Posted on: May 23, 2009 12:01 am
Well Mets fans, today I got a new cap for my birthday. almost a century or half I guess, and I wore it for the first game against the Red Sox. The Mets won and gave Johan Santana some run support. I guess I will never take it off.
For all of us who were wondering how the Mets could win with all the plugs being filled by the AAA guys, well here is the line for tonight victory over the Red Sox. Angel Pagan had an RBI and the fill in at short who likes to draw errors had 2, yes that is right Mets fans Ramon Martiniez had two RBI's. The Mets scored when they had to. I know that some will find fault in the victory and that is fine but the MEts won. The cross town rivals could not keep pace though and the boys from Queens are still a game and half out. Gary Sheffield homered tonight so that makes three for the year and he played solid defense. All good things for the Mets.
The Mets won the first and Johan and the bullpen did their jobs against a very good Red Sox team. Bobby Parnellcame in and pitched a no hit inning as did Francisco Rodriguez. the boys won one when they had to. I know some Mets fans will say it was just a fluke but I am always the optimist and think this is on the road to something good.
Maybe it was the new ball cap, maybe not, but I will wear it from now on and the Mets will win. Call me die hard or Johnny call me what ever you want, I am happy the Mets pulled it out and tomorrow they will win two in a row. the CAP stays. Lets go Mets.
Posted on: May 18, 2009 10:06 am
Edited on: May 19, 2009 1:13 pm
In honor of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mr. Madness has decided to take a break from reviewing a sports movie this week. Instead, I've chosen to review 10 - the 10 greatest hockey movies of all time. (In the opinion of this writer, of course.) After having spent countless hours over the weekend waiting on hockey to resume, Madness had too much time on his hands, and watched these ten films...
OK, I watched 14, but four will be left on the cutting room floor.
I am sure the choices will spark countless debates and it should be noted that this is the place for those debates. Feel free to disagree and state your case. Just remember that Madness is a trained professional and some of these stunts should not be tried at home. (Again, just something I always wanted to say.) So enjoy the list, and go out and rent or buy the movies.
Let's drop the puck and start the hockey movie playoff!
10) Youngblood Stars Robe Lowe, Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. The story centers around Dean Youngblood. Dean is a hockey player who is trying to make it to the NHL. Dean, however, is a problem. He and his coaches are never on the same page, and he's always being accused of lacking the toughness to make it to the pro's. The story unravels and Dean falls for the Coach's daughter along the way, played by Cynthia Gibb. The training is unique and has a Rocky feel to it. Over all, not a bad movie, but it should have had more hockey and less relationship.
Movie Madness gives it a grade of Pro .
09) The Love Guru is a Mike Myers film that centers around a hockey player in the NHL. With an all-star cast that includes Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson, Ben Kingsley and Mariska Hargitay (some of the funniest lines in the movie), this film chronicles the life of pro hockey player Darren Roanoke and his struggles to play as the super star he is. Roanoke loses his wife to rival player and foe, Jacques Grande (this you have to see). At this point, the Love Guru is called in to help him find his karmic center, and what follows are a lot of laughs and some hockey.
Movie Madness gives this film a Pro rating (Mariska Hargitay gets a SuperStar though).
08) Sudden Death stars Jean Claude Van Damme, and has appearances by NHL stars Mike Lange, Luc Robitaille, Markus Naslund and Bernie Nicholls. The story is about a hockey game. Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to be specific. But it's not all hockey. A group of terrorists are going to blow up the arena! It has great hockey footage and, of course, some action scenes that are mostly believable. Over all, it plays well.
Madness gives this film a grade of Pro.
07) The Sweater is a story of a boy and a gift. The boy is a fan of the Montreal Canadiens and the "Rocket". All he wants is a sweater to show his loyalty to his team and favorite player. What he gets is a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. This movie is an animated short film, but it's one that shows not just the passion we have for our beloved teams, but he social climates that surround them.
Madness rates this an All Star.
06) The Rocket is the story of all time hockey great Maurice Richard - known as the "Rocket". It documents the struggles of his life and the natural talent he used to over come them. It takes place in Montreal in the 1930's, and has some of the most gritty film scenes of all the hockey movies I have seen. This film covers all the issues of the time as well. Language, management and social hierarchy. A well made film that few have seen.
Madness gives it a grade of All Star.
