For the fan in enemy territory

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NYFSJ Valentine's Edition: Love it or Hate It.

Once a year, the male percentage of the population is overwhelmed with the nearly impossible task of appeasing their significant others. They attempt to do so with the purchasing of flowers, candy, jewelry, clothes and such.

This yearly spectacle that seems to only exist for the sole purpose of elevating the sales of material things is called Valentine's Day. It is not a new concept, though. This holiday dates back as far as 496 A.D. and was founded by Pope Gelasius I.

Last year, to commemorate it, I introduced a segment called "Love it or hate it". In that segment, I answered one question about each of the major New York area teams in all four sports. I answered these questions by stating if I loved or hated a specific thing about them.

To continue the tradition, I decided to post a new edition of this segment. With further explanation not needed, here we go.

1) Love or hate the New York Mets this year? Love. But I am not loving them for their potential for immediate success. I love the fact that they are finally going to get better. They may not do anything this coming season, but they are in prime position to make better moves with smarter administration.

I love the fact that they have a better, more competent GM. Their direction on the field seems much more decisive. Off the field, there will be season long distractions from the Madoff lawsuits. For now though, they have far too many questions that need answering before a proper assessment can be made. But I love the direction they are headed in.

Love or hate the New York Giants season? Hate. I do believe too many things led up to their demise, however, they underperformed. The past season was nearly identical with the season before. They started fast, looked dominant but faded in the end. Something must change for them to get back to glory.

First, they must avoid the major injury loss. They were never the same after Domenik Hixon went down in preseason. Their special teams suffered. Then, when Steve Smith went down, the passing attack lost their consistency.

Second, they must establish a leader on both sides of the ball. The defense has not shown a leader since Antonio Pierce was released the year before. The offense does not have an identity. Are they a run first type of team or a big play down the field style of offense? They have shown flashes of both.

Third, they have to be more aggressive and finish games properly. They lacked intensity in key situations this year and as a result lost key games. The Titans loss and both of the Eagles losses come to mind. When they enter a game feeling too confident, they lose. When they have a large lead, they relax and allow the opposition to catch up to them.

Love or hate the New York Yankees this coming season? Love. Though I believe their starting pitching is similar to the Mets' last season (one Ace and four question marks), by the time the season is in full swing they will be in contention and able to make a trade to add depth to that rotation.

I believe the retirement of Andy Pettite will hurt them immediately, but they will be able to replace him. If they add Kevin Millwood or a pitcher that is comparable, they should be fine for the first half of the season. The bullpen is exceptional. If they have a lead in the 6th inning, the game is over.

The offense is still full of studs. From A-Rod to Tex to the Captain, they can hit. Given the park they are in, they may be able to win a majority of their early games without the bullpen, but rather with big bats and blowouts.

Love or hate the New York Jets season? Love. As a notorious Giants fan, I must say I hated the fact that the majority of the New York area football talk was not about the Giants, but as a fan in the Philly area, they helped give something else to talk about besides the so-called heroic Michael Vick comeback.

I was happy to see them return to prominence. Growing up, I remember Joe Willie Namath on the Brady Bunch and pantyhose commercials. I grew up knowing the Jets as a successful franchise. Personally, I am not the type of fan that likes the brash talking that their coach, Rex Ryan, does.

But it serves a purpose. It takes pressure off of his players. If it helps the team win, I am not opposed to it. I would just rather see them talk less and execute more. They ran into a tough task in the playoffs. Finally, the Steelers got the best of them. In the end, they are a better team for it. They can turn that momentum into a championship next year, if they use it right.

Love or hate the Knicks this season? I absolutely love them this year. They have brought competitive play back to New York basketball. When Amare Stoudemire was first acquired, it was only to entice Lebron James. That plan didn't work. However, he has been effective in Mike D'Antoni's offense.

They are one player away from being as close to elite in their conference as possible though. That player is Carmelo Anthony. He is from New York and wants to come back home. If he does, they could be a force against anyone, including the prematurely-crowned champion Miami Heat and the perennial Finals challenger Boston Celtics.

Even without that addition in season, they are still a playoff contender. They are young, talented and exciting to watch. They are led by a fast paced offense with a "devil may care" attitude. It's good to see the birthplace of basketball return to greatness.

Love or hate the New York Rangers playoff chances? Hate. I don't think they have the potential scoring to go deep in the playoffs if they get there. They have the goalie play but they still lack the big scorer. They tried to fill the void with the oft-injured Marion Gaborik, but he has not been consistent.

Chris Drury will be out for six weeks and the rest of the offense is slumping. The truth is, they still have not replaced Jaromir Jagr. They need to draft that type of talent or spend money on a high offense-impact player in their prime.

With all of this said, I think the future is much brighter for New York sports than the past few seasons have been overall. All the teams seem to be moving in a better direction and are either getting younger or are obtaining better players. Either way, it sets us up as fans to enjoy a ride of positive emotions for years to come.

On this day, when you are enjoying the company of the one you love, just remember the teams you love too. Celebrate them when you celebrate each other. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.