Making Sense of the Senseless Jeremy Lin Situation

Well, if you turn to any national media source, you would be led to believe that Jeremy Lin has already bought a nice Houston home, and is looking forward to beginning training camp with the Rockets alongside, well, nobody. Although the Knicks have made a move to acquire point guard Ray Felton, Lin’s one-way ticket out of New York has not been punched yet, and if you try to use any ounce of common sense you have left after this NBA offseason, you’d realize that letting Lin walk wouldn’t make any sense at all.

Come to think of it, no part of this whole situation has made much sense from the very start. Ever since Coach Mike Woodson’s first days at the helm of the team, he’s been lukewarm-at-best on Lin. Peep this quote from May 10th:

“Will he start? Only time will tell. He’s had some success in our league where he’s played at a high level, and he’s done a lot of nice things for our ballclub.”

Not overly embracing words from Woodson. Fast forward to the acquisition of Jason Kidd, however, and Woodson seemed to have pulled a 180.

“Jeremy was our starter before he got hurt. Unfortunately he went down with the injury and he’s not going to be punished for that. He has a lot to do this summer. But when he comes back to veterans, he’ll have the first nod. He’ll be our starter, and Jason will back him up in terms of helping him develop and developing this young man into a great point guard.”

An interesting change of heart. But was it? Or was this simply a charade put on by the Knicks organization?

Jeremy Lin was gifted to the Knicks for practically nothing. Re-gifting, especially in this situation, is very bad.

After giving up significant pieces to acquire Felton, the latter seems more and more like reality. But why give these false endorsements? Why act as if the Knicks’ long-term option at point guard will be Jeremy Lin, when he’s already packing his bags?

On the other side of things, if Woodson’s words were sincere, why in the world would Raymond Felton agree to return to the Knicks as a 3rd point guard? Felton is coming off a rather miserable season, but he would presumably garner some interest as a first guard off the bench from some team. Was his desire to return to the Garden stronger than his desire to play meaningful NBA minutes?

Would the Knicks lie to Felton’s camp, and give the impression that Lin is a goner, only to match Houston’s offer? That seems a little shady to be NBA business. What also seems a little on the suspicious side, is hiding from Rockets officials who were sent to physically deliver Lin’s offer sheet, to buy themselves time to decide on whether to match or not. (League rules require the offer sheet to be physically delivered. The receiving team has three days upon receipt to reach a decision.)

Aside from the murkiness of the act, why would the Knicks need to buy themselves time if they’ve already decided not to match. They know the numbers. Do they really need the 3+ days to go over language? Presumably no.

As has been widely publicized, Houston’s offer to Lin is a “poison pill” deal. Under the Gilbert Arenas Rule, teams may only offer the league average salary ($5M) in contract year one, to players with less than two years of service time. They are due for a small raise in year two. Year three, though, bears no restrictions on salary. This is why the structure of Lin’s deal is:

Year 1: $5 million

Year 2: $5.25 million

Year 3: $14.8 million

The key for the Knicks here, and the reason Houston structured the offer this way, is that in the third year of the deal, the Knicks would have Amar’e Stoudemire ($23,410,988), Carmelo Anthony ($23,530,000), Tyson Chandler ($14,596,888), and Lin ($14,800,000) on their books for a combined $76 million. Teams start paying the luxury tax once they exceed $70 million. After considering all luxury tax penalties that will be in effect by 2014, Jeremy Lin’s $25 million contract would end up costing $43 million out of James Dolan’s pockets.

This is supposed to be the factor that steers the Knicks away.

The Knicks, who shelled out $60 million each to Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford, $30 million to Jared Jeffries and Jerome James, and paid a 30-year-old Steve Francis over $20 million for a season and a half, are supposed to be scared out of a deal because of paying a luxury tax.

But there’s always the basketball argument. That is, that the Knicks truly think that Felton at $4.5million/year is of better value than Lin’s new deal. This argument would only lead you to believe that Isiah Thomas is still calling the shots behind the disguise of Glen Grunwald.

Raymond Felton has been a mediocre-at-best player since his arrival in the NBA in 2005, aside from a 54 game stretch under Mike D’Antoni two seasons ago. What’s not funny, but infuriating about the whole thing, is that the argument from a group of decided NBA fans is that it would be silly to hand Lin reigns to the team after 35 games, when the Knicks would essentially be paying Felton off his 54 games as a good point guard in New York.

Felton showed he could be a good point guard during his prime years during his stint in New York. He showed scoring and defending ability, however was incredibly inept at executing a simple pick-and roll.

Lin showed that he could be a good point guard at 23 years of age, in essentially his rookie year. His pick-and-rolls were up to par with the best in the game, considering he had the offensive wizards, Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler, as his partners. His shooting caught everyone by surprise; he was among the league leaders in pull-up jump shot percentage. His defense was active, but not stellar. Take into account that he was carrying all of New York City on his shoulders, and Felton’s Knick tenure is more or less irrelevant.

Take away Lin’s half-season in New York and you have nothing. Take away Felton’s half-season in New York and you have six-and-a-half years of mediocrity. Neither would be offered more than a minimum salary if it wasn’t for their New York body of work. So to those of you who detest paying Lin off his body of work, you must consider the same for Felton.

The addition of Felton does not necessarily mean the demise of Linsanity, as several news sources are guilty of assuming. The Knicks have a need at shooting guard while Iman Shumpert recovers from a torn ACL. Instead of taking a chance on the so-so guards left on the free agent market, Woodson could run out lineups with Lin and Felton sharing time at point guard, with Jason Kidd at the other guard– a position he found himself in often last season in Dallas. Lin’s scoring ability leaves him as an option to play at the wing as well, and let Felton, Kidd, or even Pablo Prigioni run the point. The addition of Felton actually compliments the Knicks guard needs pretty well, as long as Lin is still in blue and orange laundry.

There are so many questions that are up in the air right now, but if when it’s all said and done, James Dolan passes on a 23-year-old point guard who carried a team of scrubs on a season-changing winning streak (in Stoudemire and Anthony’s absence), in favor of pinching his wallet shut for the first time in his excruciating incumbency as owner, then it may finally be time to put this monster to rest.

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NBA Free Agency 2012: New York Knicks

We’re about 25 hours deep into the frenzy that is NBA Free Agency, and it’s already spewed out more reports and rumors than any fan can handle, so let’s get right into it.

The Knicks’ first priority is clearly Steve Nash. A farfetched pipe dream, it seemed merely a day or so ago, has turned into a very real and interesting option for New York. For months, the national and local media had everyone believing that all the Knicks could offer Nash would be their $3 million Mid-Level Exception, and their July 1st conversation would go something like this:

GM Glen Grunwald: “So Steve, we’d really love for you to join our squad and be the missing piece so we can compete for a championship.”