05) Hockey Mom (Aka Chicks with sticks). From the title, you would think this is a powder puff film. Well, don't let the title fool you. This is the story of women against man on the ice. It covers all the normal scenarios of the eternal battle of the sexes. It' a hockey mom that was so close to the Olympics and now wants to see a women's pro league. It's a one-on-one battle between Paula Taymore (Played by Jessalyn Gilsig) must show that women can play as well as the men. What you get is some great hockey and a truly great story.
Madness rates this film an All Star.
04) The Mighty Ducks not only inspired kids to play hockey, it started a whole NHL franchise. Great skating, great cast and a great story involving a former star player (played by Emelio Estevez). This character tries to get himself out of trouble in his law firm by coaching a group of misfits. It's the first in the series of films, and one of the most beloved Disney sports movies of all time.
Madness rates this film a SuperStar.
03) Mystery, Alaska is one of the best hockey stories ever told. David versus goliath... but on the frozen pond (literally). It has an all-star cast with the likes of Russel Crowe, Mary McCormack, Burt Reynolds, lovely Lolita Davidovich and even Hank Azaria of Simpsons fame. You'll also see some New York Rangers stars. Here is a partial list for your viewing pleasure: Phil Esposito, Jim Fox, Tia Domi, Barry Melrose and Steve Levy.
It is the story of an Alaskan team from a small town that gets the chance to prove their worth against the mighty New York Rangers. The story is complete, from the practice, to the tryouts to the team captain realizing he has gotten to old, and needs to let the young star shine. It has the comeback and the drama. If you have not seen this, it is a must.
Madness grades this film a SuperStar.
02) Slapshot is one of the most popular hockey films of all time. It centers around the Hanson brothers, a trio of hockey brothers that are trying to save their team from relocation to the retirement centers of Florida, or so they believe. What follow is hilarious, and although it lacks the fundamentals of real hockey, it has some of the best fight scenes you will ever see, period. Paul Newman leads a cast that will have you laughing from the drop of the first puck. Had it been about real hockey, it would easily have been number one.
Madness grades this film a SuperStar.
01) Miracle is the true story of the 1980 Olympic hockey team and has been reviewed by Madness. It is the greatest hockey movie of all time in the Madness archives and will remain there until, well, forever. To read the full review follow the link or just take my word for it.
Madness grades this film a SuperStar.
So that wraps up the Top 10 hockey movies of all time. I am sure opinions will vary and I welcome any and all of them. Now, on to the Stanley Cup!
Posted on: May 14, 2009 12:37 am
Edited on: May 15, 2009 8:51 am
The date was February 22, 1980 and all I have to ask is... Do you BELIEVE?
The US team had already won when they were not supposed to. They had made it to the medal round, and had gone farther than anyone thought or expected. Now, on this date, they would be playing against the Russians - the team that some people said was the most powerful team ever to skate on the ice. In net, they face one of the greatest goalies ever to don a mask. They would never overcome these odds. It simply wasn’t possible.
Miracle chronicles the story of this team, all the way from picking the coach to the last second of the 1980 Olympics games. The weight of a nation on their backs. An all-star cast that is headlined by Kurt Russell as Coach Herb Brooks, and helped mightily by some of the up and coming actors of today. Notably, Eddie Cahill of CSI NY fame plays goaltender Jim Craig.
Not only is this an historic event protracted perfectly on film, but is the greatest assembly of hockey talent you can ever find in a movie. The actors where evaluated first based on their skating ability, and second on their acting ability. Miracle is a must-see for all hockey fans, and should be a must-see for all Americans.
Where this movie hits home...
As a young kid growing up in New York, hockey is as much a part of us in the winter as pizza and bagels. Sports in the Big Apple seem to take on a life of their own. It is never just one sport, and you seldom get to pick the team you root for, either. This is a generational act. If your dad is a fan of a team, you are a fan of the same team. I mean lets face it, if your dad drove Fords, you did. If you dad drank Coke, you didn’t touch a Pepsi. If in your house, the New York Rangers were the hockey team, you better not come home with an Islanders cap. If grandpa donned the Pin Stripes, you better like the Yankees.
And it was no different when it came to politics.
If you are old enough to remember the Cold War, this philosophy took on a similar meaning in our every day lives. In politics you were what your parents were, if they voted Democrat, you would as well. Well, in the late 70's the U.S.S.R was the sworn enemy of the United States, and it had been the case for almost 30 years. Communism was our arch rival.
This was not just something that took place on the battle field. It enveloped every day lives as well. The bomb shelter business was booming in the 60's due to the Bay of Pigs. The fear of the Soviet Union was everywhere, even his transitioning into the world of sports.
