Elster's World

Friday, April 20, 2007

Responding to Joe

I would ordinarily put this in a comment, but I feel that I was unfairly attacked on my last post for a) not writing my Met predictions and then crowing when they played well and b) happily finding myself sucked back into the Rangers again. So here goes:

a) I didn't write the Met article simply because i wasn't writing anything at the time. One thing you cannot accuse me of here is being a liar. I think it's fair to say that between Joe and me, I have taken the more glass half full position with regards to the Mets in the past. My predictions regarding the season, without all of the analysis, are simple. The Mets will win the east, though not by as many games as last year. I would have told you 3 weeks ago the most serious challenger would have been the Phillies. It appears, however, it will be the Braves. So I was seemingly wrong on that score though it's early.

Now onto the major point:

b) Joe Joe Joe - I understand you almost HAD to rip me for something because I ripped your (so far) incorrect baseball predictions BUT:

- A bandwagon jumping, front-running phony? Really? I have been a Ranger fan my ENTIRE LIFE, dating back to the diminutive Smurfs, Ron Greschner, Lucky Pierre, the comedic goaltending stylings of Steve Weeks, and all the rest. I was a Ranger fan when they stunk, when chants of "1940" were as commonplace as "Potvin Sucks" are today. So please, don't pretend to assume that you can make that evaluation of my loyalty to the team. It's not like I suddenly ditched the Rangers and began following the Devils or Lighting. I decided that I no longer wanted to watch hockey at all. THAt was the point I made MUCH more frequently than I don't like the Rangers (though you conveniently fail to mention that here). And if I was such a front runner, would I have wasted my season closely following the subpar Knicks all season???

- And let's look at some of those comments I made:

- Yes, I incorrectly predicted a very slumping Ranger team (at the time) would not make the playoffs and suggested that they should start calling up some kids from the AHL. While Girardi was up, that's exactly what they did with Ryan Callahan, who has been a real find for this team from an energy and toughness perspective (not to mention he's fun to watch), though he wasn't the most touted of the Ranger prospects.

- After last season's playoff disaster with the Devils, I no longer liked hockey. Not the Rangers, HOCKEY. Saying I hated the Rangers was a silly overstaement, but that's me - I am an emotional sports fan, always have been. Aaron Heilman can give up a big home run one night and I'll rue the day the Mets drafted him - but if he strikes someone out in a big spot the next night, I'll tell you he's the next Rollie Fingers. It's just the way I operate, right or wrong. Joe and I have talked about this many times.

- As for not watching the regular season - I think, for me, it was a great move. I had more free time to spend on other things (not TV, by the way). The Rangers stunk the first 3/4 of the season anyway, so it's not like i missed out on anything that important except maybe whih bad tie was Tom Renney going to wear on any particular evening.

But a funny thing happened. The Rangers realized the season was on the brink and they responded in a big way. They made some nice deadline moves (bringing in Avery will stand out), they survived injuries to guys like Tyutin and Hossa (who suddenly "got it" and started playing very well - he carried this over to the playoffs upon returning from his injury, totally outplaying his much better brother) and the horrendous Shanahan concussion and they started playing defensive hockey - the formula that got them to the playoffs last year. They got timely scoring and gritty play from the three "service lines" and Jagr started working his bad wing back into shape for the stretch run. Nylander had his best season as a pro, suddenly finding a scoring touch to go along with his wonderful passing skills and some lesser players really stepped up their games Hossa until he got hurt, Callahan, etc).

But the sudden turn around really came about because of the play of Henrik Lundquist, whose play down the stretch was nothing short of transcendent. His GAA average was minuscule and it seemed like he went 20 games in a row giving up 2 or fewer goals. he made all the saves he was supposed to and plenty of the "impossible" ones as well (which, by the way, makes me think that, when it is all said and done, he'll be a greater goalie legend than Mike Richter who made at least one "I can't believe he just stopped that puck" save a night but would too often give up a gimme).

So as the Rangers crept back into the playoff race, and actually cracked the 8th, then seventh and finally sixth spot, I found myself watching 5 minutes here, 8 minutes there, a complete period every once in a while. And I remembered something - last season (until the season ended like a bad ending to a movie) the Rangers were fun as hell to watch. Jagr skating through the neutral zone like a shark in bloody waters, Lundquist being brilliant, heck even the goofy fan salutes at the end of the games make you smile (and I haven't even mentioned Petr Prucha yet). And the team seems to genuinely like playing with each other. So yes, I got back into it. And from my analysis above, I think it's safe to say I was probably following it more than I even realized.

