Maccabees Games

A look at the New York sports scene and the sporting world at large.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What Do You Want Me to Do, What Do you Want Me To Do?

Roger Clemens in filing his lawsuit for defamation truly is opening his own Pandora’s Box.

After listening to the lengthy recorded phone call between Clemens and Brian MacNamee, it’s absolutely ludicrous for anyone to believe that Clemens did not know that MacNamee injected Clemens with steroids.

Clemens’s response to the numerous times MacNamee said ‘what do you want me to do?’ was absolutely nothing. On the last few times, Clemens had a slight response i.e. basically that he needs to think about it.

Not once did I ever Clemens say “I want you to tell the truth, I want you to retract your statement.”

When MacNamee told Clemens that he would go to jail for him, Clemens did not respond ‘I just want you tell the truth.’

I don’t know what his lawyers are advising Clemens but the course of action being explored, the interview conducted on 60 Minutes, the recorded telephone call and his forthcoming testimony yet to be heard by Congress all seem to be heading down a road which will arrive at a dead end somewhere in the twilight zone.

The Second Coming

NY Giants fans are beside themselves over yesterday’s performance of Eli Manning. Accolades such as ’he played great,’ ‘he finally turned the corner’ and the sort, were heard throughout homes with large screen HDTV and 26 inch sets alike.

But hold on just one second. Rising from the ashes of mediocrity, as one reporter qualified Eli’s performance, is not the second coming of Joe Montana, Tom Brady or Phil Simms.

Though Eli is still a mediocre quarterback, he did play well and fortunately for his team and his own psyche did not have any turnovers.

Watching the game I still saw throws off his back foot, wobbly thrown balls and passes closer to the turf than to a receiver’s hands.

However, I also saw a playoff performance reminiscent of one from times gone by. Manning’s 20-27 with 185 yards with no interceptions took me back to the days of another Giants quarterback who in 5 playoff games, completed 72 of 115 passes (62.6 percent) for 1034 yards, 7 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 112.0 passer rating while going 4-1.

Further, with his next team this Giant ‘great’ went 27-39 for 524 yards in 2 games with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions and a 69.2% completion percentage.

So is Eli Manning the second coming of great Giant quarterbacks of the past? Well sort of or maybe. But don’t look back at the names of Tittle, Tarkenton, Simms et al. Look instead to that ‘other’ Giant quarterback who gave the Giants their last Super Bowl. Look to that other quiet, nonplus personality (except for his mustachioed face), who should remind you in some respect to Manning’s performance at Tampa Bay, ironically at the very same field where the Giants blew their last chance at a Super Bowl in 2001. I refer to none other than to the one and only, Jeff Hostetler.

Welcome to the second coming.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ode To the Bronx is Burning Part Deux

George: Now Joey, a one year contract with a pay cut for taking us back from oblivion in May is a fair deal, don’t you think so Joey?

Torre: Don’t call me Joey, George – call me Mr. Torre.

George All right Joey, I’ve always been a fair man and a one year contract with incentives just to get to the World Series, not win it mind you, that’s not important to me, is very very fair. Don’t you think so Larry? Joey, this is really Larry’s decision, I’m just following my Lieutenant’s orders.

Torre: Which Larry, George, Larry Macphail or Larry Levine, the dress designer, I think they are both dead. I’m not even sure if Levine was ever alive. Do you mean Randy Levine or are you asking Bernie lying dead there on the couch? Maybe you meant Gabe Paul, he’s dead too you know.

George: No, no, both Hal and Hank are very fair. They told me I’m being very fair. Getting to the World Series is more than enough – it would taste great.

Torre: No George, it’s less fulfilling then coming back from 14 and ½ in May.

George: No Joey, I’m the Boss and it tastes great...

Torre: Less filling George.

George: Dammit Joey, it’s my team and I’ll say and do what I want.

Torre: not on a one year contract, you won’t.

George: you’re fired Joey.

Torre: Shove it George - I already quit!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The New York Yankees’ handling of the rehiring of Joe Torre will have negative repercussions for weeks to come. The fallout may last as long as a nuclear winter.