Nash: “Me too.”

GG: “Our offer to you is $3 million per year for three years.”

Nash: “OK, bye.”

But early Sunday, reports emerged from all walks of the internet that Phoenix has interest in Knicks guard Landry Fields, which opened the door for a sign-and-trade.

In such a deal, the Knicks could swap Fields (who’d sign for his $2.7 million Qualifying Offer the Knicks extended to him on Wednesday), Toney Douglas, cash considerations, and the non-guaranteed contracts that belong to Jerome Jordan and Dan Gadzuric. The $3 million in cash sent by New York would basically cover the cost of Douglas’ contract, so consider Phoenix getting him for free. The Suns could then waive Jordan and Gadzuric at no cost to them, opening two roster spots. I haven’t heard any speculation of this, nor have any confirmation that this is allowed under the new CBA, but including the draft rights to recent draft pick Kostas Papanikolaou could help entice Phoenix as well.

The combined salary of the package Grunwald would send out to the desert would be $6.82 million. As per new CBA rules, teams are allowed to receive back the same value they send out, plus 150% + $100,000. So $6.82 x 1.5 + 100,000 = 10.3, meaning the Knicks would be able to receive back a $10.3 million player.

This ~$10.3/year contract that the Knicks can potentially offer to the Suns would compete with the reported 3 year/ $36 million offer that the Toronto Raptors sent Nash’s way on day one of Free Agency. Consider the basketball situations of both teams, the fact that Nash has made his summer home in NYC for the past decade or so, and (if you wanna get ticky-tack) the greater income tax in Toronto than in New York, even the most Canadian bone in Nash’s body would be halfway through the Garden entrance.

It’s simply a matter of whether or not Suns GM Lance Blanks would pull the trigger.

This is essentially the only method of losing Nash that hauls a return for Phoenix, rather than just losing him outright. A package structured around Landry Fields may not be the sexiest group of names to show off to your fans, but one would suspect that getting some sort of return would be better in Blanks’ eyes than letting Nash walk for free. Also, it would be in good faith for the Suns to do their best to place Nash in the most realistic option possible to get him his hardware.

Fields isn’t exactly coming off a historic season, but keep in mind the better of his two seasons was played under an up-tempo system, similar to the one the Suns run. Fields made All-Rookie first team that season.

For the Knicks, adding Nash would be pretty horrible news for the rest of the Atlantic division. Pairing Nash with Amar’e Stoudemire to rekindle some of that old fire they started out West could be just what Amar’e needs at this point in his career. Don’t forget about the newly motivated All-Star small forward who just witnessed his career-long rival win his first championship, either. Nash coming to New York would also provide him with a second job: a mentor to developing star Jeremy Lin– not a bad guy for Lin to mold his game after.. Also, Nash starting at point guard would push Lin to the second team– a team possibly consisting of Lin, JR Smith, Steve Novak, and Jared Jeffries. Mobb Deep II.

Update: There have been reports in the last hour that have pointed out that the Knicks may not necessarily match a back-loaded offer made to Lin by teams such as Toronto, Dallas, or the Nets. I fully expect Lin back on the Garden floor to begin next year and these reports are nothing more than speculation at this point. Especially after the “Bird Rights” hearing that clogged our Twitter feeds for the past month, the Knicks are confident they will be able to resign Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash or no Steve Nash.

The Steve Nash situation will be the first domino to fall this offseason. We can expect a decision in the coming days.

It’s also important to note that if the Knicks obtain Nash via sign-and-trade, they’d still have their $3 million MLE in their pocket to spend on important role players.

The Knicks also checked up on an old friend, Ray Felton, on Sunday. If Nash spurs New York for Toronto, Phoenix, Dallas, or Brooklyn, Felton would be another option to back up Jeremy Lin at the 1. Felton failed to impress in a non-D’Antoni offense last season in Portland, but his return could spark the pick-and-roll combo that helped throne Amar’e Stoudemire king of New York.

Jason Kidd is also expected to receive a call from Grunwald and his team some time this week.

Outside of the point guard position, the Knicks need a legitimate shooting guard. JR Smith is no lock to return, and even with a new contract in New York, Smith is best designed for a limited-minutes role (see Round 1, 2012 NBA Playoffs). Ray Allen is currently coveted by a few teams, receiving formal offers from Memphis (full $5 million MLE) and Miami (full $3 million MLE). Boston’s interest in re-signing Allen is unclear this early in the game.

The Nuggets declined to extend Rudy Fernandez his Qualifying Offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Fernandez would be a great asset off the bench, or possibly even starting until Iman Shumpert returns from injury. Fernandez would help the Knicks on the offensive end, where they especially struggled last season.

An area in which they excelled in 2011-12, however, was defense. The Knicks are on a list of teams Marcus Camby is considering, which would only help bolster their strong front line.

Phew. Am I missing anything? Probably. New reports have probably emerged in the time I took to write this up. Oh well, any major developments will be provided either in an update below or in a new post entirely.

Happy Free Agency! And may the Collective Bargaining Agreement be ever in your favor.

New York Rangers: Season in Review

With only a minute gone by in overtime and the puck loose in front, it was apparent the blue-shirts were in trouble. Seconds later, Adam Henrique swooped in behind Lundqvist to tap the loose puck into the open net to end the Rangers dream of being Stanley Cup champions. With Devils now on the brink of being swept by the Los Angeles Kings in the finals, Rangers fans can’t help but think, it should’ve been us. But the Rangers were not going to be handed a spot against the Kings, they had to earn it. The Rangers and head coach John Tortorella could not find enough gas to put in the tank to beat the Devils. However, when asked if playing so many games played a part in their elimination, Tortorella disagreed saying “It has nothing to do with being tired.” But the fact that the Rangers played more games in 3 rounds than any other team cannot be denied. After an entire 82 game season, the few extra games seemed to catch up with the Rangers. The Rangers just squeaked out of a hard fought series with the Senators in 7 games, and against the Capitals it was like a new Rangers team showed up. They lacked the offensive firepower that they showed at times throughout the season and the usually grit and energy was lacking in the series. The Capitals were beating the Rangers are their own game, blocking shots and receiving spectacular play in net by Braden Holtby. While the Rangers were able to grind their way out of the Capitals series, the Devils, while only a 6 seed, presented a much tougher test than the Capitals or the Senators. The Rangers couldn’t pass the test.

While they did manage to win games 1 and 3 easily with the incredible goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers were being outplayed in nearly every game and were not playing the style of hockey they played all season. Down by 3 goals early in game 5, the Rangers finally reminded everyone why they were the best team in the east all season. It was almost as if the power was turned on at the end of the first period. The fore checking, hard hitting Rangers showed up for the first time in the series, and powered their way back to a 3 – 3 tie. But there just wasn’t enough electricity to keep them powered, and the Rangers eventually allowed a goal and then an empty netter to seal the deal, leading to their downfall in the next game.

