Elster's World

Friday, June 29, 2007

Draft Day Shake-Up

Isaiah Thomas made a bold move today acquiring Zach Randolph and some cap fodder in exchange for Stevie Francis (dead weight) and Channing Frye (maddeningly inconsistent in his 2 seasons).

How often do you land a premier offensive big man in his prime for a salary dump and a prospect? Excellent deal for the Knicks.

Two potential pratfalls:

- There's a chance that Randolph, legitimately insane, will snap like a twig in New York; and

- There's only one ball and a lot of shooters on this team. Curry and Randolph in the low post? Marbury? Crawford? How do they all share?

Still you have to love this deal if you are a Knicks fan.

I do need to see the Jones/Dickau cap numbers though.....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Will It Hold

Absolutely workman-like effort from Glavine tonight (so far). He worked quickly, threw strikes and pitched well enough to protect a slim 2-0 lead.

Currently the game has been postponed due to rain. If the forecast holds true, then David Wright's first inning will hold up and Glavine's great start (he easily could have gone 2 more innings - he was at about 80 pitches through 6) won't go to waste (when the bullpen can't hold the lead at 12:30 in the morning).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Four In A Row

Seriously, is there anything more fun to watch than a Jewish guy rocketing a walk off bomb off the scoreboard in right center, followed by him gleefully running the bases and getting mobbed by his teammates at the plate? If there is, you must let me know.

Nice win for the Mets tonight. They got a bounce-back start from Sosa, fine relief work from the pen (including 2 excellent innings from Wagner and a solid 10th from Heilman - who was grunting like Martina Hingis out there).

On top of the key first game of the series victory, the Mets extended their winning streak to four and are also 1-0 on their way to Elster's 5-2 demand for the next seven.

Good start.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekend Sweep

Nice job of snapping out of a month long funk by the Metropolitans - who swept their tilt with the A's this weekend.

Dominant pitching was the key to the series. Glavine pitched a gem Friday night - lasting into the ninth to pick up win number 296 and turn around a few horrid performances. El Duque held the A's scoreless in his seven innings Saturday (the Mets eventually won on a terribly played David Wright double in the bottom of the ninth) and John Maine went seven very solid innings today hold down a 10-2 win.

It should be noted that for all the talk that Maine came back down to Earth after his lights out start - he's 8-4 with a 2.87 era. His 8 wins rank behind only a hand full of pitchers (Cole Hamels currently leads the NL with 9) and his 2.87 era is 4th best in the National League making Maine...well making Maine an All Star. Whether he makes it or not remains to be seen, but the numbers bear out that he deserves it more than any other Met starter.

The Mets can save a terrible month if they finish June strong. They have four at home against a struggling St. Louis team followed by three on the road against Philly (virtually home games based on the number of Met fans who make the trip). If the Mets can go 5-2, then along with the A's sweep they can turn around a dreadful period.

- Rumor had it that the 2007 NHL draft took place this past Saturday. or maybe it was Friday night. Either way, the New York Times devoted about 16 lines to the entire thing. It seems the Rangers took a Russian winger named Alexei, apparently thinking this was 1994. But in all seriousness, supposedly this dude broke Pavel Bure's Russian junior scoring records. And we all know how well Bure worked out for the Rangers. Just a double whammy all the way around.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quick Update

If only I could blame a busy schedule on the lack of posting (though I have been very busy) when the truth is so much more painful. The Mets general crappiness have made them difficult to write about.

- They can't pitch, can't field (4 errors in one game????), can't hit (where have you gone Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado - oh and Jose Valentin and Shawn "watch my batting average free fall" Green) and are struggling to manage. I never thought I'd say this but all of a sudden I'm hoping the Mets can hold it together long enough for Pedro's return to give them the spark they need. All in all, a VERY dissatisfying season to this point.

