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Rick Carpiniello and Sam Borden debate the the hottest topics in sports

Question #174: Who’s going to October?

Sam Borden
April
6

Question #174 was going to be, “Where have you guys been?” but the answer isn’t anything particularly interesting – a combination of time off, baseball previews, high school sports championship travel and other obligations made it tough to blog for a little while. But now, with MLB about to start, we’re back.

I’m headed down to Baltimore for the day in a few hours (Yanks-Orioles at 4 pm.), but before I go, I figured
it’s time to put our predictions for the season out on the table. So here we go:

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Angels
AL Wild Card: Yankees

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Phillies

AL Playoffs: Yankees over Angels (finally!), Red Sox over Twins
NL Playoffs: Mets over Dodgers, Cubs over Phillies

ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Cubs over Mets

World Series: Cubs over Red Sox

Back later with some thoughts … Carp?

 CARP SAYS:

 Geez, Sam, it’s hockey season … just kidding. I think that loss last night really hurt the Phillies’ chances.

Here are the definites (I had them all right last year, didn’t I? Maybe not.):

AL East: Red Sox.
AL Central: Indians.
AL West: Angels.
AL wild card: Yankees.

NL East: Phillies.
NL Central: Cubs.
NL West: Diamondbacks.
NL  wild card: Mets.

AL playoffs: Red Sox over Angels, Yankees over Indians.
NL playoffs: Mets over Cubs, Phillies over Diamondbacks.

ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox.
NLCS: Phillies over Mets.

World Series: Yankees over Phillies. 

I cannot believe I’m picking the Yankees, actually. I mean, they might not even get into the playoffs if Tampa proves it wasn’t a one-year wonder. But I don’t see the Mets or Cubs winning a World Series any time soon, and I don’t see the Phillies repeating. Maybe my ALCS prediction will prove incorrect and it will be Red Sox over Phillies.

But, right now, I’m sticking with the Yankees, who will have some rough patches but should have A-Rod back and at full strength by the end of the season. Also, the last time they moved into a “new” stadium they went to the World Series (‘76) for the first of three years in a row.

Posted by Sam Borden on Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 6:56 am |
Category: 1
| | 5 Comments »

Question #173: Should the Jets get Jay Cutler?

Sam Borden
March
23

So the Jets need a quarterback. That’s pretty obvious. And the Broncos, who have a new coach in former Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniel, are apparently at least somewhat open to shopping Pro Bowler Jay Cutler since Cutler has said he doesn’t believe he can play in Denver anymore.

Then in today’s Daily News, there comes a report that the Jets have let to the Broncos know they’re very interested in Cutler, if a deal is possible.

Thus the question: Is this the right move by the Jets? Is Cutler a good idea? Or do you not want him/think the Jets should stick with what they’ve got (which is, essentially, a competition between Brett Ratliff and Kellen Clemens)?

11:34 a.m., Sam says:

Sam Borden

At first glance, Cutler seems like an obvious solution: The Jets don’t have an established QB, Cutler could be available, ergo, get Cutler. But I’m not so sure it’s the best idea.

Remember, simply adding Jay Cutler to the roster doesn’t automatically make the Jets better. It sounds sort of elementary to say, but Cutler actually has to perform to his previous levels in New York to make the move a good one. And I’m not convinced that’s what he’d do.

The way Cutler handled himself during the “Will the Broncos get Matt Cassell?” scenario smacked of insecurity and immaturity, two traits which don’t often translate well to players in New York. Essentially, Cutler was mad that his team even considered the idea of getting another QB. He apparently was also mad that McDaniel, the new coach, overhauled the coaching staff (and, thus, offensive scheme) after taking over since Cutler says he’d been told by team executives that wouldn’t happen.

Whatever. The bottom line is that quarterbacks need to have thick skins and deal with changing situations, and Cutler has shown himself to be a little too self-involved/rigid lately. How would he handle New York pressure and expectations?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Jets would be best-served by getting a new QB from somewhere (though their OL is strong enough that a weaker QB might survive). I just don’t think Cutler would be able to come anywhere close to being as good in New York as he’s been in Colorado.

 CARP SAYS:

 First, sorry for the delay, Sam and all. I’ve been hopscotching all over the state the last few weeks and just up to my eyeballs in travel and work.

