Elster's World

Friday, November 30, 2007

Need More Proof Jimmy?

Last night's game against the Boston Celtics provided anyone with a set of eyes and even a tiny brain all the proof you need top see Isaiah Thomas has lost the Knicks. It provided undeniable evidence that he needs to be fired and he needs to be fired right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Do not coach tonight's game against the Bucks. Just go. Let Herb Williams coach out the string if you don't want to pay anther salary this year, but get rid of Thomas.

It's addition by subtraction. Not only has his team quit on him, but he's a terrible distraction too. He has the Anucha Brown Saunders thing hanging over the entire organization like the Sword of Damocles - his point guard is threatening to dish the dirt - I mean how embarrassing does it have to get before Jim Dolan smokes this guy?

The Knicks lost to a better team last night. Granted, the Celts have three all stars on their roster. But 45 points??? They were threatening to not break 50 halfway through the 4th quarter and only were saved from the Knick record low score when Nate Robinson his a 37 footer at the buzzer to get to the magical 59 number. Has there ever been a bigger tank job by a team since the Black Sox lost the world series in 1918?

The good news out of all this? Twofold - Dolan cannot possibly keep Thomas around much longer - even his unfailing loyalty has limits and - I was able to watch the Rangers beat the Islanders without having to flip too much.

In fantasy news - I eschewed the experts advice and started Favre over Anderson this week. The result? Favre left the game with an injury and I will lose my fantasy match against Akiva - despite really liking my lineup this week.

Bummer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kudos To Omar

While the Yankess and Red Sox prepare their bid for Johan Santana, let's not overlook the move the Mets made yesterday - purchasing a middle reliver who went 2-7 with a 7.7something era last year for the Devil Rays(!!!) to shore up a horrible bullpen. But I'm sure he has a power arm?

I continue to want to give Minaya the benefit of the doubt but this one's a bit of a head scratcher. Though I'm sure our pitchnig coach can probably fix him in 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rangers Ranger Rangers

Because I'm really bored:

"Cullen was an excellent #3 center and the Rangers have now taken the strongest position and created questions on the 3rd line and on the PK unit - which already was weakened by the inexplicable letting go of Jed Ortmeyer."

So said Joe - in response to an earlier post I wrote this offseason about the Cullen salary dump trade.

The Rangers are currently fourth in the league in penalty killing, at just under 87%. The have fantastic penalty killers in Blair Betts, Scott Gomez (new addition), Chris Drury (new), Sean Avery, Brendan Shanahan and even Marcel Hossa has done some nice work out there. Losing Jed Ortmeyer was not a big deal at all.

At the time, I mentioned that the Jed Ortmeyers of the world are a dime a dozen. The Rangers fourth line (Betts, Orr, Hollweg) is as energetic as it was with Ortmeyer and their penalty killers are even better (would you honestly rather have Ortmeyer out there or Brendan Shanahan?).

As for centers - The Rangers strut out Brandon Dubinsky (a fantastic addition), Scotty Gomez and Chris Drury - with Blair Betts doing the honors for the fourth line. In other words - the Rangers are stronger top to bottom than they were last year - and they have not missed Cullen or Ortmeyer at all.

I'm just saying......

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Catch-Up

My home computer is down (again) so I'm going to rip out some quick hitters:

- The Jets were truly horrendous on Thanksgiving. SO bad, in fact, that I had trouble holding down the many pounds of turkey I ate earlier in the day. Kellen Clemens was terrible, but not as bad as his offensive line. He barely has a second to set up in the pocket - pressured on almost every possession. I have major concern about his accuracy.

- With the Original Evil Empire opening talks with the Twins re: Santana, and the New Evil Empire probably not far behind - I have trouble seeing Omar making a serious play. The Mets just don't have the pitching prospects to build a deal around. Isn't a Milledge, Gomez starting point a bit repetitive? Are Humber and/or Pelfry worth anything on the market at this point? If Minaya can really swing a deal for any legitimate "ace" this offseason, I will be impressed.

