Hitting Back: ‘Retirement’, April Baseball MATTAHS, Steven McDonald

The Yankees celebrate a 7-3 win over the Orioles to salvage the final game of the series at beautiful Camden Yards. They return to the Bronx for the home opener tomorrow. More on April Baseball, ‘retirements,’ the awful Knicks, LeBron, NBA MVP and why The McDonald family means so much to New York City. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Yankees.

This is what makes my good friend Brian one of the true classics when it comes to sports fandom. Unhinged in our Facebook chat room this morning:

Brian No. This time retirement is meant.

Brian Sanborn left the conversation.

How to explain the legend of Brian David? Unpredictable. At any moment, he can erupt for no reason. Our chat focuses mostly on sports with some politics mixed in by future President JPG. A young fiery yet misguided lad who was overwhelmingly supportive on Trump. But now has turned because Mr. Trump actually has feelings on other human beings. 😛

Brian is a long suffering Buffalo sports fan. I’ve known him for over two decades. Since the depths of the basement meeting at St. John’s University on the Staten Island campus for three hour sleepless lectures from Professor Bernheim on the safety and protection of sports. He is the biggest Bills and Sabres fan I know followed by Rob “Retirement” Davis, who supports Two Bills Mafia but resides in the mean streets of Clifton, New Jersey and is now a long suffering Devils fan full of tanks. A trend started by Chris Wassel.

When it comes down to it, Brian is the biggest advocate of retirements. How much has he ‘retired’? Probably over 100. But he always returns with a vengeance with war usually waged for me, Derek “Flex” Felix. Led by JPBenedict- a former Chicagoan who turned on hometown Bears and Bulls even supporting any team LeBron played on (that’s low even for me)- BlueJayPG finally saw the Cubs win a World Series. It only took 108 years. Mr. Giagnorio was alive for only 31. So, 2016 was special. Yet he still complains about the Cubs overpaying for Aroldis Chapman due to top prospect Gleyber Torres coming to the Yankees as part of the big rebuild last summer.

Then there is the wildcard Colin “Vanwarinator” Cannaday. A die hard Atlanta Braves and Falcons fan, he had his heart crushed by the Falcons in the Super Bowl. One which I still can’t believe. How they blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots still boggles my mind. What was even more shocking is how calm Colin was when it was over saying:

“It’s who the Falcons are.”

I don’t know about all that. But obviously, he has a bigger heart than me. We all have our quirks. Me with Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, clueless and senile Knicks President Phil “The Will” Jackson and Giants GM Jerry Reese. Needless to say, I have been accused of treason by John Giagnorio. The fearless and emotional leader of Team Benedict. JayPG has spread his practice of turncoatism to students Brian David, Retirement Rawb and Colin.

Maybe you’re thinking what’s the point of this post. Well, it’s about time I provided the true characters of our chat. People I am proud to call friends despite all the shit we talk. It’s all good. Friends who have been part of my shows on Hard Hits Network and part of Wassel’s over on the airwaves of Blog Talk Radio. One day, Hard Hits shall return. When it does, you’ll be the first to know.

There’s so much going on. Already panicked callers of the Yankees and Mets due to one week of baseball in a 162-game season. Like I always say:

April Baseball MATTAHS!!!!!

You’d think these people would get real. But when you have Benny from the Bronx still calling in about precious NFL and Ira as well about the Jets, you know things aren’t normal in NYC. WFAN is in need of a makeover. Once Mike Francesa leaves, they’re gonna become even worse. Ever since Imus was wrongfully terminated due to overreaction from social activists over a poorly timed joke that didn’t make him racist, it’s become a toilet of awful radio led by Boomer & Carton. Two of the biggest imbeciles to ever team up and replace Imus. They are unlistenable. Wait till Joe and Evan take over for Francesa. What will that senile clown Phil Schmucknick do then with his recycled column in the Post?

So I heard Bill Madden is back with the News. Shocking. But only in a special Friday column as he releases another book. He is a better interview than writer. We know he still hates the Yankees and is old school when it comes to Cooperstown. I guess Mike Lupica needed his old buddy back. The day they no longer write for that biased rag will be too soon.