As for Cutler, let me just say this. If the Jets think either of their guys are better than Cutler—and I cannot believe they do—then they need to do everything they can to get Cutler. I don’t care about his tantrum when this whole mess started. I don’t care that he’s a young version of Brett Favre in terms of that gunslinger, risk/reward mentality. 

The most important position in football, of course, if quarterback, and getting a top quarterback is the most difficult task in the sport. This guy is young, has a cannon, and some experience. Why wouldn’t you want him? How are the Jets better without him? I don’t get it.

Me? I go get him.

Posted by Sam Borden on Monday, March 23rd, 2009 at 9:14 am |
Category: 1
| | 8 Comments »

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Question #172: Is today (or yesterday) the greatest sports day of the year?

Sam Borden
March
20

Don’t even start with the Super Bowl. It’s a fun day, no doubt, and I like wings as much as anyone, but the game is so over-hyped and it’s a rarity that the action even comes close to living up to it all. Super Bowls are great but they can’t come close to NCAA tournament time.

For me, these two days are the best. They just are. I’ve been privileged to go to a ton of events in all types of sports, and sitting at home and watching the Madness on TV is as good as almost any of them.

My TV was on for 13 straight hours yesterday and it’ll probably be about that today. I love the passion, the potential for an upset, the intensity of the games and yes, the gambling aspect of it as everyone who hasn’t followed college hoops all year (as well as those who have) try and predict the unpredictable.

As I went over the possibilities in my mind, the only other sports days that came close to the first two days of the tournament are (in no particular order):

1. Sunday at the Masters. Spring is here, golf is exciting, Augusta National is insane and the back nine is dramatic. But there’s always a chance for two guys you’ve never heard of playing out the string, too, which drains a lot of the fun out of it.

2. Opening Day. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing baseball finally get going, but come on – once you get past the “hey, baseball is back” part, the games really don’t mean all that much. And to me, that’s the best part of the tournament – the games mean everything.

3. Quarterfinal day of The World Cup. Now, I know I won’t get a lot of agreement from people on this blog (or, really, anywhere in America) but for those of us who love soccer, the elimination rounds of the World Cup are like the tournament but on an international stage. And the soccer is so good, so intense and so dramatic that it’s hard to turn away. Of course, then the game finishes 1-0 and everyone who hates soccer screams about how boring it is …

So tell me: What’s your favorite sports day?

CARP SAYS:

Yesterday? Hmmm. I watched some of the Yankees exhibition game. Saw some of the PGA event on The Golf Channel. Caught Seinfeld, of course. Oh, and I did watch about 20 minutes of basketball. Some big tournament.

No, the opening day of the NCAAs isn’t my thing. I can’t devote that kind of time to anything waiting for the one upset that might happen. Sitting on a couch all day … that’s Madness to me. As they get along, I’ll watch more. I’ll watch the Final Four, or most of it.

My faves? Sunday at any golf major (followed by Saturday, Friday and Thursday at any golf major, plus Wednesday at the WGC Match Play). And any day I get to tee it up trumps all of that, and everything else.

I love the NFC-AFC championship days for some reason. Any time New England plays Indianapolis. Any and all World Series games. Opening day. Any deciding game of the Stanley Cup final (is there anything cooler than the handshake line and the presentation of the Cup?).

Locally, there’s nothing like the weekend at County Center’s basketball Championship Week, and the final day of Section 1 wrestling. Those are events you have to attend, though.

I agree with the Super Bowl. You watch it, no doubt. But it takes forever to actually get to the game. Worse in terms of waiting is the college football championship game.

Posted by Sam Borden on Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 9:30 am |
Category: 1
| | 2 Comments »

Question #171: Who is the best Jewish baseball player of all time?

Sam Borden
March
18

So, in today’s paper and on LoHud.com, I wrote a column about the Sandy Koufax vs. Hank Greenberg debate and included thoughts from a Rockland County author who has written a book called “The Baseball Talmud” in which he ranks by position all the Jewish major leaguers.

While Howard Megdal’s quest was a good one, to me the question will always come down to Koufax vs. Greenberg. And so now I want to pose it to you.

Here’s Greenberg’s career numbers: 1393 games, .313 BA, .412 OBP, .605 SLG, 331 HR, 1276 RBI, two MVPs, 5-time All-Star plus he missed four years to fight in World War II.