- Turkey makes me sleepy.

- Sunday afternoon's game aside, the Rangers really look like championship material to me. Their forwards play defense, their defense is solid. The goaltending is spectacular. Assuming they ever start scoring, they can be a juggernaut.

- Despite their 2 game winning streak, the Knicks have a long way to go. They are talented, no question, but their energy second team can't really score. They lack a consistent outaide shooter and they need a shot blocker who can protect the rim. As much as I love David Lee, his offensive game is very limited. If he's not dunking, chances are he's missing a 15 footer or bricking a layup. I hate Thomas and want him fired badly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wait a Second....

Did Omar just make a really good trade? Did he just trade the biggest embarrassment of 2007 for a switch hitting catcher with some pop?

And yes, I know he threw out something like 13% of base stealers last season and is coming of knee and elbow surgery but still - we got rid of Mota so how bad can it be?

Now let's see if Omar can make this "trade for a front line starter" he's been promising.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ten to Twelve Years Too Late

This is the story of my life.

For the second time in the last three years or so, it occurs to me that if I could do it all over again, I'd have really enjoyed being a _______. Of course, unlike my other career change idea (the now infamous failed writing career), becoming a ______________ requires probably something like three years of schooling and then some post-grad work (unpaid or very low paying). Since I'm 34 years old, have three kids and a mortgage to pay, the ability to simply chase after this new dream is....well it's an inability. It simply cannot happen (without a significant government grant anyway).

Here's the sad part. Unlike being a writer (at which I probably would have ended up being mediocre at best), I would make a fantastic ______. I am basing this on (i) the feedback of a number of people whom I have helped acting as a sort-of unofficial _____ over the course of the last few years, (ii) my own personal understanding of who I am and (iii) the fact that I would really enjoy doing it. I know now that loving your work automatically gives you a leg up over your competition who are simply showing up to work everyday without putting heart and soul into it.

Of course I have come to this conclusion way to late in the game for it to be anything other than another late breaking goal I cannot realize. Another pipe dream, another disappointment in my journey.

And yes, it is great to follow your dreams when you have them. But no, following your dreams does not pay for the aforementioned kids, house or food. If I was single, sure I'd punch out and take the plunge. Heck, if i had just finished law school, maybe even then (tens of thousands already in debt) I'd have gone for it. But now? It's simply not possible without divine intervention.

I can't help but think that people are forced into too many of their most important decisions in life well before they are ready for them. Marriage at 20 comes to mind. Picking a career while still in undergrad, especially in a university that doesn't offer enough in the way of career guidance, is another. I took a course or 2 in the field of ______ in college and at the time it was simply a schedule filler. Intro to ______ didn't excite me back then, the way it might have now. Instead I followed the herd (as we so often do at that age) and studied for my LSAT's. How are we supposed to do anything else without the road map that the lucky people all seem to have?

Truthfully and to be fair, it's not like at the time I had aspirations to be a _______ and someone talked me out of it. It simply wasn't on my radar. And as a 21 year old punk, how could it have been? How could a kid like me possibly know what he wanted to do with himself at 21 when I had barely worked a day in my life up to that point? Again, no road map for me.

Despite the dull ache that accompanies these little "if only I'd become a [fill in the career category here] back then" moments when you realize you are 3,650 days late and $1,000 short, I don't plan on stopping my pursuit of career change. If not writing, if not _______, then [fill in career category here]. I'm young. Too young to give up hope. Too young to stop being optimistic. Too young to resign myself to a fate of of counsel or non equity partner. Because the minute I stop dreaming for something better is the minute I have given up hope.

So I will (eventually) watch a career in _____ walk right past me with nary a "hello and how are you?" and continue down the street to someone else's house - to someone else's fulfilled dream. But I won't quit on my own ending.

