A Return of Sorts

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Venus Williams will try to win her first Australian Open at age 36 when she goes up against younger sister Serena, who aims for history. An Australian Open to remember. Plus other thoughts including on the Knicks and Super Bowl. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Live Tennis.

I haven’t posted anything in a while. So, I am just gonna put together some random thoughts on a few things that are on my mind.

1.I have been going to the gym all week and am doing better. I had been putting it off for so long that I knew it was gonna finally happen. I gotta say I am pretty happy with the results. Increased energy. Better eating habits. Still gotta work on the sleep part. But I definitely am ready to reach my goal. Getting older, you have to be more focused and put more time in. I am ready for the challenge. 🙂

2.The key for me is just to stay in tune on one thing at a time. The same applies to work, life and friends. And of course, writing which will always be my true passion. I have started to write poems again at work when it drags. And so far, it’s nice to see my creative side coming out. I wrote this for someone special who I will always love no matter what:

“Your Rose”

by Derek Felix

Your rose is pink like neon lights

Above on a cold dark winters night

With a starry sky floating gold jewels

As a cool reminder that sunnier weather lies ahead

Just close your eyes and dream in bed

And its warmth will give you strength

I never did get around to finishing it. But I think the six lines say plenty. You can tell how much I care about her. I am in a funny place and have been for a while. One where I wish I was with this person but have become attracted to someone else at my job. And they are great too. But if push came to shove, well. I don’t think anything else needs to be said.

3.Writing has always come easy for me. Whether it’s blogging about hockey on New York Puck/Battle Of New York or other sports or life events/happenings, I am really good at expressing myself. I need to do it more consistently and build an audience again.

4.The Super Bowl is next week. It should be a good one. I am pulling hard for close Georgia buddy Colin’s Falcons. I have been on them since the Giants were Eli-minated by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. A frustrating loss due to the lack of offensive creativity in a first half Big Blue controlled. Eventually, Rodgers picked them apart. Special teams were awful. Ben McAdoo’s play calling at times left much to be desired. They had a good year winning 11 games. Let’s just leave it at that.

5.I am strongly in favor of Matt Ryan winning MVP. I know it’s unlikely due to Rodgers and the invincible and ageless Tom Brady. I’m sure Matty Ice would take a Super Bowl championship ring over a regular season award any day. Especially if he or Julio Jones get game MVP at the expense of the Patriots. Here’s to hoping and believing.

6.Tennis is on my mind. When you have the Williams sisters playing for the first time in a grand slam final since 2009, it’s special. Especially for older sis Venus, who at age 36 showed pure joy when she beat Coco Vandeweghe in a tight three sets to make the final. Younger sister Serena, who is 35, aims for history. If she wins, it would be number 23 passing Steffi Graf for the most in the Open Era. She tied Graf by winning her seventh Wimbledon last year. I wish I could stay up and watch. But it’ll be 3:30 in the morning here and I have to be up for work.

7.I never thought we’d see the day where it would be Roger vs Rafa again for a slam. But here we are with the improbable happening with Federer and Nadal playing for a major for the first time in quite a while. With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray falling victim to mammoth upsets, it paved the way for Federer and Nadal to go through a draw that was still challenging. Each was pushed five sets in great semifinals. First, Roger edged countryman Stan Wawrinka in five. Then, Nadal went nearly five hours with the end still on at after 8 AM here with him digging deep to beat Grigor Dimitrov in a memorable match. That came after straight setting Milos Raonic and needing four sets to defeat Gael Monfils. That tells you all you need to know about Rafa. He is 30 now and is in his first slam final in three years. He last won in 2014 with his ninth French Open giving the flamboyant Spaniard 14 majors to tie Pete Sampras.

Rafa and Roger will meet for the first time since 2011 when Nadal beat Federer in four sets to win the French Open. They’ve had some epic battles. Both have overcome injuries to come back and make it the first grand slam where both singles championships will be played by all four players who are 30-or-over. It’s never happened before. You have Federer at 35 and Nadal at 30 who seems older due to all the injuries he’s dealt with. Plus the questions about whether he had what it took to make a deep run again. They are close friends. Head to head, Rafa is 6-2 versus Roger in grand slam finals winning the last four meetings. It should be amazing.

There’s a reason I love the Australian Open. Sure. The time difference is a nightmare. But late night matches are fun and this tournament has gotten better and better since I started watching. The first tennis major has been memorable. How will the script end?