- Boring Shmorng - Congratulations belatedly to a great championship team, the San Antonio Spurs, who won for the fourth time. Sure they aren't sexy. Sure Tim Duncan is one of the most boring superstars of all time (think a taller, more athletic Harrison Ford). Sure Robert Horry sounded like a jackass when he said that this Spurs team would crush the 80's Lakers and Celtics (um, those teams trotted out hall of fame lineups there Bob). Sure they took Euro-flopping to a whole new level (even David Stern admitted that flopping is out of control at this point). And sure they defeated an eastern Conference opponent which consisted of one star and 11 role players - most of whom couldn't even sit on the Spurs bench. Even so, this Spurs team was a great team. They played defense, were hard nosed and scored. Kudos to them.

- The NBA draft is coming in 7 days. Sadly, I'm more concerned that former Hoya Jeff Green lands in a good place than I am with who the Knicks will be drafting. As all these silly Kobe/KG to the Knicks rumors continue to persist (um, people, the Knicks don't have tradeable assets!), it doesn't really seem to matter much who Isaiah gets at 21. while this is a very strong draft class, it would be shocking for the Knicks to get an impact player at that stage of the draft. And they shouldn't be trading away anyone on the roster under 25 to move up in the draft. If the Knicks can dump Marbury or Francis, good riddance. But these guys have no value (well Francis has value as an expiring contract, but only closer to the deadline).

- Funny thing in SI.com's truth and rumors section. The Boston Herald reports that a KG to the Celts trade is warming up while the Minn paper states that there are no substantial talks taking place at all. The moral of the story - don't trust the sports media. Their entire purpose is to sell papers.

- I have no words about the Kobe video. I'm not sure who is more despicable - Kobe for throwing his teammates and bosses under the bus to complete strangers in a parking lot or those complete strangers looking to make a buck 99 per person off of it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Speaking of Unmitigated Disasters

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Aaron Heilman, in the process of losing another game for the Mets. Maybe he needs to go down to New orleans to find his confidence. maybe he needs to become the long innings guy. What he should NOT be doing is trying to hold leads or tie games. He's terrible right now. No confidence and not ewnough velocity on his fastball to be effective. Hell, he's barely effective at 94, 95, he certainly is not getting the job done at 90, 91. And kudos to Mr. Endy Chavez for hitting into a double play with the bases loaded to kill a 7th inning rally.

What a mess.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Where's The Killer Instinct?

Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the high priest of Kali pulls the still beating heart from his victim's chest and then holds it aloft while the victim is lowered into a pit of lava - all the while staring at his still beating chest?

Well last year when the Mets went on their 3/4 season run, that's what they were doing to their opponents. Up one run in the seventh? Time to tack on five insurance runs against the other team's worst reliever. Cruising to victory? Score two more runs anyway to make sure the Phillis know who is boss.

This season the killer instinct has not been there. Sure the Mets are winning and it's been a very enjoyable season so far. They sit 3.5 games in first place, have only lost series' to three teams the entire season and seem primed for a run at the world series. And sure the Mets have had to face a number of serious injuries so far - They lost El Duque for a month, Valentin for longer, Alou for 4 weeks and counting, Green has missed time with the foot and Duaner Sanchez never even made it back on the team before re-injuring his shoulder.

But still, the 2007 Mets have yet to start ripping the hearts out of their opponents chests and showing it to them as they die. And maybe it's because of the injuries - and when everyone is healthy they will all start chanting "Kali-Ma" - or maybe they miss their heart ripping out high priest, Pedro Martinez, who threw off a mound yesterday with no problems and is eying an August return.

But until this team finds its killer instinct, they are in danger from all the lurkers at their heels.

- - -
Is it me of is Pat Riley once again showing he is an evil, evil man by demanding compensation from the Orlando Magic in exchange for letting Stan Van Gundy out of his contract one year early to coach the magic next season. Sure Riley has the right to ask for compensation but consider these facts:
- When Van Gundy's name was popping up as a major candidate for certain western conference teams, there was no talk of compensation for the Heat.
- Even more troubling, the only reason that Van Gundy is not coaching the Heat right now is that Riley pushed him out of his job in order to take over the coaching duties and win a championship with Shaq and Dewayne.
I know that Riley and "the right thing" are not often heard in the same sentence but for once he should be a human being and let Van Gundy take the Magic job. His behavior in this matter, to me at least, is disgraceful.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Is It Me....