I just need to find the damn thing without a map.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Additional Thoughs (On everything)

- It was embarrassing how there were more Steeler fans in the house yesterday than Jet fans. It was even apparent on TV just listening to the cheering. Though I guess when your team has one win and 32 losses, it's harder to sit outside in the cold and watch.

- When your entire fan base breathes a sigh of relief that you decide to nix a free agent deal you had in place, does that automatically mean it was a bad move to begin with?

- If the Mets replace Glavine (something like 0-5 with an infinity ERA in his last 7 starts) and his 200 innings with Livan Hernandez and his 200 innings, is that such a huge drop off? Can't we use some of the money we will save on some much needed relief help?

- What does the Castillo 4 year deal mean for Rubin Gotay?

- When you win a game getting 4 goals from your low scoring defense it means either (a) your big guns just aren't producing enough, or (b) something extremely special is happening with your team.

- In a related story, I'm watching so much hockey these days because, just 9 games into the season, the Knicks have already become an unwatchable mess. Kudos to Isaiah Thomas for taking a team vote about playing Marbury and going against the reportedly unanimous decision not to play him. Way to hold on to your locker room.

- Though I know they will get killed, I'm excited to see the Jets play on Thanksgiving and Revis running with Owens.

- Got to side with Chipper Jones on this whole David Wright wins the Gold Glove thing. David Wright? Gold Glove? Really?

- At this point, the only question is will the Pats run the table on their way to beating the Cowboys/Packers in the Super Bowl.



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Thoughts On The Jets Victory

- It was a long time coming.

- I really like Kellen Clemens and his ability to play beyond his year. I like his mobility, his abilily to read drefenses. So far, I have been less than impressed with his ability to throw the ball accurately.

- As I predicted a few weeks ago, the Jets opened the playbook more in KC's second start - throwing more long passes. They still dinked and dunked too much, but at least they took their shots.

- Kerry Rhodes isn't dead, as had been earlier reported.

- The worst Jet on the field this week was D'brickashaw Fergeson, followed closesly by Brad Smith. Smith gets a free pass because he's still learning to be a wide receiver.

- Besides Fergeson, the offensive line was impressive run blocking, slightly less impressive pass blocking.

- Thomas Jones is effective when he gets some holes.

- For a team that sacked the QB 7 times, Big Ben didn't take that much of a pounding.

- SEVEN SACKS!!!!

- All those years of punishment to Laverneous Coles seem to be taking their toll.

- Harris is one heck of a linebacker.

- Revis is going to be one heck of a corner.

- Where's Jerricho Cotchery?

- Best game of the season by the Jets this season.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Knicks As Inspiration

The Knicks awful, soap opera like start have driven me to new levels of...I'm not exactly sure what. Is it pain? Anger? Disgust? Actually it's all of the above. And things aren't looking up with 2 more loseable games out west.

A long time ago a reader (whose name escapes me) wrote poem about the Yankees and one of their first round playoff defeats. Well, I have been inspired to do the same.

So, without further ado, I bring you Dysfunction - A Poem About the New York Knicks:

Dysfunction
It breeds disaster
We must fire Isiah
as soon as possible

Stephon
brings discord
and horrible defense
and weird religion
and a sex scandal
with him every night

Eddy
we fear for your heart
(and we aren't talking about the defect)
and your ability
to play with Zach
every night

Jamaal
your skills are otherworldly
why can't you
bring it every night?

Lee
your energy is contagious
your rebounding sublime
but you could not score 10 points a night in
an empty gym

Nate
I used to hate you
but you are growing
on me

Zach
you average a double-double every night
despite the fact
that you are overweight
please stay out
of nightclubs and
fast food restaurants

Q
when you were on Phoenix
you were good
what happened?

Renaldo
your hustle
your defense
your hair
why can't you shoot?


And Jim
you worst of them all
everyone hates you
sell the team.

What do you think kids? I think it's genius.