8.I am just gonna put out this thought on Carmelo Anthony. He will always be a great scorer and will one day make the NBA Hall Of Fame. Melo is one of the few stars who wanted to play in New York City. He got his wish when Denver made a blockbuster trade with the Knicks involving a lot of players going the other way including Galinari, Nene, Mozgov and Wilson Chandler. It was overpayment due to Dolan. However, there is this one thing that bothers me. It’s easy for fans and especially hypocritical media to rip on Anthony. But the guy has always taken a pounding scoring inside and out doing it with more wear and tear than most stars. It’s wrong to put this on him. It falls 100 percent on Phil Jackson. His refusal to speak to the media is pathetic. He’s left Melo hanging and is shopping him to anyone who will listen. It’s the ultimate disrespect. Even if it’s the right move for Anthony to go compete for a title and for the Knicks’ future, Phil has been horrible. Aside from Kristaps Porzingis, who they’re ruining by overplaying him with an injury, what has he done? Nada.

9.If I cared what LeBron thought on key issues, I would listen. Do us all a favor and shut up.

10.Here is a throwback song from Guns N’ Roses from the Use Your Illusion album that is still one of the best. Underappreciated song:

Moving Forward: The thoughts and impressions of a blogger

It’s the final day of November out in Staten Island, New York. Just another gloomy late Fall day in this town. For a second straight day, it’s raining and the temperature is actually a reasonable 56 degrees. Not too bad before the calendar changes tomorrow to December.

A week from Thursday is my birthday. We already made plans to go eat out at a real nice restaurant in downtown Brooklyn that I’ve been to before. I have fond memories of Henry’s End because it was back when our family was together. We used to go out to eat on special occasions in Brooklyn Heights. I can recall spending New Year’s there once with my Mom, Dad and brother. And the menu was superb. It really was a great way to bring in the New Year.

It’s hard to believe that that time in our lives was so long ago. To someone like me, the 90’s don’t seem that distant. But here we are two decades later with 2016 about to close its final chapter. I can’t even fathom that it’ll be 2017 in 32 days. Has it been that long since I graduated high school and attended college? Remarkably, yes.

I guess I’m just wowed that so much has changed. Maybe not for myself personally or for my brother. But just in terms of technology advancements. Back then, I was introduced to mobile phones. They were primarily used in the car for emergency situations. Now, you can do everything on your phone. I’m not so sure that’s been a positive development. Like many, I spend way too much time on mine. And while I do my fair share of reading and watch old videos, it’s not the same.

Perhaps it’s time for a change. Maybe to just go back to reading books and staying off my I-Phone as much as possible. And cut down on social media. Unfortunately, it’s become a place where opinions are shoved down others’ throats. Especially given the recent election. Never has a country been so divided. At the end of the day, what for? We are all Americans who are looking to better ourselves. No matter what side you’re on, it should be about treating each other with respect and not disrespecting differing opinions. There are far too many personal attacks and ridiculous labels that are so despicable, I can’t believe I knew some of these people. Indeed, it’s a sad time but one where we must come together as one.

There’s this distinct impression today that if you’re not with them, then you don’t belong here. That’s not the way it works. In America, we are allowed to have freedom of opinion, expression, etc. I may not like the same team as you. But that doesn’t make us enemies. It reminds me of your classic rivalries. I am a New Yorker who supports the Yankees and Rangers. The Yankees have one of the best rivalries with the Red Sox. New York and Boston go way back. As rival fans, it’s instilled to hate your opponent. Some fans take it too far. I’ve seen it in the stands at MSG during Rangers games when the Islanders visit. Too much alcohol or viatrol can cause serious problems. And what for? Because we root for different teams.

It really is the same thing in politics. If we’re on different fences, we shouldn’t be so consumed by it. There are too many circumstances these days where some get sucked in leading to more division. If you’re not with them, then you’re the enemy even if you are a nice educated person with common sense who is principled. Not everyone is “brainwashed” or “racist.”

Most of us have good upbringing and come from diverse families with different ethnic backgrounds. That includes race, color and religion. First and foremost, most of us are Americans who are citizens of this great country. We should be proud of that. Our country affords us more opportunities than most.

It’s time to come together as one and be united.

Christmas 2015

Daisy Fuentes

I am dreaming of a Christmas with snow and cooler crisp temps in the 30’s. That would be real unlike the bizarre 60 to 70 degrees we are getting here in the Big Apple with rain showers.

