Just Bring the Steak

Give us $430 million or John Tavares will be molecularly disintergrated!!!

The political machine in Nassau County has never really cared about the New York Islanders, at least as a hockey franchise.  No, the team is a means to an end. What the politicians really care about is the 70 acres of prime real estate that the Islanders and their arena sit on. But ever since the Nassau County government took over the land from a closing Air Force base in 1961, every attempt to develop the land has died on the vine via some political snafu.

Attempts to turn the area into a multi-purpose attraction have been going on since 1968, when then-County Exec Eugene Nickerson proposed a 14,000 arena along with mixed housing, bars, restaurants and a library for JFK. But the proposal was strung along by the Town of Hempstead and by the time Nickerson was voted out, the town had only approved the arena. The man who defeated the Democrat Nickerson was Republican Ralph Caso, the town supervisor of Hempstead.

Caso did away with the original plans, removed the developers that Nickerson had and brought on his own developers to just build the arena. The Nassau Coliseum opened for business in 1972, albeit barely finished enough to hold events. The arena and surrounding area have staying the same since, outdated since the late eighties.

In the mid-90’s, the Nassau GOP came up with a redevelopment offer as bait to finally get a buyer for an Islander team that had been on the block for years. In late 1997, a group called New York Sports Venture (NYSV) bought the Islanders for $195 million. In an interview with a local paper, co-owner Howard Milstein stated that the proposal was a “key factor” in his group decision to buy the team.

What Milstein and his partners didn’t anticipate was the intractable situation of the Nassau Coliseum lease deal and Nassau politics in general. When Milstein unveiled his proposal to county officials which included a convention center, office buildings, shops, restaurants and parking, they balked at the size of the project. A second, scaled down project was also nixed.

And then there was the lease. Yes, lease. The Islanders do not own the Nassau Coliseum, they are tenants. In 1985 then owner John Pickett and Nassau County (with input from then US Senator and former Hempstead supervisor Alphonse D’Amato) arranged terms with building managing company Hyatt (now SMG) for a 30-year lease. The lease was extremely lopsided, giving the Islanders none of the parking and concession revenues and only a third of the advertising.  With the Isles still a top draw, Pickett erroneously figured that the cable money they were getting from Cablevision and the revenues from luxury boxes would suffice. Nope. Not even close. It’s been an albatross on the Islanders balance sheet ever since.

Milstein and the group made it clear that no redevelopment could take place with SMG still holding the lease. They wanted full ownership of the new arena and the development around it. NYSV offered to buy SMG out and was refused. And Nassau County, spooked by the development plans, backed SMG. Milstein then publicly embarrassed the county and SMG by trying to create a loophole to nix the lease deal via claiming the Coliseum was unsound. All sides finally got back to the table but the talks fell apart. Nothing got done.

And who suffered the most from this? The Islanders and their fans. An angry Milstein slashed payroll and the team along with the attendance bottomed out. With the Nassau Hub deal at an impasse, NYSV lost $40 million in the two years it owned the Islanders and put the team back on the block.

After a brief purchase by an owner who turned out to be a con-artist, the latest beleaguered owner to push the boulder up the hill ala Sisyphus is Charles Wang, CEO of Computer Associates. Wang was hesitant about buying the Islanders and knew next to nothing about hockey. But a friend convinced him with overtures about value of the land and a promise of a new arena if he bought the team. The friend was a lawyer for SMG who sat on the board of Computer Associates, former Hempstead town supervisor and former US senator Alphonse D’Amato.

So Wang bought the team in 2000. Poor bastard had no idea what he was getting into. Newsday reported about a lunch Wang had with Al D’Amato and his brother Arnaud (an ex-convict), where he was asked by D’Amato to let Arnaud into his development board. Wang refused, saying that he didn’t want politics involved. Silly rabbit, politics is always involved. And Wang was about to find out.

When Wang met with the county, he was told to get creative with the scope and financing of his proposal as Nassau was broke. When Wang unveiled his privately financed $3.8 billion Lighthouse Project in 2004 to county officials which included a 60-floor residential complex, office buildings, shops, restaurants and parking, they balked at the size of the project (sound familiar?). A small yet vocal minority of residents protested the plan. Jilted friend D’Amato bashed the project. The town of Hempstead offered a counter-proposal that slashed the plan by 70% which Wang trashed as economically unviable. And on it dragged.

The proposal morphed into having a casino as part of the complex. A casino, the type of project only a politician could love. A typical quick fix, quick buck idea that does squat for the economic quality and life quality of a community in the long run. Just visit Detroit or Atlantic City to see the impact casinos have.

It had its supporters. A Long Island Herald op-ed piece, A Casino Deserves Serious Consideration, was written in the Long Island Herald in early May 2010 supporting County Executive Ed Mangano’s casino idea. The author? Former Hempstead supervisor, former US Senator, Mangano fundraiser and friend, current SMG lawyer and the Chairman of the Pokers Players Alliance (PPA), the Honorable Alphonse D’Amato. (Kudos to the crackerjack editorial staff of the LI Herald for failing to mention “Senator Pothole’s” involvement with Mangano or SMG or the PPA or his history of popping up like a Whack-A-Mole to screw the Islanders for his gain.)

All of this nonsense has led to the Islanders on life support.

When it comes to hockey, I’m not a New York Islander fan. My allegiance lies with the Philadelphia Flyers. Which I admit is strange considering I’m from Long Island, raised in Northport. I grew up during the Islanders four straight Stanley Cups, when they ruled the area. I waved hello to defenseman Ken Morrow on the way back from school as he was mowing his lawn. Former enforcer Ken Baumgartner once joined my friends and I during a street hockey game. My family, friends and I have been to many games at the Nassau “Mausoleum”. The Islanders are part of being a Long Islander.

No, they’re not my favorite team. But they mean something to me, as a Long Islander and a hockey fan. So I empathize with the people I know, who truly love hockey and the Islanders and what they’ve gone through. I can’t imagine it though, helplessly watching your team bleed cash in a dated money pit sitting in a field of unused asphalt year after year. Terrified, perhaps resigned to the team eventually leaving for Queens or Brooklyn or Kansas Freaking City. All at the mercy of political and moneyed interests that treated the team and the area like a political football.  It must’ve been a nightmare.

That nightmare looks to be ending this Monday, August 1st, in a special referendum vote for Nassau County to approve a new arena complex (also including what I guess is a direly needed minor league baseball stadium) to the tune of $430 million.  All of it publically funded of course.

