Long Live a Legend

Long Live a Legend

John Madden, former head coach, and broadcaster in the National Football League has unexpectedly passed away on Tuesday at the age of 85. Born in Minnesota in April of 1936, Madden was the son of auto mechanic Earl, which is also his middle name, and Mary, his mother. His family moved to California where he attended Catholic Parochial School at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where he graduated in 1950. Madden was a football star in high school and even played in college whereafter he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 (#244), but never got the chance to play professionally after a knee injury in training camp.

In the professional game, Madden began coaching in the Raiders organization as linebacker coach in 1967, where he spent just some time before becoming Oakland’s head coach in 1969. As linebacker coach, he helped the Raiders to the then AFL Championship in 1967. After becoming head coach in ‘69, the Raiders went a masterful 12 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie throughout the regular season before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 in the AFL Championship game that year.

(Getty Images)
It wasn’t until 1976 that he tasted the glory of being Super Bowl Champion. Over that season, Madden led Oakland to a commanding 13 wins to only 1 loss on their route to lifting Super Bowl XI (11). Over his ten-year span as head coach, he finished with a 76% win rate, and overall statistics (playoffs and regular season) of 112 wins, 39 losses, and 7 ties.

Madden announced his retirement from coaching in January 1979 for health reasons linked with an ulcer, but that never kept him down as he was hired as a colour commentator by CBS Sports, where he worked for 14 years (1979-1993). He left the network for the simple reason that CBS lost the television rights for the NFL, and so he went to Fox Sports when the network gained the rights for NFC games in 1994. He spent seven years at FOX where they had to let him go out of financial constraint after a salary that made him earn more than any player of that time put losses on FOX’s plate. In 2002, one great met another as Madden teamed up with veteran play-by-play commentator Al Michaels on ABC’s Monday Night Football where he spent a few years.

(Pat Summerall and John Madden)
(Getty Images)
In 2005, Madden had his final on-screen broadcast job as colour commentator on NBC’s Sunday Night Football games, beginning in the 2006 season. Madden worked there for another couple of years, where his final broadcast was crazy Super Bowl number XLIII (43) featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals in February 2009. Later that year in April, Madden announced his retirement from the booth where he was replaced by Chris Collinsworth. Even retired from the game, he had his voice, opinions, and name in the making of the NFL’s video game “Madden NFL” published by EA Sports, creating a competition between players to be the best, or be on the cover of this quality game. John Madden, an icon that the world will miss.

The Grinchless G’Men

The Grinchless G’Men

There are many negative things we can talk about or attack on the Giants abysmal season this year. The awful offseason signing of Leonard Williams for 63 million or was it the Kenny Golladay contract for 72 million. How about there incompetence in not trading a worthless former first round pick like Evan Engram at the trade deadline; nope it gets worse! Maybe the slow growth of a franchise quarterback under a second year regime, that was destined for the Belichick greatness. How about a defense last year that was ranked in the top ten in the league falling to the back end of the league with a blink of an eye. Well Giant fans there are many definite positives moving forward towards the offseason that not even the Grinch can screw up.

The first positive thing Santa can bring to this once respectable franchise is, a general manager not named Dave Gettleman. Lets be honest his tenure with the Giants is not what we call a success story, since he has taken over the Giants they have not sniffed a playoff birth. So two optional gifts that the Giant fans would appreciate is either Scott Pioli a five time NFL executive of the year or maybe Louis Riddick a guy the Giants should of hired years ago for the GM position. It Looks like Joe Judge is going to get another shot for a 3rd season, so how about giving him a offensive coordinator with some swag like a Bill O’Brien that would be nice right? The Giant fans love Saquon Barkley but his injuries has affected his value and with his rookie contract coming to a end, is he worth the contract he will be asking for my answer to that would be a hell no!

The real gift Santa Gettleman will leave at his departure is a future that could hold two top ten picks in 2022, that can help turn this thing around alot quicker than we think. I believe with a young elite pass rusher like Purdue’s George Karlaftis and a Offensive Lineman like Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa, these moves can transform the Giants to that prominent and once respectable team that the league use to fear in the trenches but only time will tell.

