Rangers Fans Back on their Feet at the Garden

Rangers Fans Back on their Feet at the Garden

Let’s look past Sunday’s loss for a moment.  Friday night brought us more than just a regular season game in February at Madison Square Garden.  The Rangers welcomed fans back into The World’s Most Famous Arena for the first time since March 7, 2020.  With 1,800 fans in the stands, the Blueshirts put on a Broadway-worthy performance.

Facing off against the Stanley Cup contender Bruins, the Rangers seemed to not fear the team that had already swept them in a two-game series earlier in the month.  After stemming the tide in the early minutes, New York’s offense went to work.

Julien Gauthier fired a shot through traffic which was deflected in by Phil Di Giuseppe to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead.  It also gave fans a chance to do something they had not done in almost a year: cheer from the stands instead of their couch. 

But this is the Bruins we are talking about.  Odds are not in your favor that you will carry a 1-0 advantage all the way home.  Less than two minutes later, the Rangers appeared destined to go up a deuce thanks to highly touted rookie Alexis Lafrenière.  Cutting in on the backhand, Lafrenière tried to score on Tuukka Rask where grandma puts the cookies but just missed off the crossbar.

This was the most important part of the game for the first overall pick.  The 19-year old could have gotten in his own head and been invisible the rest of the night.  Instead, he was quite the opposite.

As the game moved into period two, Lafrenière dished a precise pass through the entire Bruins’ defense over to Ryan Strome.  Strome went short side on Rask to put the Rangers up two as Lafrenière earned his first career apple.  I guess the rookie just wanted to wait until fans were back in the stands to get his first assist by saucing a perfect pass.

Unphased, the Bruins came right down the ice 90 seconds later as Patrice Bergeron cut the Rangers’ lead in half.  The young Rangers bent, but they did not break.  Boston’s seventh-ranked power play was poised to tie it with an opportunity thanks to a roughing call on Brendan Lemieux.  New York’s seventh-ranked penalty kill got the job done and winded the clock towards the second intermission with the lead still in hand.

With 78 seconds remaining in the middle period, the Rangers got a power play of their own after Nick Ritchie tripped Brendan Smith.  Before fans could process the power play chance, Adam Fox, who has been worth those two second-round picks, shot a rocket tipped in by Colin Blackwell.  At this moment, a sense of normalcy was felt.  Sam Rosen excitedly announcing, “It’s a power play goal!” with fans cheering in the background is the sweet sound Rangers fans had been longing to hear.  Pure jubilation.  

But wait there’s more.  Before fans could sit down, Chris Kreider, who should keep playing the piano, kept them standing 12 seconds later by firing a shot off Charlie McAvoy’s skate and in. The goal was Kreider’s fourth since his pregame piano show in Philadelphia on Wednesday, spanning five periods of hockey.

Taking a 4-1 lead into the final frame, the Rangers put the icing on the cake with tallies from Pavel Buchnevich and Jonny Brodzinski.  Rangers fans had waited 356 days to watch their beloved Blueshirts take the ice, and the Rangers did not disappoint toppling the Bruins 6-2.

For those wondering, 356 days before Friday’s contest, the Rangers lost to the Devils 6-4.  Not a last memory Rangers fans wanted before the pandemic.  The bright side?  The Rangers’ last win in front of the Garden Faithful came two days earlier when Mika Zibanejad potted five goals including the overtime winner in a 6-5 win over the Capitals.  358 days between games, but back-to-back victorious performances with a six-goal output for the Boys in Blue.

But best of all from Friday was no score or stat.  Friday night was about the fans.  And for the first time in almost a full calendar year, Rangers fans were on their feet at the Garden once again.   