In the Olympics, the Soviets were larger than life. They were stronger, faster and seemingly won a gold medal in every event... sometimes just by their fear factor alone. The Soviet Hockey team was no different. They were not just winners, they were almost super human, and had won every international tournament from 1956 to the winter of 1980 except one. They were, in fact, on the verge of an unbelievable 20-year win streak. That was in YEARS, in case you didn’t catch that.
Now, unlike most countries that fielded teams for the Olympics, the Russian team was not truly amateurs. Most countries had teams that practiced together for six to eight weeks before an event. The Russians played together year round. Although they were considered amateurs because their "real" jobs were as members of the Red Army.
The United States teams, meanwhile, would be put together before the qualifying tournaments and then practice before the Olympics. Needless to say the US team was not going to beat a team like the Russians. America knew they were going to lose, it became acceptable.
It was acceptable, that is, until a man named Herb Brooks came onto the scene. Herb Brooks new of this rivalry. He knew of the humiliation. He had even tasted the defeat dished out by the Russian monsters on ice.
He had played on two US Olympic teams, 1964 and 1968, some even said he was inspired by the Red Team. Some said pure hatred drove him. So when the chance came for him to coach the 1980 team, he dove in. He put the team through the most rigorous training anyone had ever seen. Even some of the players he chose for the team were a surprise. He chose players from the college he had spent so many years coaching, the college he had taken to three national titles. He ate, slept and breathed not just hockey, but US victory. This was truly David versus Goliath.
On February 9th of 1980, he brought the team to Madison Square Garden to face off against the Russians in an exhibition game. The Garden was packed with fans of the Red, White and Blue, but they all left disappointed as the Russians beat the US handily, at 10-3. The hopes of the Olympic dream were gone, the hopes of democracy were gone.
The USA was going to succumb to the Russians. The mood of Americans everywhere was one of doom.
So I ask you this one question... DO YOU BELIEVE in Miracles?
Movie Madness score is: SuperStar
Posted on: May 13, 2009 10:37 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2009 9:23 am
The Mets in May, the half way point.
The New York Mets sit atop the National League East after the first 6 weeks of the season. But what have they really shown us up to this point? They put together a seven game winning streak, a definite high point and yet they can’t seem to produce any runs in support of Johan Santana. Arguably one of the best pitchers plying the trade today, Santana leads the league in ERA with a stunning 0.78 after seven starts while posting a decent but far less impressive 4 and 2 won lost record.
The Mets have shown glimpses of promise in a come from behind victory against the Braves. A few Mets players are showing great numbers for the month so far as well. Carlos Beltran is leading the National league in average at .374 and is right behind the Majors leader by only a few points ( well 19). Johan Santana is leading the National League in ERA at .078 yet somehow not leading in wins.
The bullpen has shown vast improvement over last years. Francisco Rodriguez is second in the National League in saves with 9 and has an ERA of only 1.15 with 16 strikeouts in 15.2 innings. The team ERA is a 3.89 and they have 220 strikeouts to only 125 walks. They are allowing the opposition to bat at a .254 clip. Solid numbers but not enough to sustain the season. There as also not been a complete game by a Mets pitcher this year.
As for the bats, well there are three Mets with a slugging percentage over .500, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright, again solid numbers. The team batting average is a respectable .287. The Mets have scored 158 runs in 32 games. that is almost 5 runs a game. The record should be higher with that kind of run totals but again the bats tend to take every five days off. The Mets are averaging less than 1 stolen base a game, this is not a good sign considering they have Jose Reyes and David Wright to go with Carlos Beltran, all legitimate 30 steals guys.
Fielding? Well this is not as bad as I thought it would be but still not good enough to be an elite N.L. team. In 32 games they have had 1,183 chances and committed 22 errors. They have allowed less than half a stolen base per game. they have a fielding percentage of 0.981. Respectable but the few errors have been costly ones and on plays that should have been routine.
So as for the month of May I see some good things from the boys from Queens. I see room for improvement as well. If they could cut down on the errors. If they could become more consistent at the plate and if they would just give their ace some run support, this team can walk away with the National League East. All in all I would say it is a fair start, not a good one but a fair one. I look forward to seeing some of the fundamentals come around and this team making surge the second half of the month.
Over all grade for the first half of the month I would have to give the Mets a C+. Not bad but needs improvement. so go ahead Mets fans and give me your thoughts. See you again at the end of May.
Posted on: May 10, 2009 11:43 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2009 8:54 am
The movie "For the love of the game" takes us back to those moments. A moment we could only imagine. To the first touchdown, home run or winning lay up we ever took part in. It takes us back to the first kiss with the girl or guy we knew was the one. Through this movie we can relive getting our first paycheck and buying our first car. It transforms us. It envelops us.