As opposed to the Lighthouse project and others that have come before it, this latest proposal has the whole-hearted backing of the Nassau County government, wouldn’t you know. This is the same political machine that has whole-heartedly backed Nassau County into bankruptcy. Nassau County is the highest taxed, wealthiest county in the nation. And it’s broke. It’s so bad that a state oversight committee, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), was specifically brought on to take the credit card away from the county politicians.  And despite all of that, the county is pushing another expensive public finance of a private business.

There are websites that have bothered to read the county’s proposal including Neil deMause’s Field of Schemes and Forbes. So I won’t rehash, just read them. To summarize, Nassau County will make $2 million a year at best, at worst lose $12 million a year. Imagine if you were an investor and someone came to you with an opportunity to invest 100% ($430 million) into a project for only an 11.5% cut of the revenue, with the potential gain and loss numbers above? Would you punch them in the face or the balls?

Yet that’s what Ed Mangano and the political machine is about to have the county agree to. And after years of torching various development projects, NOW the county wants a fancy arena complex and they’re pulling out all the stops that were absent for previous arena incarnations. They’ve flooded press conferences with union labor supporters. Various op-ed pieces lauding the project, promising loads of revenue like every other publically financed project have showed in most local newspapers. There’s even an accusation that Mangano used his government office to have people make pro-arena phone calls to residents.  For the record, that’s not legal.

Then there’s the August 1st vote date which stinks to high heaven. Instead of putting the vote as part of the line of referendums that voters get to cast a ballot on in November, Nassau voters are asked to come out on a dog day summer weekday to vote on this one referendum. It’s a shady yet effective ploy. The ones with something to gain from the project (i.e. union labor) will make a point to go. As for the put-upon Nassau County taxpayers, they’re faced with the offer that if they don’t agree to bankroll this whole thing, the Islanders are gone. How shitty is that?

The referendum will pass, even though the county is broke. Even though the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) has already red flagged the project as the type of “investments” that have gotten Nassau into the mess it’s in now. This is how it goes now. It’s shady and sad. It’s not right.

My long-suffering Islander friends (especially the ones not in Nassau County) may or may not feel this way but they won’t care. They desperately want this to pass. I don’t blame them. You know the saying, “Don’t tell me how you killed the cow, just bring the steak”?

Well, gimme a round of T-Bones medium rare for my Islander friends and I.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 29, 2011 at 3:46 am  Comments (4)  

Mets Need a New Healthcare Plan

Don't worry Ike! You'll be back in three weeks!

A month and half back, I was at a neighborhood hangout with some friends shooting the shit while the Mets game played behind the bar. At one point I glance over to the screen to get an update on the game, but the game wasn’t playing. Instead, it was the image of Sandy Alderson conducting a press conference. A general manager should not be holding a press conference mid-season unless something big happened. And judging from look on poor Sandy’s face, that big something wasn’t good. He looked like most of the country did after the Casey Anthony verdict.

The sound was off but it wasn’t needed. David Wright was supposed to be coming back in the next few days. One peek at Sandy looking like he wanted to punch Bud Selig for getting him into this mess and you knew that the Mets crack medical staff had struck again. David Wright wasn’t coming back anytime soon.

See, after crashing into Carlos Lee during a play at third Wright was diagnosed with a fractured back……..three weeks after the fact. In those three weeks, he played like a guy, well, with a broken back. Once the overdue diagnosis was made, the ETA for recovery was six weeks. But the Mets never bothered to ask or misremembered whether that was from the time the injury or the time of the diagnosis. So they went ahead and announced that it was six weeks from the injury and David’s return would be in three. And then it wasn’t and Sandy Alderson, the veteran baseball man brought on to help stop this type of nonsense from happening, had to announce that this nonsense happened again. There was a “miscommunication”. We let our franchise player stay on the field with a fractured back and then underestimated his return date. Hey, happens to everyone. Normal error.

Like flying a player with a concussion cross country, or claiming a player who ran into a wall had a leg injury when he in fact suffered a concussion but sending him on a plane too, or treating an ankle sprain to a star young player with a boot which prevented recovery and now likely requires season ending micro-fracture surgery, or determining a slugger suffered a “right hip impingement” when in fact he’d never play again, or diagnosing a number one pitcher with strained pectoral muscle when in fact it was a season ending torn shoulder. You know, miscommunications. What medical staff doesn’t have these things pop up every now and then?

When Jose Reyes had to leave the game on Saturday against the Yankees, Met fans consciously wrote him off for a month. You knew how it was going to play out. The initial diagnosis would be the dreaded “day-to-day”, the equivalent of a public statement saying an embattled coach’s job was safe. Then a few days would go by and said player wouldn’t be on the field. Then would come the inevitable MRI which would show that the player actually had, I don’t know, a collapsed lung and bye-bye important player!!

And so it was. Jose Reyes’s day-to-day lowest level hamstring sprain turned into three weeks. If we’re lucky. Metsblog should have a poll asking fans if they really believe that they’re going to see Reyes on the field by the weekend of June 23rd. Because truth be told, I’m frightened. This is the possible MVP of the National League, a guy who was having a season the likes Met fans haven’t seen since 1985 Dwight Gooden, and his season is in the hands of a group that already botched his 2009 injury to the other hamstring.

I love how it’s believed that this is a positive for the Mets being able to sign Reyes. Maybe, but I think it’s more likely his agents sit him down and mention “Do you want to trust to rest of your career to these guys? You were day-to-day with the last hamstring and you missed most of the season. The team’s most durable player this year is a guy who told them to go stuff it and got knee surgery by another doctor. They brought out a jar of leeches for God’s sake!!”.

Okay, that last comment might not be likely. Might. But you can’t look at that track record and still feel comfortable with your training staff. I know injuries happen and you do what you can. It’s likely Reyes was going to be out a bit anyway. I know the Mets use the finest city hospitals in the country. I’m sure Mr. Ray Ramirez and the rest of the staff are hardworking, decent individuals. But too many players have sat out way longer than initially forecasted. At best, it’s an embarrassing “miscommunication” and makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. At worst, it’s a key third baseman playing for three weeks with a broken back.

Changes have to be made in this franchise and some are happening. The product on the field and in the clubhouse has changed for the better. Terry Collins has been great. Based on the leaks about the Wilpons Hail Mary sale to a hedge fund manager (a step below going to a mafia loan shark), we’ll have new ownership within three years. Trades to build the farm are coming soon. So that’s all good.

