Daily Briefing: July 9, 2011

– Yao Ming has retired from the NBA.  He made the All-Star Game in all of the eight seasons he played, but his career was filled with injuries.  It’s a shame Yao could never stay healthy, but that’s sports.

– The Mets won their first of three games with San Francisco last night, but they are still 6.5 games back in the wildcard chase.  At this point, I still believe you have to explore moving Francisco Rodriguez and/or Carlos Beltran.  Jose Reyes should untouchable no matter what happens over the next couple of weeks.

– The Yankees and Rays were rained out last night, leaving Derek Jeter stuck at 2998 hits.  He has two more games at home to get to 3000.

– After an MRI, it has been determined that A-Rod may need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.  The recovery time would be 4-6 weeks.

– The Orioles and Red Sox got into a brawl last night, with Kevin Gregg and David Ortiz going at it.  It all started when Ortiz swung at a 3-0 pitch late in the game while up by seven runs.  Many think it was a classless move, but this isn’t little league.  Seven runs is nothing in today’s game and especially at Fenway Park.  Therefore, I’m actually on Ortiz’s side here.  We can debate whether or not charging the mound was the right thing to do, but I have no problem with Ortiz’s aggressiveness at the plate.

– Andre Ethier may be thinking about a move to Boston or New York, says Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman.

– There have been conflicting reports about the NFL lockout.  Some analysts still say a deal is imminent, while others say a deal is far from being agreed to.  It’s hard what to believe at this point, but expect the worst.  I can’t see a deal being agreed to anytime within the next week or so.

– Yesterday’s biggest story involved Jets third round pick Kenrick Ellis.  His pending court case was moved to late November.  However, some members of the media have used this news as an opportunity to somehow once again attack the Jets.

– Let me first say that the Jets did their homework involving this case.  There’s no way Ellis gets 20 years in prison (or deported) for punching a guy who tried to attack him with a baseball bat.  The Jets wouldn’t have drafted him if they thought he would get anything more than a fine.  If you actually examine the charges, you’ll realize there’s no chance Ellis spends any time incarcerated.  This is just another case of the anti-Jets media looking for any opportunity to bring down the team.

– Even if Kenrick was convicted and spent a month or two in jail during the season, it still would have been a risk worth taking for the Jets.  Gang Green only got him in the third round because of his pending court case.  He was easily a late-first/early-second round talent in this year’s draft.  Once this nonsense gets worked out, Ellis could be the ideal nose tackle in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 system.  Instead of talking about his past transgressions, perhaps we should spend more time talking about this young man’s upside as a football player.

For more on Kenrick Ellis, the NFL lockout, and more breaking news, feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The sports media has reached a new low by spinning the Kenrick Ellis story out of control.


New York Nine: The Years

Honorable Mention: 2009

In 2009, the Yankees finally were back on top after nine years of waiting.  They picked up their 27th championship after a six game World Series victory over the Phillies.  The Jets also got in on the action, making a Cinderella run to the AFC Championship game.

9)  1995

After an exhausting 1994 season for both teams, all was quiet on the Rangers and Knicks front.  Luckily enough, there was a championship won this season.  The New Jersey Devils brought home their first Stanley Cup in an amazing series.  For more on  the 1995 Devils, click here.

That is all great, but possibly the greatest story to come out of 1995 was the first true ALDS.  After taking a 2-0 series lead on the Mariners, the Yankees dropped three straight on the road en route to elimination.  This series may have saved baseball, saved the Mariners, and led to the modern Yankees dynasty. 

8)  2003

While most people remember the Yankees’ epic ALCS against the Red Sox, it was actually the Devils who stole the show in 2003.  They won their third Stanley Cup and their second in four years.  The Yankees had a pretty exhilarating series too, winning their ALCS in seven games after a historic comeback.

7) 1996

In 1996, the Yankees upset the Atlanta Braves en route to their 21st championship.  This season began the run of dominance the Yankees still thrive from today.  While everyone else in New York had rather quiet seasons, this is still remembered as the year that changed the face of New York baseball.

A few months later in 1997, the Rangers would make their second Eastern Conference Finals in four years.

6)  1973

As if the Knicks winning their second championship wasn’t enough, the Mets made the World Series in 1973.  Although they lose the series, the pushed the mighty A’s to seven games.  Oakland won the series, but the Mets won the hearts of America.