I guess you can’t have everything. If the sun came out, that would be enough. Whatever the case may be, we will all rejoice and have Christmas dinner with loved ones and close friends. Enjoy the magic of the holiday season for believing and dreaming.

With the year coming to a close, here are some holiday wishes in sports and life.

1.For the Giants to stop embarrassing themselves. Even if it means winning this weekend and the Redskins win the NFC East and eliminate them from playoff contention, just give Big Blue fans one Sunday to take pride in the team. That means no more hot dogging from Odell Beckham, Jr. and no more chokes from the defense. Play like Giants.

2.For the Jets to actually do something that isn’t Same Old Jets and earn a win against the Patriots taking them one step closer to the playoffs led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will need help in the form of a Steelers loss or Chiefs or even the Broncos to lose out. But Gang Green supporters sure deserve a January of meaningful games.

3.For MTV to be overtaken by actual music gods who give a damn about the music! Not the garbage shows they have on. And for rock ‘n roll and metal to be part of their channel again. VH1 too. No more!

4.For The Cars talents to finally be recognized by the Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Shame for 2017 induction. They were geniuses who inspired so much and changed the way music felt and sounded. Do it for the gone but never forgotten Benjamin Orr whose voice is only one of the most soulful and best ever. Honor the genius of Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson.

5.For nothing but the best for coach Chris Mullin as he and assistant Mitch Richmond continue to develop a new program at St. John’s University.

6.For the Mets to actually show some compassion for their loyal fans and add another outfield bat and a key arm to aid a weak bullpen which is a concern entering 2016.

7.For the Yankees to act like the Yankees and make a move that could impact the present and future.

8.For Knicks coach Derek Fisher to actually settle on a 10-man rotation eventually and not keep Cleanthony Early glued to the bench. And for Melo to close out a game for once instead of disappearing.

9.For the Nets to actually try to put a watchable product at Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn instead of making hoops lifers sick to their stomachs. Fans can still go see Lincoln, Boys and Girls and Jefferson for cheaper and get much better value.

10.For sports stations to cover the sports like they’re supposed to be covered. More about the game than the sideshow it’s become full of distractions and ridiculousness of social media.

11.For Roger Federer to win one more grand slam in his illustrious career. And for Rafael Nadal to come back and get one more French Open. And for Novak Djokovic to be challenged again.

12.For any woman to beat Serena Williams at a grand slam and not be retiring. For there to be actual competition. And for Serena to learn good sportsmanship when she loses.

13.For Tiger Woods to give himself a Euro vacation and not return till 2017. He needs time away.

14.For the Point Break remake on Christmas not to totally suck and embarrass Bodi (Patrick Swayze) and Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves).

15.For the Rangers and Islanders to have a playoff series in the Spring that is as memorable as has been for a classic rivalry in quite some time.

16.For the cocky Carolina Panthers to come down to earth and have the stuffing beat out of them for their arrogance and stupidity.

17.For Beckham, Jr. to have finally learned his lesson and never celebrate with foolish dances after touchdowns which don’t decide games. For him to learn the meaning of becoming a true athlete kids can admire.

18.For there to be more radio broadcasts like the Giants one on WFAN in New York called by awesome play by play man Bob Papa and Carl Banks, who always make sure to call it right down the middle. They’ll always go after their team for not playing or acting to capability.

19.For the legendary Dick Vitale to get a lifetime achievement award and finally have the pleasure of calling a Final Four. There’s no more passionate college hoops announcer in the biz. He deserves it a year after Bill Raftery got his One Shining Moment.

20.For sports radio to have a little more balance. More creativity. Not the same old song and dance. It gets tiring and even as loathsome as a Mike Lupica column.

21.For everyone out there to enjoy themselves. We all deserve a break. We all deserve time away. Whether it be a great time with friends or a awesome show or concert or movie, give ourselves a breather.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

Random Thoughts: Yankees, Mets and Baseball

AL MVP front runner Josh Donaldson has carried the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East. news.nationalpost.com Associated Press/Getty Images

I’m bringing back Random Thoughts. It originated from Hitting Back. That is the old blog run off NYSportsDay. Today’s theme is the Yankees, Mets and baseball. So let’s get to it.

1.It’s nice to have two good teams in this town. Baseball hasn’t been kind to New York City the past couple of years. The Yankees spoiled us for two decades. The playoffs are no longer a lock. Competition has gotten better shifting to small markets who are run well such as the Royals and Pirates. Both of who will again be heard from this October. The Astros appear to be on the verge of winning the AL West and joining the fracas. The Blue Jays were big buyers at the deadline and have vaulted into first in the AL East. Toronto hasn’t seen a winner since 1993. The Cubs are good again. The Mets are back. It makes for what should be a compelling October.