But these constant follies by the medical and training staff are still happening. This has to stop. There’s has to be accountability. Most franchises, especially after the Ike Davis screw-up, would have made some changes by now. So what do the Mets, the franchise of Kirk Radomski and Charlie Samuels, do to address the endless medical sagas?

Signs. Fucking signs.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 8, 2011 at 4:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The Best Owner in Sports

Mark Cuban and his well-deserved trophy

There are a lot of people happy about the Dallas Mavericks victory over the Miami Heat to clinch the NBA title. And I don’t mean just in the Dallas area, I mean nationwide. I mean a lot. Judging from the overall reaction (in person and on the internet), I don’t think the mood of this country has been so self-satisfied since the days after Obama sanctioned the Bin Laden hit. Outside of South Florida, America thoroughly enjoyed how these NBA Finals turned out.

As they should as there was so much to enjoy. It was an entertaining matchup that produced four excellent games, one a classic (Game 2). The Mavericks earned the first NBA title in their 40-year history. Dirk Nowitzki solidified his place as one the great players in NBA history. JJ Barea skittered around the court like a water bug. Jason Kidd fina………ahh, who am I kidding? The reason everyone is so pleased is because LeBron James lost.

Not only did LeBron lose, but he turtled in the final minutes of the last four games, including the embarrassing home elimination. Not only did LeBron lose, he was thoroughly outplayed (and at one point chewed out) by his “sidekick” Dwyane Wade. Not only did LeBron lose, he put forth a shockingly timid, confused performance.

Less than a year after the Decision and the Big Three’s obnoxious rock-star arena signing celebration, James and his Heat’s dreams of an insta-title vanished in high definition. And in a glorious fit of douchy petulance, James would later twitter that God didn’t want him to win yet and in a press conference insinuated that people happy about his loss will have to return to their shitty lives. It was the final cherry on top of the schadenfreude sundae and everyone from Cleveland to Connecticut is digging in. Heartily. Heck, I’ve had some too.

But I ask that everyone lift their heads up from their gluttony for a moment to acknowledge the other wonderful result of the Heat’s humiliation. Mark Cuban, the best owner in sports, finally got a championship.

There are so many shitty owners in sports right now. Dan Snyder, Donald Sterling, Mike Brown, James Dolan, Frank McCourt, it seems like there’s nothing but arrogant incompetent despots who do not care about the fans. But there are wonderful owners out there who do get it. Who not only field competitive teams and make a profit, but work to make going to their games enjoyable, affordable experiences for their customers. Artie Moreno, owner of the LA Angels; Mike Illitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings; the Rooney family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mark Attanasio of the Milwaukee Brewers are on that list. But Mark Cuban is heads and shoulders away
the owner most sports fans would want running their team.

Cuban, the self-made dot com billionaire, took over a moribund franchise in the Mavericks in 2000 and has spent lavishly on the franchise, not just the players but the little things, like the locker rooms and training facilities, to make Dallas an attractive place to play. He changed the culture and made the Mavs a winning organization (they’ve made the playoffs every year in his tenure). He’s active in team operations but not to an excessive degree. He interacts with the fans, taking suggestions and responding to their emails.

He’s taken his role as number one fan seriously, visible at courtside, and thus has become a bit of a celebrity, appearing on TV. This has given the organization an actual personality. Some of his actions have gone over the line, but at the least they were entertaining. Cuban once publicly stated that the NBA manager of officials couldn’t manage a Dairy Queen. After the company complained about his comments, Cuban accepted an invitation to run a local Dairy Queen for a day for lines of customers.

You got to love stuff like that. Mark Cuban gets it.

Being a thorn in David Stern’s side with his criticisms of the league reflects another admirable side of Cuban which sets him apart from his contemporaries. Cuban possesses a libertarian streak that has him front and center questioning policies he doesn’t agree with. He’s been the only owner actively criticizing the NBA refereeing problems, even before the Tim Donaghy scandal. For his complaints, he’s been fined over a million dollars, all which he put to charity.  This isn’t confined to basketball either, using his position to fund a website Bailoutsleuth to track the flow of the illegal TARP bailout of Wall Street. He funded a movie, Redacted, about the rape, murder and burning of an Iraqi family by US soldiers which you can imagine wasn’t an incredibly popular way of presenting our endless Middle Eastern adventures. Lest you think he hates America, he also started the Fallen Patriot Fund for families of Iraq war fallen and injured.

Cuban has tried to purchase teams in other sports to no avail despite his track record, or perhaps because of it.  He tried for hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins before they stayed with Mario Lemieux’s ownership group. His bid for the Chicago Cubs didn’t make the final bidding round and Cuban had the highest bid for the Texas Rangers, yet lost them a strange courtroom auction. If you think Cuban’s outspokenness and willingness to question the system weighed in the minds of those that run the owner’s membership process, you wouldn’t be alone.  An owner that would likely make the team he bought successful, profitable and their fans happy? Nah, he’d actually step out of line and point out the league’s flaws. Can’t have that.

I mean, can you imagine Cuban being quiet and toeing the company line during this ludicrous football lockout if he owned a team? Yeah,
exactly. That’s why the faces of Selig, Goddell and Bettman don’t exactly light up when Mark Cuban is mentioned.

In the 2006 finals, his Dallas Mavericks blew a 2-0 lead to the Miami Heat as referees gave Dwyane Wade around 865 (est.) fouls calls to tip the scales. Cuban was again fined $250,000 for his criticism of free throw disparity. The bitterness of that missed opportunity has haunted him and his franchise as conspiracy whispers about that series still to this day swirl around the league. Phil Jackson even stated his belief in such two months ago, saying about the 2006 Finals “I think he (Cuban) understood there’s kind of a pecking order in this league and you keep your mouth shut at times.”

Based on his behavior during his team’s championship run, I would offer to Mr. Jackson that Cuban has indeed learned to “keep his mouth shut at times”. Never one to shrink from volunteering his opinion, Cuban nonetheless stayed quiet and kept his courtside antics muted from the first round on. He stayed in the background. And his team won. Finally.

So you can imagine how it’s must’ve felt for Mark Cuban, after the screw job, the fines, the shunning, to earn this title against the team that beat Dallas five years ago. You would think that he’s be frothing at the mouth to final get the chance to receive that trophy from David Stern. Only he didn’t. Cuban insisted on Stern first presenting the trophy to Donald Carter, the original owner of the Mavericks 40 years ago. You would think that he’d storm the court and start breakdancing on the Heat logo. He didn’t. Cuban stayed humble, for him anyway, keeping his digs to a minimum and only cursing once on ESPN.