5)  1999

The Yankees, Jets, and Knicks were the feature teams this season.  The Yankees captured another World Series title, the Jets came within 30 minutes of making it to the Super Bowl, and the Knicks made it to another NBA Finals.  1999 was truly one of the greatest years in New York sports history.

4)  2000

While the Rangers missed the playoffs, the Knicks rode all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers.  Despite the Knicks having a good team, no one remembers that team.  They don’t remember that team because of the Yankees, Mets, and Giants.

In 2000, the long-awaited Subway Series finally happened.  The Yankees and the Mets finally faced off for all the marbles.  The Yankees won in five games, but every fan in New York was satisfied with the thrill and excitement of the series.

How about those Giants?  Well they only made it to the Super Bowl that season.  Sure they lost to the Ravens, but every Giant fan will remember that year as one of the greatest in their history.

3)  1986

The Mets and Giants both picked up championships in 1986.  Facing the tough Red Sox, the Mets won the World Series thanks to an amazing comeback.  For the the Giants, they beat Denver to win their first Super Bowl. 

2)  1994

Baseball strike?  No problem.  The Knicks and Rangers both made it to their sport’s finals and suddenly a double championship looked probable.  The Rangers took care of business, but the Knicks fell to the Rockets in seven games.  No basketball or hockey fan will ever forget 1994.

1)  1969

Double championship?  How about a triple championship?  Let’s start in January.

January 12, 1969.  That was the date that Jet fans will never forget.  Hands down, Super Bowl III was the greatest upset in New York sports history.

Let’s move to October.  The Miracle Mets finally made it to the World Series.  They defeated the mighty Baltimore Orioles in five games to win their first World Series.

For more on the 1968 Jets, click here.  For details of both series, click here.

While the Knicks didn’t win their championship in 1969, the 1969-1970 Knicks would take home their first championship in May of 1970.  January 1969 – May 1970 are without a doubt the greatest 17 months in New York sports history.

New York Nine: The Franchises

New York has been blessed with some of the greatest franchises in sports history.  All nine teams have been competitive at one point or another.  Every team has won professional championships, with the Jets being the only team to only win only one.   It’s time to count down the top nine teams in New York sports history.  Let’s begin.

9)  Nets

The New Jersey Nets won two ABA titles in 1974 and 1976.  The next season, the ABA-NBA merger finally took place.  This would be a move that the Nets would never recover from.

After paying a $4.8 million fine instituted by the Knicks for “invading their territory,” the Nets had to trade Juilius Erving to the 76ers.  This move would be the downfall of the franchise, as they would win only one playoff series until 2002.

After trading for Jason Kid in 2001-2002, the Nets made two straight NBA Finals.  Despite losing both, the Nets made the playoffs every year until 2007-2008.  After a 12-win season in 2009-2010, the Nets were sold to current owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

8)  Jets

The Titans of New York were one of the original teams in the AFL, which was created in 1960.  In 1963, the Titans were remarked as the New York Jets.   In 1968, the Jets made their first Super Bowl after beating the Oakland Raiders in the AFL Championship Game.

You know the rest.  The guarantee.  The upset.

The Jets would make the AFC Championship Game in 1982, but they lost the Dolphins.  In 1999, they lost the Broncos in the AFC Championship despite having a lead at halftime.  In 2009, the Jets made the AFC Championship one more time.  After two upsets to get there, the Jets lost to the Colts despite having another lead at half time.

The future is extremely bright for the Jets.  Lead by a committed owner, general manager and head coach, the Jets are poised to make an impact this decade.

7)  Mets

From 1962-1987, the Mets made the playoffs three times.  Every time, they made the World Series.  1n 1969, the Mets upset the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series after a magical season.  After making the World Series in 1973, they lost to Oakland A’s in seven games.  In 1986, the Mets pulled off the greatest comeback in New York sports history to win their second title.

The Mets made the World Series one more time in 2000.  They would lose the series 4-1 to the Yankees.  Since then, the Mets have only made the playoffs once, in 2006.

6)  Devils

After moving to New Jersey in 1982, the Devils had five mediocre seasons.  Since then, they’ve completely dominated the NHL.  The Devils have only missed the playoffs twice since 1987 and have won three Stanley Cups along the way.

