From Heroes to Zeroes – New York Yankees Season Goes Quietly into the Night

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The 2015 baseball season has come to a sudden end for the New York Yankees. The result was a dull, flat, and uninspired performance by the so-called Bronx Bombers as they lost, 3-0, to the youthful team from Texas, the Houston Astros.

As the New York Post back cover implies – the once proud, the once mighty, and the once feared Yanks have gone from Heroes to Zeroes. In a blink of an eye, about the same amount of time it takes Brett Gardner to swing and miss a third strike, the season concluded. What went wrong?

The last few days have been excruciating for the Yankee faithful. First the team disappeared in Baltimore by getting swept by the O’s in the regular season’s last weekend. Then came C.C.’s announcement that he would forgo the playoffs as he felt that he had to immediately check himself into an alcohol rehab center.

Yet, not only did the Yankees still make the playoffs, they also won one more game than did the Astros over the course of the long season, which gave the Yankees the home field ‘advantage’ for the one and done playoff between the two wild card teams.

So the stage was set. Yanks vs the Astros at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. As Yankee starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka readied himself for the game’s first pitch, the stadium was alive with the high buzz of the energized fans in attendance who were there ready to cheer the locals home. It may be trite, and even a cliché, but there’s no better way to describe the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium as ‘electric’ as the game began.

Tanaka looked good in the first inning. His plan was to not show the Astros his often unhittable sinker until he had the batters in an unfavorable pitch count. He attacked high and hard. He fanned Jose Altuve by getting him to swing at two high hard offerings – both of which were out the strike zone, before getting the diminutive second baseman to chase a sinker that was low, outside, and certainly well off the plate. George Springer had a similar result as Tanaka employed the same policy. Correa skied out to centerfield.

Dallas keuchel - likely Cy Young winner of the 'Stros. A bearded maestro to be sure.

Dallas Keuchel – likely Cy Young winner of the ‘Stros. A bearded maestro to be sure.

In the bottom of the first Gardy struck out, and then Chris Young walked. Beltran forced the runner at second, and Alex Rodriguez fanned. The Yankees were facing Astro lefty Dallas Keuchel, the likely Cy Young winner for the American League. The Yankees may not have looked overmatched in the first inning, but this was hardly an auspicious beginning.

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Two Kid Pitchers Arrive in New York this Week and I’m Reminded of Ragtime – the Broadway Musical

Did you ever see the Broadway show Ragtime? I was lucky enough to see it on Broadway at the end of the 1990’s. Maybe you saw a touring production of it elsewhere. Ragtime is a musical adapted from the novel of the same name – Ragtime which was written by E. L. Doctorow in 1975.

The musical theatrical production of Ragtime has a book by Terence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and the music was composed by Stephen Flaherty. I saw the show just the one time, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States and is set very early in the 1900’s. It was a time of great energy. The automobile had been invented – and the most notable members of that era were Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Booker T. Washington, Evelyn Nesbitt (the girl on the red velvet swing), Stanford White ( Mesbitt’s lover and the murdered New York architect), Harry K Thaw (Thaw’s killer), Emma Goldman (the anarchist), Admiral Perry, and the magician Harry Houdini. 

To set everything in its proper place, the murder of Stanford White was called The Crime of the Century. It was 1906, and the century still had 94 years to go.

The groups included African-Americans living in Harlem, and represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr, a successful musician.

In Harlem, men and women of color forgot their troubles and danced and reveled to the music of  Coalhouse Walker, Jr. This was a music that was theirs and no one else's.

In Harlem, men and women of color forgot their
troubles and danced and reveled to the music of
Coalhouse Walker, Jr. This was a music that was theirs
and no one else’s.

The second group was the suburbanites living in New Rochelle, New York where, as the lyrics from the song Ragtime tell us: ‘The days were gently tinted – lavender, pink, lemon, and lime. Ladies with parasols. Fellows with tennis balls. There were gazebos and no negroes’. They were represented by Mother, the matriarch of an upper class white family.

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Rangers Cut Off the Power on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game One

Going in, it figured to a difficult task for the Rangers. They were facing the high-powered offense from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts had the most goals scored in the NHL 2015 Regular season.

Beyond that fact, the Rangers had never beaten the Bolts Benjamin Bishop – a massive 6’7” goalie. In fact Bishop had held the Ranger to a Goals Against average of less than 1 and half goals per game . The actual figure was 1.47.