While the Rangers season ended in disappointment, the season was one to be remembered. With the powerhouse Flyers and Penguins in the Atlantic, the Rangers were expected to be a playoff team, but not to compete for the division title. But on the backs of Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers made it an incredible season for their loyal fans, and give them something to look forward to in the future.

The Good

Marian Gaborik in the Regular Season: If the NHL handed out a comeback player of the year award, Gaborik may have very well been the winner. After scoring a mere 22 goals in 62 games in 2010-11, Gaborik led the offense for the Rangers the whole season, scoring 41 goals, good for 3rd in the NHL.

Brad Richards: For once, the Rangers big money free agent acquisition paid off. While his season started off slow, Richards presence could not be denied. Richards was well known as being a mentor to defenseman Michael Del Zotto, helping him through the season. Richards came on strong at the end of the season once united with Gaborik and Hagelin, and was the Rangers best forward through the majority of the playoffs.

The Defense: Backstopped by the Vezina favorite Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers maintained one of the stingiest defenses in the league, giving up a miniscule 2.22 goals per game in a division that included the top 2 scoring teams in the league. Lundqvist was fantastic all year and was always there to save the Rangers during breakdowns. However, these breakdowns were few and far between. The Rangers top four defensemen were arguably the best in the league, led by the top unit of Ryan McDonough and Dan Girardi. But it was not only the defensemen that provided defense, the forwards were shot blocking machines as well. It’s hard to find a more dedicated player in the league than Ryan Callahan, who came up with huge blocked shots seemingly every game. The Rangers established an incredible defensive system that led them to 1st place in the Eastern Conference.

John Tortorella: Yes, he may give the worst interviews in the league, but the Rangers fully bought into Torts’ system. His defensive, shot blocking system was perfectly suited for the hard working Rangers, and it shows by his nomination for the Jack Adams Trophy for the best coach in the NHL.

The Flyers and Winter Classic: Not only did the Rangers beat the Flyers in the highly anticipated Winter Classic, they swept them in the season series.

So many things were good for the Rangers, so you may be asking yourself, well why aren’t they the ones playing for the Stanley Cup? Well, here is why:

The Bad

Where’d you go, Marian?: While Gaborik may have been the Rangers most potent offensive weapon during the regular season, he faded under the bright lights in the playoffs, leaving the Rangers with a less than potent offense. Scoring just 11 points in 20 games, Gaborik could not be relied on to score clutch goals or have 2 goal games to lead the Rangers like he did in the months before. He was even benched multiple times by Tortorella and at one point was delegated to the 4th line.

Brandon Dubinsky: Who led the Rangers in points in 2010 – 11? No, it wasn’t Marian Gaborik. No, it wasn’t Ryan Callahan. It was Brandon Dubinsky. After scoring 24 goals last season, Dubinsky was expected to be a close to 30 goal scorer on the second line. Instead, he scored 10 goals and spent most of his time on the 3rd or 4th line.

The Power Play: Every year it’s the same old story: the New York Rangers power play is downright awful. Ranking 23rd in the league, the Rangers needed something to help solve their 5 on 4 woes, and Brad Richards was not the answer.

The 5th and 6th D-man: McDonough and Girardi were number 1 and 2 in terms of blocked shots in the regular season, Del Zotto re-emerged as one of the best young defensemen in the game, and after Staal returned to form, he was as good as ever. However, that is only 4 defensemen. The Rangers 5th and 6th defensemen was a problem all season and especially in the playoffs. After Michael Sauer went down early in the season with a concussion, the last 2 spots were always a question, rotating between Anton Stralman, Tim Erixon, Stu Bickel, and Steve Eminger. While Stralman settled in late in the season and during the playoffs, Bickel’s play was less than par. Tortorella opted to bench him during most games, leaving the Rangers with 5 defensemen. In the end, this played a significant role in the Rangers downfall as the defense seemed tired against the Devils.

What Now?

After a first place finish in the conference, the Rangers still have to make some moves to make them a Stanley Cup contender yet again. A huge factor in this offseason will be the recent surgery that Marian Gaborik underwent on his right shoulder. Gaborik will be out up to 6th months, a span that will cut into the beginning of next season. Maybe the playoff sensation Chris Kreider can step into his role, but Gaborik leaves a big void. The Rangers would already be looking to acquire a top notch scorer, and this adds to the need for one.  The possibility of a trade for Rick Nash, who was rumored to be coming to New York at the trade deadline, is still a possibility. The Rangers find themselves with $21 million in cap room, but first must resign Michael Del Zotto (RFA), Brandon Prust (UFA), and depending on the status of Sauer come next season possibly Anton Stralman (RFA). Another answer for the Rangers may be in one of the players that eliminated them from the playoffs: Zach Parise. Parise will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is not a guarantee to stay in New Jersey.

The last defenseman slot also must be addressed. The Rangers could go after a top notch defenseman via trade or free agency such as Ryan Suter or Shea Weber of the Predators. Landing one of these players would not only address the depth issues on defense, but would greatly improve the power play. However, landing one of them would likely take away the possibility of landing a top notch forward. The Rangers could instead dive into a plentiful pool of solid defensemen that are not as pricey to upgrade from Stu Bickel.

After a season full of great moments, The Rangers have most of their pieces in place. Goaltending? Check. 40 goal scorer? Check. Determined Captain? Check. Machine like top 4 defensemen? Check. However, the Rangers seem to just be missing one piece that will keep them going on all cylinders all year. If the Rangers can land either a high scoring winger or defensemen, look for them to be right back at the top of the standings again next year to contend yet again for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Johan Santana Throws First Mets No-Hitter: What it means to an aching fanbase

AP

When the Mets acquired two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana on Feb. 3, 2008, it was much more than a trade. It was much more than a six-year, $138 million contract. The franchise was rebounding from the most embarrassing collapse in history to date, and whether it was something on the field or not, it was evident that there was a missing piece to the puzzle. When the Mets acquired two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana on February 3rd, 2008, it was more than anything you could see on a baseball diamond. It brought to fans something they’d been longing for since their last title season 22 years prior: the belief that the Mets would be World Series champions once again.

That belief is a virtue that has often eluded the Mets and their fans throughout the franchise’s 50-year history. With the exception of their two banner-raising seasons, 43 and 26 years ago, respectively, the ballclub from Queens has been hamstrung by stretches of lengthy rebuilds, injuries, eyebrow-raising front office decisions, and flat-out bad luck. Although these all seem like traits that would steer anyone in their right mind away from Flushing, Mets fans have grown to embrace and inexplicably love their club’s struggles. It’s what makes the Mets, well, the Mets, and what bonds all Mets fans into one great, heartbreak-loving baseball family.

