Elster's World

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rough Times Ahead

Heard on CNBC this morning:

"What's the difference between a Hedge Fund manager and a pigeon? A pigeon can still make a deposit on a Ferrari."

Haha. Well, it is kind of funny. Obviously in a sad way. The economy is slumping badly, led by the destruction of the banking industry and its satellites. All the predictable results follow. The stock market tanks, there's no money to be had - the banks have tightened up their lending (finally). The whole slump feeds on itself causing a correction, recession and/or depression. It remains to be seen which of the three happens, though I think even the most bullish will admit we are past correction and into recession.

The scary part to me? The real estate bubble has yet to burst. Prices for offices building are still way too high. I'm afraid of what happens to the overall market when this last ingredient is added to the mix.

The truth is, the last ten years have led people to believe that there are only good times, that real estate and hedges and hedge funds are cash machines with arrows that only go north. The lack of fiscal responsiblity is amazing. Those who made this mess are now paying a very terrible price.

Sadly, they have taken us all with them.


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In other sad news, I can't help but have a bad feeling about Sunday's game. Sure the Raiders are terrible, but isn't this exactly the type of game the Jets would always lose? The absolute sure thing? I think the Jets will win in the Black Hole but I fear it will be ugly and very close.

In happier news:

The Jets signed Calvin Pace to be a pass rushing specialist after he racked up a whopping 6 1/2 QB kills last season. Of course, the Jets didn't get a pass rushing specialist. Instead they got an all-around linebacker who plays the run and pass very well. He has made up for David Harris' slow start and has allowed guys like Bryan Thomas to focus more on pressuring the Quarterback. Has he had more of an impact that Kris Jenkins? Probably not - Jenkins has made the Jets defensive line relevant again, something I didn't think was possible.

On the whole, the Jets defensive acquisitions this year have been very good. Pace and Jenkins have helped shore up the front seven (the Jets have been very good against the run this season) and Dwight Lowery won the starting cornerback job as a rookie. He has been uneven, but more good than bad. The jury is still out on Vernon Golston.

On the offensive side of the ball, the new arrivals rank like this. Favre, Keller, Faneca/Woody.......the Franks and Richardson. As John Madden would say, Favre is Favre. Keller has fit in nicely and needs more touches. The addition of Faneca was supposed to turn the Jets into an elite offensive line. Since they cannot run the ball, the are not elite - though they do pass block well. Richardson has been a non-factor in helping the running game and Franks is...I'm not sure what Franks is.

Overall, I'm still not sure what about this Jets team. I doubt the Jets are too sure about their team. Still the team is 3-2 going into games at Oakland, home against KC, at Buffalo then home for St. Louis. Thus, they have a legitimate chance at being 7-2 or 6-3 going into their second joust with New England (yes, I know that I'm getting ahead of myself). So you can't really complan about that.

Anyway - the key to surviving bad times in economic sense and in sports sense is to be well prepared, then strap on your helmet and take the worst of it as best you can.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Slooooow Friday

Since I'm sitting here anyway reading about sports online, I might as well write about sports online (I'm sure Joe would disagree):

Mets Post-Mortem

All in all, another horrifically disappointing season. There were some ups (most notably the All Star Break run, Johan Santana living up to expectations, Delgado's return to performance enhancing...I mean his second half surge, Mike Pelfrey's breakout, Ryan Church's April, Jerry Manuel's run and the return of Duaner Sanchez - ok the last one was a joke) but there were mostly downs (including David Wright's quiet 124 RBI, the bullpen, John Maine's injuries, Pedro, the bullpen, Alou's quad, the bullpen, Willie's first half, the bullpen, Carlos Delgado's first half and the bullpen - oh and let's not forget Billy Wagner's 120 blown saves and the meltdown of his arm down the stretch..again).