So yes - I know the regulars, though perhaps I cannot tell you who skates on whose line and I even have a good sense of how the Rangers made the playoffs. And that formula mentioned above made me realize why I liked the Rangers to begin with. So I came back. OF COURSE it helped that the Rangers made the playoffs. If they didn't, if they continued to slump at the end, I wouldn't be writing this.

Will I ever follow hockey game to game, face off to face off like I used to? Probably not. But I was too quick to write it off.

So despite Joe's protestations as to my loyalties, I think I will continue to enjoy the ride anyway.

And if he doesn't like it, I guess we can limit our conversations to the level of competence of the Mets bullpen.

22 Comments:

  • Here's the Cliff Notes version:

    Rangers sucked at the end of last season and for much of this season, so I declared that I hate them and hockey. Now they are playing well so I love them again.

    You are worst kind of "fan" and you know it.

    Weeks ago - not months ago, weeks ago - when the Rangers already were playing well and defeated the Islanders twice in consecutive games, I wrote that those games are why hockey is great. You responded that hockey sucks and went into a bizarre rant about fighting in hockey being the reason that you hate hockey and will not resume watching it.

    I'm happy to argue baseball, football and basketball with you, but you have lost any right to ever write about hockey again.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:26 PM  

  • That's your opinion and obviously you atre entitled to it. However, since you refuse to listen to my argument basically what yiou are saying is:

    YOU can say I'm here to watch baseball not drink beer one night but grab a beer another tiome because there is a logical reason for that, but no one else has that flexibility.

    And YES, I HATE fighting in hockey and I think (and THIS is what I said) that it comlpetely turns off casual fans trying to get into the game. So please, stop trying to twist every comment I made to fit your argument because they simlpy don;t

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:42 PM  

  • I listened to your argument, and am trying to tell you that you should not post about hockey because:

    1. You are a phony fan; and
    2. You are completely ignorant.

    I grabbed a beer at the hockey game because it was during intermission. Baseball does not have a 17 minute intermission. There is no inconsistency - I am unwilling to miss part of the game. I admit that at the Rangers game we went to together, after buying a 22 ounce beer after the 1st period, I had an urgent need to use the restroom during the 3rd period. But that was not a playoff game.

    You are entitled to your opinion about fighting, but your comment weeks ago after the two epic Rangers vs. Islanders games that hockey still sucks demonstrates your complete lack of credibility on this issue.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:56 PM  

  • wait so I'm a phoney fan 9obviously ridiculous based upon all the years of service I put in) and ignorant (even though every single point i made about the 2006/2007 ranger season was 100% corect and you cannot poke a hole in anything I wrote in my analysis?

    The problem, Joe is that you are simply as emotional a fan as I am and worse, you can never admit you are wrong (where i can whej i am). So I think this is more about your shortcoming than mine.

    THAT BEING SAID, i think weneed to agree to disagree on this issue.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:23 PM  

  • If you are married and cheat on your wife, you don't get to go back based on your "years of service" when it turns out she fixed herself up and is looking better.

    While your lack of fidelity to the Rangers and to hockey is not nearly as egregious as marital infidelity, the disloyalty is similarly not rectifiable on your own whim.

    I have no problem admitting I am wrong - such as when I expressed skepticism that the Rangers trade for Sean Avery would help them make the playoffs. (Avery was acquired from LA while you were watching 'The Girl Next Door.')

    I'm still waiting for you to admit that you were wrong and that the 2006 Mets did not win the NL pennant.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:49 PM  

  • The mets came within one game of the pennant and had a fantastic, entertaining season which you said was a failure because they failed to make it to the worl series. while on some level you may be correct, you cannot deny what a great season it was.

    And your analogy is not correct. If i decide one day i dont lov my wife anymore, then i realize i still DO love her and we get back together, it has EVERYTHING to do with the years of service out in.

    Cheating on the wife would have been becoming a devils fan. All i diod was go through a trial seperation.

    By Blogger Elster, at 3:25 PM  

  • We agreed all through 2006 that NL pennant meant success, loss in NL playoffs a failure. The Mets had the most talent in the NL and blew a opportunity to win their 3rd World Series in 45 years.

    My analogy is correct, because you only love your wife again because she is suddenly looking much better.

    Did my Girl Next Door point fly right by you?