Congrats to Sergio Garcia on winning The Masters. His first PGA major slam title at the age of 37. Kinda felt for Justin Rose after that playoff.

The Knicks season is finally almost over. Counting down to the NBA Lottery live during the Conference Finals on ABC. Praying for Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. If not, then Malik Monk.

When Carmelo Anthony is freed from jail this summer, I hope he winds up playing great basketball in the final part of his career. He never complained once about how poorly run the franchise is. All he’s done is play and take plenty of body contact and play through injuries. Not what Melo envisioned. Maybe he’ll get to team with CP3 and Blake and Deandre with the Clippers.

I can’t think of a more pampered star than LeBron. He’s a top five all-time great player. But man. Does he bitch and moan a lot. The latest during a game the Cavs were outscored 44-18 by the Hawks in a one-point overtime loss Sunday. He whined about a jump ball that led to Atlanta forcing extras. Mr. James is a terrific player who will go down as one of the most complete in NBA history. But the antics and diving is nauseating. So is his complaints when his team loses a couple. I never saw that from Larry, Magic or MJ. You think Bill Russell complained like him? Ha. Patrick Ewing should have. But he did the best with what he had for the Knicks during the 90’s when they were relevant.

The game has changed. Not for the better. Kudos to Russell Westchuck on breaking Oscar’s NBA season record for triple doubles with number 42 which included a buzzer beater. He’s still never seen a shot he didn’t like. OKC is only 12 games over .500. He’ll probably edge James “Ballhog” Harden for MVP. Both have the ball a ton. So, they are gonna put up ridiculous numbers. Westbrook averaging a triple double and Harden close to it with the Rockets, who will take on the Thunder in the first round.

I still say Kawhi Leonard is more complete than either and should get more votes along with King James. Neither will. It’s a award all about gaudy stats. No matter how many turnovers either averaged along with their assists, points and rebounds, it’s either Russell or Harden who will win.

Tell me how Isaiah Thomas doesn’t mean as much to his team. He only leads them in scoring every game he plays. The Celtics are too perimeter oriented to seriously contend. The Cavs served notice on Wednesday by routing them. John Wall is every bit as valuable to the Wizards, who have the only chance to give the Cavs a series in the East due to their mix of great guard play and size. A Washington vs Cleveland Conference Final would be a potential great match-up.

As for the Warriors, they finally got back Durant. Now, he can rejoin the mouthpiece, Steph Curry, Dray Green and Klay Thompson. Golden State clinched the best record again and will have home court throughout. They look like locks to come out of the West. If it is the Warriors and Cavaliers again for a third straight NBA Finals, that never happened between the Celtics and Lakers when I grew up during the 80’s. That would be interesting.

Early baseball thoughts:

Francisco Lindor will be in the mix for AL MVP. He’s got three dingers and plays an electrifying short for the Indians.

I guess all those Mariners preseason picks might be wrong. I bought in sorta. Oops. Well, I do believe the wildcard is coming from that division. But it’s probably gonna be Texas and Houston even though I don’t love the Astros’ staff. Keep an eye on Dallas Keuchel, who is back in form.

When Gary Sanchez is out longer than two weeks for the biceps strain, then I’ll be concerned. Good bounce back win for the Yankees today after the bullpen blew two to the Orioles, who can rake with anyone. And that pen is elite. Nice to see Starlin the Darlin’ come through with a clutch two strike base knock. How about Ronald Torreyes? Why didn’t I have him in my fantasy lineup again? Only 24 and is tied with 7 RBI’s for the AL lead.

I also thought the Braves would be improved. They’re 1-5 so far. Double oops. When Big Sexy, Bartolo Colon has your best outing so far, that’s not a ringing endorsement. Plus it came in his return against the light hitting Mets. In their latest defeat, the pig pen gave it up to the Pirates with one of the best young outfielders, Starling Marte hitting the game-winning two-run home run for a walk off. At least Freddie Freeman went yard twice and Dansby Swanson jacked one. Atlanta should hit. But their staff and relief is scary bad. They have two 40-plus year old pitchers in Bartolo and R.A. Dickey. And Jim Johnson cannot close anymore. Is it too late to bring back Bobby Cox?!?!?!?!