The first of these cups came in 1995 vs Detroit.  You can learn more about that series here.  The Devils beat the Stars in 2000 to win their second Stanley Cup.  After losing to Patrick Roy and the Avalanche in the following season’s finals, the Devils beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003 to take home their third Stanley Cup.

After that, the NHL got tired of the Devils’ winning.  After a strike, the NHL made radical changes meant to attack the neutral zone trap the Devils used on defense.  The NHL also attacked Martin Brodeur’s dominance by reducing the size of goalie’s pads and instituting the Brodeur Rule.  These rule changes have worked, since the Devils have not made it out of the first round since then.

5)  Islanders

From 1975-1988, the Islanders went on one of the most dominant runs in sports history.  They didn’t miss the playoffs in that span, and won four Stanley Cups in a row.  The Isles have only won two playoff series since then, but currently have a lot of young talent that could develop into something special in the future.

4)  Knicks

With two championships, seven division titles, and eight conference titles, the Knicks are one of the most storied franchises in basketball.  After a terrible decade in the 2000s, the Knicks are looking to put a contender on the court this decade.  With Amar’e Stoudmire and other superstars wanting to come to New York, it could be a fun and successful decade for the Knickerbockers.

3)  Rangers

After winning three Stanley Cups early in their history, the Rangers went on a 54 year championship drought.  The 1994 Rangers will never be forgotten as the team that ended the curse and put the Rangers back on the hockey map.  The Rangers haven’t been to the finals since 1994, but they have enjoyed moderate success since then.

2)  Giants

After four NFL titles early in their history, the Giants won their first Super Bowl in 1986.  They would win two more in 1990 and 2007, bringing their franchise total to seven.  After missing the postseason in 2009, the Giants hope to make a run at another Super Bowl this season.

1)  Yankees

I don’t even know where to start.  The 27 World Series wins, the 40 Pennants, the 16 American League East titles, where do I begin?   Let’s start at 1923.

In 1923, the Yankees won their first World Series behind Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.  Four years later, the 1927 Yankees formed arguably the greatest team in Baseball history.  The team would win 18 more titles before being sold to George Steinbrenner in 1973.

Steinbrenner led the Yankees to seven more World Championships, including one last year in 2009.  The New York Yankees are still today the epitome of excellence.  Every team in professional sports should strive to emulate the Yankees’ success over the past 100 years.

Postseason Odds According to PECOTA

PECTOA is Baseball Prospectus’ projection system that is based on comparisons with thousands of historical player-seasons. Before every season, PECOTA predicts the final standings of the baseball season. In this article, I am going to analyze PECOTA’s latest postseason odds.

AL East (W-L/Champions/Wild Card/Playoffs)

Yankees: 72-44/80%/16%/97%
Rays: 70-46/16%/57%/73%
Red Sox: 67-51/3%/24%/27%
Blue Jays: 61-55/0%/0%/1%
Orioles: 41-76/0%/0%/0%

Yankees’ Projected Record:  99-63

In simpler terms, the Yankees have a 97% chance to make the playoffs, an 80% chance to win the AL East, and a 16% chance to win the Wild Card.

NL East (W-L/Champions/Wild Card/Playoffs)

Braves: 67-49/62%/11%/73%
Phillies: 65-51/36%/15%/51%
Mets: 58-58/1%/0%/1%
Marlins: 57-58/0%/0%/1%
Nationals: 50-67/0%/0%/0%

Mets’ Projected Record:  82-80

In other words, the Mets have no chance to make the playoffs.


New York Nine: The Upsets

This is the first article in a new column here called “New York Nine.”  In this column, I will be counting down the top nine of something New York Sports related.  In today’s edition, I will be counting down the top nine upsets in New York Sports history.  If you feel there is anything I missed, please feel free to leave a comment.  We would love to hear your top nine. 

9)  2001 American League Championship Series

The greatest regular season team in baseball history against the defending World Champions.  In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won 116 games, 21 more than the Yankees won that season.   The 2001 ALCS was supposed to be the fall of the Yankees dynasty.  The fall would come later that postseason, but the Yankees won this series 4-1.

8 )  1979 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals

The New York Rangers beat a dominant New York Islanders team in six games to advance to the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals.  The Islanders were the two-time defending Clarence Campbell Conference Champions coming into the series.  After that series, the Islanders went on to win four straight Stanley Cups.  