Here’s Koufax’s career numbers: 314 GS, 165-87, 137 CG, 40 shutouts, 2324 1/3 IP, 2.76 ERA, 2396 K, 1.106 WHIP, 1 MVP, 3 Cy Youngs, 6-time All-Star plus his career was short-circuited by arthritis at age 30.

I’ve always been a Koufax guy and I’ll come back later to explain why. What’s your take?

CARP SAYS:

I actually saw Koufax at the end of his brief career, although I was too young to appreciate him … the thing that always stood out to me was that in photographs his arm appeared to bend like a bow.

Anyway, I think the argument is this simple. It is either Greenberg or Koufax. They are the two best. Greenberg never gets his due as an all-time great hitter/slugger, whose stats—like many in his era—were sawed off by service in the military. He was one of the best ever.

But Koufax, from what I’ve heard, read, seen, and gleaned, may have been the best pitcher ever, and if he’s not, well he is the best left-hander and easily in the top three from either side. So good that he retired young and was a no-doubter Hall of Famer in a number of seasons that would immediately eliminate pretty much anybody else from even being considered.

The best pitcher I ever saw was Bob Gibson. But lots of people think Koufax was better than Gibson.

So I’m going with the lefty on this argument, with all due respect to Greenberg.

11:34 a.m., Sam says:

Sam Borden

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about Tiger Woods’ fame that compared him to Muhammad Ali, and in that piece I talked about how I once was fortunate enough to meet Ali. As someone who gets to meet athletes with some regularity, it was unusual for me to feel as awed as I did when standing in front of the Champ. But that’s also the way I felt when I got to meet Koufax.

Although he has become somewhat more visible in recent years than he was in the past, I – along with several other writers – got to meet and talk to Koufax at the 2003 Baseball Writers dinner in New York. Just seeing Koufax and hearing him talk about baseball a little was something I’ll always remember. I also recall him delivering a funny line about Randy Johnson, to whom he was giving the NL Cy Young award. In his introduction of Johnson, Koufax said there were two things that “jumped off the page” about the Unit: “One, he’s very tall. Two, he’s very good.”

What was it like to watch him pitch, Carp? Or anyone else who had the pleasure?

CARP SAYS:

I was only nine or 10 when he stopped pitching, and since I was an AL fan I never really saw enough of him to leave an impression. But I knew that Koufax-Drysdale meant big problems for opponents.

I know what you mean about certain athletes making that impression the first time you meet them. I know I was awed the first time I met Gretzky (now I know him very well, and that feeling is gone), and the first time I met Herb Brooks after the Olympics, and when I finally met Mickey Mantle, and later on the first time I interviewed Michael Jordan.

Those feelings mostly wear off as you go on in this business. But I must say that last summer I was blown away the day of the all-star game at Yankee Stadium when I was interviewing, one-on-one in a hotel conference room in NYC, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Brooks Robinson, and so many immortals. I felt like an AIG executive at bonus time.

And certain celebs can still do that, but very few. When I see Paul McCartney at a ballgame, for example. Or when I met Bill Clinton when the Rangers visited the White House, or Richard Nixon at Shea Stadium.

Posted by Sam Borden on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 at 8:18 am |
Category: 1
| | 2 Comments »

Question #170: Big-names or Cinderellas?

Sam Borden
March
16

The three days leading up to Thursday’s opening of the NCAA Tournament are rife with plenty of debating and decrying the tournament committee’s selections. This year, there’s already a perpetual argument going over the lack of “mid-major” teams in the 65-team field, which many observers think is a real injustice.

There are 31 automatic bids to the tourney which go primarily to schools that win their conference tournaments (or, in some cases, regular-season championships). That means there are 34 at-large bids to awarded by the committee. This year, only four of those 34 went to teams outside of the six “power” conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, SEC and Pac-10). They were Xavier, Dayton, Butler and BYU. In 2004, there were 12 non-power conference teams in; there were six the past two years, then four last year.

Here’s my question: Does this bother you? Do you believe there need to be more Cinderellas?

The outcry over the field is loud and there’s no doubt that fans love the George Masons and (old-school) Gonzagas and Valparaisos that shred everyone’s bracket. To me, though, going with too many mid-majors can be a risk. The automatic bids already allow for a good number of potential upset-pullers to get into the field, and I don’t have a problem with the committee leaning towards a power-conference school over one from a weaker league.