That’s going in.

But soon enough, actually nearing the end of the second period in what had been an energetic yet scoreless game, the Derek Stepan caravan rolled on. At 19:47 of the second period, Stepan put in a rebound, and the 0-0 game became 1-0 as the period closed.

This shot was a mirror image of Stepan’s 2nd Round, game and series winner in overtime three days ago. Eerily the same shot.

The only difference was that Stepan, with his arms raised above his head after he had scored, skated toward the opposite side of the Tampa Bay Lightning nets.

When his overtime goal went in to defeat the Capitals he headed to his left. This time it was to the right.

Woo-hoo.

However taking the lead is only the first step toward victory. As expected, The Lightning with its high-powered offense did manage to tie the score. It was a power play goal by Lightning’s Ondrej Palat at 6:45.

Now that the game was tied in the 3rd period, everything is magnified in importance. Every bounce of the puck, or every swing of a stick become crucial. The Rangers incurred two minor penalties after Palat’s tying goal.

Ryan McDonough was sent off for a high stick, and with under five minutes remaining in regulation time, Ranger Chris Kreider got himself a two-minute minor for holding an opponents stick. The penalty was at 15:05.

The Rangers were able to withstand the Lightning’s attempts to score on both power plays. Half a minute after Kreider’s penalty time had ended, the Rangers put on a strong push led by Derick Brassard and Kevin Hayes.

At 17:35, Dominick Moore found himself in the paint in front of Lightning goalie Benjamin Bishop,

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Rangers Skate On!

What a difference a week makes. Last Wednesday, the New York Rangers had lost to the Washington Capitals by a 2-1 score. The score itself is less important that the fact that at this point, the Rangers trailed the Caps 1-3 in games won. In short, the Rangers were on the brink of elimination as this was a best of seven series.

But maybe the Rangers needed a blade positioned over their necks to really get their survival instincts running. Or they needed to be standing on the edge of the abyss with a pair of hands on their backs to get the urgency before them.

The next game, a win or go home for the summer, was scheduled for Friday May 8th, at MSG. Here is the New York Post back cover the next day.

Okay, the series was now 3 games to 2 with Washington ahead, and Game Six would be in the Caps’ building on Sunday.

Here is the New York Post back cover on Monday morning.

The Series is now even!

Game Seven was scheduled for Wednesday May 13th in New York. Last night. The losers would begin their summer vacations right after the game ended. The Caps best player, Alexander Ovechkin had guaranteed that the Caps would not lose. At 12:50 into the 1st period, Ovechkin was able to put one past Ranger goalie Lundqvist from the slot, and the Caps surged into a 1-0 lead.

Kevin Hayes of the Rangers would tie the game at 1-1 in the second period.

For the next 42 minutes – which meant 8+ minutes into the overtime, both times played extremely hard. There were plenty of chances but both goalies were resolute and yes, it must be said – heroic..

Until Ranger Derek Stepan slapped a rebound past Caps goalie Holtby. In that instant, Ovechnik’s guarantee crumbled into history, and all he could do was skate into his summer vacation.

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Dumb and Dumber – The Seahawks Meltdown With 26 Seconds to Play

Dumb

First came a miracle catch that was awarded by the football gods to the Seahawks, giving them a shot at a game winning TD.

Then Marshawn Lynch carries to the one – there was ample time (with time outs) to try Lynch twice more. The game was at hand for the Seahawks.

Doomed

Doomed

But no – a half-baked Slant pass into the center of the field is attempted – you have no space to maneuver as the defense is already packed in.

You might have faked that and then lofted one into the right corner.

The smart play was Lynch twice more. But they didn’t go that way. A chance at glory just blown to smithereens.

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Germany Bests Argentina in World Cup Final

Até mais tarde Brazil (See you later Brazil) –

Germany's Coach - Joachim Loew

Germany’s Coach – Joachim Loew

Yes, the World Cup is over. Futbal will take a breather, and for most Brazilians, they will go back to the regular lives. The month-long festivities, which cost Brazil many Real, was likely dressing up in fancy clothes for a ball. Once the World Cup and FIFA have departed, it is business as usual for most of the Brasileiros.

Super Mario Gotze just after scoring

Super Mario Gotze just after scoring

Germany scored in the extra time, on a late goal by Mario Götze, and it was enough.

