The Monday Morning (Afternoon) Update: September 26, 2016

 

USA Hockey goes quietly into the good night, the Red Sox can’t lose, and the Giants are back to their old ways

  1. Leave no doubt

I’ve already said most of what I have to say about the massive failure that was USA Hockey in last week’s blog. Suffice to say that last week’s finale against the Czechs did very little to change my mind, or to wash that horrific taste out of my mouth.

That being said, at least Team USA left no doubt about what needed to be done for whatever the next international hockey tournament ends up being, Olympics, World Cup, or otherwise. An 0-3 showing, including losses to two teams many thought may be the worst in the tournament, should prove that the brass needs to seriously re-think how this team in Toronto was assembled.

If that wasn’t enough, however, the reaction of the players and coaching staff after the loss should be almost as telling. The players, rather than accepting blame for what was an uninspired trio of games, put the onus on bad puck luck and bounces, and focused more on what was being said by fans and players on Twitter than on their own shortcomings.

That’s fine, and I can understand their frustration regarding the comments/tweets from Bobby Ryan and Phil Kessell. But those tweets weren’t why the team went winless, and neither was puck luck.

It was a poorly constructed team that did not even play up to the best of its ability.

trio

  1. Can American golfers do what hockey players couldn’t? Paging Happy Gilmore…

 The good news for USA hockey fans is that many of them are also USA golf fans. And that means we have a second chance to defeat our foes from Russia during this week’s Ryder Cup, being played at Minnesota’s Hazeltine National Golf Club.

The bad news is that the Euro’s have had the Americans’ number in that tournament, too. They’ve won the vast majority of these international specials in recent memory, including six of the seven held in this century and each of the three.

If you want more Ryder Cup talk, Riggs joined the latest episode of the Chin Music Podcast to break down the tourney.

At this point, I’m just glad Ryan Moore was named the final captain’s pick for the US over Bubba Watson. Nobody wants to root for Bubba.

ryder-cup

  1. The Patriots do it again

The Patriots bring out conflicted feelings in me like no other team. On one hand, I respect Belichick and Co. to the moon and back for what they’ve been able to accomplish. Staying that good for this long in any sport, much less in the current era of the National Football league, is no small feat.

On the other hand, I hate them. I hate what cocky jerks all of their fans have transformed into.  I hate Belichick’s smarmy, arrogant reaction to reporters. I hate the way they always manage to toe the line of fair/unfair. But most of all, I hate that they’ve been that good for this long.

And no matter what any other Pats haters say, that’s the reason they hate them too. If Belichick schemed his way to 4-12 every year, no one would have a bad word to say about him.

The part that makes me the most mad, and impresses me the most, is that I can probably just rerun this same rant next week when Bill rides another QB who has never started in the NFL before to an 4-0 start.

Houston Texans v New England Patriots

  1. The Giants do it again, too

For those that don’t root for Big Blue, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: by halftime, almost every Giant fan worth their salt was sure they were going to lose that game. Most of us knew it was over a lot earlier than that.

I said it on Twitter and to fellow Giant fans yesterday, but some things never change with this team, even with a new coach. No matter what, Eli and Co. seem to have a horrific habit of letting bad teams hang around instead of putting them away early in games while things are clicking. Then they lose in horrifying fashion in the game’s final quarter.

It almost happened against Dallas in Week One, and it happened again yesterday. I love Eli Manning to death, and I’ standby all the praise I lavished upon him before the season started. But there is no denying that yesterday’s game was exactly what gives his critics so much fuel.

I maintain that absurd mental mistakes and more than 120 yard in penalties cost the Giants more than Eli did yesterday. But if Eli or the Giants have any hope of making a step forward while they still have a group of incredible, mostly very young and underpaid, receivers, they need to win games like this.

Otherwise, they will realize what they missed out on when this group starts to break up.

eli-redskins

  1. The Islanders sing the three-goalie blues

Going into the off-season, every Islanders fan was hoping that Jaro Halak would get a chance to play meaningful minutes for Team Europe during the World Cup of Hockey. Once new Maple Leaf Freddy Andersen went down, opening the door for Jaro to start, we all hoped he would play well enough to become a somewhat appealing trade asset.

Maybe Islander fans should be careful what they wish for.

Jaro has looked like the best goalie in the tournament, carrying a European squad that many thought could be the worst in the World Cup to a three-game final against the favorites, Team Canada.

Now, they have a decision to make, one that many fans (including yours truly) are terrified they will manage to screw up.

The play we’ve seen from Halak these past few games is why the Islanders went out and got him when trying to rebuild the team, and why his Islander career has been so frustrating. As his performances in this year’s World Cup of Hockey, and his playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens back in 2008, show, Jaro is capable of being one of the best against the best.