My opinion is…

My opinion is…

It’s been about two months since I last had a thought. Wait, what? NO! It’s just been two months since I had time to write down a few thoughts about the local sports scene, and I guess anything in the sports scene that I’m thinking about.

Let’s start with the obvious: the New York Mets.

Last time I wrote about the Mets, I said that the organization was doing something wrong if they couldn’t acquire a team president. Steve Cohen changed my mind.

Steve Cohen is a very rich man, as every radio show host will repeatedly let you know. The other owners know this, and have been fucking with him in the only way that they can. “I don’t have your money, so you can’t have my stuff.” Agents fucked with him. Players fucked with him. Because he was playing nice and trying to fit in. He finally decided enough was enough.

Just like my home.

So what did Cohen do? Basically he said “The stuff I have? The players want.” And then he overpaid Starling Marte by roughly $20 million dollars. Then he offered a guy coming off of an injury tens of millions of dollars. And then the gut punch. The highest annually paid player was the New York Yankees Garret Cole. Was. The Mets offer to Max Scherzer – a future Hall of Fame pitcher who, while old, competed for a Cy Young last season- wasn’t just $5 more than the Cole deal. It wasn’t 1% more.


Folks, that is called a fuck you. And a game changer.

EVERY agent will come to the Mets with their free agents as a final offer. A deal with Samsung will transform Citi Field into an entertainment destination. The manager is not only not a brand new inexperienced manager, but a widely respected, player friendly one in Buck Showalter. And the general manager he hired was both experienced and mentored by a baseball legend in Gene Michael- Billy Eppler. You know, the guy that brought Shohei Ohtani to the majors? The guy that hired former Yankee Showalter?

I get the sense that Eppler isn’t done contacting former Yankees. Brian Cashman will be a free agent executive in December of 2022. He’s presently making $25 million. I get the sense that Cohen can make a better offer.

And I want to give a pat on the back to Eppler for this overlooked gem- sure, losing Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto hurts if you’re rooting for a player instead of the team. But by losing both Confotro- who seems to be good every other year, and Syndergaard- who has pitched a handful of innings over the last two years and will maybe throw 125 innings next year if he doesn’t get injured? The Mets gained two second round picks in this upcoming MLB draft. And with the Kumar Rocker fiasco? The Mets gained a compensatory first round pick. So 5 of the top 80 and 6 of the top 100 picks will belong to the Mets. Anyone want to know how to restock a farm system? Let inconsistent and injured players bring you high level picks and save you wanted money.

Gone are the days where the Mets are auditioning rookie major league managers. By the way, former Mets manager Rojas is now an outfielders coach for the Yankees. Outfielders coach.

I’ll add this- in October I offered to be the Mets GM. At this point, I will accept an assistant GM position.

The New York Yankees: Your Dad wouldn’t put up with this Mets shit!

Major League Baseball: Give the players what they want. When it comes to Labor vs Management situations, there are two truisms: Management will always fuck labor because management itself is inherently backstabbing as people, and labor asks for fairness which usually falls against backstabbers.

The Chicago Cubs saw their team value increase 400% in the last decade because PLAYERS won them a World Series.  Shouldn’t the owners reward the players with that new found $3 billion dollars? That the players made them? Yes, yes they should. The Wilpons sold the Mets for almost 7 times what they paid for it in a mere 20 years.

Also, paying players more doesn’t mean fans pay more. In the last 5 years, the average salary of baseball players has decreased. Have ticket prices?

The New York Rangers: Again, a good coach with a solid system can create a winning culture when surrounded with talented athletes.

The New York Islanders: A coach that works hard to emphasize defense at the point to stifle the offense has faith in Josh Bailey, who magically neither plays offense or defense. Something I learned in research this week- the more time you play Josh Bailey in a game, the statistically more likely you are to miss the playoffs.