The Germans held on to win 1-0. Argentina’s Lionel Messi had a free kick opportunity with seconds left, but he was too far out, and had to put more effort into the kick, and it sailed over the top of the goal.

The game ended seconds later

The game ended seconds later

As a kid, I played soccer, or rather kick-ball, even before softball, or basketball. In my head, I can still see the field at the Woodbury Avenue Elementary School, in Huntington, New York. The school was demolished in 1988. But the seeds for soccer were planted in me.

As for the television coverage of this year’s World Cup, broadcast by both ESPN and ABC, I thought the coverage was excellent. I won’t discuss the announcers or the halftime analysts, as I don’t really know them. But from a spectators perspective, considering the crowd shots, the on-field action, the closeups, and the multiple replays – they could not have done a better job.

So kudos to Germany and thanks for a valiant effort to Argentina. The Netherlands easily bested Brazil in the Third Place Consolation Game for the losers in the two semi-final games.

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Spurs Crush Heat to Take the NBA Championship

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I don’t think a lot of words from me are necessary. When the Miami Heat raced out to a 22-6 lead with a bit more than five minutes left in the opening quarter, the game situation had a flavor that seemed so very different, and almost foreign when compared to the taste of the previous two games when the San Antonio Spurs had dominated from the jump.

But it would all change. With a bit more than five minutes left in the third period, which was actually two full quarters from that moment in the 1st stanza, the Spurs had demolished the Heat to the tune of 59-22 over that span. The game and the series was all but over.

Yes, by the time the final buzzer sounded, words weren’t necessary. The faces of the victors were filled with joy. And for the Heat, their summer vacations began far earlier than expected. But some folks did have some things to say.

Adam Silver – NBA Commissioner

You showed the world how beautiful this game is.

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Kings Win The Cup

It wasn’t supposed to end the way it did. With Henrik Lundqvist laying face down on the ice while the LA Kings leaped and danced and jumped around in joyous, Cup-winning ecstasy. But it did.

I had to scrap my earlier headline and post. The one that would have carried a different title along with totally different content.

Not in Your House Either would have been the title.

This is the shot by Alec Martinez that is on its edge, just inches from becoming the goal that ends the NHL Hockey season. Lundqvist

This is the shot by Alec Martinez that is on its edge, just inches from becoming the goal that ends the NHL Hockey season.

After coming back from the edge of the precipice on Wednesday night in a courageous and hard-fought victory led by Henrik Lunqvist’s great game, last night the New York Rangers ran out of real-estate at the end of the plank that the Kings had put them on.

With the Alec Martinez goal, in the second overtime session, the Ranger season came to an instantly stunning, painful, and abrupt end. As the Kings celebrate the thrill of their victory, NY Ranger Benoit Pouliot skates toward the beginning of his summer, in full knowledge that the coronation of the LA Kings, as Stanley Cup Champions, would begin moments later.

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LeBron James: “They Smashed Us”

If you were anywhere near Miami last night, you might have noticed the Big Chill that arrived and lowered the Miami Heat’s temperatures to near morgue levels. No, it wasn’t a big Nor’easter with cold temperatures and high winds that came roaring down the Atlantic coast and iced up the Heat. No, this was in fact, a sou’wester that blew across the Gulf of Mexico, then stayed high above Alligator Alley before settling down on the court at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. This ‘storm’ disguised as a basketball team possessed not only long legs, but also some very long arms, and a strong can’t stop us kind of can do desire.

Actually this storm of a team arrived on Tuesday and threw a damper on the Heat’s first home game in the 2014 NBA Championship Series. To say that the San Antonio Spurs put a whooping on the Heat was being kind. That was Tuesday night, and yeah sure, any home team can have a clunker of a game, as in take a beating. It happens. But the Heat hadn’t lost back-to-back playoff games this year. So most folks thought the Heat would recoup, recharge, and recover from that blowout of a contest.

That is until the San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg ‘Pop’ Popovich with his legion of hoop doom known as Tim Duncan (above), Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, and a couple of players called Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills (below), all suited up for Game Four.

The result, The Heat’s flame was once more extinguished in another horrendous blowout of a game. The score was 107-86 Spurs, but really, it was worse than that. The Spurs lead went from nine, into the double digits, and then passed the 20 point marker, before cresting at 25 points on the Heat’s home court.

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