Does that mean I think the Arizonas of the world should always get the nod over, say, a Creighton or a St. Mary’s? It doesn’t. But until the smaller conferences can start churning out quality play as often as the Pac-10 does, I don’t think there’s anything so terrible about giving the bigger program – and thus, the program playing more quality opposition in more hostile environments – the edge. Certain smaller leagues – like the Missouri Valley and Horizon – have clearly had terrific seasons in recent years and are better than they once were, but I don’t think that puts them on the same level as the power leagues. In my mind, a team from a smaller league HAS to do more than a team from a bigger one to earn that NCAA spot. And this year, I’m not sure that any of those smaller schools actually did that. So I had no problem with Arizona, who was a much-discussed bubble team, getting in.

I know, I know – more small schools and Cinderella-types in the field means a greater chance of those unreal upsets and everyone loves that, but there’s also a greater chance of a 25-point blowout that can really ruin what is supposed to be an awesome Thursday/Friday combo. I know everyone loves the no-name schools getting a chance, but the tournament is about seeing great college basketball, and that means getting the most talented teams in the field. Oftentimes, that means going with the medium-sized fish in a big pond instead of the big fish in the pretty small pond.

Posted by Sam Borden on Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
Category: 1
| | 1 Comment »

Question #169: Should fighting be banned in hockey?

Sam Borden
March
12

During the recent NHL general managers’ meetings, there was a discussion and modification to some of the NHL’s rules on fighting. The executives did not markedly change the basic concept of hockey fighting, but instituted some minor changes intended to penalize “staged” fights, like those that start immediately after a faceoff. Frankly, I’m not sure what the difference is – now guys that want to go will just wait one lap around the rink before dropping the gloves instead of right when the puck drops. Big deal.

The larger question is more interesting and is one that’s been forever bandied about in hockey circles: Should fighting be outlawed altogether?

Let’s hear your take and I’ll be back later with mine.

CARP SAYS:

A very high level NHL referee said to me, many years ago, “If they take fighting out completely, and then they find out that they need it, how do they put it back in?”

There are so many questions about what hockey will become if fighting is ever completely eliminated. How dirty it will get. How many cheap shots will result. How suddenly-brave players will carry their sticks higher.

Oh, and the underlying fear: Will the fans they still have then go away?

I am totally torn on this topic because I played hockey and I covered hockey for many years, and I appreciate that fights happen, and that sometimes you feel a need to stand up for a teammate (or for a teammate to stand up for you), and after watching the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bully Flyers all those years I understand that teams now regularly employ “heavyweights” for protection. Sort of anti-ballistic missiles, if you will.

I think therein lies the problem. Every team has a thug, and every thug feels it’s necessary to fight the other team’s thug, whether there is rhyme or reason. Those are often the staged fights that parts of the NHL want eliminated, where two guys drop the gloves right off a faceoff. Or where one team trails late in a game and feels the need to “send a message” by starting a fight or a series of fights. That’s where hockey gets its ugly rep.

But I don’t have a problem with an actual spontaneous fight. In fact I rather like seeing players who play with passion—a Jarome Iginla, a Joe Thornton—guys with ability or even superstar ability, take care of business when it’s warranted. There are penalties for such actions, and if one is a clear instigator, then he should be punished more severely. Hockey has eliminated most of the brawling (there are far more bench-clearers in baseball or before college football games).

I just have a tough time with total elimination of fighting. And if anybody’s going to decide this one way or the other, I think it ought to be the players and their union.

2:34 p.m., Sam says:

Sam Borden

I love hockey. Always have, always will. I played it, watched it and covered it and consider the Rangers one of the few teams that I’m actually a fan of. That’s my hockey background.

Given that, I understand how you, Carp, feel, as well as a few of the commenters who wrote some variation on the “it’s a man’s game and men fight” line. I can certainly see that argument. I still don’t think it would be a bad idea to ban fighting.

Truthfully, it’s not even because I think it’s “killing the game” or “too violent.” I just think it’s wrong. Fighting isn’t a positive thing in any walk of life (other than a sport like boxing or wrestling, which is designed for such a thing) and I’m not sure why it’s acceptable in hockey. No other sport allows fighting. No other form of entertainment offers (at least tacit) encouragement for player to engage in it by having such lax penalties. Even football, which is the most brutal of games, ejects players immediately for any punches thrown.