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 5:15 PM  

  • While trying to come to terms with the Rangers' sweep of the Thrashers, I have composed a poem to deal with my grief.

    waiting
    hoping
    wishing
    dreaming
    whatever it takes
    to win
    striving to be
    the best
    achieve greatness
    yet
    the ultimate
    reamains
    elusive

    unreal
    in denial
    disbelief
    can't be
    impossible
    how
    can this happen
    AGAIN

    distraught
    dejected
    let down
    frustrated
    angry
    disgusted
    another
    missed opportunity
    best yet
    painful

    blurry vision
    just need
    to knock
    some sense
    into...
    wake up
    do something
    you can't win
    by doing nothing
    show some emotion
    show you care
    show that
    it means something
    put up a fight

    can't pretend
    it didn't happen
    the world
    won't let me
    forget
    but
    give me
    some time
    back off
    let me lick
    my wounds
    let reality
    sink in

    obviously
    meant to be
    G-d wanted it
    but
    it doesn't mean
    I have to
    like it

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 5:27 PM  

  • Jewboy,

    I will indeed back off. I did not know this affected you so deeply.

    I hope you have a comforting shabbos, and that you are back with a similar lament after the Mets vs. Braves series.

    Finally, do you really think "G-d wanted it." I'm skeptical that God is a Rangers fan.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 6:30 PM  

  • The Mets bullpen completely imploded today. It looks like we'll be in second place behind Jewboy's Braves. It's hard for me to express my pain. The following poem is my best effort.

    waiting
    hoping
    wishing
    dreaming
    whatever it takes
    to win
    striving to be
    the best
    achieve greatness
    yet
    the ultimate
    reamains
    elusive

    unreal
    in denial
    disbelief
    can't be
    impossible
    how
    can this happen
    AGAIN

    distraught
    dejected
    let down
    frustrated
    angry
    disgusted
    another
    missed opportunity
    best yet
    painful

    blurry vision
    just need
    to knock
    some sense
    into...
    wake up
    do something
    you can't win
    by doing nothing
    show some emotion
    show you care
    show that
    it means something
    put up a fight

    can't pretend
    it didn't happen
    the world
    won't let me
    forget
    but
    give me
    some time
    back off
    let me lick
    my wounds
    let reality
    sink in

    obviously
    meant to be
    G-d wanted it
    but
    it doesn't mean
    I have to
    like it

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 3:56 PM  

  • Joe-He may not be a Ranger fan, but as a diehard Atlanta rooter I can tell you he's not a fan of any of my teams, either.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 4:09 PM  

  • I must say after watching Aaron Heilman give up yet another huge home run, that poem perfectly expressed my own sadness and frustration.

    To me the worst part of the loss wasn't the loss itself - this early in the seaso does it really matter THAT much (probably does to the braves)? rather, it was wasted victory 294 for Glavine. We all need to get this monkey off our backs as quickly as possible before he goes into some sort of "the bullpen keeps deserting me" type funk and sinks his season.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:21 AM  

  • This was a very bad loss. Even if you're right and I'm wrong about the state of the pitching staff, it's now clear that the Mets will not be running away with the division again. Losing 4 of 6 to the Braves starts making me wonder if 2006 was an aberration. Bottom line is if you score 6 runs vs. Smoltz you'd better win.
    Nice defense by your Gold Glove second baseman.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 10:15 AM  

  • Yes - he made his first error of the season. A veey bad error too, comopunded by Heilmans inability to get out lefties who are batting somethnig like .750 against him so far this seaosn.

    I think the race will be tighter this season - I also think that once horrible collective bullpen disaster is something you can toss in the trash and forget about.

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:59 AM  

  • I'm mainly concerned about Heilman and Wagner. I never had confidence in Schoeneweis, who is an overpaid journeyman.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 12:58 PM  

  • I'm not concerned about anyone other than Heilman yet - his problems have been a continuing theme the last 2 seasons.

    I'm holding out a little bit of extra hope for Burgos though - i was a litle surprised Wile Yanked him after he essentially got three outs but for Greens awful defensive play.

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:14 PM  

  • I love my Braves, boys. The South shall rise again!

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 8:59 PM  

  • Talk to me in August JB. Braves don;t seem to be built to compete for the whole season. A little young.

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:05 PM  

  • We'll see, my friend. Could've said that in '05 as well. Smoltz, Hudson, the Joneses, Wickman. Not exactly youngsters. Even Franceuor is in his third year.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 11:14 PM  

  • A better response from JB would have been:

    "Talk to me in August, Elster. Mets don't seem to be built to compete for the whole season. A little old."

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 9:46 AM  

  • Yes, DEFINATELY OLD. Especially at core positions like SS, 3B and center. And especially their 3, 4 and 5 starters. HMMMM.....

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:52 AM  

  • How about 1B, 2B, RF, LF, C, two starters, and closer. All old.

    The 3, 4 and 5 starters are very young, which is your attack on the Braves.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 10:22 AM  

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