The NHL: Maybe it’s time to go back to the 2019-2020 COVID playoff schedule, where everyone makes the playoffs? You screwed up early outbreaks, which benefits present COVID teams. My position is that if you can’t field a team, you should forfeit. But reality says that teams will roll out AHL caliber players and charge you NHL prices. Since you’ll fuck the fans at every turn, collapse the season and give each team a playoff birth. There’s not going to be an NHL player Olympics anyway, so let it fly.

The NFL: Have you seen the state of football in New York? Pretty good, right? Sure, a playoff bubble, but very likely a 10 win team.

But those guys in New Jersey are absolutely terrible. You need to have two pro leagues. One for the good teams, and one for teams trying to get there. Like European soccer.

The NBA: you have the most complicated salary cap in sports. You have a $113 million salary cap. One team follows that. ONE. Five teams are 50% above the cap. Sure it’s a soft cap. But if you have 29 teams ignoring the cap? You need to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement into reality.

The New York Knicks: Last year was fun because you were hard nosed and tough. Then you added soft players in free agency, drafted strong players that you refuse to play, and wonder why you’re losing. You lost your way.

The Brooklyn Nets: You’re not winning a title. Too old, too much Kyrie. Thank you for signing those guys so that the Knicks didn’t look even more dysfunctional.

Your game is flat.

Alright folks. I’m switching from writing to reading: next up, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Hopefully Buck will hand it out to the players.   

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…

For the past two seasons, the New York Islanders fell short of competing in the Stanley Cup Finals, the ultimate goal of every kid playing hockey in the Western Hemisphere, and expanding eastward. For the past two seasons, the Islanders pushed the eventual Stanley Cup Champions to a game 6, and then a game seven. In the seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning? Game seven was decided by one goal. Lets talk about that season ending goal.

Long story short: Islanders power play. Bailey goes to puck instead of covering his assignment. Assignment gets puck and scores season ending goal against the Islanders.

It wasn’t an overtime, game ending goal. No, the Islanders kept slogging Bailey out there and very predictably, Bailey would not contribute to scoring a goal, absolutely refusing to put the puck past Tampa’s netminder, Andrei Vasilevsky. How do I know? He only took one shot all game. Which to be fair is an above average effort. Maybe Bailey knows about a two point line in hockey that no one else knows about? 


Was Bailey’s 7 game output of one goal the worst on the Islanders? No, not at all. Mostly because Leo Komarov was ruining line one’s offense singlehandedly. But when Cal Clutterbuck outscores you? Or Adam Pelech? When Scott Mayfield and Matt Martin have as many goals as Bailey? Woof.

When we talk about Bailey sucking for the start of the season, this isn’t a new topic. It’s as predictable as tides, Haley’s Comet, and New York Jets losses.

Ten percent of a season is obviously not a season. Around 16 games you can start to see trends with more clarity. But 30% of finished games is a sample of work you can compare against, oh, I don’t know, 13 other seasons. It’s not exactly hard to point out trends that have gone on for over a decade.

For instance, for his entire career, when the Islanders offense was rolling, Bailey had more points. When the Islanders offense was stagnant? Bailey had less points. On the surface, that seems obvious. But on a deeper dive?

Sometimes players contribute despite the record of the team. Sometimes a player has statistics where ‘they made others around themselves better. And then you get the Josh Bailey’s of the world.

It is not hard to see, when the Islanders score goals, Bailey gets points. And when the Islanders don’t score goals, Bailey doesn’t get points. Playmakers create points. I would think you would be hard pressed to say that Mat Barzal does not generate offense. I think you would be hard pressed to say that Islander era John Scumbag Tavares generated no offense.

In Bailey’s outlier year of 71 points- which can be broken into two seasons: the 3 months where he scored 50 points, and the 4 months where he scored 21 in the same season- Anders Lee scored 40 goals. Has Lee scored 40 again? No. What’s the difference?