Arizona is off to a very good start. Greinke looking for a bounce back. Plus a healthy A.J. Pollock patrolling center should be a boost to a lineup featuring Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. They have some young arms in the pen but old man Rodney closes. That has to change at some point.

Yasiel Puig has three homers already including a pair in a recent Dodgers win. Motivation? If he stays focused and on the field, he could be a steal for someone. Right now, that would be Richie’s Baseball Stars in my league. He paid only 13 bucks.

It only took Mark Melancon eight days to record his first save for Dad’s Giants. After blowing his first opportunity by giving up four straight two out hits on Opening Day in The Desert, he finally got a save for only the Giants’ second win. Their lineup will hit. Especially with speedster and ex-Yank and Baby Bomber Eduardo Nunez at the hot corner. But after MadBum and El Cueto, it gets dicey.

At least Melancon is reunited with former Staten Island Yankee teammate George Kontos. Did You Know? they teamed up to win the Baby Bombers a NY-Penn League championship in ’06? I covered it. Kontos started and Melancon closed. Francisco Cervelli was also on that team.

Hockey is finally over. The playoffs start this week. For the Rangers, they get the Canadiens. I’ll have more on that first round series on New York Puck. They’re not favorite. We’ll see if Lundqvist can match Price in net and the Blueshirts can deal with the Habs balance and annoying grit and peskiness.

I’ll end by saying much respect to Sergeant Conor McDonald. It definitely isn’t easy to fill Dad’s big shoes. But I loved his passionate speech with father Steven proudly watching from above with love. It was tough seeing his wife Patti-Ann cry as the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award was presented to Mats Zuccarello.

The McDonald Family is all class and the epitome of what it means to represent this city. I got emotional watching it. Their Dad is sorely missed. He fought for 30 years after being shot in the line of duty by a criminal he eventually forgave even though he spent the rest of his life in a wheel chair due to becoming paralyzed with a spinal cord injury. Look at how they carry themselves the next time you have a bad moment or feel sorry for yourselves.


A tale of lies and deceit

Charles Oakley is apprehended by MSG security after an incident that they instigated. Not what Knicks owner James Dolan wants fans to believe. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy SportsCenter.

There once was a team I rooted for growing up without any care in the world. They were my hometown New York Knicks who played in the center of it all near Broadway. Those days are long gone. Dead and buried thanks to a heartless snake named James Dolan.

The glory days of meeting Walt “Clyde” Frazier at his basketball camp and still having an autographed ball and picture with my family feel like an eternity. That I went to his camp was so cool enough. And to think he was at the Chase branch here in Arden Heights Shopping Center when it first opened and signed again and was so personable I will never ever forget.

Nor will any true New Yorker who lives and dies with the orange and blue playing a kid’s game with a basketball and a pair of expensive Jordans can ever forget the days of Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Doc RiversDerek Harper, Charles Smith, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, Greg Anthony, Pat Riley and eventual replacement Jeff Van Gundy. We cheered for lovable favorites Herb Williams and Eric Anderson. We took pride in our Knicks and watched the player intros with the amazing MSG theme and the epic:

“Go New York! Go New York! Go!”

We loved everything about those teams. From the hard fouls Oakley, Ewing and Mason put on the enemy Jordan and Pippen along with Reggie and any hated Pacer. It was quite a time to be a hoops fan in this town. We could feel it. The world was ours. With apologies to Nas’The World Is Yours.

These Knicks made you proud and the Garden loud. A raucous atmosphere back when Marv Albert and Clyde called the games on MSG. What a duo. You had Mike Breen and the legendary John Andariese on radio.  They were run the way a franchise is supposed to be. With class.

It’s still hard to fathom how close those teams really were. From the nightmarish conclusion to Game 5 of the ’93 Eastern Conference Final to the Starks’ nightmare of a Game 6 in the ’94 NBA Finals at Houston, it really hurts. Even all this time later, I can’t wrap my head around it. How they never won an NBA title with Ewing. They’re still stuck on two with no end in sight.