Let’s Talk Jets Fans

There is one group of people on this planet (In the sports world, don’t cancel me) that has dealt with more adversity, more heartbreak, and more suffering than nearly any other group in the world: Jets fans. Seriously folks, Jets fans have endured being the brunt of the joke for decades. We have had incompetent leadership for decades. We have had terrible coaching for decades, with bright spots here and there that never last. We have had 2 franchise QB’s since Namath in O’Brien and Pennington, but injuries ultimately ended Pennington’s reign in New York. We Jets fans have been kicked around, laughed at, ridiculed and dismissed for 51 years. Is there any wonder why Jets fans are now terrified of success? Yes, I said what I said people, but hear me out here. I personally enjoy several Jets fan Facebook groups and for the most part, I enjoy going into those groups and having the best conversations ever with my fellow Jets brethren. But we all know, every now and then, we see the fan that simply can’t accept when it is time to pull the plug on a particular player or what trade should be made. These people suffer from a fear of greatness because we haven’t had it ever as Jets fans really. We have one Super Bowl win, nothing we can really call sustained greatness so who could expect the average Jets fan to know how to behave here? And though I disagree with this particular group of fans, they are Jets fans nonetheless and are worthy of being my Recon Mission today for Weapons Hot. These fans are fiercely loyal to particular players, almost to the point where they are player fans over team fans. Sam Darnold has such a cabal of followers. And why not? Darnold is a good human being. Humble and respectable. But he very much has his issues on the field. And I’m not talking about coaching or surrounding talent. I am talking about Sam Darnold issues. We all know what they are so I am not getting into that for this article. But nevertheless, the Darnold faithful run to his aid any time there is a doubter speaking up. But these fans need to understand when enough is enough. That the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back. The fact of the matter is, the Jets need a new answer at QB and it needs to happen now. Not next year, not strike 4, now. I’m speaking to these fans here, my friends, in the immortal words of CJ DeSimone, the Jets need to start making big boy football decisions. That means we need to spend some draft capital on a QB. That means we need to spend some cap space for an edge rusher or an IOL. That means we have to cut the fat like Alex Lewis, Greg Van Roten, Henry Anderson, Sam Darnold. It hurts but these pieces don’t fit our Jets puzzle. And if we are going to put this puzzle together efficiently, quickly and with quality, we have to make hard decisions. More importantly, you can’t make these decisions based on fear. I’ve read comments saying “What if we trade all these picks for Watson and he gets hurt?” or “What if we trade Darnold and he goes somewhere and balls out?!” My answer: So?! Who cares if Darnold does well somewhere else? I WANT that for him. And yes, injuries are always a risk, but if you GM based on injury possibility, you will NEVER succeed. We are the most passionate fans in the world. We are the fiercest group of insane fans that any team in any sport has ever seen. And I mean every last one of us. No disrespect to any of the fans I have spoken about today, you are no less a fan than I am, but you need to open your mind more to what the team needs to do. At the end of the day, we all want what we feel is best for the team and we need to have these disagreements and fights about what exactly that path is. It’s how we find common ground and expose each other to new ideas and new mindsets. I may not change your mind, you may not change mine, but we now know more of where the other is coming from and we grow as a family that way. So let me say, this article needed to be said, but it is in no way me showing a lack of respect for anyone’s opinions or Jets positions. Stay Green Jets family!
Dominic Smith Deserves Daily Devotion

Dominic Smith Deserves Daily Devotion

The 2021 season is upon us and it is an exciting time to be a fan of the New York Mets. New owner Steve Cohen and his staff have greatly improved the roster in just one offseason. I could name a long list of new faces, but I will just say Francisco Lindor and you can go from there. But it is important to remember the pieces the Mets already had in place before Cohen took over. One of those valuable pieces to the puzzle is Dominic Smith, who needs to see his name in the lineup card every day this season.

Smith was a shining star for the Mets in their abbreviated season, slashing .316 in 50 games with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. More impressively, Smith batted .333 with runners in scoring position which put a band-aid on the Mets’ struggles with ducks on the pond. Had there been a 2020 All-Star Game, Smith surely would have received plenty of votes to play at Dodger Stadium in mid-July. The 2013 11th overall pick hit his stride, and a lot of baseballs, in 2020.

Joining Smith and the Mets’ lineup in 2021 will be Lindor, who gives the lineup a whole new look in the middle of the order. With the likes of Lindor, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso around him, Smith has the opportunity to be a part of quite a Mets lineup, possibly the team’s best since the 97-win Mets in 2006. PECOTA projects this season’s Amazins in that same ballpark with 95.5 wins and a first-place finish to boot.

The only thing potentially holding back Smith’s playing time? His defense.

Primarily a first baseman, Smith is not the most mobile of Mets. Of course, you cannot bench Alonso for Smith to play first base every day, so this is where improvising has and will come into play. Mets fans have seen Smith in the outfield with some good and some bad moments, but Smith has seen improvement and increased playing time in left field by the year. 2019 saw Smith make three errors in the outfield in 33 games. Fast forward to 2020 in Smith’s 50 total games, he played 23 of them in left field, and made not a single error.

The other positive? Smith has Luis Rojas back as manager which is more important than it may appear. Before being named Mets manager, Rojas managed Smith in multiple minor league affiliates. To help Smith lose weight, Rojas had an intern film Smith walking around the dugout and field. The future Mets star was embarrassed by what was on tape and the rest is history.

Along with Smith, Rojas worked his way up the organization, becoming the team’s quality control coach in 2019. If I recall correctly, that was the same year we saw the emergence of a certain Mets rookie who rightfully commandeered the first base job. Thus, Smith was sent to the outfield under the astute mentorship of Rojas.

Entering his fifth season in the big leagues, Smith is now a young leader on this revamped Mets roster. Think back to last season for a second. When the Mets needed a big hit, Smith was one Met you wanted to see in the batter’s box. Eight of Smith’s 42 RBI last season came with two outs. That is 19% of his season’s RBI and that is the type of production the Mets need in their lineup daily.

Perhaps the biggest key of all for Smith is to keep the ball off the ground. Although he only hit at a .127 clip on ground balls, Smith smashed .743 on line drives and .548 on fly balls last season. As baseball continues to become more and more centered around home run or bust, the 29 other teams would be in a tizzy to have Smith’s bat in their lineup. The Mets, who are only paying Smith $2.55M in 2021, should be licking their chops to get him in the everyday lineup.