But there are so many questions surrounding him. He makes a decent chunk of change as a goalie, was unhappy playing in a three-goalie system last year, and was vocal about it. He’s also had his fair share of injury woes.

Many Isles fans, including those I asked on Reddit, think the team would best off heading into the season with a top-notch tandem of Greiss and Jaro between the pipes. Considering the goalie woes the Islander have dealt with over the past decade-plus, it’s a tantalizing idea.

But I’m not so sure an angry Jaro, who will probably cede even more time to Greiss this season after the former backup carried the Isles to their first playoff win in more than two decades, is the way to go.

halak wcoh.jpg

  1. Sanchez for Rookie of the Year MVP President

 Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just don’t care about baseball, you know that Gary Sanchez is a pretty decent player. Even if one of those conditions are true, you still may know, given the onslaught he’s had during the late part of this summer.

To be clear, Mark Texiera has gone so far to say that the only person that can measure up to Sanchez’ numbers so far has been babe Ruth. That’s right, ol’ Gary stands alone with the Sultan of Swat, the King of Clash.

Last week, I saw some chatter about whether Sanchez should be the Rookie of the Year despite his shortened season. That debate, is, frankly, laughable. I see a much higher distinction for him later this fall, maybe around November:

imageedit_3_4984381120

  1. The Red Sox may never lose again

As a New Yorker who recently moved to Boston, this fall has been basically my nightmare.

The Patriots, like we discussed a few minutes ago, are really, really (really) good. And now, it seems like the Red Sox may never lose again. This is not good, people.

I picked the Orioles, more than once in fact, when we were looking at what seemed to be an air-tight AL East. Now we get to find out just how dumb I really am. The Sawx have won 11 in a row, including a pair of four-game sweeps against the Yankees and Orioles and another three-game beat down of the Rays.

What’s even worse is the way the Red Sox have won these games down the stretch. Their starting pitching has turned from pumpkin to beautiful horse-drawn carriage as Rick Porcello has become something resembling a legitimate ace, the out field has gone from three young, bumbling mice to expert dressmakers, and Big Papi looks like the group’s wonderful Fairy Large-Father (ok, I’ll stop with the Cinderella references).

All in all, I just hope the clock strikes midnight and exposes this Red Sox team before the season ends and they’re raising the worst trophy in sports once again. (Ok, I, promise this time, no more Cinderella.)

red sox winning.jpg

  1. The Big 3 Call It A Career

None of them did it for Boston, but the last two members of the Celtics’ “Big 3,” Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierece, joined Ray Allen in retirement this weekend.

It’s a strange ending for the trio. They were once Gods in Boston after topping the Lakers and bringing the city back to the top of the basketball world, partying like it was the 1980’s all over again. But injuries, father time and the rise of LeBron kept the Big 3 and just the Big 1 when it came to championships.

Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics brass saw the writing on the wall a few years ago, and shipped Garnett and Pierce off to Brooklyn in order to harvest all those first round picks.

It will be interesting to see how their legacy develops, and whether the impact those three had on Boston basketball is lost as the team looks to build another dynasty around the pieces they got in exchange for those legends.

That Big 3 was likely the inspiration for many of the super teams we see today, but somehow didn’t feel nearly as hateable as Miami did, or as Golden State will this year. While they came along a bit later for me, they were still my first favorite basketball team, and I will miss seeing them in the NBA.

kg pierce.jpg

  1. RIP, Jose Fernandez and Arnold Palmer.

 It felt cheap to include this in the top of the update or in the headlines, but it also felt wrong not to include at all.

The sports world got a big reminder of just how fleeting all of this attention and money is this weekend as Marlins all-star Jose Fernandez and golf legend Arnold Plamer both died on Sunday.

The deaths are obviously divergent in almost every way. Fernandez was a smiley youngster, full of life, love and talent in equal measure by all accounts, and was the personification of so many things we love about sports. Palmer was a legend in his time, and though his health had been in decline, it still felt strange to hear of his death on a quiet Sunday.

I won’t pretend to be hugely affected by either passing. I loved watching Fernandez throw the ball and hoped he could do so for the Yankees, but I was never more than a casual fan up to this point. Palmer is a legend, but one that came before my time. Still, the news of both deaths was affecting in an instinctive way.

I have no wise words to wrap this up, but like I said, it felt wrong to write 2,000 words on the world of sports this week and not include any mention of these two men, both of whom leave behind families and friends that will grieve their losses more than any sports fan possibly could.

Thoughts and prayers to their loved ones, who will feel their impact long after the news of the day, and our attention, turns to something else.

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Follow Brendan Murray at @MurraySportTalk for more

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2 thoughts on “The Monday Morning (Afternoon) Update: September 26, 2016

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