Are we ever gonna stop remembering ’69-70 and ’72-73? I’m grateful for all the videos of Willis Reed coming out for Game 7 and hitting those first two shots as Frazier dominated to lead the Knicks to an upset over the powerful Lakers of Wilt, West and Baylor. I can only imagine what it was like to watch Clyde and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe in the same backcourt win the franchise’s second championship over the Lakers in easier fashion. Teams that included Dave Debusschere, Bill Bradley, Jerry Lucas, Phil Jackson and coached by Red Holzman.

I wish they could’ve won in the 90’s. Don’t forget that miracle ’99 team that barely made the playoffs and then edged the despised Heat in five on Allan Houston’s shot that hit the rim and took a favorable bounce in with him pumping his fist. The same team that featured Latrell Sprewell, Larry JohnsonMarcus Camby and Chris Childs with Kurt Thomas and Charlie Ward. When Ewing went down, Chris Dudley played center along with Thomas. It’s still one of the most amazing runs with the Johnson four-point play at MSG against Reggie and those hated Pacers one call we got in our favor.

Maybe it made up for the Reggie Miller game in ’95 which turned into an ESPN 30 For 30 documentary called, Winning Time. A series that still went seven even after Miller’s miracle at MSG when he scored eight points in nine seconds and gave the choke sign to super fan Spike Lee. At least these days, I can laugh at it. But when I still see Ewing miss that finger roll at the stunning conclusion of Game 7, it kills me inside.

There was the whole circus when players came off the bench in Game 5 of a heated Conference Semifinal in ’97 from both the Knicks and Heat that turned that series around in which David Stern suspended Ewing, Houston and Ward for Game 6. Johnson and Starks sat out Game 7 as Tim Hardaway led the Heat to a stirring comeback along with Ewing’s close friend and rival Alonzo Mourning. It ruined what could’ve been the one chance to finally beat the Bulls. I really felt that team had a legit shot to beat them after going into Chicago and winning during the regular season. I believed.

It’s funny when I look back on it now. How did we go from a decade of great Knicks basketball to this? It started a long time ago when they dumped Ewing and took on some awful contracts which killed their salary cap. It ended an era when they lost to Miller and those Pacers in six games in the 2000 Eastern Conference Final. Ewing’s final game as a Knick. Indiana went on to lose to the powerful Shaq and Kobe Lakers.

I can cite all the names where they went wrong. Eddy Curry. Scott Layden. Antonio McDyess. Stephon Marbury. Even Starbury failed here. Isiah Thomas had a hand in that. He really screwed with Marbury’s mind building him up. Then Jason Kidd and the Nets undressed him and the Knicks in a big showdown letdown. Marbury and Jamal Crawford were a fun guard tandem. But those teams lacked the necessary toughness to compete. Even when they made the playoffs in 2004 with a beaten up Houston still around before Crawford, they were no match for the Nets getting swept. Penny Hardaway was a shell of himself. It’s too bad because he really could’ve been one of the best if not for all the injuries.

A malaise took over The Garden. Dolan was running things into the ground. He had been for quite some time with the awful dismissal of Albert following an off the court controversy that humiliated him. He was the voice of the Knicks. They transitioned to Breen and Clyde and they still are calling the shenanigans at 33rd and 7th. Breen fortunately gets ABC or ESPN assignments. So, he doesn’t always have to do their games. Kenny Albert fills in now when he’s not doing Rangers games.

I still despise how Mike D’Antoni ran Marbury out of town. But he thought Chris Duhon could be his starting point guard for a full 82 games playing a run ‘n gun style emphasizing the extra pass. Duhon was gassed by the second half and wasn’t used to all the minutes. That’s why they failed. Even when Dolan brought in Larry “Next Town” Brown for a year prior to the No ‘D’antoni Era, it was an unmitigated disaster. Brown and Marbury butted heads. He rubbed the players the wrong way.

Even a nice rookie class featuring future All-Star David Lee, NBA dunk champion Nate Robinson and three-point fixture Channing Frye couldn’t save them. Thomas traded away Trevor Ariza and then drafted Renaldo Balkman and hired gun Mardy Collins. If you’re a Knicks fan who goes back a decade, you know what I’m referring to. Another genius punk move by Isiah.