They’re having a parade in Dallas Thursday for the Mavericks. You would think that the city will pay for the cost of the party. They’re not. Mark Cuban is going to pay for it, saying he didn’t think it right for the city to have to pay for it.

That’s because he’s the best owner in sports. He gets it.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 14, 2011 at 2:33 am  Comments (1)  

Quality Basketball Men Need Not Apply

It was at this very moment that Donnie Walsh thought to himself: "You know what, fuck this place. I'm outta here".

Donnie Walsh isn’t coming back. Of course he’s not coming back. He was never coming back. If you are a professional with a track record of success in your job, you won’t be at Madison Square Garden for long. It’s much like any bad job. You might get forced out. You might bail the sinking ship. You might mentally check out from the job and play Angry Birds all day until they have no choice but to fire you. Either way though rest assured you’re gone. From Jeff Van Gundy to Dave Checketts to Larry Brown and now to Donnie Walsh, eventually you reach a very important realization. It’s the realization that anyone in a dysfunctional working environment comes to.

“I can’t work with this asshole”.

It’s one of the more interesting aspects of James Dolan’s decade plus of ownership. Knick fans get to perversely watch and try to determine the exact moment when the GM/coach realizes that this might not be the best work environment for him (i.e. “I can’t work with this asshole”). It could be a couple months before they come to this realization. In the case of Jeff Van Gundy it was 19 games into the 2001 season. In the case of Larry Brown, it was the minute he set foot in the building. For Donnie Walsh it was probably the moment that he was sitting in his Indiana home while James Dolan was blowing up his carefully built leverage and giving away the store for Carmelo Anthony. This is why you had Jared Jeffries trying to pass to Bill Walker in the final moments of game two against the Celtics

Poor Donnie. Even though he was “recommended” by David Stern to save the Knicks from Dolan, I’m sure he was excited by the prospect of running the New York Knicks. He probably viewed them as the challenge of his career. He probably thought he would be able to work with James Dolan. He probably thought he would have some measure of autonomy under James Dolan. He probably thought there was a chain of command that would allow him to work with minimal interference.

Slowly but surely, Walsh saw that he thought wrong. He wasn’t in charge of jackshit, not anymore. Little episodes, like having his recommendation of hiring Chris Mullin as general manager rejected, built up to the point where Dolan’s hijacking of the Carmelo talks had to be the final straw. Donnie Walsh couldn’t work with that asshole.

What’s remarkable about these episodes is that James Dolan will also inevitably draw the same conclusion, that he will no longer work with this asshole. Madison Square Garden is Jim Dolan’s world and in his world fealty takes precedence over performance. This is not an organization, it is a fiefdom and you’re just one of the king’s many hands. If you are not a yes man, if you don’t like the owner having full run of everything in any way, James Dolan has no use for you. James Dolan can’t work with that asshole.

He frequently clashed with Van Gundy and Checketts. He was furious as Larry Brown moped his way through his one year of coaching. Eventually it reaches the point where neither party can work with the other. It’s just a matter of time. That’s why, barring his boss experiencing Christmas miracle and granting full autonomy, Donnie was never coming back. That’s why James Dolan looked the man who had made his team relevant again in the eye and offered him a contract which featured such benefits as no autonomy and a 40% pay cut. That’s the thanks Donnie Walsh got for his three years working to make the Knicks a functional basketball organization again.

And so ends the nice fleeting moment of time when the Knicks had an adult in charge. Now that his team is watchable again with two All-Stars, James Dolan will take it from here thank you very much. He has a nice cadre of in-house yes-men to choose from whether it be Allan Houston or Scott O’Neill. Perhaps he’ll go with Mark Warkentein, so the Knicks and Creative Artists Agency can operate like a college basketball factory. Maybe he’ll get John Calipari to fully complete the circle.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter because after a brief respite, James Dolan is in complete charge of the Knicks again. Quality basketball men need not apply.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

100 Extra Words Or When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong

Hey, this team and the players suck! Whaddya want from me.......oh, right.

It must’ve seemed like such a good idea to Fred Wilpon at the time. Then again, so did Jason Bay.

An interview and profile in the New Yorker to tell his side of the story. A chance to respond to the media that he took it on the chin from for so long; to Irving Picard and his scurrilous accusations about being a willing partner in one of the biggest financial scams in recent memory; to the persistent questions about the Mets financial situation and to the Met fans, his customers, damning him on the radio or the internet.

In 11,000 words, he would get to tell the story of a blue-collar kid from Brooklyn who made it good, who lives and dies with the Mets and was completely blindsided by his one-time friend. It was a PR slam dunk if handled right. The real Fred Wilpon, all in 11,000 exquisite, kid glove words published in a major magazine.

Perfect……or would have been if the article was 10,900 exquisite, kid glove words.

Had it just been those 10,900 words, Jeffrey Toobin’s portrayal of the Wilpon family would have done nicely. Wilpon’s climb up the ladder of the ruthless New York City real estate market shows him as a true entrepreneur. Everyone, including Sandy Koufax, compliments him as a gentlemen and businessman. His Brooklyn roots and schoolboy pitcher days are explored. A surprised Met fan greets him in Citifield and seems genuinely thrilled by it. It’s made clear how much he suffers over the Mets.

The Madoff relationship is portrayed as a friendly one, with pains taken to stress how no one knew or had suspicions of a Ponzi scheme. Parts of the article help state the case against the lawsuit, accusing Picard of using “excessive zeal” in going after Wilpon and of “something troubling” about a key part of his complaint. No mention is made of Sterling Enterprises falling for Steve Israel’s Ponzi scheme. Their $450 million diversification in a separate entity, Sterling Stamos, was established because of concerns that Madoff might retire, not due to Ponzi suspicions. And then there’s my favorite line to show that it wasn’t “heavy, heavy returns” that enticed Wilpon to invest with Madoff:

The returns were not spectacular, but they were steady; indeed, that was the core of Madoff’s appeal. In bull and bear markets, Madoff returned about ten per cent a year to Wilpon.

Yeeeeeah okay. I might not be an economic whiz but ten percent a year return is spectacular.

