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 Senna Blast and Strong Defense Gets Cosmos Back on Winning Ways

In their short return to the NASL, the Cosmos have seen their share of great moments.  Coming onto the stage and winning a championship in their first season, they had not seen any difficulties in pushing themselves into the upper echelon of the league.

Two weeks ago, the Cosmos suffered a rarity; their first setback at Shuart Stadium  since their return.  They had not given up a goal in nearly 360 minutes.  The next week, they suffered another 1-0 loss in Carolina.

Two games, two goals against, and none for.  Uncharted territory for Head Coach Gio Savarese’s team.  But to the coach’s delight, an absolute blast from Marcos Senna in the 61st minute, gave the Cosmos (3-0-2) the 1-0 victory of the previously undefeated Minnesota United (4-0-1).  The victory, in front of just under 3,100 at Shuart Stadium, put the home team back to third place in this short spring season.

The Sao Paolo, Brazil native received a corner kick from Hunter Freeman, looked at his options and took a shot that swerved through a hole in the defense, and past Minnesota goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.  The ball swerved and curved as much as an Al Leiter pitch.

After that – it was the defense that took care of the rest.  The Cosmos back line have only surrendered two goals in their five matches this season.  It is a testament to goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and the fullbacks to take care of business.  According to Maurer, “for the first twenty minutes, it was just a matter of locking it down, playing our game.  We are not going to change our game,  keep things solid.”

The Cosmos dominated just about every facet of this game. They took 13 shots as opposed to Minnesota’s 4; 7 corners to their 2.  The one facet that basically kept the visitors in the match, was the wall they planted just inside the 18 yard marker, not giving the Cosmos clear lanes to get the ball in.

However, the team recorded shots from eight different players. “We expect we should have more than that.  We are a team that wants to attack with every player that we have”, said Coach Savarese after the game. “Everybody has the chance to go forward, we want to make sure that we are always trying to move forward and by the fact that eight guys had the chance to get to goal, that is what we want.”

For the team, it was not the most solid of efforts.  Minnesota did all they could, in order to stymie this team, but for Senna, there was no chance for anyone to stop that goal.  Before that marker, the team had not scored in nearly 300 minutes.  It was on the minds of the team, but not the main concern.

“Everyone had a positive attitude.  We are not going to get too overconfident, we are going into the next game with a lot of positives, so it is fantastic for us”, said Cosmos forward Jamel Johnson. “It is great for us to be coming out of two losses, and making us learn a little.  With adversity, we have show a bit of character and that is something good for a winning team, and a championship team that we are.”

The Cosmos needed this game to get back their mojo and momentum as they head on to the second half of this short season (9 games).  They head off to Tampa Bay for a match against the Rowdies on Saturday night.  Three more important points on the line. The team returns to Hempstead on the 24th to take on the Indy Eleven.  Tickets are still available.

 All Streaks Have To End – They Ended Saturday For the Cosmos
  The Cosmos Streak of 13 Undefeated is Over

Since the re-birth of the New York Cosmos franchise, there were many things that you learned to expect. A victory, a clean sheet, a great deal of success. But tonight – most of the assumptions fell on deaf ears, as an Eric Hassli header was pushed past Cosmos netminder Jimmy Maurer, providing the visiting San Antonio Scorpions (2-1-0) the only tally they needed as they defeated the Cosmos (2-1-0) 1-0 in front of 4,130 at Shuart Stadium.

The loss was the first blemish in 13 games, dating back to last season, against Carolina. The goal ended the Cosmos NASL record streak of 371 minutes without giving up a goal, something that does not enter the minds of players.

“The streak is something that is more of a public media thing”, said Maurer to reporters after the game. “To we are worried about the next game, working as a team, getting better.”

Despite not getting a goal, the Cosmos were getting many opportunities on the net of Scorpions goaltender David Bingham. In fact, there were 21 shots attempted on net, as opposed to the five on Maurer. Of the 21, five were on goal. The Cosmos were give many chances, including 12 corner kicks to San Antonio’s one. The Cosmos were ahead in possession by a 57-43% difference. The first half, the numbers were even higher. Norwegian forward Mads Stokkelien led the Cosmos with five shots on net, with Jamel Johnson, a product of London with four along with Hunter Freeman, a defender from Tyler, TX.

After the Scorpions got the goal, it seemed like they deployed a tactic reminiscent of the New Jersey Devils, who would pull the neutral zone trap and stifle the opponent’s offensive chances. They did not necessarily stop the Cosmos from getting attempts, but they did swarm on the attacking player.