2.When they don’t hit the ball out, the Bronx Bombers remain too one dimensional. With Mark Teixeira banged up and A-Rod showing his age, the offense has been non-existent. The only player hitting is Carlos Beltran. Healthier, he’s had a good second half. Brian McCann has been better in Year 2. The issue is that you can’t rely on the home run. That’s always been my one criticism of Joe Girardi. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner haven’t been utilized enough. Their speed isn’t used due to all too predictable station to station baseball that doesn’t win in October assuming the Yanks make it.

3.Ever since Wilmer Flores cried after thinking he was traded, everything has gone right for the Mets. Not only did Sandy Alderson turn down a trade that would’ve sent Flores and Zach Wheeler to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez. But he then turned around and dealt for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. He’s been brilliant since hitting over 300 with seven dingers and 20 RBI’s in 22 games highlighted by the three-homer seven RBI game against the Rockies in that joke of a stadium. Flores has hit blasting a pair of homers in a record setting win over the Phillies in which the Amazin’s set a team record with eight dingers. Suddenly scoring runs, they have a healthy five and a half game lead over the overrated Nationals. Unlike what Jayson Werth said, it’s the Mets division to lose.

4.The Amazin’ summer has fans excited about their team for the first time in nearly a decade. With a pair of aces in Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, they have the pitching that makes them a serious contender. Rookie Noah Syndergaard is still learning and finally won a road game. Jon Niese has been better in the second half. The bullpen is better since the acquisition of Tyler Clippard who has set up for closer Jeurys Familia. It’s them, the Cubs and Pirates who are the teams to watch this Fall.

5.No disrespect to the Cardinals who continue to win games like a daily ritual. They lead the majors with a 80-45 record. Michael Wacha has developed into a ace that’s not talked about. Matt Carpenter remains a constant and youngsters Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty are players to watch. Even without ace Adam Wainwright and first base slugger Matt Adams, St. Louis is again here. It’s amazing. You can’t kill them. Just imagine if the Mets have to go through them like 2006. The Cardinals are The Terminators of baseball.

6.I like what I’ve seen from Greg Bird and Luis Severino so far. Good on Brian Cashman for not parting with either or Aaron Judge for rentals. It would’ve been a mistake to trade Jorge Mateo, who has 81 stolen bases in his first full pro season in Single A. Indeed, there is a bright future in the Bronx.

7.Just about every day, Josh Donaldson is hitting the ball out or driving in big runs for the Jays. With a higher average, more home runs and a major league leading 100 RBI’s, that’s your AL MVP.

8.Mike Trout is fantastic. But if he wins MVP, it would be a crime. The Angels aren’t even in the playoffs. Trout is the best player in the game. Forget his bat. It’s all about his defense which is on display nightly.

9.Dallas Keuchel should win AL Cy Young. If you’ve never heard of him, shame on you. That said, I still believe Chris Sale got robbed last year. If he pitched on a good team, he’d have won one already.

10.One of my pet peeves is when outfielders throw home when they have no chance of nailing the runner. How many times do we have to see fundamentally poor defense which allows hitters to take the extra base?

11.Regarding Larry Bowa’s blowup at plate umpire Dan Bellino for Mets reliever Hansel Robles quick pitching Darin Ruf, he’s right. By rule, the quick pitch is allowed. But pitchers should give batters time to get set. The new rules so favor pitchers that they’re taking advantage. Jeff Francoeur explained it perfectly:

“Let the guy get in the box.” “My whole thing is ‘Give the guy time to get in the box and then pitch.'” He cited Familia who did it exactly “like he was supposed to but he gave guys time to be set and then he went.”

12.As for Bowa going off on Daniel Murphy for the bat flip, it’s something we see too much of. Whether it’s batters celebrating home runs or guys such as Carlos Gomez showing frustration when their team is up big, it’s easy to see why opponents get riled up. Though the Post’s Joel Sherman is right when he says do something about it on the scoreboard. I just don’t like showing up the opposition. But that’s what it’s become. It’s not changing.

13.The Yanks picked quite a time to have a dreadful home stand.

14.Kris Bryant is now the front runner for NL Rookie Of The Year. With a two homer game and some heroics at Wrigley Field, he’s been as advertised. The young third baseman is a stud who’ll be a superstar. It should be fun to see how he performs on the big stage.