Ah Youth

Last night, the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at the new Prudential Center in Newark. One of the he goals were scored by Jaromir Jagr, which of course is no great surprise. The pleasant part - the other three tallies were by Nigel Dawes, Marc Staal and my new favorite Ranger, Brandon Dubinsky (and not just because he has a possibly Jewish last name). The Rangers committed to playing younger players the last 2 years and as a result are getting contributions from the three above, as well as Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan (injured). Also nice to see the older guys chip in with assists on those goals by Jagr, Shanahan, Drury and Gomez.

When you combine youth (see above), veteran leadership (Shanahan, Drury Gomez), proven scorers (Jagr, Shanahan, Drury), forwards committed to defense, a solid defensive corps and a great goaltender (King Henrik) you have all the right ingredients for a championship team. The Rangers have all of these ingredients and Rangers fans have alot to be excited about this season.

Unlike the Knicks, whose poor start has inspired me to poetry, which I will hopefully unveil later today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Post 325

First off, if you haven't seen the post below, it's worth checking out.

Second - check out this awesome link. If you love either nature, the ocean or surfing, this is also worth checking out.


*******

Finally - Local tabloids are reporting that the Knicks are internally discussing ways to get rid of crazy person du jour, Stephon Marbury. Whether by trade (not likely - Steph is owed something like 42 million bucks over the next 2 years), a buyout (Knicks modus operendi) or simply reducing his minutes dramatically ( I for one am in favor of a combination of Crawford, Nate Robinson and Mardy Collins getting the lion's share of the point guard minutes), they seem to be thinking of pulling the plug on the Starbury era in New York.

Personally, I think anything short of a trade has all the makings of a very ugly situation. While Marbury has been playing decently and under control so far this season, his disastrous final minutes against the Heat on Sunday show why other, more deserving players should be getting his minutes. He has lost alot of his explosiveness - very problematic for a score first point guard. The team doesn't need messy, protracted buyout negotiations while they try and find themselves (especially with a potential horror show of a west coast swing coming up) or having Steph grousing on the bench (same huge distraction).

But since a trade is almost out of the question, we will have to see how this plays out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Lesson From Our Forefathers?

Chana had this post a week or so ago and it got me thinking.

Throughout Sefer Bireishis, each of the central figures of early Jewish history displays certain behavior, or patterns of behavior, which indicates major flaws in their personalities. While we have always been taught that the Avos, the forefathers, were extremely righteous people, consider the following:

Off the top of my head - Eve eats from the tree of knowledge after she and Adam are specifically warned off of it by Hashem himself. Eve then "tricks" Adam into doing the same. One of Adam's son's kills his brother.

Noah, after saving mankind from the flood, immediately gets himself drunk and passes out. At least one of his sons is punished for taking pleasure in his father's embarrassment.

Abraham lies to a king about his marital status. According to Medrashim, he also commits acts of destruction against his father's personal property and then lies about it. His son, Yitzchak, also lies to King Avimelech about his marital status. Yitzchak also completely missed the boat on his older son - thinking a killer worthy of his berachot. His wife, Rifka, spurs on her son to commit an act of treachery against her husband (his own father).

Yaakov uses his brother's appetites to blackmail him into selling Yaakov the right of first born. Yaakov, on his mother's advice, tricks his blind father into thinking he was his older brother, thus securing the aforementioned berachot.

Yaakov's beloved, Rachel, commits an act of deceit against him by giving her older sister Leah the passwords to their marriage bed, thereby tricking Yaakov into marrying her first. Rachel also steals her father's property and lies to him to keep the property hidden.

Leah is extremely jealous of her sister despite the fact that Rachel gave her the passwords earlier.

Yehuda sleeps with a prostitute. Reuven, according to at least one interpretation, sleeps with his father's wife. Yosef acts with great arrogance towards his older brothers. Levi and Shimon wipe out an entire city of people. The brothers as a whole plan to kill Yosef, instead simply kidnapping him and selling him into slavery.

