Gronauer, infielder Jordany Valdespin, left-handers Robert Carson and Eric Niesen, right-handers Brad Holt and Nick Carr, and pitching coach Ricky Bones round out the group.

Defending Caribbean Series champion Escogido (Dominican Republic), with ex-Met Moises Alou as GM and Triple-A manager Ken Oberkfell as skipper, will have a heavy Mets presence. Scheduled to play for the club are Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez and Joaquin Arias. Jenrry Mejia, assuming he recovers from a shoulder injury, plans to pitch as a starter for Escogido. Panamanian infielder Ruben Tejada may find himself playing in Venezuela.


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Mets have options- Many of them bad part 1

First the New York Mets must resolve their front-office composition. Then they can get down to the business of putting together their 2011 edition. That figures to be a big challenge, with the Wilpons' payroll commitment for next season already flirting with $130 million before any winter activity. Teams can start expressing interest in free agents immediately after the World Series, and begin bidding five days after that. Whoever is in charge will lay groundwork for offseason trades at the general managers' meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 16-17. Weeks later, executives and agents will reconvene in Florida for the Dec. 6-9 winter meetings at Disney's Swan and Dolphin in Lake Buena Vista.

Also on tap: an Oct. 18 hearing before an arbitrator concerning suspended closer Francisco Rodriguez's grievance over lost pay and the conversion of his contract to nonguaranteed.


Here's an offseason primer: POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS

Jose Reyes. He technically can be a free agent, but the Mets are expected to exercise their team option for $11 million for 2011. At some point the organization can discuss signing Reyes to an extension that would supersede that option, but no talks have occurred as the Mets wait to first sort out their front office. One way the Mets can gain payroll flexibility for this winter is by signing Reyes to an extension that calls for a lower base salary next season, with higher pay on the back end of the deal. Of course, one reason the Mets got into their current predicament with a bloated payroll is by backloading previous deals. A Mets official predicted everything would be on the table this winter, including looking into trading Reyes. But the timing isn't exactly right for getting maximum value, since Reyes missed significant time the past two seasons with health issues and only is under control for one more season at this point.

Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano presents an interesting dilemma. The reliever has been invaluable as a left-handed specialist, both in terms of effectiveness and durability. He has set franchise records for appearances in three straight seasons, with 86 in 2008, 88 in 2009 and with No. 89 on Tuesday. The 34-year-old Feliciano is making $2.9 million this season. If a team is willing to give him a raise and guarantee two to three years, Feliciano may be priced out of the Mets' willingness to pay. What would the Mets possibly do then? There are no obvious answers in the system, where farmhands Eric Niesen and Mike Antonini might be the best alternatives.

Hisanori Takahashi. Although Takahashi came to the Mets on a minor league deal and had rookie status this year, the Mets granted him the right to be a free agent after the season. That's going to cost the organization, which has exclusive negotiating rights with the Japanese southpaw through October. With Johan Santana potentially not ready for the start of the season following shoulder surgery, Takahashi's versatility could be valuable. Even though batters hit Takahashi better the more times they see him in a game, he still could be effective as a part-time starter. And he showed he has the savvy to handle the back end of the bullpen, too, despite hardly jaw-dropping velocity readings. Entering the final homestand, Takahashi was 8-for-8 in save chances.

Henry Blanco. There is little doubt Josh Thole will be the primary catcher in 2011, with expectations within the industry that he could hit .290 with five homers and be an average defensive catcher in that role. The Mets will need a righty-hitting backup who can play 20 to 30 percent of the time. Re-signing Blanco to fill that role is plausible, although he will turn 40 late next season, which is perhaps a red flag.

Fernando Tatis. Originally part of a platoon with Mike Jacobs at first base, Tatis hit .185 in 65 at-bats and ultimately underwent shoulder surgery. The Mets are expected to move on, with Nick Evans potentially assuming that role as righty bat for the bench who can play first base, third base and left field.

Elmer Dessens. The right-handed reliever has been a workhorse, and put up a quality 2.40 ERA entering the final homestand. He turns 40 on Jan. 13. Bringing him back as a spring-training candidate for a bullpen spot appears a realistic option.

Kelvim Escobar. Safe to say he won't be back. Escobar arrived in spring training with shoulder woes and eventually underwent surgery while collecting $1.25 million and never throwing a pitch for the organization.



Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
bransports@gmail.com

Yankees start changes, fire coach Eiland

Yankee Stadium- In the wake of the disappointing end to New York's season, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has fired pitching coach Dave Eiland. "I'm not going into any detail about what the reasons were," Cashman said on Monday. Cashman said it had nothing to do with how poorly the Yankees pitched in the American League Championship Series, where they were eliminated by the Texas Rangers in six games. Cashman termed the decision a "private" one.

Toward the end of the first half, Eiland missed nearly a month with an undisclosed personal problem. Eiland's absence coincided with the downfall of A.J. Burnett's season. Cashman said he thinks Eiland will get another job in the majors as a pitching coach.

