The Sad Season of the Knicks Comes to an End – by Duncan Freeman

As the NBA season comes to a close, we look back yet again on a disappointing season for Knicks basketball. Last year was the same—Oh, Carmelo is so good (he is), he’ll lead the team, and all these young players will help the Knicks make a playoff run! Which means we could win the final! Well, that didn’t happen, and it hasn’t happened since 1973. We got back there twice—in 1994 and 1999—when the Knicks came close to winning but never quite could.
From then on, we’ve been your classic middle-of-the-pack team—occasionally 7th or 8th seed, but never making it past the conference finals, even with Melo and Stoudemire (A.K.A Stat). This was the story last year as the Knicks missed the playoffs and we looked forward to the new season with Melo as a free agent and thinking about the future of our team. Well, Melo singed a five-year deal and with all the chaos of LeBron, Love, and Wiggins, the Knicks made their own five-star acquisition—the famous Phil Jackson, coach of the two greatest shooting guards to play the game. After winning 11 championships as a coach—and two as a player on the Knicks—Phil would try out his famous triangle offense in another big city.   The fans were excited. I was excited! Finally, a change. We all thought better things were to come.
But from opening day, you could see it would be a long season. The Knicks were quickly down by 30, and many fans expressed their anger with language too vulgar for BenSPN. One balding, frustrated man ripped off his Christmas-themed Melo jersey and threw it into the crowd, so clearly angered by yet another terrible start to a season for the Knicks.
After winning the next game, analysts changed their opinions and expectations.  Perhaps this could work. Maybe the Kicks and Phil Jackson could do this. And then the team went on the longest losing streak the city of New York had ever seen. At some point, the Kicks just started to tank. Whether it was the countless close losses, the injuries to Melo and Stat, or maybe the trades. Ah, yes, the trades: Shumpert, who on the Knicks couldn’t shoot or play defense, is now the staple defensive player and three-point shooter off the Cavs’ bench. Then J.R, an inconsistent scorer and wimpy defender on the Knicks yet he now starts for Cleveland and is bringing new energy to that contender.
After this, the fans and analysts learned to expect no more wins. Then the dropping of Stat left us with…only Melo. And then even he was shut down for the season with knee issues. This has left the Knicks with draft picks, boatloads of money, a couple of scrubs, and Andrea Bargnani.
The fans don’t even boo anymore; they have come to expect terrible losses. Even Spike Lee has been sitting in his seat the entire game instead of getting up and yelling. This season is long over and has been for a long time. Fans have showed up with bags over their heads because they were so ashamed to watch the Knicks yet now we again look forward, but this time with optimism. A historic and great franchise in a city equally great. Once destroyed by the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Mike D’Antoni, the fans now look forward to the magic of what Phil Jackson can do in the offseason.
Phil has to prove to New York that he can build a team and put New York back on the map. There are skeptics. Phil has not had to rebuild before. Phil hasn’t even had a front office job before the Knicks because he is so used to coaching. He has always been given great teams to coach and he still has to improve ours if we can make a run at the title. But we have faith—we have to have faith—that this great basketball mind can fix our disheveled franchise.
But after all it could all come down to chance, a lottery pick, or even the selfishness of a certain free agent.

The Dying Philadelphia Legacy – by Perrin Tomlin

After convincing myself to finally pry my palm off my face from the Eagles’ disgusting trade of LeSean McCoy, I think I can now take a second to talk about what’s really going on in Philadelphia. Just today, there has been a little talk about the Eagles maybe picking up Super Mario in the draft, which is reasonable seeing that now we can’t rely on our running game anymore — no offense to Darren Sproles #greatguy.

There seems to be a GM problem with every team in Philadelphia, except for the Flyers. The Phillies have gone to crap ever since they got rid of Hunter Pence who was a great RBI producer. The Phillies gave up many prospects to get Pence then got essentially nothing in return. The Sixers management seems like they’re having difficulty understanding the purpose of the tanking method of rebuilding. They’re PAST tanking now. They were tanking when they got rid of Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. Now they’ve gotten rid of MCW and Thaddeus Young also and replaced them with the dope that is JaVale McGee, who is now gone too. I’m sorry, but now it just seems like Philadelphia is trying to get itself taken out of the league.

At this point the only thing Philly has going for them is Mo’ne Davis and her little league team.

-by Perrin Tomlin

The Annual Anti-Boston Issue #2 – The Red Sox’s Future (by Alex Hinton)

Foreword by Ben Drevitch

Alex Hinton will explain in his piece that he is a Mets fan so we should probably cut him some slack but he claims that the Red Sox have no future, which disagrees with almost every sports analyst today. (I felt I needed to say that).