Joe Torre will be remembered as one of the top 5 greatest managers in Yankees’ history and as one of the 20 greatest in baseball history.

It’s not that Joe was a great tactician. Even in the early years where Torre would mix and match his own players with the opposition to perfection, a lot of the moves were lucky. His abuse of relievers ended careers and seasons far too early. His dealings with individuals players such as ARod, Sheffield and Lofton may or may not be questionable

But Torre’s treatment of his players as a whole and his motivation of potential and actual prima donnas was masterful.

The culmination of Torre’s outstanding Yankee career was this very last 2007 season.

The 12th consecutive playoff appearance in 12 years as a Yankee manager was almost miraculous. As unbelievable as the season of Bucky Dent crushing the Red Sox culminating one of the greatest comebacks of all time, being 14 and ½ games back in May is a lot more difficult for a player than it would be in August.

One doesn’t have to look too far to see what a big lead in September does to opposing teams. The Mets saw in just a few days how a lead can evaporate. The Phillies and the Rockies can testify how miracles can easily happen in a short time and how adrenaline can have a team storming back from obscurity.

Even in the playoffs, momentum can elevate or destroy a team; see the Cards, Tigers and Yanks of last year or Detroit and Cleveland of this year as well as the Angels of 2005.

But coming back in May, and continuing to play as if you were in the playoffs every day is a marvel, with all the thanks in the world going to Torre.

When the Yanks started to make their comeback and win almost every series throughout the year, it was the beginning of an accomplishment that almost no one would have thought possible.

To keep players motivated when at best you’re only picking up 2 or 3 games a month is no easy task. Picking up 3 or 4 games a week in September is a totally different story.

Most human beings, not just multimillion dollar ballplayers, would give up if they were placed in the same position as the Yankees were in May of 2007.

How did they make the playoffs? How did they almost take the division? Sure the Red Sox, Mariners, Tigers and even the Indians had a hand in it. But the master motivator was Torre.

To offer that Man a pay cut which was essentially a 19 million one is unfair. Torre was coming off a 3 year guaranteed contract to a one year 5 million “vested” contract with “incentives.” This was after being told two years in a row that he was going to be fired by that buffoon Steinbrenner; essentially a total insult.

It’s obvious that the idiotic Yankee hierarchy never wanted Joe back. But to think that anyone with a half a brain would think that this was a legitimate good faith offer, to a manager who will become a legend in Yankee history, is a fool.

The Yankees of Steinbrenner George “goofball” the third, Hank and Hal “tweedleedee and tweedledum” and the sheinu yodeya lishal son-in-law Lopez will watch the press have a field day with them. Randy Levine and Cashman will also get what’s coming to them, though Cashman's hands were probably tied.

In the end,no one will be spared.

They can all watch the value of the Yankees go down in the short term. They can watch some players decide not to come back. They can watch the organization putrefy.

But they won’t be watching what Joe Torre deserves; a chance to close out Yankee stadium, open up the new one and go out on his own terms with dignity and roars from the cheering crowds.

Atlanta is Burning

No one can really say how successful the Rangers will be from their off-season signings or lack thereof, but they did accomplish one thing.

By sweeping and essentially butchering the once exciting Atlanta Thrashers, the Rangers seemed to have left their mark on the second coming of an Atlanta hockey team by inadvertently spiraling them with an additional 6 game losing streak to begin the season 0-6 and unfortunately for their coach, having him fired after the inauspicious April 2007 finish and October 2007 start.

I take no satisfaction from this, but it’s ironic that the Rangers who have started off this season offensively inept, will now try to repair their season by moving Chris Drury to the third line, that 2 number two centers do not make a first line and third line center, especially with the petulant but at times great Jaromr Jagr.

Well the new new season begins tonight against -- wouldn’t you know it -- the once and mighty Atlanta Thrashers.

Let’s go Rangers!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Rangers Rejoice!

The signings of centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez are a bonanza for the New York Rangers.

The Rangers in one full swoop became younger, faster and more clutch.