Spring Training has begun, and a lot of noise out of Mets camp is about the new ownership and possible extensions for upcoming free agents Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor. Let’s put that aside for a moment and appreciate Dominic Smith. A home-grown talent who has the bat and the heart it takes to win in the big leagues. Fans should be excited to see Dominic Smith in 2021, even if Citi Field is at limited capacity. Because let’s remember, the last time fans were at Citi Field, Dominic Smith delivered a magical moment.

AEW open to partnership with WWE?

AEW open to partnership with WWE?

Recently AEWs president Tony khan explained to media that he welcomes the WWE with open arms anytime they want to do business. This gives the WWE a chance to grow and possibly exchange their superstars with AEW. For a long time the WWE has been looked at as the Single major wrestling organization in the world. With AEW partnering with NJPW and impact wrestling, WWE and Vince McMahon have to be willing to sit down and talk with AEW and it’s officials and realize that they are not the only major promotion out there.This partnership may not happen but it does give wrestling fans the sense of “What if?” and the endless possibilities that could come from it such as Kenny Omega VS Roman Reigns or Darby allin VS Jeff Hardy and it would be beneficial for the WWE who’s ratings have continued to fluctuate and drop for the past few years. These Ideas could turn WWE from the less watched product to the most watched if they were to take place. Only Vince McMahon and the WWE must be willing to make that decision.

Which Bullet Club is More Unique? NJPWs or AEWs?

Which Bullet Club is More Unique? NJPWs or AEWs?

The bullet club has been around for as long as I can Remember. With AEW introducing the good brothers Doc Gallows and Carl Anderson to pair them up with Kenny Omega adds another question into the mix. Which bullet club is better? Jay white and Evil of NJPW claim to be the leaders of The Bullet club but it’s never been addressed or decided as to who runs the place over in Japan. To me as a wrestling fan and as a person who’s watched New Japan more I would say that Their bullet club is more unique and fun to watch because they have already an established group. This group already has some sense of popularity and AEWs bullet club is just getting started but it doesn’t take away from thier talents in the ring. Both sides of the bullet club have unmatched skill and power when it comes to performances. Only time will tell when AEWs bullet club will come face to face with NJPWs now that there is a partnership in place but when it does happen it will be amazing to see what takes place creatively and who gets the upper hand.

Is AD missing time actually a blessing in disguise for LeBron’s legacy?

Is AD missing time actually a blessing in disguise for LeBron’s legacy?

According to sources, Lakers star Forward Anthony Davis will be missing at least 2-3 weeks after aggravating his right Achilles in Sunday nights loss vs the Denver Nuggets. It is no secret to what kind of fire power Davis brings to the Lakers. But lets state the obvious, the Lakers are no title contenders without Davis in the line up. But with that being said, as long as Davis is back by postseason time regardless of how much of the regular season he misses, this is a blessing in disguise for LeBron’s legacy. As ridiculous as that sounds, let me explain how much this can impact LeBron.

We know in the NBA this is a players league and it is all about the superstars, their legacies, and narratives. Ever since June 19th, 2016, James has been compared to Michael Jordan in terms of the GOAT debate in every way possible. The way he walks, the way he talks, what he does on the court, what he does off the court, pretty much every antic James makes. When we talk about the GOAT debate, the ring argument is the casual fans favorite argument which Jordan has six to James’ four. If Davis is not available during the postseason that pretty much eliminates any aspirations of the Lakers hoisting their 18th banner and James getting his 5th ring. Regardless if Davis is with the Lakers or not in the postseason and the Lakers do not win the championship this will negatively impact LeBron’s legacy because no matter what the circumstances are, LeBron is expected to deliver. But here is the catch, James is currently the favorite to hoist his 5th MVP trophy which would tie Jordan in terms of regular season MVP’s and this is where Davis missing time can help LeBron lock up league MVP.

The Regular Season MVP award is all about narratives, and Davis missing time is just another narrative LeBron has on his side. The Lakers currently sit at the 2 seed of the Western Conference at 22-7 and James is averaging 25.7 PPG, 8.2 RBG, and 7.9 APG on 50.4% from the field and 38% from 3 point range and lets not forget to mention he has played all 29 games this year. James can stuff the stat sheet better than any player this league has ever seen and will always be a top MVP candidate and for the first time in a long time, James has many narratives on his side to help his case to win MVP. James is 36 years old in year 18 coming fresh off a Finals MVP after a 72 day turn around beginning the 2020-2021 season, so for James being this late in his career would be a remarkable achievement defeating father time. With Davis out of the line up for an extended period of time, this an opportunity for James to inflate his numbers even more than they are, increase his minutes and usage and he has to carry an even heavier load than he did with Davis by his side. If the Lakers can remain at the top of the Western Conference with Davis missing time behind James stuffing the stat sheet, that will be the icing on the cake for LeBron James to hoist his 5th MVP, in year 18, at age 36, and tie his idol with 5 MVP trophies.