The Major League Baseball season is heading towards the halfway point with most teams having played at least 77 games as of today.Right now the division leaders in the American League are Baltimore in the east,Kansas City in the Central and Houston in the west.The National League leaders are Washington in the east,St.Louis in the central and Los Angeles in the west.A bunch of teams are in play for the two wild card spots in each league.Both local teams,the Yankees and Mets,are in the race for both the division title and wild card respectively.What both teams need is opposite from what they have.The Yankees are second in MLB in runs scored to the Toronto Blue Jays but their starting pitching has not been good.The Mets are in the top five in pitching but their hitting has them near the bottom in runs scored.Both teams also need to get healthy for the second half.The Yankees are hoping center fielder Jacoby Elsbury will be able to play this weekend when they return home from their current west coast trip.The Mets just got second baseman Daniel Murphy back and are hoping catcher Travis d’Arnaud will also return soon.It will be very interesting around here if,come September,both teams are still in it because they play a huge three game series at Citifield that could go a long way in determining if one,or both,are still in it when the series concludes.Until then it’s going to be a wild and hopefully fun ride.Buckle up.That’s my opinion.
Tonight the NBA holds it’s player draft at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.While I do think that the NBA draft lottery is absolutely the stupidest way of determining draft order of all the sports,tonight guarantees to be an exciting night for cities like Minnesota,Los Angeles,Philadelphia and New York.Who will go where? The consensus is that center Carl Anthony Towns of Kentucky will be the first player selected.Then it gets interesting.The Lakers have the second pick and may pass up Duke center Jalil Okafor while the 76ers are said to really like European 7 footer Kristaps Porzingis.That leaves my team,the Knicks,with a chance to get either Okafor or Ohio St.point guard DeAngelo Russell.I would love to have Russell because he is a great passer and a great shooter.If the Lakers take him then the chance Okafor is there when the Knicks pick.Also possible picks for the Knicks include guard Emanuel Mudiay, guard/forward Justice Winslow and center Willie Cauley Stein.Phil Jackson has been criticized repeatedly by the know it all New York media for the players he’s acquired and let go this year.While I will admit he hasn’t done a great job,what he has done is get rid of players who weren’t any good and cleared cap room to acquire free agents.Now his job really begins tonight.He must pick the right player that’s going to help turn the Knicks around.Then he must sign the right free agents that can play in the pressure packed environment of New York City.I’ve said before it takes a special kind of player to thrive and win in New York.Phil Jackson knows that,now it’s his job to get them.It starts tonight.That’s my opinion.
Dylann Roof,21 years old,has been charged with killing nine people in Charleston South Carolina.The shooting took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.It’s being called a hate crime because all nine people were Black.One of the victims,the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney,41,was the second cousin of my sister’s husband.South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is looking for the death penalty.What made Roof do what he did? He was in a prayer meeting an hour before the shooting in that same church.Since the days of slavery Blacks and Whites have had a tension between them.I had my own experience when I was a kid and my grandmother lived in the town of Bishopville S.C.My cousin and I became friends with this white kid and after dinner we went over to his house to see if he could come out to play.To my surprise an elderly white man came out with a shotgun and told us that the kid was not coming out to play and for us to leave.When I told my grandmother what happened she told us in no uncertain terms not to go over there again.I didn’t understand it because I had white friends in my neighborhood.I learned quickly that the south was very different.Dylann Roof had to be taught to hate Blacks,he had to come from an environment that perpetuated hate.He had spent time with the people of that church praying while all the time he knew what was about to happen.It was cold blooded and calculated.It will be interesting to see if he actually gets the death penalty because after all,this is the south and somewhere there are some sick,bigoted bastards who like what he did.That’s my opinion.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to do something for the city that hasn’t been done since 1964 and that is win a world championship.The Cleveland Browns of the National Football League were the last team to do it,beating the then Baltimore Colts 27-0.I actually saw that game on television in 1964 when CBS had the NFL and the AFL was getting started on NBC.There was no such thing as a Super Bowl back then.I remember watching Browns quarterback Frank Ryan throwing three touchdown passes to wide receiver Gary Collins and legendary running back Jim Brown retiring after that championship to pursue a movie career.The Cleveland Indians made the World Series in 1997 but lost to the Florida Marlins.Now Cleveland is by no means alone in waiting for a championship.The Chicago Cubs haven’t won since 1918.As a Knicks fan I’ve been waiting since 1973 for them to win another championship.Teams that go through these long droughts without a championship usually have bad decision makers at the top who either don’t know what they’re doing or pick players that just aren’t good enough.The fans pay some ridiculously expensive price for tickets but year after year they’re left wanting.The teams that are constantly near or at the top have a good organization from the owner down to the coach or manager.Also what can’t be overlooked is leadership from the players on the team.LeBron James is proving to be a great leader by his inspiring play.I remember Willis Reed limping on to the court at Madison Square Garden for game seven of the 1970 NBA finals and what an inspiration it was to the rest of the Knicks as they went on to beat the Lakers and capture New York’s first NBA title.LeBron is inspiring the Cavaliers and the city.If they do win it the city of Cleveland will cherish this championship forever.That’s my opinion.