"Dave spent his entire coaching career with the Yankees organization, and there is little doubt the impact he had on a great number of pitchers during his tenure," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a statement. "He was a passionate and knowledgeable pitching coach on the major league level, and he played a valuable role in our team's achievements in recent years. I wish him continued success moving forward as his baseball career continues to evolve."

 Cashman said he is planning to start negotiations on a new contract with the agent for Girardi on Tuesday. The plan is to sign Girardi, and then the Yankees will figure out who will replace Eiland. Girardi is 287-199 with New York, winning the 2009 World Series title after the Yankees missed the playoffs in '08, his first season as Joe Torre's replacement, for the first time since 1993. "I love being here. I've love working here," Girardi said. "I want to be back. I hope it gets done quickly." That would give him more time to work on some pressing issues before the start of spring training.


Girardi and Cashman each stressed pitching as an offseason priority, but neither mentioned the most coveted free-agent-to-be, Cliff Lee, who has beaten the Yankees three times in the last two postseasons.

"I'm sure we'll definitely look at the free-agent market pitchers and make some evaluations," Girardi said, trying to contain some laughter. "I have to be careful about what I say about free agents at this point."


Despite winning 95 games and leading the majors in scoring, the Yankees sputtered into the postseason, going 29-30 from Aug. 1 on. One issue that money will not be able to solve, however, is how to deal with the aging stars. The Yankees will most certainly re-sign Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte -- if he wants to return. Alex Rodriguez is signed until his 40s, and 39-year-old catcher Jorge Posada has a year left on his contract.

Other than Rivera, who turns 41 on Nov. 29, they all showed signs of slowing. Jeter is coming off a season in which he hit a career low .270 and turned 36. Pettitte, Posada and A-Rod missed time with injuries. Girardi said Monday that the 38-year-old Pettitte didn't start Game 2 in the ALCS because he hurt his back in his division series start against Minnesota and needed more time to rest.

"It's something that when I took this job that I knew that I'd have to deal with down the road," Girardi said. "I think our players can do it, but maybe not quite at the same pace they did when they were 25 years old."


Still, they're wanted back, even if Posada, Jeter and Rodriguez have to begin to deal with diminished playing time. Girardi said he hadn't thought about dropping Jeter in the batting order because Jeter hit .334 in 2009 and can still produce. Cashman agreed, saying "there's still some game left in that guy."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yankees fall to Rangers in game 6 of ALCS

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas- All the Yankees needed to do to return to the World Series was to beat the Rangers in game 6 and in Game 7. If you are a Yankee fan, it's best for me that you stop reading right about now. But if you really want to know how it ended, I encourage you to read on.

Phil Hughes, who did a bad job in Texas in Game 2, was on the mound. It started out good, but then it started to get bad. After Josh Hamilton was inteentionaly walked for the 3rd time, Vlademir Gurrero hit a 2-run double to wipe away a 1-1 tie. Joe Giraidi walked out to the mound to relieve Phil Hughes with David Robertson. Joe Giradi should have walked the next batter Nelson Cruz. What would you have done in that situation?

The result: He didn't walk Cruz and the results were disasterous. Robertson saw his 2-2 pitch sail 387 feet into the night sky. Rangers would be up 4-1.

Colbey Lewis had control of his stuff and went 8 innings, giving up only 1 run, 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7. Rangers manager Ron Washington decided in the 9th to hand the ball over to Netali Feliz, the young closer who saved 40 games for the rangers in the regular season. He retired the first 2 batters and with an 0-2 count, he frose Alex Rodriguez cold to end the ALCS. Look on the brighter side Yankee fans. There's always 2011.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace!
bransports@gmail.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

New select bus service runs on the M15

 The MTA are looking to help East Harlem riders by introducing Select bus Service on the M15. But, drivers you are not in the clear. The new M15 SBS will strictly rely on it's new bus lanes. The MTA and the DOT will work with the NYPD to keep other traffic  from using the special lanes which are clearly identified with red terracotta paint and overhead highway-type signs alerting motorists that the lane is off limits. And starting in November, it's only going to get stricter. Starting in November, lane enforcement will be supplemented by video cameras, which will record bus lane violations. Last June, the State Legislature passed a bill allowing the NYC DOT and the MTA to use cameras as tools to enforce bus lane traffic regulations on designated SBS routes.

The M15 is one of the buisiest lines in the city, carrying an average 53,000 riders a day. SBS M15 will replace M15 limited.  



The maps above show the maps of the Bx12 and M15. The image next to this is the new Bx12 with special Select bus Service insignia. The top of the page shows the logo for the Select Bus Service.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yankees advance to ALCS

The Yankees for the last 3 years have been twin killers. Phil Hughes threw a gem on the mound giving up only 4 hits, 1 walk and striking out 6 through 7 innings. The twins again had trouble getting runners home. The home run bats returned for the bombers with Marcus Thames going deep off Twins starter Brian Duensing. Duensing went 3.1 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 while striking out 1. Scott Baker was the next home run victim, giving up a bomb to Nick Swisher.