Boston Red Sox fans have had some tough times, since the team traded away Babe Ruth, through the day first baseman Bill Buckner allowed a ball go threw his legs to let the Mets win the 1986 World Series, and all of their many painful defeats to the Yankees.

I have much respect for Red Sox fans, and recently things have looked better for them, with the team winning championships in 2004, 2007, and 2013. It’s been less than two years since Big Papi was last spraying Champagne.

At that moment, all over the team’s locker room and across Red Sox Nation, it seemed like Boston was unstoppable, baseball’s next dynasty. Fast forward a whole season and the Red Sox seem to be heading into another 80-plus-year slump. They finished 71-91 last year, dead last in the AL East, and 11th overall in the American League. They have now paid more than $60 million to sign Yoan Moncada, a 19-year-old who hasn’t had an at bat in a major league game. As our high school baseball coach and health teacher says, “He’s a bust.”

The Red Sox need to focus on where they need to improve instead of just signing players to big contracts. They have four players ( Dustin Pedroia , Pablo Sandoval , Hanley Ramirez , and Rusney Castillo ) signed to contracts worth more than $70 million each, and are paying two 39-year-olds ( Ortiz and Koji Uehara ) a combined $25 million this season.

The Red Sox can blame last season being a letdown due to a lack of clutch hitting, a poor bench, no one to hit leadoff (though Pedroia could possibly do it this year), and an awful pitching staff (once you take former ace Jon Lester out of the equation). It’s a lot to improve, I know. The Red Sox still have the bases to form a playoff team but do not seem to be heading that way. The team needs to play “moneyball” and add depth to their team. For God’s sake, they should be offering Billy Beane a $30 million signing bonus, not Moncada.

As a Mets fan I have felt a lot of pain from my team and I now am itching to pass the baton back to the Red Sox. Manager John Edward Farrell faces the challenge of bouncing back a team which has come back from a lot of adversity before.

This time, the Sox might have bit off more then they can chew.

-by Alex Hinton

The Annual Anti-Boston Issue #1 – The Celtics’ Nonexistent Future (by Emile Smigielski)

Foreword by Ben Drevitch

As I think many of you realize, benspn is very anti-NY sports, so to make up for this bias, we are inviting guest bloggers to write anti-Boston posts. The first runs tonight and this series will continue with anti-Boston articles from other guest bloggers until the end of March. We hope to make this an annual thing so please enjoy and without further ado, Emile Smigielski:

Let me start off by saying that Celtic GM Danny Ainge has no idea what he is doing. He may have an incredible number of draft picks at his disposal and quite a few young players too, but he doesn’t understand the rebuilding process.

There are a few important things to do when rebuilding: First, hire a terrible coach, like the Lakers did with Byron Scott, so that you will be sure to lose a ton of game. After all, the purpose of rebuilding is to get good young talent from the draft, and the more games you lose the better chance you have to draft better talent.

So, if you want to be successfully rebuilding a team, which the Celtics obviously are—any team that starts Evan Turner, Brandon Bass, and Tyler Zeller is most definitely not trying to be competitive—why did Ainge trade for Isaiah Thomas, at least a Top 20 combo guard, when the Celtics are already invested in Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, their two young guards? Thomas will only take minutes away from those two guards, thus minimizing their possibility for development. Not only will Thomas take away valuable developmental minutes away from the youngsters (though he isn’t too old himself), but he will also help this Boston team win games, the exact opposite of what they should be trying to do.

This is not the only instance of Ainge not understanding what is needed of a rebuilding team. During the latest offseason, he decided to sign free agent Evan Turner, a wing player who would take minutes away from Marcus Smart and fellow rookie James Young, inhibiting their development and adding more talent to a team whose purpose is to lose games making things look even more upside-down for the team.

It seems as if Danny Ainge does not understand the purpose of rebuilding even though he seems quite set on achieving it.

More Sad News for the Knicks

The Knicks have recently bought out Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract (essentially releasing him from the team) and Carmelo will not be playing for the Knickerbockers for the rest of the season even though he played the All-Star Game like a punk, New York has finally completed the transition into having an all D-League roster. Knicks fans finally have nothing to see at Madison Square Garden except for an astounding lack of water fountains. Knicks fans also are unable to say that, even with the worst record in the league, they still have two star players on their roster.

But for now expect to see blowouts against the Knicks that are so routine you might be better off watching Mike Tyson Mysteries or Friends reruns on Netflix.

Jackie Robinson Follow Up

I’m going to keep this short but it seems that the adults behind the Jackie Robinson baseball team did in fact cheat to create a possible superteam in order to get in, and win, the American section of the Little League World Series. This result means that in a sport about the kids, the adults cheated to get ahead and in the process ended up winning. Yet again the adults have ruined a great, heartwarming story and turned it into another scandal of cheating. I wrote about this topic yesterday and this article is a follow-up explaining why and how the Jackie Robinson team was stripped of their title.

