To our faithful readers:
We apologize for our lack of enthusiasm in the past few months. Unfortunately, as all you know, we live in New York City. To be honest, it was been extremely difficult to write about sports in New York with out getting totally fucking sick to our stomachs. Sometimes at night, as I lay down and close my eyes, I am still haunted by visions of the Sanchez ass fumble on Thanksgiving. New York sports is entering a recession and we are fairly god damn close to a depression. With that said, Sports Debaters knows it’s our duty to entertain regardless and we are fully committed to picking up the slack because somebody has got to win around here.
Let’s paint a quick picture of the sports scene in New York. The Jets are a fucking joke. They are the laughing stock of the god damn NFL. As currently constituted, I would rather the Jets not show up next year and forfeit all 16 games. The Jets are so bad that they can’t even find a QB who is better than Mark Sanchez. Today the Jets lost their best offensive weapon (Dustin Keller) to division rival Miami, but replaced him by signing three guys that I could have sworn has retired already. There is not much more to say about this team…just that I fucking hate that fact that I fucking love them.
The Giants are in much better shape than the Jets, but are still on the decline. They are currently in danger of losing their best WR in Victor Cruz because of a salary cap situation in which they can’t afford to pay him the premium price needed. The Giants have let go of way more players this offseason then they have signed, including players like Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley who were key contributers during their Super Bowl teams. The Giants are not among the top NFC teams anymore, which is clear by their playoff miss and failure to improve. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be where the Giants are than where the Jets are. With that said, there are about 10-15 teams that are in better shape than the G-men, who are only one year removed from being champions.
For the past 15 years, baseball has always brought the New York city area hope and encouragement this time of year. I can’t waste much time on the Mets. 70 wins for the Mets will be a success this year and as of today they might be opening up the season without their best player as David Wright as suffered a rib injury. However, as a Yankee fan, we might be entering a period in which we haven’t experienced since the early 1990’s. All of a sudden, the Yankees don’t spend money. This offseason, they watched all of their free agents leave, didn’t sign any of their own and were actually outbid by the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player that they could actually use, Russell Martin. When was the last time the Pirates offered more money than the Yankees were willing to. Tie in the Yankees stinginess to the fact that the are dropping like flies with injuries to A-Roid, Granderson and Teixeria, and it’s safe to say that the Yankees are in trouble heading into the 2013 campaign.
After an 18-5 start to the season, the New York Knicks are 20-20 in their last 40. Amare Stoudemire is out for the remained of the regular season with a knee injury that he suffered as he was starting to look like the player the Knicks paid a max contract to 2 and a half years ago. A week later, Carmelo Anthony has been hobbling around the west coast and just had his knee drained in an attempt to get healthy. Throw in a knee injury to Tyson Chandler, suffered in Carmelo’s homecoming game in which the Knicks got laced by their 2010 first half team, and the past few games have been simply awful for the Knickerbockers. The only silver-lining is that I’m a Brooklyn Nets fan, and although the Nets are playing mediocre, the Knicks are playing bad enough to allow the Nets to inch closer to the division lead. The Knicks age was always a concern and it appears that as this season has dragged on, the injury bug is slamming this team upside the head.
Last but not least, we have my New York Rangers. I know most people don’t care about hockey and may not even be aware that there is a hockey season going on right now. Well, the NHL season has been in action for about 2 months now, but I’m not even sure the Rangers are aware of this fact the way they have been playing. The Rangers were 2 games away from the finals last year and ended up bringing in one of the best players in the sport in Rick Nash. They have a star laden team and should be one of the best in the league. After their latest loss to the Winnipeg Jets (yup, that’s really a team), the Rangers find themselves in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff picture. There is still time left in the season for a turn-around, but to say that they have been disappointing doesn’t even begin to explain my feelings on this team.
New York is the best city in the world. There are other amazing, beautiful cities out there, but New Yorkers are the brashest, proudest and hold the highest expectations for all aspects of their lives. We are passionate about our sports and incredibly supporting of our teams. We pay outrageous ticket prices to watch them live. Madison Square Garden just raised their ticket prices a couple days ago for next year, which oddly enough was about the same time the Rangers and Knicks have collectively taken nose dives. New Yorkers are resilient and we will continue to support our mediocre (and in some cases terrible) teams, and unfortunately for New York fans and sports debaters, I fear there will be a whole lot more complaining than celebrating in the near future. Hoping I’m wrong, but as the faithful SD readers are aware, I’m much more often right.
A lot of people go through their midlife crisis when they turn 50, but the Mets seem to dealing with their 50th year in the best of ways. Coming into the season, the Mets were considered one of the worst teams on paper and with all of the background baggage, like debt and losing Reyes, Mets fans were not very optimistic entering April. Well it’s time to turn those frowns upside down because the Mets are once again relevant and are surprising the baseball world more and more everyday. Sitting with a record of 21-17, the Mets have almost matched what a lot of analysts thought would be close to their win total at the all-star break. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but what New York has been doing so far this season has impressed everyone.