The difference is that the center that Lee benefitted from that season almost scored 40 goals also, but now plays in Toronto. And the other wing on that line? He’s is often on a line with Lee. And when you combine those two? Lee rarely scores. 

The one thing Bailey is good at is the one thing you want him to fail doing

Lee specializes in stuffing in rebounds from guys that shoot. Bailey has what, 18 shots on the season? Not exactly helping Anders out there, are ya Josh?

21 games.7 games without a single shot on goal.  A plus for six games, even for seven, minus in eight, including spectacularly being a minus in a six goal game where the Islanders won by four. A game where only ONE of Montreals two goals could have counted as a minus. Guess who was on the ice?

To start the season, line two was not producing goals, and was a minus across the board for everyone. Coach Barry Trotz flipped wingers. Did he take the hot scoring Oliver Whalstrom and promote him to the second line? No, why would he do that? Trotz for some reason sees Whalstrom differently than the rest of the NHL and Islander fans see him. Passing over a healthy Whalstrom in the playoffs last season to play Leo Komarov was absolutely the wrong decision to make. Does Komarov prevent goals? Somewhat. Does Komarov produce goals? Absolutely not. So unless you want to win zero to negative one? You don’t play Komarov over Whalstrom on line one.

Trotz flipped Bailey for underachieving Palmieri on the first two lines? The result? Line two blossomed and everyone became a plus. And line one? Two goals in the first few weeks that Bailey joined the unit. As a positive, one was by Bailey, who is now on a pace for 4 goals on the season, instead of zero. On line one.

Lou made moves to clear cap space for a playoff run, if the team even can make one at this point. The Islanders have needs in their top 4 defense and in top 6 forwards. Assuming Lou addresses this as he has done in the recent past? There needs to be a move made to redefine the top six. Which is great, because for the past 13 season, no team with Josh Bailey in their top six has won a Stanley Cup. And no team with Josh Bailey in their top six will ever win a Stanley Cup.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the greatest move that the Islanders can pull to make the playoffs? Trade Josh Bailey.

What would a return on Bailey look like? Less than any other recent Isles trade. Bailey’s maybe getting you a 3rd round pick, even from a magician like Lou. But the REAL magic on a Bailey trade would be moving all $5 million off of the teams book over the next two seasons, and in making space in the present season as well.

The Islanders “Identity Line” was a vastly overpaid 4th line that used to play aggressive hockey. If you moved Bailey to a third line job? You’re looking at over $10 million to roll out the third line. That’s absurd.

Then there’s the time on ice that Bailey eats. Bailey is playing the second highest average time on ice in his career tied with his 201-18 season. Did the Islanders make the playoffs in 2017-18? No, no they did not.  BTW, the year Bailey averaged the highest time on ice for his career, which was 2016-17? Yeah, the Islanders missed the playoffs that year, too. Sometimes two things can happen independently- correlation. And sometimes one thing leads to another- causation. I’d argue that by giving Bailey more time on ice, you are asking to lose. Data backs that up.

The 4th highest average time on ice for Bailey? Isles missed the playoffs that year, too. So you keep these almost 18 minute nights up for Bailey, and you will miss the playoffs.

My point here? Trading away Bailey gives you a benefit in production. Keifer Bellows has twice as many goals as Bailey in half the games played and with 40% of Bailey’s time on ice in those games.

Am I advocating for giving Bellows more playing time? Yes, yes I am. And the best avenue to do that is to trade Bailey.  Same goes for the logic of finding playing time for the blossoming before your eyes Oliver Whalstrom. And for creating cap space. And for maybe getting some form of low level draft asset added to help grow your organization. These are all positives.

But keeping 17:53 a night of Josh Bailey? You’re going to miss the playoffs. Causation.

Cultural Reset?

Cultural Reset?

Theodore Whitmore (Photo from the Gleaner)
On Thursday, December 9th, 2021, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) decided to relieve, now former head coach, Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore of his role at the national team. Personally, this decision was made too late as Tappa should have gone before the World Cup Final Qualifiers. Seeing the likes of Mexico, Canada, and the United States with the squads they have and the qualified, and experienced coaching that they have, the JFF should’ve pulled the trigger a lot sooner.