Or is the Lou Piniella situation quickly developing into a repeat of the Larry Brown fiasco in New York? To review - older manager with tons of success comes to town, demands players play his way, starts changing lineups constantly, attacks his players in the press, loses his veterans in the process and the whole thing starts smelling like New York City garbage dumps in August.

Bill Simmons actually wrote an interesting article about football coaches and at what age they start to become less effective. The truth is, in today's world, it s true about all sports. Younger athletes, rich beyond their wildest dreams, will never be able to relate to an older, out of touch manager or coach - no matter how wildly successful they may have been. It's just not going to happen. And yes, this is a very sad state of affairs, but it is the truth nonetheless. The inmates have been running the asylum in sports for almost 10 years already.

So the Sweet Lou situation is closely becoming an unmitigated disaster. And all twenty three of us who followed the Knicks last season are not surprised.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Now THAT'S a Flip Flop

News outlets have been reporting since yesterday that newly hired 27 million dollar coach Billy Donovan has major second thoughts about his taking the job as head coach of the Orlando Magic. He reportedly has asked out of the contract and is waiting on Magic ownership to decide whether they will let him go and if so, if they will make him pay to get out of the contract. Even Joe would admit this kind of flip-flopping puts Elster to shame.

I think it goes without saying that they will let him out of the job. After all, head coaching is hard enough when you care. A half-hearted effort will not get the job done in the NBA or any professional league. For examples of this look at Larry Brown with the Knicks (openly trying to get fired at the end - leads to the worst season in the team's history) or Art Howe (seemed to actually snooze during some games at the end of his run - that's a joke Joe, please no angry comment). Look for Donovan to be released some time today or tomorrow and continue to build the Florida Gators into Duke-like perennial powers.

- - -

I Guess That's Why It's Never Been Done Before:

The Mets lost yesterday to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Shea - falling just short of becoming the first team in Major League history to open a season with 9 straight non-divisional series victories (they have lost division series to the Braves and the Marlins). Could you imagine not having people in the world who figure out stuff like this?

Game-wise, Oliver Perez pitched pretty well in the start - gave up only 3 runs in 7 innings and becoming the second starter in the series (John Maine) to pitch well and lose because of the Mets depleted lineup. Walks hurt him, I believe (without checking) that 2 of the three he walked ended up scoring in the loss.

The good news - David Wright's injury was a one gamer (though we will all be paying attention to his back), Beltran should be back this week and Jose Valentin is returning this week - hopefully setting up a sick platoon (Valentine against righties, Easley against lefties) at second base.

The bad - Alou's quad seems to be stuck in neutral - a bad sign for a man his age. It's been three weeks since he injured the quad and it's not getting better. Although he was an injury risk when the Mets signed him, he was raking before the injury. Sadly, there is only one Endy Chavez and he cannot play two outfield spots at the same time. With Green also out of the lineup with the toe, the Mets have been forced to use 5th and even 6th outfielders on a regular basis.

- - -
Big Deal:
A-Rod's ninth inning home run last night probably saved some jobs, but at the end of the day, the Yankees remain 12.5 games back of the cruising Red Sox while the Yankees continue to struggle with injuries. Word on the radio was that Petite was hurt somehow last night and we have all been afflicted with the news of Roger Clemens and his balky groin.
While it is always a bad idea to count out the Yankees (don't they seem to be in peril at the beginning of every season?), this year certainly feels different.
- - -
Being Cavalier About the Whole Thing:
Taking nothing away from Lebron James' game for the ages in game five, shouldn't the league be concerned that their next big thing was so wiped from the experience that he managed just 3 of 11 shots in game six at home?? Was James so confident in his crappy team that he figured it was no big deal to go back to the Palace for a deciding game seven? It makes no sense to me. And remember, the Cavs didn't run away with game 6 until the end. Can you imagine Michael Jordan going into a game six at home and not smell blood and take care of business?
Honestly, it's all moot anyway. The Cavs offense is very simple - give the ball to Lebron 30 feet from the basket and let him operate. The Spurs are very balanced on both ends of the floor and will run multiple defenders at Lebron. They will also make him work harder on defense that the Pistons did.
Result - Spurs in 5. I'm tempted to predict a sweep but I think you need to give Lebron a "no way we are losing all three games at home" game.