All in all, Sefer Bireishis is loaded with some sordid tales of lies, deceit, prostitution, murder, debauchery, drunkenness and sexual misconduct. What makes this all so especially troubling - that these tales are recorded in the Torah regarding our forefathers - those people who we are taught all of our lives were the epitome of how we are all supposed to live and behave.

So the question I was pondering this weekend was - what is the lesson learned from this? And, humbly, I set forth this - perhaps the lesson is, that while are forefathers were indeed the epitome of how to live, they were also something else. They were human. And they made mistakes. And sometimes they let their emotions and their own weaknesses get the best of them, just like us regular people.

And maybe that's the lesson to be learned by us all fro their seeming misdeeds. The Torah contemplates that we are all human. While certainly it is incumbent on us all to live out our lives as best we can within whatever halachik framework we live in, we need to also understand that we, as humans, are going to make mistakes - that we are not going to be perfect all the time. And if we do err, we are able to, perhaps, look to the Avos and understand that just because we have fallen, perhaps all is not lost for us. Just like they erred, we can too. The key is to try and lift ourselves back up, just like they always tried to do.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sailor's Warning

So for quite a while now I've wanted to jump back into the writing game. Nothing fancy, nothing too ambitious, just a small project. A nice short story or even a snippet of fiction.

The problem is, I'm completely stumped for ideas.

Ever since the Failed Book Incident of 2006, I've been snake-bit. The disillusionment I've felt from the whole process has left me, well, with a scar.

At first, I just hated the idea of writing again. I had tons of ideas, had even started 2 full-length projects, but I had no desire to write anything. I felt betrayed by an industry that wouldn't even take the time to look at my work, let alone tell me it wasn't good enough. Subsequently, I realized that the work probably wasn't good enough (despite what you may believe, many authors' first works never see the light of day). Feelings of betrayal towards the industry became feelings of bitterness that I somehow lacked the ability to do what I loved to do.

I stayed away from the computer for almost a year.

Then the Feeling returned. The Feeling, for me anyway, is the desire to write. I wanted to get back in front of the keyboard, take out the pad and pen, and get cracking again.

However this time, the Feeling returned without one slightly important ingredient - the spark.

I don't know anything about writing - how it works, where it comes from. Heck lots of people argue I don't even know HOW to write. But I know one thing. For me, it was a spark inside me that formed the words, almost like a well from which everything flowed. When I was writing my book, the well was overflowing. I was making lists of ideas for "my next project", I was jotting down dialogue to use in specific works. Heck I was even outlining intricate plot points.

And now? Now all I can do is stare at blank computer screens and empty legal pads. Now not only do the words not come, the ideas aren't there anymore. Did I lose the spark? Am I just too scared to try again? Am I just suffering from an overlong, though temporary case of writers block? I have no idea. All I know is that now, when I finally have the will to write again, I simply can't do it.

Why do I tell you all this? Two reasons, I guess. For starters, in the past I have found it therapeutic to write it all out - it clears the soul. Also, it's a warning to all of you too. Don't think that the gift you possess, the creative spark inside of you (whether it manifests in prose, poetry, art, photography, music or even skin art) is something you should take for granted. It's not a switch to be turned on and off at your whim and fancy. It's a gift - it can be taken away as easily as it comes. I seem to have lost mine. Whether temporary or not I do not know.

I still feel as though if I just had that one idea, I could write it. I just don't know what to write. So yeah. Therapeutic? Maybe. Helpful to you? Who knows. I'll just leave you with the creative person's prayer. Written some time in the 21st Century by a struggling writer with a lightly read sports blog.

The creative person's prayer - "Lord give me the power to recognize I have something special and the ability to use it - and Lord please, please please - don't take it away from me."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Knicks 2007/2008 Preview

Before we get to the Knicks, a quick word about the Rangers:

- Henrik Lundqvist has been otherworldly so far this season. Third in the league in goals against, fifth in save percentage and second in shutouts, plus he's started every game of the season so far for the Rangers. If the team could score, he'd probably be 13-0.