It’s a shame that the services of Michael Nylander and Jed Ortmeyer will no longer be needed but Nylander up until the last two years with the Rangers has always been a second tier second line or even third line center. Ortmeyer has never been more than a third line or fourth line right wing.

Gomez, on the other hand, came into his own as a goal scorer two years ago and has consistently averaged almost 50 assists a year throughout his career with a Devils team that stressed defense so much that the only way to score a point was if the opposition made a mental mistake.

Drury has only recently come into his own as a goal scorer but has always been a clutch player throughout the playoffs.

Neither of the two is a true first line center -- at least not yet. But both are first tier second line centers and I believe in the Rangers system, Gomez can become a first rate top line center.

So if Shanahan signs as well, my suggestions for Tom Renney’s lines of Centers, Left Wings and Right Wings are as follows:

1. Gomez Straka Jagr
2. Drury Shanahan Prucha
3. Cullen Avery Callahan
4. Betts Hossa Orr

The rest of the forwards can fight it out for jobs in case of injury or if any of the starters do not play up to their abilities.

Start ordering your tickets.

Friday, June 29, 2007

NBA Draft

The Nets’ pick of Sean Williams could be the second coming of K-Mart or it could be the addition of another troublemaker in the long line of Nets’ criminals or pseudo criminals such as Derrick Coleman, Jayson Williams, Jason Williams, Waliyy Dixon (who’s he you ask? Check the 2004-05 Nets training camp records) dare I say even Micheal Ray Richardson.

This new Williams is no Buck Williams or even Gus Williams but compared to the other troublemakers around the league Sean Williams’ “record” is minor league and there is no need to worry.

On the other, the Knicks in trading for Zach Randolph is much more troubling. Discounting his off the court troubles will not be easy. At best, it shows an immense lack of respect for his teammates and his employers. At worst, we may be seeing league suspensions in his repertoire in the near future. Certainly if his selfishness carries over to the Garden court, we may be seeing more troubles than during the Larry Brown one year regime.

Let’s hope not.

The Knicks’ pick of Wilson Chandler and their trade of next year’s 2nd round pick for Demetris Nichols of Syracuse cannot be judged for at least a year or two.

Here’s hoping that both NY area basketball teams still have some tricks up their sleeve.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Second Coming of Alexei

No one available to the Rangers in the latest NHL draft could have been part of the big club except for Alexei Cherepanov and lo behold that’s whom they picked at the number 17 position in the draft.

How good is he?

At best he has the hands of Pavel Bure. He can’t skate as well as Ovechkin or Malkin but he can score goals at least at the level he has been playing it which is somewhere between AHL and NHL hockey.

At worst, he is a lazy son-of-a-gun who is at times invisible on the ice. Then again he is only 18 years old.

Do I hear Alexei Kovalov?

Any Rangers fan would be salivating for a return of the ’94 playoff version of Alexei I.

Here’s to Alexei II and the beginning of a good off season for the Rangers.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Requiem for the Rangers

The New York Rangers played the last two months with the heart of a champion.

With the 4-2 playoff series loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Rangers were far closer to winning this series and possibly the Stanley Cup than one would think.

In the 400 minutes of this series, the Rangers had the better play ¾ of the time, if not more.

Except for Game 1, when the Rangers played poorly for about 6 minutes, every game was decided by only one goal.

The team played as a team throughout the playoffs. Their defense was basically stellar. They never gave up.

All of this was despite a lineup full of rookie latecomers and second year players, older players on defense who were never first line defensemen, older players on the forward lines who are past their prime or who never entered their prime except on the European level.

Yet ALL of them played with guts and heart. All of them worked their tail off. All of them played with a togetherness that can only be defined in sportsmanship as teamwork.

And this team will be the better for it.

Though we can all shout the couldas and the wouldas and the ‘if only ifs’ – that is all speculation. The certainty is that this team played through adversity, though most of it through their own making, with fortitude that will serve them well in the future.

And what does that future hold?

Free agent signings, trades and a new crop of rookies are a certainty. Hustle, spirit and teamwork will define next years’ Rangers.

What about a Stanley Cup run?

One can only hope so.