They all have come and gone. Steve Francis. Tracy McGrady. Zach Randolph. Tim Thomas. Larry Hughes. Al Harrington. Marbury. Crawford. A new batch of young talent in Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, who were both shipped to Denver along with Timofy Mozgov, Ray Felton and two first round picks that became current Nugget Jamal Murray and current 76er Dario Saric for Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and too much excess to name.

Dolan was behind it basically overruling Donnie Walsh which eventually led to him leaving to return to Indiana. The spoiled brat just couldn’t wait. He had to get Melo even at the cost of severe over payment which further damaged the franchise. Nothing against Anthony. He’s been a good Knick who has scored so many points. Now 25th on the NBA all-time scoring list after passing Sir Charles, he has never had the supporting cast since that blockbuster trade. Dolan subtracted too much. The best cast was Anthony, Amare and J.R. Smith headlining Mike Woodson’s team that won 54 games and the Atlantic Division. But the Pacers eliminated them in the Conference Semis in six.

The ’11-12 team went down in five to the then powerhouse Heat led by LeBron, Wade and Bosh. A series best remembered for Amare losing his cool injuring himself. By then D’Antoni was gone with Melo disliking him. There was the whole Linsanity phase when he was out hurt and Jeremy Lin shocked the world by playing remarkable ball at the point. Anthony won the power struggle with Woodson replacing D’Antoni. He took them to the playoffs twice. In fact, he went 70-34 in those two years. He should’ve gotten a medal. That team also featured Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin. Plus popular vet Rasheed Wallace before he got hurt. They had defined roles with Kidd doing a fine job before breaking down. Even Pablo Prigioni played a role as a key backup. Felton was back to run the offense and Iman Shumpert was the kind of defensive guard Knicks fans appreciated.

It’s hard to believe they lost to Indiana. But the Pacers had Paul George, Lance Stephenson, George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert, who outplayed Chandler. It would’ve been nice to see that roster challenge the Heat in the Conference Final. But it wasn’t to be.

Since then, it’s been nightmare after nightmare. Phil Jackson was hired by Dolan to run the Knicks operations as Team President. He gave him full power. Similar to Glen Sather, when he ran the Rangers into the ground before rebuilding them into a contender. The biggest difference being for as great a coach as Jackson was, he had no previous management experience. Sather won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers dynasty.

Jackson is arrogant. He doesn’t communicate well. He avoids the media at all costs like Dolan, who at least showed up and gave an interview on the Knicks radio station ESPN the other day after the whole Oakley escapade. It really is as bad as it sounds. Charles Oakley remains one of the most popular Knicks due to his tough mentality and hard nosed approach. He stood for what those Knicks teams were before he got traded to the Raptors for Camby. He left bitter. But it worked out for the Knicks with the Camby man blossoming during the ’99 run. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Ewing for the Spurs’ tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan. I can still see Sprewell having that shot blocked as San Antonio celebrated on the Garden floor.

The thing about Jackson is he is a former Knick who was part of those two championships. As much as we loathed him when he ran the Jordan and Pippen Bulls winning six NBA titles and then going to Hollywood and winning five more totaling 11, he was supposed to know better. But here he is in La La Land tweeting out silliness like the one aimed at LeBron and his posse. A poor choice of words which James overreacted to. These days, the self-proclaimed King James will yak about anything even if it’s controversial and forced. I don’t care for it. His basketball should be enough which is legendary. Especially how he carried the Cavaliers back to give Cleveland their NBA title from a 3-1 series deficit against the mighty Warriors.

Ever since the current Knicks started out a promising 14-10 with a new cast featuring Anthony, rising star Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings, the wheels have fallen off literally. It coincided with Jackson’s press agent writing a controversial article about how Jackson had no more use for Anthony. Way to treat your star player. The same one you signed off on as one of your first moves as Team President. That btw included a no-trade clause.

Typical Phil. He really thought Anthony was Jordan or Kobe. Those are special players. Melo is a very good star player who is a scorer first. He doesn’t always make teammates better. He also has had games where he’s broken down in the final quarter by misfiring on shots in crunch time. He’s been beat up. He isn’t smooth. He works for his points. Whether it’s in the post or from the outside or at one of his spots, Melo always gives it everything. Defensively, he’ll never be confused with Jordan, Pippen or Kobe. But he has played the four and rebounded the ball. He also proved he could distribute it last year posting a career high 4.2 assists with over 21 points a game and nearly eight rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony has been a hot topic for Knicks fans due to Phil Jackson’s mistreatment. Melo scored 21 of his 25 in the second half to give the Knicks their best win of the season amidst chaotic distractions due to idiot owner James Dolan. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy NYKnicks.