So the stretch marks were there but all in all, it’s a well-written, insightful article, detailing the Wilpon history pre/post Madoff and the Mets with a slight patina of rose coloring. It wouldn’t have changed popular opinion that the team needed to be sold, but at least many would get to hear their side. It would have worked in 10,900 words.

But the article didn’t work as hoped because it wasn’t 10,900 words, it was 11,000. An extra 100 words meant to show everyone what a real fan Fred Wilpon was. Wilpon called the team he was in charge of “shitty”, “lousy” and “snake bitten”. He openly expressed regret about Carlos Beltran’s contract and made light of Beltran’s lowest moment (the Game 7 strike three in the 2006 NLCS). He said that soon-to-be-free-agent Jose Reyes “has had everything wrong with him” and wasn’t worth Carl Crawford’s salary. And he called David Wright, the main representative of the Mets franchise for the past six years “not a superstar”.

For a guy who is known for being too nice and is praised in the article as a gentlemen, those 100 words throughout the essay dissing the team and the players stuck out like a black man at a Barry Manilow concert. At first, the comments by themselves weren’t earthshattering. Most Met fans would agree with them. Plus the responses to the quotes as the story blew up seemed overblown. The player’s trade value has been hurt because Wilpon stated the obvious? No, the only way Fred Wilpon could hurt a players trade value is to hit them with a wrench or make a comment like “Reyes is a meth head who runs a puppy fighting ring”.

But after you read the article in full and the more you thought about it, the stupidity of the comments became overwhelming. What was to be gained from slagging his team and players? Whatever the message that the Wilpon family wanted to get out, it wasn’t getting out. All of it was going to be overshadowed by those uncharacteristic statements. Wilpon’s clumsy stab at channeling George Steinbrenner and empathizing with his beaten fan base torched whatever good was to come from the New Yorker piece. Instead, the ineptness of the Mets franchise and his stewardship returned to the back page. Another PR nightmare. Fred Wilpon stepped in shit, again.

Why did he do that? Was he off his meds? Did he really think that the best way to endear himself to his fan base by showing that he was angry and in charge? Or more likely, was this the venting of a frustrated, angry, beaten man who sees that his days of owning the Mets are coming to an inglorious end? That might be the most likely. David Wright put it best in his standard classy response to the comments:

“Fred is a good man and is obviously going through some difficult times.”

Wright also added that “There is nothing more productive that I can say at this time.” At least someone on the Mets knows when to stop talking.

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm  Comments (1)  

The Anti-Midas Touch

James Dolan Frustrated at Courtside.......Again

So the Knicks get booed off the court after a lackluster effort against an underwhelming opponent. They’re in the midst of a soul crushing losing streak. The coach is at a loss. The players are frustrated. The latest savior was brought in to great fanfare, only to have the franchise follow the same routine whenever a new savior came onboard; a brief jolt of energy followed by a reality-check smack down.

The fans feel screwed, again.

The Knicks are currently a circus, again.

The Knicks make the big acquisition for Carmelo Anthony and everything has changed.

The Knicks make the big acquisition for Carmelo Anthony and absolutely nothing’s changed.

How the hell does a basketball team pickup one of the top ten players in the league and have it end up possibly torpedoing a feel-good season? Because James Dolan gets involved, that’s how.

Count me as one of the minority (and based on the reaction to my “Art of the Deal” skit post, the uber-minority) who had the initial euphoria of finally acquiring Carmelo Anthony seriously tempered by the knowledge that it was Dolan, and not GM Donnie Walsh, who pushed the deal through. I don’t care how surefire a deal seems, Dolan is the last person on earth a Knick fan would want anywhere near an important, franchise altering transaction like that.

But it was Dolan, the vainglorious buffoon we know and dread, who overruled his general manager and gutted the store, along with some of the paneling, to acquire a player who was very, very likely coming here anyway. I’m sure that Dolan did this because of his keen basketball knowledge and his love for the fans and NOT so he could push a 49% ticket increase for next season on his wealthier patrons before the inevitable lockout occurs. Please, that’s just silly talk.

In the end, most fans don’t really care if Muhhumar Gadaffi was involved because Carmelo is a Knick for the foreseeable future. This move is for the long run and some of the short term, which wasn’t going to be all that anyway, would have to be sacrificed to get a player like Melo. Fair enough, that was to be expected should Walsh have decided it would be better to just get Melo now.

But I argue three things:

1) Walsh didn’t get to decide. Whether or not you felt it was too risky for the Knicks to wait out the Nuggets as long as possible (i.e. July), that seemed to be the plan Donnie Walsh was going to go with and he should have been the one to see it through. Especially since it was he who got the Knicks to that position in the first place. But he wasn’t.

2) The short term didn’t have to end up like this. It didn’t have to go from “We might make some noise in the first round” to “Please, for the fucking love of God, just make the playoffs!!” If Walsh was allowed to let the adults handle this, guarantee at least one if not two of the former Knick players would still be here. They’d have some help. At bare minimum they’d still have that stiff Mozgov around, at least someone over 6-11. And I know for sure we wouldn’t have traded Landry Fields.

(Wait, we didn’t trade Fields? He’s still a Knick? Oh.)

3) If the Melo saga is any indication, don’t be too sure about the long term. Case in point, we are a month away from the end of April and STILL Walsh has not been offered a contract extension. And if the Knicks continue to circle the drain, how much more leeway is Mike D’Antoni going to have?

The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony was a watermark move for the Knicks in more ways than one. It’s an unfortunate reminder that no matter who’s in charge of the Knicks, it always Dolan.

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm  Comments (2)  

The Art of the Deal

You just messed with The Negotiator!!

James Dolan, sweating profusely, pulls out his cell phone and dials a number.

PHONE COMPUTER VOICE: Calling, Isiah Thomas. Please wait through the music while we reach your party.

Keep smiling
Keep shining
Knowing you can al-ways count on meeee
For Suuure

That’s what friends are (CLICK)

ISIAH: Jimmy!!

DOLAN: Hey Zeke! Glad you’re there.

ISIAH: You know I always am.

DOLAN: Thanks, buddy. I gotta say this whole negotiating thing is killing me. I mean…..this is HARD.

ISIAH: I know it is man, but listen, you’ve been doing great! Especially for your first time.

DOLAN: I know I’m awesome like you said, but with Daddy’s company I never did this. I just raised the prices at 3am of some weekday and if anyone had a problem they could suck it. This is different.

ISIAH: Yeah, uh hold on for a sec Jim…………..HEY!, Come on ref, that was a travel!!……..hey bud…..