Hockey is a beautiful game and just because it gets vicious at times doesn’t mean players will be left helpless if suddenly fighting isn’t allowed. The argument that guys might start carrying their sticks in a more dangerous way would have been more reasonable back in the old days, but with two referees and constant video review (for after-the-fact suspensions or discipline), I’m not so sure that getting rid of fighting would inspire the uptick in stick fouls that Carp suggests.

The best argument for fighting is that it might cost the NHL some fans to ban it, but the truth is that there are probably a dwindling number of fans who go to hockey games for the fights anymore because, as you mentioned, the number donnybrooks and all-out brawls has decreased. Would doing away with it entirely really send that many fans running for WWE?

Hockey is a great sport that can stand on its own merits. It doesn’t need fighting to be exciting. It just doesn’t.

Posted by Sam Borden on Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 9:35 am |
Category: 1
| | 16 Comments »

Question #168: What’s your favorite conference tournament?

Sam Borden
March
11

I love this time of year. Yes, the NCAA tournament is awesome but the conference tournaments are almost as exciting, if only because it’s wall-to-wall basketball for an entire week with everyone from the best of the best to the also-rans and the hanging-on hopefuls all playing nonstop.

I know everyone around here loves the Big East tournament and I enjoy it too – even though this whole “all 16 teams get to play” idea they’re doing this year is stupid – but for me, nothing matches the ACC. I’ve always loved watching Duke and North Carolina get into it, and every year there’s someone – Clemson or NC State or Maryland – who gets involved and makes a run.

I’m also a big fan of the smaller tourneys. I remember watching Valparaiso (Bryce Drew and his dad, the coach, Homer) playing in their tourney before they made their famous charge in the NCAAs. The intensity of the small-conference semis and finals is fantastic and I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoy the Missouri Valley, MAC and America East tourneys almost as much as the big guys.

Still, nothing touches the ACC. As big as the Big East is this year – and there’s no denying it’s a banner year for the conference with so many teams in the top 25 – I’ll be locked in on the ACC starting tomorrow. It’s the best.

What’s your fave tourney? And what’s your favorite conference tourney memory?

CARP SAYS:

Tough one for me, Sam. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in hockey at this time of year for most of my career, and haven’t had the luxury of sitting back on the couch and watching March Madness very often.

Obviously, I have a fondness for the Big East—not only being a New Yorker, but also knowing so many kids who play in the conference, or are still playing in the conference, kids like Providence’s Geoff McDermott, Mookie Jones (out injured for Syracuse), West Virginia’s Kevin Jones, Rutgers’ Mike Coburn.

The times I have had time, I think it’s very fair to say that the ACC tournament is more passionate. It’s older, more established and less scattered in terms of geographical location of the schools. I think you get a lot more students and real diehards for the ACC, whereas the Big East attracts the typical New York basketball fan—one with few if any allegiance, just a love of college hoops.

Also, the tournament’s meaning is diminished, and not just at the bottom, where every team is given a shot. This year we know that six or seven Big East teams are going to the Final 64 no matter what happens at MSG this week, unless somebody like Providence can come out of nowhere and win the Big East and get an automatic bid that might otherwise not be coming. For UConn and Pitt and Syracuse and Louisville, I don’t think the title is as crucial.

That said, with all the power in the conference now, the Big East championship surely would be an accomplishment that should be cherished.

Posted by Sam Borden on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 at 8:33 am |
Category: 1
| | 1 Comment »

Question #167: Are the Yankees in big trouble with A-Rod out?

Sam Borden
March
9

Many of you know that I occasionally like to consider wagering propositions and enjoy the odd game of cards. So, I would LOVE to know what kind of odds you could have gotten a month ago on the starting third baseman in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium being CODY RANSOM. Anyone who had that one is living in a much, much nicer house than me, that’s for sure.

On a more serious note, the decision for A-Rod to have his hip surgery today has created several new realities for the Yanks starting with the idea that they’ll now have a career minor-leaguer playing third base for the foreseeable future. It also includes the development that Mark Teixeira suddenly becomes the featured (and, in many ways, singular) super-power bat in the lineup. Instead of A-Rod hitting behind him, suddenly he’s got Hideki Matsui (probably) backing him. That’s a big change.