It is the story of professional baseball player, Billy Chapel (Played by Kevin Costner), and the history of his life and career in the span of one nine inning perfect game. We watch as he pitches the game of his life after a 20 year career, all the while reliving his greatest hits so to speak. He relives his first love, baseball, his real love, Jane Aubrey (Played by Kelly Preston). He relives the injury that almost cost him his career. All this takes place on his last day of "work". While he is pitching the only perfect game in his long and illustrious career he lives all of it. This is what makes him realize that in the end it was only a job and the relationships he has built and the choices he has made are what made him, not just the "Love of the Game"
This movie touches the soul and also allows us to get into the minds of the fans that love the game. As we watch him relive his life, it reaches into our hearts and pulls. As we watch him pitch against the New York Yankees, it brings out the fan in all of us and we watch even the harsh Yankee faithful fall for this guy who is pitching a perfect game against their team. If there was ever a sports movie that could take us everywhere we wanted to go and to the places we seldom admit we need to go, this is it. So the next time your team is rained out and the reruns season is in mid run. Go to the video store, or turn on the laptop and download it. I enjoy it every time I get a chance to see it. I always walk away feeling better about my choices and knowing that life is the same way. We have to imagine and we have to live it for the love of the game.
Imagine if you were on your last day........
Imagine you wake up one morning and start your routine, only to remember it is your last day to do this routine. You head to the shower as you have for every work day in the last 20 years. As you walk into the bathroom you begin to relive your career. The first day on the job and how excited you were. When you feel the water hit you, it hits you, the first time you met your better half. As you dry off and stand in front of the mirror you remember the first time you got the big promotion and how you shared it with your then girlfriend. You finish dressing and as you walk out the door to the car, you think of the first time you met your boss, the owner of the company, and how he took a liking to you right away. Then the car door slams and you turn the key, still unaware of your surrounding as you relive moments, even seconds, and how they changed your life.
You turn onto the expressway for what you have come to know has the hour and half drive to work. It has just begun but you have done it so many times it come to you as second nature. You have learned to turn the blare of the horns off, the sounds of your surrounding just disappear, and you can concentrate on the task at hand. For 20 years now you have done this. Day in and day out it has been your routine. You begin to think back to the first time you stepped into your new office, the one on the top floor, the one with the window, you smile. Then you realize that although this your last day, it is also the biggest day of your career. you have a chance to close a deal that only a few in the history of your company have done, heck in the history of the whole business have ever done. Your focus returns and you go back into auto pilot, as you have done a thousand times.
There she stood next to her car, kicking the flat tire. The busy highway rushing by her and you could not help but laugh as you approached. Even as you smile you begin to pull to the side of the road and offer to help her. She tries to blow you off at first but you are charming and persistent, so she gives in. This would be the start of things to come, she would be the one for you and you for her. You snap back and realize you are pulling into the parking garage at work, through the security booth and you roll the window down to greet Frank, "Morning Frank" and he smiles and waves you through. "By the way, congrats on your retirement." he yells. As you park it begins to hit you, this is the last time you will ever park in this spot again.
We can all imagine this situation, maybe not for a 20 year career, but for something. The last day you spent at home before heading off to college, knowing you would never again live in the house where your mom made all those great pancakes. Never again have your dad teach you to ride a bike or throw a ball. Maybe it was prom or graduation. Knowing that the twelve years you had spent is now ending and you are not a kid anymore. Life and new choices await you right outside that door. We have all been there, all had that moment to IMAGINE.
Movie Madness score is : All-Star
Posted on: May 3, 2009 12:17 am
Mets fans had a rough day today, the 2nd of May. After taking the lead in the sixth back from the Phillies in what was a see saw scoring battle, the Phillies struck again in the bottom of the sixth to tie it up. the score stayed 5 to 5 for four more innings. When the Mets had runners at the corners in the top of the tenth Carlos Beltran once again failed to drive in a run. the Philies then got a single, hit batsmen and a walk to load the bases and once again were winners when Sean Green walked Shane Victorino to and the winning run walked across the plate.
There are a few things the Mets need to work on.
1) Fielding - Carlos Beltran is a Gold Glove center fielder and yet he was no where in sight to back up Daniel Murphy when Shane Victorino hit what should have been a stand up double into the left center gap.
2) Plate discipline - Jose Reyes has got to start taking the first pitch. He swings away and for this his strikeout totals keeps rising.