15.I was wrong about Jon Lester. He and Jake Arrieta have teamed to form a great 1-2 punch at the top of the Cubs rotation. Speaking of Arrieta, he’s 5-0 in August with an ERA below 0.60. You think the Orioles want a do over?

16.As good as the NL is, it also has some of the worst teams. The Rockies, Phillies, Marlins and Reds are punching bags. At least in the AL, doormats Oakland and Cleveland are competitive. Even Boston is with their lineup featuring future star Mookie Betts.

17.Kinda sad about Hanley Ramirez already being moved to first base after the failed outfield experiment. He went from an All-Star shortstop to a player without a position pretty quickly. He is one of the most talented players but now the Red Sox paid him all that money and don’t know where to play him. Jeez.

18.Remember when Joc Pederson was a lock for NL ROY? I regret trading for him. I could care less about his OBP when he can’t hit and doesn’t play versus lefties.

19.Only in this era can one dimensional sluggers last. There are way too many Rob Deers. It would be nice if more players could hit for average and get more credit for being a professional hitter. Remember when doubles were king and Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn were hitting for ridiculous averages? What about the days of the stolen base when Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman tore up the base paths. That is missed.

20.If only Paul Goldschmidt didn’t play in obscurity with Arizona. He’s hitting .330 with 24 homers, 93 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases. The 27-year old is an old school superstar who deserves more recognition.

21.Unless something changes, it’ll be two consecutive years a Dodger pitcher sweeps the Cy Young and MVP. Zach Greinke is 13-3 with a major league best 1.67 ERA. None of the MVP candidates have stood out. Bryce Harper and Buster Posey are probably the best hitters but it looks like their teams will miss the postseason. The aforementioned Goldschmidt won’t get it. Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez play for the Rockies. Former MVP Andrew McCutchen is the best player on the Pirates. But .299-19-81 with 72 runs scored doesn’t scream MVP. I love him as a player though and maybe this is the year he carries Pittsburgh.

22.It’s ridiculous that three teams from the NL Central will make the playoffs and two will play in a one-game elimination with better records than division winners. Change the rule!

23.Does anyone think the Dodgers will do anything this October? I don’t see it. Not unless Clayton Kershaw brings it and Yasiel Puig proves he’s not overrated. Think LA doesn’t miss Matt Kemp?

24.Two of my favorite players are Dee Gordon and Jose Altuve. Two elite second basemen who can hit, run and field. They play the game the right way.

25.Robinson Cano isn’t having a great year but did make history by becoming the first player to hit 30 doubles in each of his first 11 seasons. It’s not working out the way he envisioned so far in Seattle. At 32, his numbers are down. Even with a strong second half, he’ll probably wind up just shy of .300 with 20 homers and 90 RBI’s. Are his best seasons behind him? If so, Seattle paid an awful lot for a fading star. With 30 more hits, Cano will reach 2000. He turns 33 on October 22. Can he reach 3000?

26.Who is Michael Pineda? That’s what more Yankee fans need to be asking.

27.C.C. Sabathia is probably done for the season. He tried hard and pitched better recently. But in his mid-30’s with a lot of weight, injuries and inconsistency will continue for the former Yankee ace. He’s had a great career. But let’s face it. It’s been over for some time. Time for the Yankee organization to face the facts. Sabathia will always have that world championship.

28.Was there better theater than David Wright hitting the first pitch he saw into the left field upper deck after returning?

29.Delino Deshields, Jr. is a good player for the Rangers. The son of former Expo Delino Deshields, he doesn’t get much ink. But like Dad, he brings speed to the top of the Texas order. He’s stolen 22 bases and has seven triples. Given up on by the Astros, it looks like Deshields, Jr. has found a home. Playing center field for the other team in Texas, he might even get a chance to face Houston in the postseason. Pretty cool story.

30.Final thought. Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada were two important Yankees. Part of the Core Four, they were an integral part of great teams that won world championships. Neither was great. I’d put each in the very good category. It’s not their fault that the Yankees retired their numbers. So don’t blame them. Put it where it belongs on the organization who did it for the fanfare. Let’s face it. Sports are a big business. Drawing is part of it. Retiring their numbers guaranteed that. They became the 20th and 21st Yankees to have their number retired. Derek Jeter will become the 22nd. The only difference is he was great and is a Hall Of Fame lock. Retiring numbers should be reserved for legends. Especially when it comes to the Yankees. Case closed.