Of course, all the Mets’ lows are what make experiencing success unlike anything else in baseball. You could look back as far as the Miracle Mets of ’69, who came out of the cellar of the National League to win 100 games and shock the world on their way to a championship in the franchise’s seventh season. Maybe Mookie Wilson’s dribbler that you might have heard about once or twice. Mike Piazza’s home run on Sep. 21, 2001 to hand the Mets a victory in their first game since the 9/11 terrorist attacks swayed every American to the blue and orange side of baseball fandom for a night. Or, you could just think back to game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, when Endy Chavez lept and reached over Shea’s blue eight-foot wall to make the greatest catch in the history of the team, robbing Scott Rolen of a home run that would’ve essentially ended the team’s season. Shea Stadium rocked. Literally, the old place used to sway, horrifically but triumphantly, from side to side as fans would go bonkers for the blue and orange. In moments like these, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an atmosphere more amazing than where the Mets call home.

Through all the historic moments brought to us by the Metsies, there’s always been one slight imperfection. It was simply one of the sports oddities that nobody could logically explain. It’s not that the Mets have been devoid of stellar pitching — studs such as Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Tom Glavine, and Pedro Martinez, just to name a few, have all called Queens home for at least a few seasons. They’d tried, and they’d came close, but all had ultimately failed. The Mets had never thrown a no-hitter.

Many men came close. Excruciatingly close. The franchise’s historic armory has hurled a whopping total of 35 one-hitters. Some notables in that batch of gems that history wouldn’t so much as blink an eye at are the three times that Tom Seaver carried a no-hitter into the 9th inning, only to allow base hits in the final frame of each. Seaver compiled five total one-hitters in his 12 seasons in New York. Long-time mediocre Met Steve Trachsel is second on the list with two one-hit complete game shutouts, tied with Cone, Matlack, and Gary Gentry. Most recently, it was John Maine who waited until the eighth inning with two retired to allow his first hit of the afternoon, in the penultimate game of Shea Stadium’s penultimate season.

The Mets won that second-to-last game of 2007. Unfortunately, it was their last victory of that season. Tom Glavine laid an egg in the season’s final game that would have clinched a postseason berth with a victory. Instead, the Mets fell behind Florida 7-0 in the first inning, and never made up that ground — resulting in the most epic collapse baseball had seen. (Glavine was admittedly “not devastated” about the performance — his last as a Met.)

This brings us back to Johan Santana.

Fast forward one calendar year to Sep. 27, 2008. It was Santana’s very own performance to conclude his inaugural Metropolitan campaign. Interim manager Jerry Manuel, who took over that June after Willie Randolph’s canning, called upon his ace on just three days rest to save the Mets’ season. A loss would eliminate the team from playoff contention with just one game remaining.

It wasn’t a no-hit bid (Santana allowed a single in the first inning), but he delivered in the biggest way possible. The Marlins failed to score a run in Santana’s complete game victory — one of the franchise’s most memorable pitching performances. Shea Stadium rocked. In a season that began with championship hopes, Santana put his team in a position to ride his momentum, and begin a playoff run in which he’d lead the charge. All they would need is one more victory the next day at Shea.

That victory never came.

Shea Stadium closed its doors for good that next day, lacking the third title many fans anticipated it would go out with that 2008 season. Hopes were again high for the 2009 season, but injuries got the best of the club that Sports Illustrated predicted would win it all. The 2009 Mets won 70 games, 23 behind the division-leading Phillies.

By the middle of 2010, Johan Santana was in the middle years of his contract, and had no playoff appearances to show for it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, on Sep. 11, 2010 it was announced that he would need surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his throwing shoulder, the same surgery that many pitchers have failed to fully recover from.

His return date was initially set for May 2011. That later got pushed back to June, then August, and, as any Mets fan could’ve predicted, Santana never threw a pitch in the 2011 season. The man that once embodied optimism and promise was beginning to look more and more like that $138 million price tag.

At the start of his fifth season in New York, many expected Santana to fail. Mets fans have watched their team sink from World Series contenders in 2008, to salary-slashing bottom-dwellers in 2011. There was room for optimism to start off the year. Many even doubted Santana would return for the start of the season.

He did return, however, and through the first two months of the season, looked just as sharp as he did as a 29-year-old New York neophyte. Now 33, and that fastball three or four miles-per-hour slower due to a combination of medical procedure and age, Johan Santana is still a warrior. The kind of warrior that loves adversity. The kind of warrior that knows his team doesn’t stand a chance without him.

Santana took the mound Friday night on the heels of a complete game shutout vs. San Diego — a start most reminiscent of the Johan Santana of old. It was a night that was initially noteworthy as Carlos Beltran’s return to New York. Johan soon stole the show.

By the start of the sixth inning, all 27,069 fans in attendance new exactly what the circumstances were. But with Santana at around 90 pitches, a dream scenario seemed unlikely. Carlos Beltran led off the sixth and smoked a line drive that appeared to be fair down the left field line. Third base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it foul, and Beltran was eventually retired.

Sure enough, Santana turned his outing into a serious bid. With one out in the seventh inning, the ball found the biggest Mets fan on the field. Mets left fielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter grew up a descendant of that great, heartbreak-embracing Mets fan ancestry. He understood better than anybody on the field what a no-hitter would mean to the team and its fans. Baxter sprinted to the blue outfield fence, threw his glove in the air and snagged a Yadier Molina liner that was sure to be extra bases. Baxter’s momentum slammed him into that left field wall, and he lay still for several moments before players and training staff surrounded him. He walked off the field holding his arm, but to a standing ovation. Chants of “BAX-TER, BAX-TER.” Mike Baxter literally ran through a wall for the Mets, and the rest was up to Johan.

With the help of some soft line drives that stayed in the air just long enough, along with some devastating change-ups, Santana found himself on the mound in the ninth inning without having allowed a hit. The heart of St. Louis’ lineup was due up. Miraculously, he induced to lineouts to the shallow outfield to begin the inning. The previous World Series’ hero David Freese would be the batter. Santana fell behind him in the count 3-0 before working back to a full count on his 133rd pitch (a new career high). Here’s Howie Rose to bring you closer than any other description ever could:

Citi Field could have been mistaken for Shea Stadium. It remained stationary, however the decibel level reached new Citi Field heights. Mets fans finally had a reason to go Shea Stadium-nuts in their new home, and they didn’t disappoint. The home field, at long last, felt like home.