Also, I know some of you were wondering how exactly the Jackie Robinson team cheated. Each district gets specific area limits to make a travel team for the LLWS, but the Jackie Robinson team expanded their boundaries, illegally, so that it interfered with other districts. The Jackie Robinson team then took players from the areas of their new boundary, taking them from competing teams. After bitter Chicago rival complained to Little League, action was taken against the Jackie Robinson team, which resulted in them losing their title.

Almost immediately after the ruling, the adults in the Chicago region who run the Little League program have all since been suspended. From the coach of the Jackie Robinson squad, Darold Butler, to the head of Illinois District 4 Little League, Michael Kelly, which is the district the Jackie Robinson team is in. When stripping Jackie Robinson of their title, Little League gave it to the Las Vegas team even though the coach, Kristi Black, of that team said she didn’t need the title. Black said she only wanted the Jackie Robinson boys to be stripped of the American title, not to get the title themselves; “For us, it’s not about getting the title. . . . It’s about preserving the integrity of the Little League World Series. I spoke with a couple of our kids this morning, and they’re excited, but they feel terrible for the kids on Chicago team. Our kids have moved on. They’re just of the mind that when rules are broken, that’s not acceptable.”

This is another instance of adults creating unnecessary problems for kids, when the kids didn’t do anything. In a statement released by Little League today they wanted to make it clear that it was a hard decision to make because of the kids it affected; “The real troubling part of this is that we feel horribly for the kids who are involved with this. Certainly, no one should cast any blame, any aspersions on the children who participated on this team. To the best of our knowledge, they had no knowledge that they were doing anything wrong. They were just kids out playing baseball, which is the way it should be. They were celebrated for that by many, many organizations, many people. What we’re most concerned about today is that it’s going to be hard on these kids. And that’s the part that breaks your heart.”

Even President Obama who welcomed the Jackie Robinson team into the White House said he blames the adults and their “dirty dealing” for being stripped of the title.

This is still hardly the biggest scandal in the LLWS. In 2001 an amazing pitcher named Danny Almonte led his Bronx team to victory with his pitching yet it turned out Danny was 14 at the time, two years over the age limit to play.

This would not have been a huge story without the adults who cheated so let this be a lesson that parents and adults involved with Little League should only cheer on their kids next time, not try to cheat for them.

Jackie Robinson Little League Scandal?

Last year’s Little League World Series was one for the ages with teams such as a Philadelphia team with Mo’ne Davis and the Jackie Robinson team from Chicago. The Jackie Robinson team was from just outside of Chicago and named after the first black baseball player to play in the MLB ever. Jackie Robinson’s story of making it to the big leagues is a great one and still remains a fixture in American culture today. Every team in baseball has retired his famous number, 42. The Jackie Robinson Little League team has a story shockingly close story to the actual Jackie Robinson story, just without all the violence.

The Chicago team was the first all-black team to EVER play in the LLWS and in a sport that attracts very few black players they were an instant fan favorite. Almost everyone jumped on the bandwagon after they beat the favorite from Las Vegas 7-5 to win the LLWS championship.

After the big win people came from everywhere to cheer on the fan favorites. Chicago even held a parade for the Little League champions, a rare event in Chicago since there has only been one major league championship in the last 90 years in a town, even though Chicago has two professional baseball teams. The Chicago team was even invited to the White House to spend a day with President Obama.

Now, long after the LLWS ended, the team who Chicago beat to become the American champs is demanding their title be stripped. The head coach of the Las Vegas team is saying that the Jackie Robison team cheated to get their players, and they may be right. Vegas is claiming that the Jackie Robinson team expanded the area from where they could take players to get better ones. If the Chicago team did cheat the kids had nothing to do with it and will still be punished. The head coaches of the both teams have turned a feel good story into one of jealousy and greed.

Remember when Little League was about the kids? Me neither.

The Sad Season of the Knicks Continues

The Knicks’ season continues with more despair than hope. As of now the team is the worst  in the NBA with their pitiful 10-41 record; they are even worse than the lowly 76ers, but the team from Philly has a great future, unlike the New Yorkers. What makes it even more sad is that Knicks owner James Dolan told a lifelong fan to go ahead and root for the Nets after being criticized by him in an email. Dolan even called the fan an alcoholic. This may mean that no one will be showing up for Knicks games anymore because…

  1. The tickets are too expensive to watch D-leaguers.
  2. It’s just no fun.
  3. The t-shirt cannon gunner has the most accurate 3-point shot on the squad.

P.S. benspn will be having more on the Knicks’ sad season with a special guest blogger!