DOLAN: Is this a bad time?

ISIAH: Naw man, just coaching a game.

DOLAN: Oh, what’s the score?

ISIAH: Uuhhhh, says we’re down by four with a minute and a half to go.

DOLAN: Really, I can call back.

ISIAH: Pfft, come on! This is like the seventh call you’ve made this half. What’s the problem?

DOLAN: Well, I’ve given them Gallinari, Felton, the extra draft picks and the year’s supply of Five Guys burgers like you said.

ISIAH: And?

DOLAN: They were about to say yes until they got a message saying that Carmelo was re-re-re-REconsidering the offer from the Nets! Now they want some guy named Mozgov too.

ISIAH: Who is he?

DOLAN: I dunno. But they keep asking for stuff!

ISIAH: Exactly! You’ve got them right where you want them. They’ve run out of options so they’re asking for nobodies now. It’s just like the Marbury deal I made. Give them everything until you have no flexibility for the future left and then they’ll have no choice but to deal.

DOLAN: I can’t lose him to the fucking Nets! I’ll look like an idiot.

ISIAH: No you won’t, we’ll just pin it on Oldie McMarlboro.

DOLAN: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! It’s funny when you call Donnie that. Oh crap, that’s him on the other line. Can you hold?

ISIAH: Sure. (Buzzer goes off in the background)

DOLAN: (presses button) Yes, Donnie.

WALSH: Sir, I just saw on the television that we’re now including Timofey Mozgov, our only guy over seven feet, in this deal?!?!

DOLAN: Maybe……kinda…..it was brought up.

WALSH: Sir, I must object. Carmelo Anthony will only sign with us. We have the leverage. I could get him for half of what you’re giving.

DOLAN: Donnie, come on now. We’re all on the same page on this. Don’t you remember the letter we sent out to the press?

WALSH: When I saw it on television.

DOLAN: Look, Mr. Walsh, you don’t seem to get it. You’ve done a nice job getting us to this point but now it’s time for me to come in and put this deal to bed. You see, …(pulls out index card to read from)….I can relate to the players of today because I am from the hood. You are old and need new hips. Carmelo will never sign with you. Only I can get Carmelo. And Chris Paul, because he worships me and will pay the Knicks to play for them.

WALSH: Sir, are you reading from index cards that Isiah gave you?

DOLAN: NO! (throws the cards aside) How dare you!! Listen, I’m just about to finally get this done instead of farting around like you’ve been! I’m gonna be a hero! So get the order of Five Guys like I told you and let me finally get Carmelo Anthony!! (CLICK) JEEZ!!

Zeke?

ISIAH: Hold on bro, just drawing a play for the final shot………..um, just chuck a three. Okay I’m back.

DOLAN: So should I give them this Mozgov guy?

ISIAH: Absolutely. They’ll have no choice but to make the trade!

DOLAN: YES! Okay, I’m gonna call them back and make it happen! Thanks, man. I couldn’t have done this without you.

ISIAH: I know.

DOLAN: ……..I wish you were up here again.

ISIAH: Me too, bro.

DOLAN: Okay, I’m gonna call Denver now.

ISIAH: Go get em, man!! And Jim?

DOLAN: Yes, buddy?

ISIAH: You’re about to get Carmelo Anthony.

DOLAN: We’re about to get Carmelo Anthony.

ISIAH: Cool. Call me when it’s over. (CLICK) Awwwww, damn. We lost again????

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 2:04 am  Comments (2)  

(Unnecessary) Panic in the Streets

You can find this on the desks of most New York sports writers

Through all the “Knicks Must Get Carmelo Anthony NOW NOW NOW” nonsense that has been steadily building to a crescendo over the past week, it seems that no one has addressed the one main issue that would have everyone take a breath, think this thing through and then just chill out:

Just where the hell else is Melo going to go??

And I don’t mean for the next three months, I mean for the next three seasons if not more. There’s no massive bidding war from a bunch of teams that Anthony would gladly play for. There are only two (count ‘em TWO) teams that Melo has said he would sign long-term with, the Knicks and Chicago. And the Bulls, the only other credible threat to getting him long term, are humming along quite nicely right now and barely seem to be interested. That might change as we reach the deadline but they’re not even in the mix right now. So, that leaves the Knicks and….the Knicks.

The Bulls aren’t interested. The Nets have the best offer but were shot down by Melo. Houston and Dallas have sniffed around but nothing close to concrete has come from it. Anything else is just a plant from Denver or Melo’s agents trying to goose the market (cough Lakers trade cough). There’s nothing else out there. Denver has to get SOMETHING for Melo before he leaves and honestly, unless he agrees to be sent somewhere as a rental, the Knicks are their only shot. By the time February 24th rolls around, Denver might be ready to trade Melo for a Shake Shack burger. And if they don’t and decide to keep him? Fine, the Knicks will have the pen and paper ready for Anthony this summer. Where the hell else is Melo going to go? This is a great position for the Knicks to be in.

You’d never know it though. From the idiotic “We Want Melo” chants (really?? Me too!)) to the panic button pushing New York media to our moron owner sticking his dick in the mashed potatoes, the amount of self-created pressure that has come from everywhere to conspire to kill the Knicks rebuilding plan just as it gains momentum is jaw-dropping. Remember, this is the franchise that shrewdly outbid itself for Allan Houston by over $30 million a little more than a decade ago and a similar type of stupidity is poisoning the air. The Knicks have the leverage in this situation. Why is everyone hitting the panic button and looking to undermine it??

Why are Knick fans chanting for Melo at games? If you’re frustrated at the team’s performance that night, take it out on the coach. God knows, D’Antoni has deserved it lately. Chanting for Melo and creating fire where there’s no smoke is not helping. At the beginning of the season we had a slightly better than .500 team looking at a low playoff seed. Approaching the All-Star break we have…a slightly better than .500 team looking at a low playoff seed. We are right on schedule and where we’re supposed to be! Yet 50 games into the season and we’re throwing tantrums at home games because the Knicks aren’t beating clearly superior teams?!? What is going on?

When Donnie Walsh took over the NBA equivalent of a Superfund site, there was this sense that enough was enough for Knick fans and that we would sit tight until the necessary pieces were progressively and thoughtfully put together. Walsh would be given time to do this right because like the old advertising slogan went, Knick Fans Know. I always had faith in the knowledge and savvy of the New York sports fan to endure a rebuilding plan. I take it back.