There was a blown call that the Mets benefited from, but the baseball gods wouldn’t have it any other way. Try naming a single game in the sport’s history where the umpiring was perfect. Baseball is a game that, for better or worse, is largely reliant on the human element. Tape of every no-hitter could be picked apart, and there’d surely be questionable ball and strike calls that would extend at-bats to possibly change history. That’s just the way baseball has always been, and forever will be.

Santana’s feat is one of the instances in sports that can be celebrated and appreciated by everybody, everywhere. Everyone in the Mets family wholly  understood the importance of Santana’s feat, and celebrated accordingly — whether it be a 90-year-old fan since ’62, a 10-year-old just getting to know the game of baseball, an 18-year-old blogger trying to make sense of the whole thing, or a 27-year-old left fielder living every Queens kid’s dream.

It’d be a safe assumption to declare the Mets had somebody on their side Friday night. Take a look at the box score. The Mets had eight runs on eight hits. Johan had eight Ks. He threw 134 pitches (1 + 3 + 4 = 8). All in the year dedicated to The Kid (2012. 20 – 12 = 8).

Mets fans now have their long-coveted no-hitter, and it’s delightfully clear there’s something amazin’ brewing at Citi Field this year. Following Friday’s win, New York is at their high-water mark, six games over .500, and one game off the division-leading Nationals’ pace. One last note: The Miracle Mets were also 29-23 through their first 52 games of the 1969 season, before going on to shock the world by finishing at 100-62, and bringing a World Series crown to Flushing, Queens.

Bring back the puns! Must-Lin in Miami!

For the last month or so, Jeremy Lin has been nothing more than a fond (but distant) memory to the Knicks and their fans. Perhaps the most publicized period of ‘Bocker history, Linsanity provided us all with moments we’ll be sure not to forget any time soon.

Remember this?

Then there was this one.

What about when he nearly dropped 40 against LA?

In a matter of weeks, Jeremy Lin went from NBA bench-warmer to international icon. But the Linsanity subsided just about as quickly as it had taken America by storm. On April 2nd, he underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus, and was slated to be sidelined for six weeks. Well, it’s been five, and the man who saved the Knicks season once already, might just have to do it again.

Speculation of a Lin return had been clogging everyone’s Twitter feeds for much of the Knicks first round series against Miami. Despite participating in practices and 3-on-3 scrimmages in between games, Lin’s sore knee was just too painful to play through. This, of course, was before starter-by-default Baron Davis went down in Game 4 with a torn patella tendon and complete tears of the ACL and MCL (yes, it looked just as bad as it sounds).

The Knicks face a few alternatives. Mike Bibby, who decided to turn back the clock this postseason, has hit several big shots for the team while contributing smart decisions from the point guard spot. Coach Mike Woodson has said he’ll be the new starter for Game 5.

After that, who knows?

Photo credit: Getty Images
Lin has been practicing and participating in 3-on-3 scrimmages with the team ever since the playoffs began. Although ahead of schedule, Lin is still days or weeks from being at full strength. The Knicks now need him, despite his less-than-ideal health, to stand a chance against the Heat.

Woodson has mentioned a JR Smith/Carmelo Anthony combination to run the point for the second team. Former coach Mike D’Antoni experimented with Anthony running a point forward-type position early in the season, and watched it fail miserably. What we’ve learned this season, if nothing else, is that Carmelo Anthony is not your ideal playmaker. He’s not going to be your point guard, he’s not going to run pick-and-rolls. Carmelo will go against his defender and take him 1-on-1. And when he’s on, there’s close to nothing that will stop him.

And you can go ahead and add JR Smith to the list of “people I’d rather suffer from food poisoning than watch play point guard.”

Smith has a number of abilities on the basketball court, sure. Playing intelligent basketball, however, definitely is not his strong suit. What the Knicks need out of their point guard is someone who can logically distribute the ball between Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Perhaps Smith would settle that issue– by calling his own number twenty-something times. JR at PG is not the answer for the Knicks if they want to claw back into this series (I’m purposely failing to mention his consistent, mindless fouling along the perimeter/late in the shot clock, for the sake of my own sanity).

After Iman Shumpert’s tragic, season-ending knee injury, and with Toney Douglas being considered an afterthought by Mike Woodson these days, this leaves but one option for New York.

When this Knicks team looked lost with nothing to fight for in mid-February, Jeremy Lin was the team’s last resort before, well, thankfully we never found out. Right now the Knicks are out of options. They’re looking for one last winning streak. Lin succeeded at doing the impossible earlier this year, when he seized his opportunity and morphed from the NBA equivalent of an ant, into the most beloved sports figure in all of New York.

Now, the impossible will be asked of him once more: to beat the powerhouse Heat on their home floor, get the Garden faithful to rally behind them for a Game 6 victory, and lay it all on the line in a seventh game, back in South Beach. Is this a lot to ask out of the 23-year-old neophyte who, at best, would be playing with three-quarters in the tank? Seeing that this particular neophyte was plucked fresh out of the D-League, and was asked to single-handedly become New York City’s hero, and did it, I’ll take my chances with number 17.


So far, so good.

Two games, two wins. Can’t really get much better than that.

While two games is certainly a small sample size, the Mets have impressed in their first couple matchups vs. Atlanta, with two straight wins. Their 1-0 Opening Day victory was followed up by a 4-2 Saturday afternoon win vs. the Braves. Saturday provided a burst of offense, with three home runs (one for David Wright, two for Lucas Duda) and four runs. R.A. Dickey threw a solid 6 innings, allowing only two runs on a home run to Martin Prado. That homer has been the only blemish on the Mets’ pitching staff record thus far.

David Wright is swinging a hot bat to start 2012, with a 3-5 effort on Saturday after a two hit performance on Opening Day. His approach seems to be to the opposite field, which is a sight Mets fans sorely missed. His home run in the first inning of Saturday’s win was hit into the bullpen in right center field, which is imperative for Wright. When he’s hitting the ball the opposite way, Wright can be unstoppable offensively. The Mets and their fans are hoping to see this approach from their All-Star third baseman all year long.

Lucas Duda also impressed offensively Saturday versus Atlanta. Duda went yard twice, including the first home run that cleared Citi Field’s new fence that wouldn’t have cleared the old one. Duda seems as if he’s primed for a huge season, and the league will take notice soon. Someone with Duda’s power will not go unnoticed for very long.

The Mets’ offense has not been the only big time positive  so far in 2012. Their bullpen, which struggled in Spring Training, has been spectacular thus far. Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch, Bobby Parnell, and Frank Francisco have all been in action the first two games, and no one has given up any runs. For all the talk about the struggles the bullpen would have, (myself included…sorry Frank) everyone has been wonderful so far. Heck, he’s 2/2 on save opportunities this season. That’s two more saves than any other closer in New York has. Just. sayin’.