At the end of the day, a team that's been built to WIN NOW has managed to not make the playoffs two straight years. The blame - well there's plenty of blame to go around. Omar Minaya did an awful job of constructing the bullpen (did the Mets really need two lefty specialists?) and for all the accumulation of "power arms", Aaron Heilman was the only guy who could throw harder than 90 miles an hour for the majority of the season. Minaya was silly to rely on Alou and Pedro - both famously falling apart in their twilight years (and yes Joe - I will still defend the Pedro signing for all eternity so feel free NOT to bring it up below) and was bailed out only because Nick evans and The Murph managed to be effective players in left - neither of their natural positions. Willie was just terrible this season until he was infamously canned at 2:00 am in California - another embarrassment for the front office. David Wright had a statistically great season but every Met fan will tell you he astoundingly morphed into A-Rod this year. Carlos Beltran was way too quiet for way too much of the season after making the "team to beat" statement in March (no Carlos, we haven't forgotten) and Oliver Perez was way too inconsistent.

(Speaking of which, when the evil Scot Boras starts shopping him around for 6 years at 14 million per, wouldn't you rather take C.C. Sabbathia at 7 years and 18 million per? At least he's totally money And then you have a rotation of Santana, Sabbathia, Pelfrey, Maine and Parnell or Neise - hey it aint my money. But my point is, there's no way the Mets should overpay for Perez)

Minaya got an extension and hopefully the Mets will work out something with Manuel. Minaya must must must fix the bullpen, upgrade left, hope the Murph can play second base, find a number 5 starter on the cheap, find a closer and upgrade the bullpen (notice a theme here?).

So that's the Mets.

Jets Quarterly Report

The Jets went into the season with new acquisitions and high hopes. After the first four games they are pretty much exactly where everyone thought they would be: 2-2. How are they getting there?

QB - Favre is an upgrade over Pennington - to me that's not opinion, it's a fact. Obviously he comes with risk that Chad never did (terrible picks, crazy decisions) but he gives the offense a new dimension - he buys himself time to make throws and he can get the ball down field...HARD. he had an awful game against the Chargers (but the team did too) and he was brilliant against the cards. He's somewhere in between those 2 games - and should get better as he clicks more with his receivers. Grade B+ (on the way up)

RB - Um, well let's see. Thomas Jones has been awful (I admit, i did not see that coming) and Leon Washington has been underused (though he's not an every down back) but he's too small to be a good blocker. Tony Richardson has not made an impact. Offensive line hasn't helped the cause. Grade D+

Receivers/Tight Ends - Getting better as the season goes on. Coles and Cotchery are a good tandem and have shown the ability to stretch the field with a stronger armed QB. Keller is good and Chasney Stuckey is showing why he was the original name of Joe's fantasy football team (until his season ending injury). Chris Baker has been quiet so far this season. Not a big fan of Bubba Franks. A

Line - In a few words - not bad pass protecting but terrible running. Have not seen any signs that Alan Faneca is making the players around him better. One of the writers I read said Brick has been better this season and I'll take his word for it. If the line can improve significantly from where it is right now, the jets are a good offensive team. C

Defensive Line - Much better against the run. Actually pressuring the QB. Jenkins has been good, Ellis has been good and I've even heard the name "Coleman" this season. The backups aren't making too much of an impact. B+

Linebackers - So in retrospect, wouldn't an inside of Harris and Vilma have been an upgrade over Harris/Barton? Is Barton the best late hitter in football? Is it possible that he's lost 5 steps? In other words, the inside LB's haven't been very good. Calvin Pace has really impressed me this season against the pass AND run and it's nice to see that Bryan Thomas can play well every other year. Really, that's nice. Vernon Gholston's 7 sacks have been remarkable. B

Secondary - There's Rhodes and Reevis, half a Lowery and pray for rain. Is the suspension of Eric Smith really a bad thing for the Jets? Eric Smith is such a made up name anyway - it sounds like the name you'd put on a hotel register if you were there for an affair. By the way, I'm officially adding Reevis to the Shut Down Corner roster and I'm also begging Rhodes to start making more fantasy plays for me. C

The Jets defense has for the last few years made nice strides after the bye week. if that continues, and the offensive line gets better, i believe the Jets are a 10-6 playoff team.

Knicks and Rangers

New personnel (Rangers), new system (Knicks) so everything remains to be seen.