The bombers ran into trouble in the 8th inning. Kerry Wood came on and had a bad outing. In his .1 inning of work, he gave up 3 hits, 1 run while walking 1. Boone Logan came on to relieve Wood, and only needed 1 pitch to get the 2nd out. David Robertson only needed 3 pitches to get out of the jam. Jose Mijares and Brian Fuentes held the bombers at bay for the rest of the game. Mariano Rivera did the rest. The bombers will face the winner of the Rays-Rangers series.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mets fire Manuel, Minaya relieved of duties part 2

Whoever takes over as GM will have little room to make any splashy moves in the offseason because of several large contracts -- all of which expire after 2011.

Little-used second baseman Castillo has $6 million left on a four-year deal; left-hander Perez, who only pitched nine times since being dropped from the rotation May 14, is owed $12 million; and Beltran has $18.5 million coming to him after two injury abbreviated seasons.

Also, the Mets owe Rodriguez $11.5 next year, but the team withheld more than $3 million of his salary and has enacted a clause in his contract that would make the remainder of his deal non-guaranteed, prompting a grievance.

Jeff Wilpon was asked if he could envision a new GM trading Wright. He said it was hard to imagine but would listen to the argument.

Manuel won the AL manager award after he led the White Sox to a league-best 95-67 record. He was fired by Chicago in 2003 following his sixth season as manager.

Minaya, meanwhile has already thought about the future. He wants to be in the field evaluating players.

"I won't be working in an office. I can tell you that," he said. "I won't miss taking the GW Bridge and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. But, that being said, look, I'm a baseball guy. I'm a talent evaluator. I'll be doing some type of talent evaluating for somebody."

follow me on twitter!
bransports@gmail.com

Mets fire Manuel, Minaya relieved of duties part 1

Port ST. Lucie, Florida- The Mets fired Jerry Manuel and relieved GM Omar Minaya of their duties on Monday. A search is underway for a new GM, who will work with them to help them find a new manager. The mets hope a new GM will be hired by the end of the month. The mets were 79-83, 18 games behind the Phillies in the NL east. They have not been in the playoffs since the NLCS in 2006. The Mets also have to sign or let go of free agents Pedro Feliciano(93 games) and Hisanori Takahashi(10-6, 8 SV). Long term injuries to Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, and K-Rod have dominated over the last 2 years. The Mets finished 72-90, and had a promicing start, but were knocked out with a 2-9 start after the all start break. Attendance fell 17.2 percent in the second season at the new ballpark, and Rodriguez embarrassed the organization when he was charged with third-degree assault and second-degree harassment following a fight with his girlfriend's father outside a family lounge at Citi Field on Aug. 11. On the field the Mets went for long stretches without Bay, Beltran, Reyes and Santana, who had shoulder surgery in September that could keep him out for much of next season. And while All-Star third baseman David Wright rebounded from a dreadful season in '09, he struck out a career-high 161 times and slumped for several extended spurts.

Once the Mets dropped out of contention, the decision to fire Manuel was expected. Manuel, AL Manager of the Year in 2000, is the eighth manager to lose his job this year. Baltimore's Dave Trembley, Kansas City's Trey Hillman, Arizona's A.J. Hinch, Florida's Fredi Gonzalez, Seattle's Don Wakamatsu, Milwaukee's Ken Macha and Pittsburgh's John Russell also were dismissed.

With Atlanta's Bobby Cox, Toronto's Cito Gaston and the Dodgers' Joe Torre all retiring and Lou Piniella having stepped down as Cubs' skipper in August, finding a big-name manager who could command the respect of the players and help boost attendance in New York might be difficult.



Minaya, who became the first Hispanic general manager in 2002 when he was hired to run the Montreal Expos, took over as GM from Jim Duquette in September 2004 and quickly enjoyed success in his hometown. He threw around big dollars to land All-Stars Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Santana and Rodriguez.

Minaya also had been criticized for depleting the farm system while signing Oliver Perez ($36 million) and Luis Castillo ($25 million) to inflated contracts.

But not much has gone right since they lost Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series. The Mets blew a seven-game division lead with 34 remaining in 2007 and had a 3½-game lead late in '08 but finished out of the postseason again.

Turmoil increased in July 2009 after the Daily News reported Mets vice president of player personnel Tony Bernazard challenged Double-A players to a fight. During the news conference to announce the firing, Minaya questioned the motives of the reporter who broke the Bernazard story, saying he had asked about getting a player development position.

Minaya apologized and Jeff Wilpon said the following day that the GM made a "very large mistake" by singling out the reporter and added "ownership is not happy with the direction of the team."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Juliette's music

I hope you people don't mind if i put on my new journalisum hat for a minute, but i was thrown for a loop when my editor asked me to review music. After going to JollyJuJux3's youtube account, i noticed something. I was enjoying it. Her singing and choice of music was the best i ever heard. Maybe you should listen to it. Heres the link:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Jollyjujux3

follow us on twitter!
bransports@gmail.com