Santana and Dickey were also impressive in their starts, and we’ll break down the entire rotation later this week once everyone has had their turn.

So two games down, 160 games to go. We’re  not saying the Mets are gonna keep this pace up, (I think it’d be a little much to expect a perfect season) but in their first two games, they have shown the league and their fans that they aren’t going to lay down and die just because they’re expected to.

The Mets will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon against Atlanta at 1:00 at Citi Field. Jonathan Niese gets the nod against Mike Minor and the Braves.

2012 New York Mets

The New York Mets enter the 2012 season facing both serious financial issues and improved competition in the National League East. At first glance, it is very easy to write them off and move on with your day. However, Terry Collins, in his second year as manager, has his team believing that they can shock the so called “experts” and make some noise in an extremely talented division. It does take more than believing in your chances to be successful, but it’s not a bad place to start. We’ll let you know what we loved and hated about the Mets’ offseason and Spring Training, and also give a prediction as to how the Mets will do in the upcoming campaign, their 50th season as a franchise.

Offseason: With the financial troubles that the Wilpons are in, the Mets were not in play for any big name free agents as they have been in years past. The biggest example of that lack of money to freely spend was their inability to even offer a contract to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes, age 28, made the All-Star team 4 times as a member of the Mets. Unfortunately for the Mets and their fans, Jose’s free agency came at an inopportune time. They didn’t have the money, and he moved south to join Hanley Ramirez and the new-look Miami Marlins, leaving shortstop at Citi Field occupied by Ruben Tejada . This hurts for multiple reasons, including the sheer fact that Mets fans will be reminded of their former beloved shortstop 18 times a year when the Mets and Marlins square off. Reyes being with another NL East Club is also a big reason as to why many people feel the Mets will be buried by midseason.

Now, the Mets did make some additions this offseason. Their biggest free agent acquisition happens to be my least favorite offseason move. Former Blue Jay and Ranger Frank Francisco was signed to be their closer; signing for 2 years and $12 million. Francisco has certainly had his share of Major League success, but he also has a history of being injury prone, in addition to his apparent inability to keep runners held on base. His Spring Training was less than impressive, with a 5.54 ERA and a .333 opponent’s Batting Average.  I know this sounds like a bitter Mets fan’s rant, (not entirely false) but I truly do believe the Mets would have been better served had they promoted someone in house (i.e: Bobby Parnell, Pedro Beato) to closer and spending their limited money elsewhere. Hopefully, for the Mets’ sake, I am wrong.

There were some good moves made by the Mets this offseason, such as the signing of Jon Rauch. Rauch, the 6’11” reliever who spent last year with Toronto has had a solid Major League career, and was signed for relatively cheap, with a one year $3.5 million contract. This addition should help the bullpen.

One of the biggest offseason shake-ups came via trade. Early in the offseason, Angel Pagan was shipped to San Francisco for centerfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez. Pagan, one year removed from his breakout 2010 campaign, fell flat in 2011. He seemed to regress in terms of both performance and maturity. Mets fans were pretty fed up with him (myself included) by the end of the season, and ownership sent him packing. In return, they acquired a quality defensive centerfielder and speedy leadoff hitter to try and replace the speed lost with Reyes’ departure. In addition to Torres, Ramon Ramirez is another welcome addition to the bullpen. Many fans, including myself, were confident that the duo received will be more than worth Pagan.

Spring Training: The Mets finished with a lackluster 9-20-2 record in Grapefruit League play this season. However, we know that Spring Training records don’t necessarily reflect what a team’s regular season record will be. The Mets certainly hope not anyway.

One of the biggest problems Spring Training presented (more like reminded us of) was Jason Bay’s continued struggles. For all the offseason talk about Bay’s improvement, the results certainly were not there in spring. Bay finished Spring Training with the same amount of RBI’s that I did. That’s right folks –zero. He may get a pass for a tough spring, but a 30 game regular season stretch without a RBI will surely not sit well with the New York fans.

Another problem the Mets saw in Spring Training was injuries. Luckily for them, the three players that lost time due to injury will be active on the Opening Day roster. Andres Torres had a quad injury that cost him a few weeks, Tim Byrdak had meniscus surgery, causing him to miss the latter half of spring and David Wright missed the majority of the Spring season with a strained ribcage. However, these players are in New York for Opening Day, so the Mets did luck out in that respect.

One major positive from Spring Training was the production from this year’s starting Right Fielder: Lucas Duda. “The Big Lebowski” went yard four times, and finished spring with a .300 average. His fellow lefty in the lineup, first baseman Ike Davis, also hit four homers in spring. The Mets would love to see that type of production all season long.

With all due respect to Duda and Davis, the story out of Port St. Lucie was the success, and health, of Johan Santana. He finished the exhibition season with 18.1 innings pitched and a 3.44 ERA. He is healthy going into the season, and will start the season opener versus Atlanta. This start will mark his first Major League start since September of 2010, and the Mets are hoping he can recapture some of what made him a two-time Cy Young Award winner in Minnesota. Santana’s presence alone should bolster the rest of the rotation, to include RA Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee. Mets fans are hoping Santana can stay healthy and give them something to cheer about this season.

Prediction: Well, folks, many people have predicted the Mets to finish last in the NL East this season. I personally do not see that happening. I think, if they can stay healthy and play up to their potential, the Metropolitans can manage a .500 record (81-81). I believe they will finish 4th place in the NL East, with the Nationals disappointing a lot of people and finishing in last. In their 50th season, I wouldn’t expect the Mets to make any 1969-esque miracle runs, but this team has potential to be competitive. If they were in a weaker division, perhaps they could make a playoff push. However, the NL East will be deadly and I see .500 as a best case scenario. So Mets fans, try and enjoy this season and look at it is a building block towards a brighter future.

The Mets open their season Thursday April 5th, with a 1:10 pm game against their division rival Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.  The pitching matchup is sure to be a good one, with Tommy Hanson squaring off against Johan Santana.

The Mets will honor the memory of 1986 World Champion Gary Carter, who died of brain cancer this offseason,  with a pre-game ceremony on Opening Day.

2012 New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are retooled, reloaded, and ready to bring Championship number 28 to the Bronx. Here is the lowdown on their offseason, Spring Training and our prediction for their 2012 season.