And then there’s the media. Just google Knicks and Carmelo Anthony and you’ll get everyone from far and wide saying the Knicks have to get Anthony NOW, no matter the price. Stephen A. Smith, Chris Sheridan, Ian O’Connor, Marc Berman, Mike Lupica, etc. All mashing the panic button as if their lives depended on it. Even levelheaded writers, like Frank Isola, have caved and drank the Kool-Aid. Read the articles and you tell me any concrete threat to the Knicks eventually getting Melo that is pointed out in any of them. The best you’ll get is some phantom team might swoop in or the Nets might get back in it or Melo could decide to sign with some other team in the off-season. It’s all hypothetical worse case scenarios that really aren’t there, like the Muslim Brotherhood turning Egypt into Iran.

Honestly though, I’m sure Mr. Walsh can handle the hue and cry from the fans and media. That’s just part of the territory. The big concern is the idiot who runs the team, the one person who can actually screw this up. I can imagine James Dolan stomping around his office like a spoiled kid on Christmas Eve demanding that he get to open his Christmas gift now. I have no idea what Dolan Jr. is doing behind the scenes but it’s not good. It’s horrifying enough to learn that Dolan went over the head of Walsh to speak directly to Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke about Melo. Mr. Kroenke probably hung up the phone after speaking with Dolan, turned to his aides and said” Well, at least there’s something working in our favor”.

That crazy offer Denver made which would have left the Knicks with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire and a bunch of D-leaguers and ball boys? Dolan would’ve signed it in a heartbeat, taken all the credit along with Isiah Thomas and set everything Walsh was able to accomplish back a year, at least. And if Melo isn’t a Knick by the trade deadline (again no big deal if he’s still a free agent by season’s end), you can see Dolan jettisoning Walsh completely ignorant of the fact that Knicks wouldn’t even be near this position without the work that his GM did. All this manufactured nonsense from people who should know better is providing the impetus for unwanted intervention from the one person who definitely does not know better.

Donnie Walsh knows better. He knows he has the leverage in this situation and he’s playing it perfectly. He is showing patience and he will eventually get a willing Carmelo Anthony, either next week or in June. Everyone just needs to chill out and let the man do his thing. Please. Unless you want Dolan and Isiah flying to Denver to speak with the Nuggets and Melo’s agents………didn’t think so.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm  Comments (11)  

Farewell to the Wilponzis?

Good news! The Wilpons have found an investor.

I remember reading an online article about Fred Wilpon two years back when the wheels had officially fallen off the Omar Minaya Era and being a Met fan became a miserable experience once again. In the article, people who used to be in the organization were anonymously quoted about the type of person and owner he was. The general consensus was that Fred Wilpon was a nice man, a loyal and decent human being……….perhaps a little too nice and a little too loyal. One of the former employees in the piece described Wilpon as “a well-meaning dope”.

I loved that line. It was a wonderfully apt description, even more so now. The Mets are comically inept because owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz are well-meaning dopes.

Fans have known this for some time and have spent years wishing that the Wilpons would sell to owners who weren’t wishy-washy saps. But that was never going to happen. Wilpon and Katz’s net worth was billions; they had a new stadium, a new TV network and were in the biggest market in the nation. As bad as Fred and Saul were running a baseball operation, even they couldn’t screw up a comfy financial situation like that, right?

So we were resigned to perpetual Wilpon ownership, even rationalized it to an extent. It could be worse; we could be the Pirates. At least our owners have money and certainly spend it. It could be worse; we could have despicable human beings for owners like Donald Sterling or Dan Snyder. At least our owners genuinely care about the fortunes of the team and give a passing interest about the fans. Like a blind squirrel finding a nut, we occasionally experience an exciting season or two per decade unlike the Royals. Like my younger brother says after he goes on a three minute rant about something that’s pissing him off: Ehh, whaddya gonna do. Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz own the Mets and would for years to come. Ehh, whaddya gonna do.

So I didn’t get my hopes up when details on the lawsuit filed against the “well-meaning dopes” by the trustee for the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme came to light. It’s main argument is that “sophisticated investors” like the Wilpons either “knew or should’ve known about the scheme”. That was ridiculous, I thought. The whole point of a Ponzi scheme is to find a bunch of suckers who blindly invest money and should’ve known better. And when the New York Times kindly reminded everyone that Wilpon and Katz had previously been hosed in another Ponzi scheme, it revealed them to be suckers who should’ve known better of the highest order. Plus, if you’ve been had in not one but TWO pyramid schemes and seem to have the rigid investment standards of 1) be my friend and 2) be Jewish, “sophisticated investor” you are not.

And the possibility of the Wilpons knowing about the fraud is ridiculous as well. No one who invests as heavily into Madoff and openly recommends him to friends as Wilpon and Katz did is in on anything. Fred was sold on his super-pallie Bernie, glowingly telling people that Madoff was “smarter than everyone else”. (That he was, Fred, that he was.) So the lawsuit would result in some sizable settlement but nothing that Wilpon couldn’t handle.

But as the week went on, more information was unearthed and the announcement was made that the Mets would be selling a minority share, there was more and more evidence that maybe the Wilpons were in trouble. Serious trouble. My hopes were getting up that they would have to sell the Mets.

It needs to be stressed that despite all the talk about the Wilpons getting their initial investment back, Fred and Saul took a major bath. Like the other Madoff investors, they were under the illusion that their investments were going up a remarkable 18% a year. Obviously that’s impossible, as any “sophisticated investor” would know, but that’s what Wilpon believed. So their books had liquid assets in the hundreds of millions that simply didn’t exist. But it was believed to be there and was used to facilitate business transactions, like say taking out over $900 million in loans to build a new stadium and create a TV network. This is not unlike how banks (ironically like the one the ballpark is named for) or our government operates, racking up massive debt with imaginary or misallocated funds to back it up. The Wilpons have racked up massive debt over the years under the belief that they had hundreds of millions sitting with Madoff in reserve. They never did. Whatever the extent of their current financial trouble, make no mistake the Wilpons are in trouble.

The closest example to the situation the Mets are in right now would be what the Texas Rangers recently went through. Tom Hicks, a venture capitalist who’s most note-worthy move as owner of the Rangers was to blow baseball’s salary structure to hell with his $252 million contract to Alex Rodriguez, had assumed over $500 million in debt to purchase the Rangers along with other sport franchises. When the economic collapse happened in 2008, much of Hicks investments went poof. Needing quick cash, he initially offered a minority share of his sports group, maintaining that he would keep majority ownership. That never happened. Interested buyers waited him out and Hicks was forced to put the team up for auction last summer.