Let’s start with one of the early season front-runners for NL MVP, David Wright. There is only one word that can describe how David has been performing this season…UNBELIEVABLE!. He leads all of baseball with an astonishing .411 batting average and .513 on-base percentage. If this was the final week of the season Wright would have the MVP locked up, but unfortunately we are only a quarter of the way through the season and there is a lot of baseball left. Wright isn’t the only Mets player putting up great early season numbers. Daniel Murphy is quickly establishing himself as one of the best contact hitters in the game. Murph is off to a fast start with a .331 BA and you can tell by the way he takes each at-bat that he his modeling his hitting style after another great New York player from across the bridge, Derek Jeter. Murphy has found ways to use the whole field while hitting and he has a lot of potential with his ability to find the gaps. Right now the Mets are 6th in baseball in team batting average and 5th in on-base percentage.
Hitting helps a team succeed, but everyone knows that you need quality pitching to win games. Right now the Mets are 6th in baseball with 23 quality starts, led by their ace and second in rotation, Johan Santana and RA Dickey. Johan is finally looking like his former Cy Young winning self with an impressive 2.89 ERA, over 9 strikeouts per 9 innings, and an almost 4/1 K/BB ratio. The ageless veteran Dickey has been equally impressive with 7 out of his 8 starts being quality ones and already having 5 wins and we are only half way through May. There is some room for improvements in the starting rotation with Dillon Gee off to a very slow start with a 5.65 ERA and season ending shoulder surgery to Mike Pelfrey.
The Mets have had a hard time finding a manager worth keeping around for a long time now. Well it looks like they found a winner in Terry Collins. He handles this young and athletic team with a sense of ease and calming that they need to succeed. In Collin’s most recent act of quality managing he pinch hit for his star player, David Wright, to protect him from a potential retaliatory beaming from the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher. In his post game interview Collin’s defended his decision and the sports world seemed to agree with his reasoning, as did I.
I know it is early in the season but for the time being I am extremely excited about what the Mets are putting together. Let’s hope they can keep it up!
Here is the National League predictions and quick summaries for this 2012 MLB season. I am a huge Mets fan, so these predictions are going to be quite painful. I hope everyone who has an opinion of my summaries and predictions tells me how they feel.
1st – After last year’s dominating regular season performance and then their epic playoff collapse, the Philadelphia Phillies will be looking for that hardware on their finger once again. Last year, the Phillies sported the best starting rotation in baseball and it looks like they have it again. With major injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, look for the Phillies offense to struggle a little more than it did last year. Although they ran away with the division last year, (13 games a head of 2nd place Atlanta), you can expect it to be a little closer this year in the NL East race with Miami and its much improved lineup. Record Prediction: 97-65
2nd – The newly named Miami Marlins are coming into a season with higher expectations then the organization has had since 2003. After signing huge free agents in the off-season like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, the Marlins are making it clear that they plan on taking a stab at their franchises 3rd World Series title. It will be tough to win the NL East pennant with the staff that the Phillies put out there, but you can expect Miami to give them a run for their money and pick up one of the NL’s wildcard slots. Record Prediction: 92-70 (Wildcard Winner)
3rd – With one of the greatest Mets killers of all time retiring after the 2012 season, I can’t help but have a little smirk on my face. Larry “Chipper” Jones is one of the greatest third basemen of all time and without question will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. When last season started, the Atlanta Braves were not supposed to be anything better than a .500 ball club. They exceeded those expectations throughout the season and, like the Red Sox, had a terrible final month falling one game short of winning the wildcard. With Miami being a formidable opponent in the East this year you can look for the Braves record to drop from last year. Record Prediction: 84-78
4th – Opening day starter, Johan Santana, is going to have to stay healthy for the Mets to even think about finishing 4th in the division. On top of that, David Wright and Ike Davis are going to have to stay healthy to keep the Mets in ball games. Supposedly there is a lot of upside to being a fan of a team with no expectations, I just can’t see it. Losing Jose Reyes to division rival Miami was a huge hit to the Mets confidence and to top it all off, the Mets are in more debt than MC Hammer. I am looking forward to Lucas Duda developing this season, but besides that it should be a dull and dark season. Record Prediction: 74-88
5th – With the incredible depth of young talent, you can expect to see the Washington Nationals fighting for the top position in this division for years to come…just not this year. With arguably the best bullpen in all of baseball with the likes of Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge with the breakout young closer Drew Storen, the Nats should be able to hold onto leads. The only problem with that is that they need the lead first. They had one of the worst batting lineups of the year last year and they made no significant changes to it, so unless Ace Stephen Strasburg has some pop to his bat, expect a last place finish. Record Prediction: 72-90
1st – 2011 was an extremely successful regular season for the Milwaukee Brewers. The only problem was that they didn’t carry that success over into the postseason. Losing Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers was a big loss, but the Brewers made up for some of his lost offense by getting veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez. With one of the stronger pitching rotations in their division, and being in one of the weaker divisions in baseball, I expect the “Brew Crew” to win the Central once again this season. Record Prediction: 91-71