Offseason: The Yankees’ offseason this year was unusually quiet. While huge free agent names (i.e Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder) were out getting massive contracts with other teams, it seems as if the Yanks finally realized they didn’t need to make any huge free agent additions to their already All-Star studded lineup. However, this is not to say they didn’t make any changes this offseason. Their biggest splash came via trade, when they shipped the immensely talented catching prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for the young Starting Pitcher Michael Pineda. Pineda, a rookie last season, made a big splash on the scene with the Mariners, finishing the season with 28 starts and a 3.74 E.R.A., quite impressive for a rookie. This trade provided a huge bolster to a rotation that was certainly not the team’s strength last season. (It has not worked out perfectly thus far, but we’ll get into that later)

Pineda was not the only pitcher the Yankees added this offseason. Just after they made the trade with Seattle the Bombers signed Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, to a one year, 10 million dollar contract. Kuroda, who had a 3.45 E.R.A. in Los Angeles last season, will without a doubt benefit from the high-octane lineup that will be hitting for him this season. So far, so good for Kuroda, whose Spring Training E.R.A. was 2.96. These additions, combined with C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova should make the Yankees’ rotation one of the best in the American League this season. But wait aren’t we forgetting someone?

Oh yea, A.J. Burnett. The former free agent prize was shipped to Pittsburgh this offseason for two minor leaguers. Clearly, Burnett was not cut out for the Big Apple. He was an integral part of the team’s 2009 championship run, but the honeymoon was over. Fans no longer wanted to hear about AJ’s issues, and that was that.

One major signing of note includes that of former Yankee Andy Pettite. It took most people by surprise, but Andy could provide a veteran presence and some Champion experience to the clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that he still seems to think he’s got some gas left in the tank.

Another interesting departure from the team this offseason was the retirement of Jorge Posada. In pinstripes since 1995, Posada decided to retire instead of playing for another team. By doing so, he demonstrated some loyalty that we rarely see in sports today. It will indeed be odd to see a Yankee roster that does not include Jorge.

Spring Training So, we move ahead to Spring Training. Going into Tuesday’s game with the New York Mets, the Yankees sit at 17-11 in the Grapefruit League. While records don’t mean much, it is certainly good to see the Yankees getting good results. One of the major positives out of Spring Training is the health and numbers from Alex Rodriguez. The highly scrutinized (and paid) 3rd baseman has a .292 batting average and has gone deep a couple of times for the Yankees, and his swing just looks better than it has in years past. Healthy and prepared for the season, I think it’s safe to expect big numbers from A-Rod this season.

One major problem the Yankees have seen this Exhibition season is the problems the aforementioned Michael Pineda has encountered. He showed up to camp seemingly overweight, and his velocity was not where it was last year. He averaged a bit over 94 mph on his fastball last year, but is a bit down thus far with New York. Pineda has experienced shoulder soreness and will begin the season the 15 day DL. While the Yankees and their fans are a bit nervous about Pineda’s health, he should eventually regain his velocity and be the pitcher the Yankees traded a star in the making for. Pineda will be replaced in the Yankees rotation by Freddy Garcia for the time being.

Another issue that has received some attention is the diminishing range of Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. Jeter, 37, simply does not have the same athletic ability as he did earlier in his career. However, with the stellar offense he will continue to provide, I personally don’t see this as much of a problem.

Prediction: The Yankees will be battle-tested this season without a doubt. The A.L. East, as always, will be among the game’s toughest divisions. However, between their lineup (including Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and the reigning Home Run Derby Champion Robinson Cano) revamped rotation, and stellar bullpen anchored by David Robertson and the sure-fire Hall of Fame Closer Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have the firepower to win this division.

While I do believe the Yankees will win the A.L. East, I see them falling in the ALCS to the Detroit Tigers, who face a much less challenging path to the postseason in the less competitive AL Central.

The Yankees begin their 2012 regular season where their 2011 regular season ended, Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays at 3:05 pm this Friday April 6th. Their home opener is next Friday, April 13th against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium at 1:05 pm.

Tebowmania Heads East: What to make of the Jets’ deal

The New York Jets have (officially) acquired Tim Tebow, the highly scrutinized quarterback from the Denver Broncos, and perhaps the most polarizing figure in all of sports.

Tebow, the former University of Florida standout, stepped into the spotlight last season in Denver, taking over the 1-4 Broncos and leading them into the AFC’s Divisional Playoff Round, where he was beaten by Tom Brady and the Patriots, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in a dramatic overtime game along the way.

However, Tebow’s on field success was only half the story. It has been well documented that Tebow’s style and throwing motion were not up to par with other successful quarterbacks, including prototypes such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. For many of his starts, he looked as if he was playing three quarters with his helmet on backwards, and would then turn it on late.Tebow made multiple 4th Quarter comebacks to bring Denver to the playoffs. Combine that with the fact that he wears his religionon his sleeve, and you’ve got yourself one polarizing figure.

Cue Tebowmania; one of the most insane frenzies any athlete has ever seen. From “Tebowing” becoming a national phenomenon to Saturday Night Live referencing Tebow in one of their comedy skits, it was nearly impossible to escape the coverage that he was getting.

Unfortunately for Tebow, once Peyton Manning became a Free Agent, the Broncos’ plans went in a different direction. Now where does that leave Tebow?

Where else? New York City.

The Jets traded two draft picks (a fourth rounder and a sixth rounder) to Denver for a seventh rounder and Tim Tebow in return. As if the Jets haven’t seen enough media attention the past few years, why not add the sport’s most polarizing figure into the equation? And of course in typical Tebow fashion, the trade made a comeback towards the end, with the Jets and Broncos settling contract disputes and Tebow choosing the spotlight of the Big Apple rather than his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, about nine hours after news of the trade originally broke.

The story (or “saga” as it had been referenced by ESPN) began early this afternoon, when news broke that Gang Green had acquired Tebow. Naturally, social media networks of all kind were sent into a frenzy. “Tebow to the Jets” was a top trend on Twitter for much of the afternoon. However, it was later reported that the Jets and Broncos had agreed to the deal before going over some financial issues, including which team was to pay the five million dollar bonus he was owed.

As the day progressed, however, it seemed as if the issues were less about financials and more about giving Tebow the decision as to where he wanted to play. By about 8 pm, ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who originally broke news of the deal) reported that the Broncos were giving Tebow the opportunity to choose his destination.

Jets fans, regardless of their opinion of the move, (and believe me, EVERYONE has an opinion on this move) were stunned by the developments. If given the chance to go and play for their hometown team, who wouldn’t take that opportunity and, quite literally, run with it?

Apparently, Mr. Tebow.

The deal was finalized at about 9 pm, and Tim Tebow is officially a New York Jet. The Jets and Broncos will split Tebow’s five million dollar bonus, and Tebowmania is heading east: to the nation’s biggest media market.

So now that Tim Tebow is actually here, what on earth does it all mean?

Well, as with any move, there are absolutely positives and negatives that come along with his acquisition. We’ll take you through what it could potentially mean moving forward for the New York Jets.