At 32, he doesn’t have many peak years left. But there he is still being the workhorse for a flawed team that just hasn’t clicked. How much you want to put on Jackson for that untimely column and other bizarre tweets critiquing Anthony is up to you. It was Melo who led them to a 94-90 home win over the Spurs. He had 21 of his 25 in the second half and made clutch shots down the stretch. It was nice to see him do it and not respond to ABC’s nonsensical questions about “the distractions.”

Anthony has been nothing short of professional. Even with trade rumors swirling with the deadline approaching following the All-Star break, he’s stayed focused. He wants to stay and be a team leader. Porzingis has spoken highly of him. You think his development hasn’t been helped by Anthony? It’s become hip to rip your best player. Take him away and they would really stink. Some fans want to tank for the lottery. I don’t think that was Jackson’s intention when he brought in Rose, Jennings and signed Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee. Don’t tell a few of my misguided friends.

The goal is to make the playoffs. You think Phil wants to miss again? They’re 22-33 even with the best win of the season over those Spurs, who basically are Kawhi Leonard. That’s why they can’t be taken seriously in the West. Nobody told Jackson to give a clearly banged up Noah four years. Lee has been good in spurts. He’s finally starting to make shots again and play well after pouting when Jeff Hornacek had him coming off the bench. A mystifying move that never made sense.

Maybe Hornacek’s latest move of having a three hour practice and video session in which he let players point out their mistakes when they gave up an ungodly 131 to the Nuggets will be a turning point. A game they lost 131-123 despite 21 fourth quarter points from Anthony. He fumed afterwards about how the first unit got their points but didn’t guard anyone. He wasn’t wrong.

So, when the Knicks held the Spurs to 90 and prevailed in a close game, it was a different ending than we’re used to. This happened while Sprewell returned to MSG and was seated next to Dolan as if they were best pals. It had been 13 years since he’d been there. I love what Sprewell brought as do many Knicks fans. But if this wasn’t a publicity stunt by Dolan in response to the Oakley “ban” after his MSG security actually initiated the whole thing where Oakley lost his mind shoving a guard and getting taken out by about nine security and police who arrested him, then I must be blind.

Dolan will do anything to put a positive spin on his ugliness. The video below shows what MSG doesn’t want fans to see. It shows Dolan’s security starting with Oakley first by pushing him to the ground before number 34 lost his cool. Judge for yourself.

By now, we all know the story. Or the one Dolan wants us to. How Oakley acted horribly when he entered the arena after buying a ticket. And how he needs help as if he was an alcoholic. A ploy this lame owner has used before doing it to a poor fan who wrote him a letter a couple of years ago. The man has zero class. He’s a nobody.

Oakley has many supporters. He’s spoken about the incident since. He’s admitted he was wrong. He let the tense situation get the best of him. That’s not how you treat a former player who gave your team and its fans plenty of great moments. Nobody hustled more than Oakley. He dove for every loose ball and would frequently wind up in the stands. Classic New Yorkers appreciate him.

In what’s supposed to be the 70-Year Anniversary of the Knicks, here are Dolan and lackey Jackson making the situation uglier. They are insulting our intelligence. The owner is still far worse than Phil, who just can’t help himself. It makes you wonder if he’s on the Lakers’ payroll still.

The lies and deceit are there for everyone to see. You can’t make it up. Dolan has stood by Jackson saying he intends to let him run the outfit through his five-year contract. It’s in Year 3. The playoffs were supposed to be guaranteed this year. But not when it comes to the Knicks. We have to learn the hard way.

Can the team take something out of the San Antonio win and start a winning streak into the break? That’s up to the players. They’re the ones who have to look in the mirror every day and not let the Dolan idiocy and Jackson delirium distract them. I still support the players. I will never support that clown who owns the team.

Once a liar, always one. #FreeOakley

A Return of Sorts

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: