SPRING BASEBALL FEVER RETURNS
Well I don’t know about you but I’d take the winter we just had (thank you El Nino!) every year. It’s a good thing this past winter was mild because it kept baseball on the minds of legions of fans in our area. The 2015 MLB season, for New York-area fans, was unlike anything we’ve seen since 2000. The 2000 season, of course, was the last Subway Series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets. Last season was unique in that the promise and growth of the New York Mets “young guns” came to fruition while their counterparts in the Bronx flew under the radar due in part to their “old guns”. The best thing about it, neither was expected! Everyone expert had the Washington Nationals running away with the National League while many did not see the Yankees being anywhere near the playoff picture. As we prepare for yet another (long?) baseball season, not much has changed with our two local teams as far as expectations. The Mets, as we all know, made it to the World Series last year. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a Kansas City Royal team that’s been built for a decent championship run. After losing it in 2014, the Royals were almost destined to win in last season regardless of the Met’s young pitching. Whether a rematch occurs again this October or next, it is great for baseball to have the Royals and Mets in their version of the Big Dance. Both teams are the current blueprints on how to win. For the Yankees, 2015 was the start of their own transformation, their own renaissance of sorts. For many years, too many to count, the Bronx Bombers would try and buy their way to division titles, AL pennants and trips to the World Series. But recently, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have changed their script on how to get the Yankees back on top. With Greg Bird and Luis Severino, we Yankee fans are starting to see the fruits of this new business plan. Over the next two seasons, some of the dinosaur contracts that have led to their payroll being way above the luxury tax threshold will be finished (Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod). The influx of youth will continue this season with an eye on saving that max money for Bryce Harper in a couple of years. The future of baseball looks bright for the New York-area baseball fans. I’ll have my complete 2016 baseball predictions in next month’s issue!
Free Agency and Coughlin Stew
Former New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin cannot be a happy man right now. First, he finally acknowledges that the Mara’s and Tisch’s forced him out the door and that his resigning was not the mutual decision everyone assumed. Then, the Mara’s and Tisch’s open up their checkbooks BIG time to lure in all three of their offseason targets in former Miami DE Olivier Vernon, former Rams CB Jenoris Jenkins and former Jet NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Coughlin must be stewing, right? After all, look what his former GM Jerry Reese gave him as far as a defense the last couple of years when it was obvious he was fighting to keep his job. The Giants defense has been abysmal lately and while these signings (and the resigning to Jason Pierre-Paul) will certainly improve their D, they still have a ways to go. The team still hasn’t addressed the free safety position and overall team speed on defense. Offensively, the Giants still need a WR2 to compliment All-Everything Odell Beckham Jr. I wouldn’t hang anything on the resigning and pay-cut by Victor Cruz at this point. Anything the team can get from Cruz as far as production will be considered gravy since he’s missed most of the last two seasons
For the New York Jets fans, your whole pre-season will be judged on whether or not Woody Johnson and his management team can resign Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new contract. As of this writing, Fitzy seems intent on waiting to get more money added to the deal and see if another teams bids for his services. The Jets, on the other hand, have given his reps what they feel is a fair offer. Hey, Fitzpatrick will never be mistaken for Eli Manning but I said all along he was your best shot at winning and as it turns out, he was. The Jets are built to win now and with the signing of former Bears RB Matt Forte, the team needs stability at the QB position to make a run this season. Woody, give Fitzy a couple more million and go for it!!!!!
Bobby is the President of the I-95 Sports & Entertainment Network based in Northern New Jersey (www.i95sports.net) Follow him on Twitter: @bobbyblackjack or @i95sportsnet today!