When a team is considered the best in any sport,there is great pressure for them to prove it by winning the championship.The N.Y.Rangers were considered the best team and favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season but lost at home in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning.Last season the Rangers were not expected to go anywhere in the playoffs and therefore with little or no pressure made a run to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the L.A.Kings in 5 games.This season they were expected to win and even had a picture in their locker room of the Cup and after every playoff game they won they put a little piece on it as a building block to their ultimate goal.The pressure was to great and consequently they played one of the worst game 7’s at home in a long time.I’ve been watching sports since the sixties and in that time I have seen teams in all sports cave in to the pressure and expectation to win when they’re the favorite.The New England Patriots were 18-0 entering Super Bowl XLll and were being looked at as the best of all time but lost to the Giants.The Seattle Mariners won 116 games in 2000 and set a new American League record but lost to the Yankees.The Denver Broncos set the NFL record for points in 2013 but lost to the Seahawks 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVlll.The Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl lll as the biggest underdog (18 points)in Super Bowl history.In all sports the pressure to win when you’re supposed to is unique and the Teams that can accomplish that feat,like the 1998 Yankees or the 1996 Chicago Bulls,who were clearly the best in their sport that year,won it all.It takes more than just talent to win a championship when you are expected to and those teams that ultimately do it are remembered forever and the ones that don’t are quickly forgotten.That’s my opinion.
LeBron James is not only the NBA’s best player but he is also the best leader around.The Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Atlanta Hawks to get to the NBA finals in LeBron’s first season back in his hometown.He has made a knucklehead player like J.R.Smith more accountable to the team instead of the selfish stupidity he displayed in his time with the Knicks.James has the ability,like Michael Jordan did,to take players who were bums with another team like Smith and Iman Shumpert and turn them into valuable contributors.His will and determination to win is contagious to the rest of the team and makes them elevate their play to a higher level.Besides that he is a great clutch player which all the great leaders have.How many big games did Michael Jordan excel in leading the Chicago Bulls to six titles? Derek Jeter made that famous flip in the playoffs and hit a game winning homer in the World Series.Mark Messier guaranteed a Rangers victory in game six against New Jersey in 1994 and went out and scored a hat trick in the win and ultimately led the Rangers to Stanley Cup glory.It’s one thing to be a great player but it’s totally different to make players follow you,to get them to raise their game and be willing to put aside selfish goals for the good of the team.All the people I mentioned had that quality and now you’re looking at another one who has not only put a team on his back but a whole city as well.He is King James.That’s my opinion.
The NBA draft lottery is a colossal joke and needs to be done away with asap.I’m saying this not only because my team,the New York Knicks,got penalized for actually winning a couple of games towards the end of the season,but it’s ridiculous that if a team has the worst record they may not get the top draft pick because some ping pong balls didn’t fall their way.This is totally assinine.The NFL draft is by far the most popular because if your team had the worst record they picked first,plain and simple.All this talk about tanking,tanking,tanking and the Knicks had the second worst record behind the Minnesota Timberwolves but wound up being fourth in the draft order.Minnesota did win and will pick first but the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers,who both had better records than the Knicks,will pick second and third respectively.When the Knicks won the lottery in 1985 and got the right to draft Patrick Ewing,there was all this talk that the lottery was fixed so New York would win.Yet the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the lottery 3 times in the last 5 years but I haven’t heard one word about fix or conspiracy and they didn’t always have the worst record.One year they had a 1.7% chance of winning and did.How the hell is that possible? I don’t remember who had the worst record that season but it’s totally unfair.With their draft haul the Cavaliers have drafted LeBron James and Kyrie Irving with two of the wins and drafted Andrew Wiggins,whom they traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love,with the third.If New York had won that many times can you imagine what would be said?I’m convinced the Knicks will never win the lottery again because the NBA doesn’t want to hear any conspiracy theories.The NBA needs stop this ridiculous and unfair way of determining draft order.Ping pong balls should be for picking numbers,not players.That’s my opinion.