Coach Whitmore does have his positives as he is the 2nd winningest coach in the country’s history (52) behind the only man to steer the black, green, and gold ship to the World Cup, Rene Simoes (55). He was always used as a man to steady the ship, what he’s capable of doing, but anything more is not what he is about. Also, he won the Caribbean Cup in his first stint as head coach in 2010 and was runners-up to a very good Mexico side in the 2017 Gold Cup.

Where it gets bad is the ineptness of his tactics. This is not 1998 anymore, playing side-to-side and hitting a ball over the top does not work in today’s football. You wouldn’t even see it at the Preparatory level of football. Every game it’s the same 4-4-2, long ball downfield, sit behind and hop for some individual brilliance to bail him out. When this happened in the early 2000s it was okay because the team was not that well put together, but with the players now it is a crime against football. Players who are playing some of their best football in Europe such as West Ham United striker Michail Antonio, Sporting Charleroi forward Shamar Nicholson (10 goals in 12 games), consistent starters when fit like Leon Bailey at Aston Villa, Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock, and even Fulham’s Bobby Decordova-Reid, they are not used to the basic style of play.

Interim Head Coach Paul Hall (Sportsmax)
The search for a permanent manager is on but for now, the interim manager will be former assistant to Whitmore and another player from ‘98 Paul Hall. Another mistake. Hall has been there since Jerome Waite was removed from the assistant role in the past year, and the play style, fitness, and morale have been exposed. The JFF won’t want to make a similar mistake of hiring another person because of one tournament when he has no qualifications. They also do not wanna have an egg on their face in hiring arguably the best tactical coach in Jamaica after the way they treated him; and yes, I am speaking about Jerome Waite. So seeing they will not want to suck up to him and prove we were all right about the management, they better make a World Class appointment, and who better than another former player: Darren Moore.

Darren Moore came to the coaching scene as interim manager at West Bromwich Albion in 2018 when, even though they were destined for relegation, nearly pulled off the great escape, even beating 2nd placed Manchester United 1-0. He was then appointed later that year in May after relegation to the Championship. When the season began they were undoubtedly favorites to win the Championship. Moore was dismissed while they were 4th in the league table in March 2019.

Darren Moore while at Sheffield Wednesday (SkySports)
Following his dismissal from the Baggies, in the same summer of 2019, he became the head coach of Doncaster Rovers in League One. He began well at the South Yorkshire club going unbeaten in his first six, prior to a 1-0 loss against Blackpool. Since we all know how sports transpired from March 2020, the league was voided and a points-per-game calculation was done to conclude the season, meaning Moore’s Rovers finished 9th. While at the Rovers, he was “one step” from joining Barnsley in October 2020 after Gerhard Struber was relieved of his duties at the club before Valerien Ismael was named permanent boss.

In March 2021, Moore left Doncaster after seeing his side win all league games in January, and being nominated for manager of the month. He was courted and left for Sheffield Wednesday who at the time were in the relegation zone of the Championship. Long story short, he could not perform the great escape. The club from Sheffield is now in League One (currently 8th) seven points off first place. His great work was noticed when he was nominated for manager of the month for November, collecting eleven out of a possible fifteen points, and remaining unbeaten.

Darren Moore at West Brom (English Football League)
Moore would be an outstanding move as he brings a sense of calmness in regards to his playstyle as a manager, and with the talent in the team, a late World Cup charge may be on the cards. The 47-year-old would implement his style of play unto the team which devises a possession-based team, one on the front foot that is always creative in play and thinking. He would also get the desire of the team through the ceiling as you could see the dejected players during the latter stages of Whitmore’s reign. Are the JFF going to make the sensible decision and get an international, experienced coach who knows what Jamaica is about? Is Michael Ricketts competent enough to make that decision or is he still looking to appoint “yes men”? Let’s see…..