So when the Wilpons announced the minority sale and stressed that they would keep ownership of the Mets, it sounded familiar. They’re kidding themselves thinking someone is going put in $250 million with no part of SNY and no say in the shitty way the team is run. The possibility that the Wilpons will go down to the same fate as Tom Hicks and sell is very real. And hopefully it will happen.

Because this is final straw to prove that Fred Wilpon, Lil’ Jeffy Wilpon and Saul Katz, who have had a hand in the running of the Mets for over 30 years now, are completely unfit to run a baseball team. The mismanagement and ineptness that show on the field and in the locker rooms has now spread to the accounting books. After the Madoff swindle was exposed, Fred Wilpon swore that dealings with the Mets and Madoff were kept separate. Articles have come out exposing Wilpon’s statement as a boldfaced lie, stating “that the role Mr. Madoff played in the financial life of the ball club and the Wilpon and Katz families was pervasive” and that Wilpon “sometimes adopted the strategy of placing deferred money owed the players with Mr. Madoff’s investment firm”. Because of reckless idiocy like that, the Wilpons and Katz have taken an $845 million dollar franchise and possibly bankrupted it. Forbes estimates the true net worth for the team to be -$225 million when all the debt is calculated. That is inexcusable.

I am reminded of a scene in Martin Scorcese’s Casino where Ace Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) confronts one of his floor bosses after a patron won two jackpots off of one machine. Ace argues that it was impossible for that to happen and demanded how it was allowed. Finally, DeNiro fires him on the spot saying:

“Listen, if you didn’t know you’re bein’ scammed, you’re too fuckin’ dumb to keep this job. If you did know, you were in on it. Either way, you’re out. Get out! Go on. Let’s go.”

He could’ve easily been talking to Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, our “well-meaning dopes”. I pray this situation forces them to sell. Enough is enough. It’s time for them to finally go.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 3:24 am  Comments (1)  

The Mouse That Roared

Source: New York Post

As a final indignity to a nightmare 2009 season, Met fans were given the no-win decision between the hated Phillies or the hated Yankees in the World Series. Someone had to win since the chances of the earth splitting open and both teams falling into the crevice were remote. Met fans had to state a preference, the sports fan equivalent of choosing between death by carrot peeler or Slap Chop. I “preferred” the Phillies (Slap Chop).

I got a lot of flak for that. My Yankee friends were incredulous and half-jokingly told me to move to Philly. For them, my hatred of their team had crossed into the irrational territory. I thought my thought process was rational.

True, I hate Yankees. But everyone hates the Yankees except Yankee fans; I’m not unique in that regard. It’s natural to have disdain and envy for a massive, ruthless, successful franchise especially one your team shares a city with. Yankee fans should be used to that by now.

But I also hate the Phillies as well. So more than anything, it came down to geography. If a team I hate is going to win a championship, I’d rather it be far away from my backyard and off my TV save for the occasional ESPN segment. The 48 hours following a Yankee World Series win are insufferable. The constant news segments with sloshed Yankee fans screaming at the camera, being woken up at 2am by honking horns and “FUCKIN’ YANKEEEEEEEEEES!”, the images and headlines plastered on every inch of the newspapers, special pullout sections, everyone wearing Yankee gear, bragging about how order has been restored to the universe and the goddamn parade. Right there, in your city, rubbing your face in it. It sucks. If someone had to win, might as well be the Phillies. At least they’d be leaving.

And if I had any lingering doubt about my miserable choice, the Yankees won and sure enough, 2 in the morning: HONK HONK! “FUCKIN’ YANKEEEEEEEEEES!”

Now due to the salary cap and resulting parity, the divide between the New York football teams isn’t Grand Canyon size like it is for the baseball teams. But one is there and the Giants occupy the alpha dog status while the Jets amid occasional bursts of competence have mostly provided a laugh track. The Jets are amusing, like a drunken Smithers dancing for Mr. Burns. The Giants rivals are the Cowboys and Eagles. The Jets are a non-entity who have never given Giant fans a reason to give a shit about them; much like how the Mets rarely give the Yankee fans reason to give a shit about them.

So I don’t hate the Jets, mainly because I never figured I would have to. Being a Met fan, I empathized with them for than anything else. It was a National Geographic study going to a Jet game with my friend (before Woody Johnson kicked his family and their three decades of attendance to the curb for a $1.8 billion cheese grater). The amount of palpable despair and frustration was very familiar to me, just with four times the amount of people and ten times the amount of alcohol.

So when this team did HBO Hard Knocks, bragged about a championship, talked smack and did everything except record a music video a la the ’86 Mets, I found it cute. I made diary entries about Rex Ryan’s proclamations like Ron Burgundy did about Veronica Corningstone’s desire to be an anchorwoman. Rex told a very funny joke today. The next team having a parade in my backyard would be the Jets?!?! Yeah right. Is this part of the Mayan 2012 apocalypse prediction?

But as the amount of Jets-related news and headlines grows by the day and the Giants sit home after their “outstanding” second straight choke job, the frightening realization hit me.

Wait, I have to take the Jets seriously now?!?!

Last year, with their backdoor entrance to the playoffs and beating paper tigers in the Bengals and Chargers to make the AFC Championship, I didn’t think the Jets had it in them. But this year’s team is really good. It is no fluke where they are right now. What they did in Foxboro, especially after tempting the football gods (who have tortured the Jets) by baiting the seemingly invincible Patriots in the press, was impressive. It was something a team on a special run does. There is no reason they can’t beat Pittsburgh and actually be in Dallas the first Sunday of February.

I have no idea how to feel about this. In the span of six months, the Jets have gone from amusing to irritating to a legitimate threat to the Giants assumed throne as top dog. I am actually contemplating a reality where the Jets are Super Bowl champions. Exciting, entertaining, talented champions. The constant news segments with sloshed Jet fans screaming at the camera, being woken up at 2am by honking horns and “J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS!!”, the images and headlines plastered on every inch of the newspapers, special pullout sections, everyone wearing Jet gear, cracking jokes about where Eli is playing golf and the goddamn parade. Right there, in my city, rubbing my face in it……my God.

Is there any chance the Jets could have the parade in Jersey?

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 3:56 am  Comments (5)  
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