7) 1973 National League Championship Series

Yogi Berra and the Mets beat the Cincinatti Reds in five games to go to their second World Series.  The Reds were 17 games better than the Mets coming into the series.  The most memorable moment in this series was the famous fight between Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson in Game 3.

6)  1996 World Series

The Yankees as underdogs?  Believe it or not, there was a World Series in which the Yankees were thought to have been lucky if they just won a game or two.  Especially after dropping the first two games at home. 

Up 2-0 in the series, the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves were looking to finish off the Yankees in the home park.  After all, they only had to take two games out of three to repeat as champions.  Even if they had won just one game at home, they would still have a 3-2 lead going back to Yankee Stadium.

Before Game 2 of the series, Joe Torre had a secret meeting with George Steinbrenner.   Torre told George that the Yankees would probably lose that night, but Atlanta was “Torre’s Town” and the Yanks would sweep Atlanta in Atlanta and finish things off at home and win the series 4-2. 

Steinbrenner laughed, but that is exactly what happened.  After a clutch Game 3 performance by David Cone, the Yankees were down in the series 2-1 entering Game 4.  In Game 4, the Yankees faced a 6-0 defecit coming into the 6th inning.  After cutting the lead to three, the Yankees sent Jim Leyritz up in the 8th with two runners on.  Leyritz pulled Mark Wohlers out of the park to tie the game.  This home run helped the Yankees get back into the series and would launch the recent Yankees dynasty.

The Yankees won that game in extra innings after a bases loaded walk by Wade Boggs.  In Game 5, Andy Pettite and John Wetteland shut out the Braves and a game-saving catch by Paul O’Neill sent the series back to New York.  We all know what happened in Game 6.  As Charlie Hayes squeezed the game-ending pop up into his glove, a new Yankees dynasty was born.

5)  1995 Stanley Cup Finals

This may be the most overlooked series in sports history.  Imagine existing for twenty years and winning absolutely nothing.  Now imagine your arch rivals winning the Stanley Cup the prior year.  Even worse, they beat you in the Eastern Conference Finals to get there.  In that series, they beat you in overtime in the seventh game of the series after you made a ridiculous comeback to even get that far.

How do you feel?  This is how the New Jersey Devils felt going into the 1995 season.  After advancing to their first Stanley Cup Finals ever, the Devils were widely predicted to get swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

There was a sweep alright.  Jacques Lemaire and the Devils neutral zone trapped the Red Wings right out of the series and picked up their first of three Stanley Cups.  It was truly a perfect moment in sports history that will always be overshadowed by the 1994 Finals.  Watch the final minutes and celebration here

4) 1955 World Series

The Dodgers don’t play in Brooklyn anymore, but there is sure a lot of history surrounding them when they were here.  After losing to the Yankees in the 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953 World Series, the Dodgers tried their luck in 1955.  Brooklyn shocked the world and won in 7 games.

It is interesting to note that the most remembered play in the series was Jackie Robinson’s steal of home in Game 1.  Ironically, it was a meaningless steal.  the Yankees actually won that game 6-5.  

3)  1969 World Series

The Miracle Mets weren’t even supposed to have a winning record, let alone make the World Series.  Winning the World Series?  Well that was just an insane idea.  Especially since they had to go against Earl Weaver’s powerhouse Baltimore Orioles.

1969 wasn’t friendly to Baltimore.  The Mets won in five games behind strong pitching performances from Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman.  After the series, Seaver said, ” God is living in New York, and he’s a Mets fan.”

2)  Super Bowl XLII

One team was undefeated.  One team barely snuck into the playoffs.  The undefeated team had already beaten the underdog in the regular season.  The game seemed over before it started. 

With the Giants 13 1/2 point underdogs, no one gave them a chance against the almighty Patriots.  Tom Brady couldn’t fight off the Giants’ overwhelming pass rush as the Patriots choked away their perfect season.  Oh yeah, this play didn’t hurt as well.  Eli Manning to David Tyree will be remembered for generations to come.  Plaxico Burress sealed the deal with the game winning touchdown.  Write that script. 

1)  Super Bowl III

You know the story.  The AFL’s New York Jets were 18 point underdogs to the NFL’s powerhouse Baltimore Colts.  Joe Namath led the Jets to a 17-6 upset over Johnny Unitas and the Colts.  41 years later, this is still the greatest upset in football history.