Being a Jets fan, starting with the negatives seems like the obvious things to do.

  • First and foremost, Tim Tebow is truly not that great of a passing quarterback. Last time I checked, as a quarterback, passing the ball tends to be fairly important. An awkward, looping throwing motion and a 47.3% career passer rating does not really scream success as a professional quarterback..
  • Another reason why this could be a problem for the Jets is the fact that they already have a quarterback; one that just signed an extension keeping him with the franchise through 2016, at a $58.25 million price tag. Mark Sanchez, who led the Jets to back to back AFC title games his first two seasons, fell on hard times last year. Under his leadership, the team failed to reach the postseason, which did not sit well with a fanbase promised a Super Bowl by Head Coach Rex Ryan for a third straight season. Although Sanchez was just given an extension by the team, his confidence will surely take a hit with the addition of Tim Tebow, and if Sanchez is going to improve, he will certainly need confidence from everyone in the organization.
  • And that brings us to the biggest potential issue: the absolute Media Circus that will be the 2012 Jets season. The aforementioned Rex Ryan certainly attracts the media enough on his own, with his bold predictions and apparent inability to shut his mouth. The Jets also have players, such as Antonio Cromartie and Bart Scott, who do their fair share of talking, which attracts nothing but more media attention. Adding Tim Tebow (who can’t take a step without ESPN airing it) to this locker room may put this team over the edge “personality” wise, with every single thing involving the team being aired on every sports network imaginable. This isn’t always a bad thing, but after watching the cross-town Giants fly under the radar and win Super Bowl XLVII, you would think the Jets would want to follow suit. Apparently not.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed every Jets fan out there, let’s look at the positives that come with the addition of Tim Tebow.

  • Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Intangibles. Tim Tebow has more than anyone in the league. His work ethic,  toughness and will to win is matched by no other player in the league, which will certainly be a welcome addition into this locker room, which was one of the league’s worst last season, exemplified by the discontent between Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes during last season’s regular season finale in Miami. Adding Tebow’s character into the mix can only help the Jets on that front.
  • Now, let’s get to the actual on-field stuff. I mentioned earlier that this may shatter the confidence of Mark Sanchez. On the other hand, it may light a fire under him. After last year’s sub-par season and the addition of one of the league’s most popular players, Sanchez cannot feel too comfortable, which may do him well. Sometimes, competition brings out the best in people, and the Jets and their fans are certainly hoping for more out of Sanchez next season.
  • One more positive that can be taken from the acquisition of Tim Tebow is the reintroduction of an effective Wildcat offense into the Jets’ playbook. The addition of Tony Sparano, the pioneer of the Wildcat, as Offensive Coordinator combined with the tough running ability Tebow brings to the table may provide a welcome wrinkle into Gang Green’s offense, one that they sorely missed after Wide Receiver/Wildcat Quarterback Brad Smith signed with division rival Buffalo.

At the end of the day, no one can really be sure as to how impactful the trade of Tim Tebow to the Jets will be when it comes to on field production. Will he provide enough of an offensive spark to outweigh the inevitable controversy that follows him wherever he goes? No one can be sure. One thing can be promised, however. The 2012 New York Jets will not be lacking entertainment. So, Jets fans, I say buckle up and try to enjoy the ride. Good or bad, “Tebowmania” in New York will be something to remember forever.

Dr. Woodson Cures the Linsanity?

February 16th, just one month ago. One man was driving the world’s biggest city insane. 25 points here, 10 assists there. He hogged half of SportsCenter all to himself. He outshone Kobe in front of a national audience, then turned away the defending champs with career highs. T-shirts… t-shirts everywhere. Hell, Spike even rocked that crimson jersey. Jeremy Lin was John, Paul, George, and Ringo, all in one body.

Then, just as the entire basketball world was pleading Linsanity, star power arrived. Carmelo Anthony rejoined the mix, promising the world he wouldn’t dare interrupt the Jeremy Lin Show. Before long, however, New York’s favorite son was strapped into the backseat of a ride on a crash-course. The Melo-Mobile has since tossed one man from the wagon; as Anthony refused to comply with Mike D’Antoni’s offensive theories, we learned who’s really in the driver’s seat. What Carmelo wants, Carmelo will get. That leaves no man safe. Even the man that was once dubbed the savior.

What Carmelo Anthony refused to adhere to under the D’Antoni offense was spread-the-floor, pick-and-roll, shoot-if-you’re-open basketball. Every NBA player’s dream gameplan somehow was Melo’s nightmare– numbers agree, this is his worst statistical season since, well, ever.

The point guard-heavy offensive strategy is now out the window. New coach Mike Woodson’s prime offensive beliefs consist of iso’s and post-ups– a scorer’s delight (just take a look at Joe Johnson’s stats from 2005-2010). Woodson has declared that his offense will be ran through the likes of proven scorers such as Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire who, for what it’s worth, developed into a star under D’Antoni’s system. P&R point guards such as Jeremy Lin simply aren’t as necessary under this new ideology. So as Carmelo Anthony will likely flex his muscles while playing in the offense he’s wanted all along, where exactly does this leave Lin?

If you believe what you read, and if you use the logic Mike Woodson likely will in the coming days and weeks, the answer to that question is the second team.

Current second stringer Baron Davis will be the new man for the job, according to the NY Daily News. Davis has been around the block, and knows that his best bet for a ring is to feed the rock to Melo and Stoudemire. He’s ran the iso-style offense in the past, and after all, this is the job he signed up for back in December while rehabbing the back injury that delayed his season debut until after the Lin phenomenon had already kicked in.

The Knicks’ sensational second squad seems like a perfect fit for Lin, although it would mean decreased minutes. Aside from Tyson Chandler, players like Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, and Steve Novak are the guys Lin was mainly distributing to when his starting gig was all new and shiny, with Stoudemire and Anthony both missing from the lineup.

However, due to D’Antoni “riding him like freakin’ Secretariat,” as he put it himself, and leaving the second-year wonder out there for 40+ minutes a game most nights, defenses perdictably adjusted relatively quickly.

Since teams have keyed on Lin as the primary option, his production has significantly decreased. While still putting up respectable points and assists totals, his turnovers and shooting percentage have become increasingly detrimental. His least productive start to date occurred Wednesday, Woodson’s first game as coach. Lin scored 6 points with 6 assists and turned it over 6 times. Baron Davis scored only 4 but with 10 assists in less minutes than Lin.

Although everybody loves a true Linder… err… Cinderella story, it appears as if this one is coming to a close. Though Jeremy Lin’s talent is not in question, he’s simply being overruled. Overruled by who, you ask? By the same teammate that spoke up and suggested that D’Antoni transplant him from the bench to the starting lineup: Carmelo Anthony.