2nd – Two years removed from their last NL Central pennant, the Cincinnati Reds look to regain their footing and be a playoff contender once again. With perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto at the forefront of one of the better batting lineups in baseball, the Reds will be a team to recon with in 2012. If Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos can be the pitchers we all know they are capable of being then you can expect them to make a push for one of the NL wildcard slots. Record Prediction: 85-77
3rd – The World Series Champions from 2011 have a lot on their plate this season. They just lost one of their franchises greatest players of all time in Albert Pujols, and their ace Adam Wainwright is coming off major surgery. The arrival of Carlos Beltran can help an offense that surpassed everyone’s expectations last season, but with his injury problems who knows how long that could last. I can not foresee Lance Berkman having the same success as last year because his numbers were far above expectations and now he does not have “the machine” next to him in the lineup. Record Prediction: 81-81
4th – They lost one of their best hitters from last season in Aramis Ramirez and didn’t replace him with much. The Chicago Cubs don’t have a lot to look forward to this season with a starting rotation of a bunch of guys who are inconsistent or unproven as starters. The one bright side of this team will be the emergence of Starlin Castro, who is quickly becoming one of the best SS in baseball. Castro is coming off a super impressive sophomore season and you can expect him to give the NL Batting Title a good chase. Record Prediction: 76-86
5th – Outside of Andrew McCutchen there is not a lot of positive things to say about the always disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates. McCutchen is coming off a great year where he had career highs in home runs, 23, and RBI’s, 89. I see McCutchen’s 4th year in baseball being one where he goes for 30 HRs and 100 RBIs. The Pirates Ace, Erik Bedard, has the potential to be a very good pitcher, but 7 stints on the DL in the last 5 seasons makes him a huge question mark. Expect Pittsburgh to be in the same area they are every year…hovering around the bottom of the Central. Record Prediction: 71-91
6th – The proud owners of 2011’s worst record in baseball, the Houston Astros did absolutely nothing to indicate that those numbers will change in 2012. Besides the streaky Wandy Rodriguez, there is not one pitcher on the Astros that’s even worth mentioning. The once proud franchise with names like Biggio and Bagwell now sell jerseys with fairly unrecognizable names like Altuve and Lowrie. You can expect the Astros to finish at the bottom of the Central once again and it will be interesting to see if they can beat out Baltimore for the worst record in baseball. Record Prediction: 60-102
1st – After winning the World Series in 2010, the San Fransisco Giants look to recover from a disappointing 2011. The Giants endured a heart-breaking early season ending injury to their star young catcher Buster Posey. But, with a healthy Posey and the second best pitching staff in the entire NL, San Fran can expect to be playoff bound once again. Only in his 6th season in the majors, I expect Tim Lincecum to pick up his 3rd Cy Young award. Not only will the Giants win their division, but I think they will make some noise throughout the playoffs and give the Phillies a battle for the NL crown. Record Prediction: 94-68
2nd – The Arizona Diamondbacks had a great season last year with 94 wins and the NL West pennant. Ian Kennedy had a breakout season in his 5th year in the league with career bests in innings pitched (222), strikeouts (198), ERA (2.88) and WHIP (1.09). You can expect Kennedy to lead the Diamondbacks to another successful season and one of the two NL Wildcard positions. If Chris Young and Justin Upton play to their fullest potential then there will be a lot of teams that fear playing the Diamondbacks. Record Prediction: 89-73 (Wildcard Winner)
3rd – Magic Johnson is now one of the proud new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Besides the teams new owners purchase, there really wasn’t much to get excited about this off-season for the Dodgers. In only 4 seasons, Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw has quickly become one of the best pitchers in baseball and with Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay he should be in the running for the NL Cy Young this season. If Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp can stay healthy than this could be the year when the Dodgers become relevant once again. Record Prediction: 85-77
4th – With the worst overall offense in the 2011 season, the San Diego Padres have only one direction to go…up. The Padres had a very impressive pitching rotation last year with relatively unknown players like Tim Stauffer and Cory Luebke. Unfortunately their big problem was at the plate and this problem was not adressed the way it needed to be. If Chase Headley can stay healthy and Cameron Maybin can be the player we all expected him to be when he came up in Detroit and quickly got traded to the Marlins, then you can expect to see a better offensive performance in 2012. Record Prediction: 77-85
5th – One of the best acquisitions of this past off-season has to go to Colorado with the pickup of long-time Minnesota Twins Veteran Michael Cuddyer. He should have a great season hitting in the Mile High, but with a pathetically non-existent starting rotation and a combined 300 years of experience (slight exaggeration) at first base between Todd Helton and Jason Giambi, the Rockies can expect to be at the bottom of the West. I am sure Troy Tulowitzki will be on the list for MVP once again but it will not be enough to salvage this season for Colorado. Record Prediction: 70-92
These are my thoughts a predictions for the National League in the upcoming 2012 season. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with what I have to say.