- One "positive" of the early season scoring drought is watching how well the defense is meshing together. I particularly enjoy Dan Girardi's play. When the team finally starts scoring, at it should be just a matter of time, the defense will be an added bonus.

- Finally, it's nice to see the younger generation get important minutes on a team with real championship expectations. Nigel Dawes, Girardi, Marc Staal, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan (before his injury) are all playing real roles for this team, something that often didn't happen in the past when the rosters were way too veteran heavy.

*********************************
I had meant to write this preview before the season started but I got sick (still am) and was unable to even sit and write anything. So forgive me for putting this out after the season had already started.

The 2007/2008 season got off to a bad start with a tough loss to the Cleveland Cavs, who rode Lebron James' 45 points to victory. The off season was even tougher. Between the crazy ramblings of Stephon Marbury, the shoulder injury to Eddy Curry and last and most damaging, the Isiah Thomas/MSG sexual harassment debacle. All in all, a mess.

(And speaking of off season messes, why trade a pick to draft Demetrious Nichols (a very good move by the way) when you didn't have a spot for him anyway, and then simply cut him when he refused to play in the D-League? Couldn't the team have done a little more home work on him and seen if he was willing to go play for a year down there? It makes no sense. A total waste of a pick.)

The Knicks come into the season with a couple of huge questions, the answers to which will determine how this season goes:

- Can Eddy Curry and newly acquired Zach Randolph, both low post players, play together?

- Can Marbury of Nate Robinson run the offense unselfishly?

- Can anyone on the team protect the rim?

- Will the team play defense?

- Can the Knicks get consistent perimeter scoring?

- Is Marbury legitimately insane?

Isiah has a lock down defender in Fred Jones (whom Thomas loves), 2 possible lock down guys in Mardy Collins and Renaldo Balkman (who won't get much time this year barring injury - well Balkman might), a failed lock down guy in Jarrod Jeffries (don't see him getting much time) and a guy who tries hard in David Lee (but who is a poor defender). Everyone else on the team is a below average defender. No one on the squad blocks shots or even pretends to. Doesn't make for a great defensive team.

Curry and Randolph can work together if they can check egos. Randolph has range on his jumper and can float out on the perimeter or the high post, allowing Curry to get his touches in the paint. Randolph can post up too, to give defenses more looks. Neither team can pass out of a double team.

I have real reservations about either Marbury or Robinson running this team unselfishly. Robinson has been under control so far in the preseason, but I fear with him it's just a matter of time until he backslides. If he can keep himself in control, he can be a quality backup point guard.

Quentin Richardson has a balky back which limits his effectiveness. Jamaal Crawford is a hot and cold shooter who lacks consistency. Marbury's game is based on quickness and he's lost a step. In other words, the perimeter game is spotty.

However, the message is not all doom and gloom. The roster is very talented, the problem has always been getting the individuals to play within a team framework. They have 2 excellent low post scorers (Curry and Randolph), a high energy rebound and hustle guy (Lee), a very talented shooter (Crawford), and a number of players who bring things to the table. If everything breaks right, this is a playoff team.

The problem is, everything won't break right. There is a cloud hanging over the organization and the cloud's name is DolanThomas. If the Knicks start slowly (they have a huge chance to make sure that doesn't happen by putting the hurt on the Timberwolves today), the weight of the sexual harassment off court stuff will kill this team. If they can start winning, well, winning is a great cure all.

My prediction, the Knicks will lose early and often, and be unable to bail themselves out. They will win in the upper 30's (37-39) games and fail to make the playoffs in a stronger Eastern Conference. I hope I eat my words in June. In fact, I'm hoping that In May or June Joe is quoting my awful prediction when the Knicks win their 50th game.