The Yankees have had long layoffs for stars in the past; Derek Jeter missed six weeks with a busted shoulder in 2003 and the Yankees went to the World Series that year. Already, Jeter has talked about how the Yankees are far from a one-man show and will be fine without A-Rod. But will they?

Here’s my question: How does the loss of A-Rod – which is expected to last say, until early late-April/early-May) change your expectations for the Yanks? Will they start slow but come on after he gets back? Struggle early and rebound? Or just skate on through without a hiccup?

Give me your thoughts and I’ll be back later with my own predictions.

 CARP SAYS:

 If you take A-Rod out of the lineup for three or four weeks during the season, I think the Yankees could and would survive it. But to have him out at the start, well, I was just figuring that he might go ballistic early in the season and put the team on his back for a while. Now he won’t.

But these Yankees, even with their all-star, bank-bailout-sized payroll, have question marks everywhere. Except in the rotation. I still question A.J. Burnett and whether he can possibly be worth the riches the Yankees bestowed upon him, but even if he’s just OK, the rotation is solid. And if they pitch the way they should pitch, the Yankees ought to be able to survive the loss of any position player for a while—even those performance-enhanced hitters.

That said, the A-Rod hole becomes wider and deeper if Jorge Posada or Hideki Matsui have a setback, or if the Yankees have a center field platoon hitting .235, or if Robinson Cano has another nose-dive season. I don’t think Cano will repeat last year, but all or any of the other things can happen, and if that means that Jose Molina, Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom are all in the lineup at the same time, then the pitchers will have to be even better than advertised.

Posted by Sam Borden on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 9:13 am |
Category: 1
| | 1 Comment »

Question #166: Should the Yankees make A-Rod have the surgery now?

Sam Borden
March
6

Let me start by saying this: I’m not a doctor. In fact, I’m very much not a doctor, so everything I write on here is based on the copious reporting (which includes quotes from people who are, in fact, doctors) that’s been done on Alex Rodriguez and his right hip issues.

Here’s what I know to be the situation: A-Rod has several problems with his hip that will, at some point, almost certainly require surgery to fix. These aren’t problems that just go away. And, depending on the severity of the surgery, A-Rod will need somewhere between six weeks and four months to recover. Based on what Brian Cashman has said, it’s likely to be closer to the longer end of that range.

At this point, the Yankees have opted to have A-Rod rest and rehab his hip, in the hope that he will be able to make it through this season and then have the procedure next winter. Their other choice, obviously, is to do the procedure now and thus put A-Rod on the sideline for the majority of this season.

Thus, the question: Are the Yankees making the right choice by having A-Rod try to play? Or should he just have the surgery now and get it over with?

My take is that this is a mistake by the Yankees. I understand their logic for doing it – something I touch on in my column on the situation today – but I think it’s misguided. There are too many things that could go wrong and, for me, not enough of a chance that things will break just the way the Yankees need for it to go right.

If A-Rod has the surgery now, the Yankees have a month to figure out a replacement. Whether it’s a free agent (Mark Grudzialanek?) or a trade (Chone Figgins? Brandon Inge?) or a – gasp! – position switch (dare I say it: Derek Jeter???), the Yankees dictate what happens instead of waiting to be dictated to. Plus, there’s also the chance A-Rod recovers quickly and can make it back in time to choke it up in Sept/Oct, just like usual.

The way the Yanks are doing it now, they’re waiting on pins and needles. They’re hoping a guy who will now be taking it easy during spring training will last 162 games and manage not to tweak his hip while he’s hitting, running, fielding, throwing and sliding. And then if he does, and needs the surgery sooner, the Yanks will have even less time to react.

I understand the pressure is on big time this year. On everyone from the top on down. But I think this is a mistake. The Yankees are stuck with A-Rod for a long, long time. They can’t control that. The best thing they could do is control as much of this situation as they possibly can.

 CARP SAYS:

 Then why have I been calling you Dr. Borden and trying to get an appointment the last few months?

Got to agree with you there, doc. If the natural process—rest and rehab—is going to take six weeks or so, and then the possibility still exists that surgery and a four-month ordeal will still be necessary, then you do the surgery now.

Obviously we don’t have all the information we need to make that decision, such as: What are the chances the rest-and-rehab will actually work? And will A-Rod be 100 percent if it does? And what are the chances of it recurring? 