3) Heart - It started when Jose Reyes lagged coming out of the batters box on the first at bat of the game. he could have and should have beat the throw to first but instead ,I can only guess, thought he would be out. The bullpen seems to be working well, lowest ERA in the National League but where is the heart in walking three batters in the bottom of the tenth.
4) Jerry Manuel - He needs to start taking some action. The buck stops with the manager. If he would sit some of these guys until they get their heads on straight it might cost the Mets a few games now but would pay dividends in the end.
Now lets get it together Mets and take the game tomorrow back from the Phillies.
Posted on: May 2, 2009 10:21 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2009 9:23 am
We just sat there, the four of us. The game was going into the ninth and the score was all knotted at 5 a piece. This is why we watch the game. It is not for the blowout, lets face it, even if it is our team. It is not for the long ball, back back back and its out of here. We watch for the nail biting, hair falling out, sweat pouring down our forehead. That is why we watch. That is why we love the game. In the midst of our hectic lives, when the kids are so busy with friend s and MySpace. In the middle of getting the dinner ready after a long days work. When the world news keeps trying to convince us that there is no hope and all is chaos. It still amazes me that a simple game can change the world.
There we were, this family of busy lives, my youngest son kneeling on the carpet hands on his knees and enthralled at what was taking place on the television. My oldest son inches away from me sitting on the edge of the coach holding his breath with every pitch. My better half, having just walked through the door form work in the midst of this mayhem, still dressed from work. She stood there just outside of reach as if she knew if she got to close it would throw the whole event into a tailspin. Then there was me, on the edge of the seat, hands rubbing back and forth on my knees until the clothe of my jeans felt hot. What must have been pain on my face, knowing not one of them even glanced my way. We were all together, in this day and age of cell phones and laptops and instant everything else to do, watching a ball game.
The pitcher went into his wind up and the batter took a mighty whiff. Strike three and all of us, all four of us, let out a sigh of relief. My team had one more chance. that was one of the beautiful things happening in my moment, in my life, right then. This was my team. Each of my sons rooted for a different team than I did and my most wonderful wife, of course had her favorite as well. On this day though, at this moment, they were all on dad's side. All pulling for the old man's team and doing it with every ounce of energy they could muster. With every pitch, swing, shift and check on the runner, they were pulling for his team. "The top of the tenth was next, after these commercial messages" I waited to see what important things the family would run off to do, to my amazement there was nothing. They all stayed in the same spot and still never looked at dear old dad. I could not help but smile.
The top of the tenth came and the manager still brought in the one pitcher I really did not want to see. My oldest said "Don't worry dad, he's got this". With that I cringed. No he didn't. I knew this but the boy was so full of hope. Then it happened, three up and three down. My team would have to hold them off for half an inning more. I stood up, I could not help it. I kept yelling at the television as if it could somehow change what was going to happen. As I glanced around the family had every so slightly moved closer to me, they had tighten out little circle. "Circling the wagons" I said out loud. Not that they could or would have heard me because at that very moment my team walked in the winning run for them. A loss, not again I thought. Can this season get any worse, I said to myself.
Then it hit me as I looked around. This simple game I have spent my whole life loving had brought me something more than any World Series could have ever brought. My family, all of us, sitting, standing and kneeling, all together in a room. Only one purpose was in this. My kids were not asking for something. My wife was not going over the bills or some up coming trip. We were all there to watch my team. We were all there to be together in a moment when one of us needed the rest of us. I never asked them to watch with me. I did not have to plead or bribe them. they just came in and watched with me.
For those out there who say the American family is dead and family values are gone. I have to disagree, strongly in fact. On this day in this house they were strong, true and without compromise. So my baseball team lost, big deal. My team, the one I have to go through the game of life with, won. We won big today. For that I am grateful. For this moment will go down as one of my highlights, one of my top ten, one worth holding onto. I can hope one day it happens again but if not I still have this one. It was wonderful and worth every moment I had to give.
Posted on: April 30, 2009 3:09 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2009 11:02 am
This is going to be a weekly updated blog. I would like to take the whole baseball season to relive the history of the New York Mets greatest players. I will follow this up with the greatest teams the Mets have fielded. From the Miracle Mets of 1969, the first season with Casey Stengel in 1962 and all the way through the retired numbers of Casey, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver and of course William A. Shea along with Jackie Robinson. So stay tuned for the ride, it should take us through some great memories as well as some great disappointments. Feel free to make a case for your players and teams as well as long as it is ALL METS.