I just know that if I have a $275 million asset for the next nine years, I’m willing to sacrifice four months for it to be as close to 100 percent as possible for the remaining eight-plus seasons. If the Yankees are worried about not having their cleanup hitter because they are opening a new stadium, or worried that they HAVE TO make the playoffs after last season’s disaster, and neglecting A-Rod’s future to a degree just to calm those worries, then that’s a mistake.

They should be able to get by without a Hall of Famer or perennial all-star at one position for a little while. Most teams manage to do that, right? Cody Ransom? Why not? They lived without Jeter for a while last year, and without A-Rod for a while.

But, no, I don’t see Jeter moving anywhere in the near future, surely not third base.

Posted by Sam Borden on Friday, March 6th, 2009 at 7:35 am |
Category: 1
| | 2 Comments »

Question #165: How much better are the Rangers today than yesterday?

Sam Borden
March
5

Normally I try not to do the same subject two days in a row, but the trading deadline is always interesting stuff and, frankly, I couldn’t think of a question anyone would take seriously having to do with A-Rod’s hip. So … let’s talk more Rangers.

I like what the Rangers did yesterday. I like the moves, specifically adding Antropov. Anyone who might score a goal is absolutely welcomed on this team as far as I’m concerned. On a personal note, I was sad to see Prucha go though – not only did I like him, but he was my wife’s favorite Ranger and she even had one of those Prucha t-shirt jerseys which she wore to games. She liked him because he was “little” and “always fell down” on what seemed like every shift, while still being scrappy. Kinda hard to argue with that assessment, no?

Anyway, the question today is, how much better are the Rangers? Can we look at them now as a team that will DEFINITELY make the playoffs? Will win a round? Most people would agree they’re a better team, but how much better? And how have your expectations/predictions changed because of what they did?

 CARP SAYS:

 First, condolences to your wife. I can call Don Maloney and get her a Coyotes’ Prucha T-shirt if you want.

Seriously, the Rangers are a better team today, but a large part of that is the new system and the new fire John Tortorella has begun to instill. Part of that is Sean Avery. Part of it is the trade deadline moves, which made them bigger—and we’ll withhold judgment on whether it actually made them tougher or more offensive. I think both Antropov and Morris have a chance to be busts, to be booed out of MSG like Marek Malik and Sandis Ozolinsh. Big? Yes. Rugged? Not really. Offensive? Mildly. Neither has ever lived up to his billing or his size or his potential.

That said, the Rangers traded two smallish forwards and one mediocre defenseman and a second-round pick and a conditional pick. They had apparently made up their minds that they were not going to re-sign Dawes, Prucha and Kalinin this summer, so if they don’t re-sign Antropov and/or Morris they will have cleared at least some cap space that will allow them to re-sign Dubinsky, Mara and Callahan and a few of their other worthy restricted free agents.

Antropov, under Tortorella’s eye, should perform. Morris is automatically among their best defensemen, if not their best right now. That’s not saying much.

I don’t think Dawes or Prucha will ever make fans think of the Rick Middleton trade or the Bobby Carpenter trade or the Sergei Zubov trade. Maybe they will prove me wrong.

They didn’t really address the No. 1 issue of scoring goals, or of having actual top-line skill on the, you know, top lines. They could still lose 2-1 to the Islanders tonight (I doubt it) and lose enough low-scoring games down the 18-gamestretch to miss the playoffs. They honestly could.

But what will it have cost them? A second-round pick. For an organization that has drafted so dreadfully the last 10 years or so, a second-round pick isn’t that big a deal. It will be, though, if Toronto uses it to get a good player.

Posted by Sam Borden on Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 10:11 am |
Category: 1
| | 25 Comments »

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Rick Carpiniello and Sam Borden debate the hottest topics in sports.

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About the author
Sam BordenSam Borden grew up in Larchmont, graduated from Mamaroneck High School and has spent all 29 years of his life following the local sports scene. The drama of sports has always fascinated him, and his columns are designed to take a side or tell a story. The best days are the ones where he gets to do both.
Rick CarpinielloRick Carpiniello grew up in lower Westchester and began working in The Journal News' sports department (back when it was The Reporter Dispatch and eight other newspapers) in October of 1977 after a year of covering high school sports as a stringer. For more than 20 years he covered the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League. Carpiniello has been writing columns on everything from local sports to the big leagues since 2002.
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