Coach Giovanni Savarese, was insistent at the press conference after the match, that the Cosmos played a strong game, and basically did what they needed to do in order to get the three points, except put on in the net.

“I leave today with a better feeling than I did before the game began. I think we played good soccer”, said Savarese.

Every game in this spring portion of the schedule is important, as it is only a 9 game (half-season). For the Cosmos, it will be important to get back on track with a Carolina team waiting for them next Saturday night.

“We dominated the game”, said Savarese, “but we did not take advantage when we got the ball into the box.”

The Cosmos did dominate most aspects of the game; they played a strong game, but unfortunately, the short end of the stick was given to them, and alas it is time to start some new streaks.

The next game for the Cosmos will be a road tilt in Carolina next Saturday against the RailHawks. They return to Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium on Monday, May 12th, to take on Minnesota United FC. For the Long Islanders, the Cosmos have two players representing the home team. Carlos Mendes, the Captain, hails from Mineola; and Jimmy Mulligan, a midfielder, resides in Coram.

 Mets Built for Future Success

2013 Mets first-round draft pick Dominic Smith

As the end of September comes around, the Mets find themselves playing meaningless games in the final month for the fifth straight season.  While it has been a disappointing season, there is light at the end of the tunnel for this team.  The foundation for the future of this organization is bright with lots of young talent on its way in the coming years.

Friday night, the Mets announced their 2013 Sterling Award winners at Citi Field before the game.  The Sterling Award is emblematic of the Most Valuable Player for each of the organization’s nine minor league affiliates.  Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard highlighted the winners for triple-A and double-A, respectively.  Another young Mets prospect that shined this season though is one that won’t be able to go out and get a beer to celebrate.  The Mets 2013 first round draft pick Dominic Smith is just 18 years old and he took home the Sterling Award for the Gulf Coast League Mets.

Smith got the chance to take batting practice before Friday’s game at Citi Field before the Mets fell to the Brewers 4-2 for the second straight night.  The whole experience is still hitting the 18-year-old first baseman.

“It’s surreal.  It’s like a dream come true, honestly.  It feels great.  The field is beautiful.  You’re hanging around big league guys.  You’re already getting a taste of the next level.”

The 11th overall pick in this season’s First-Year Player Draft hit .287 with three home runs, 22 RBI, and had a .384 on-base percentage for the GCL Mets.  It was a major adjustment for Smith from his days in high school just a few months ago.

“The toughest thing was playing everyday.  It’s tough, but you never really understand it until you play and being a 17-year-old kid, you hear people say all the time, oh let’s go play baseball every day.  If we offer you a contract would you sign and play everyday, you would be like hell yea!  Baseball is fun, but it’s really a job and it’s tough and plays a big toll on your body.”

While Smith had an impressive first season in the minors, he knows there’s plenty of work still ahead of him as the offseason has officially begun.

“It’s a lot of things I need to work on.  It’s a ton.  You’re never perfect.  I’m nowhere near perfect or where I feel I should be, especially after my first year.  There’s a ton to work on and I can’t wait to get to the offseason so I can work on those things and advance my game.”

The first baseman earned a late season promotion to Kingsport, where he had four doubles in six at-bats over three games.  The Los Angeles, CA native finished the season with a combined .301 (52-173) batting average, good for seventh in the organization.  The big league club could have an opening at first base soon, but Smith isn’t ready to think about that just yet.

“When I’m ready they’ll bring me up.  I just take it one day at a time.  I don’t really look at the future aspect as a couple years.  I try to play hard and advance my game and try to show them to make the next step.”

The 6-0, 180-pound West Coast kid got a little taste of what’s to come playing on the East Coast in New York.  So far, Smith likes what he sees in the city that never sleeps.

“New York is beautiful.  It’s a beautiful city.  The fans are awesome and amazing.  Best fans in baseball and arguably all of sports.  They really love their Mets and they love their players.  They know their players inside and out.  It’s really a great position I’m in.

The Mets first-round pick has shown promise and will look to take the next step in the minor leagues next season when he will get a full season under his belt.  Smith said he models his game in the field after Mark Teixeira and at the plate after Robinson Cano and Carlos Gonzalez.  That’s some big shoes to live up to, but the left-handed hitting first baseman is ready for the offseason ahead as he tries to work his way up to the New York Mets one day.

“A few months back, I was at high school with my friends and now I’m in a big league park wearing an awesome uniform and being drafted by a major league team and getting to play for them and hopefully one day get to be in this position where I can wake up everyday and come to this beautiful ballpark.”

You can hear my entire interview with Dominic Smith here:

 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Stanley Cup playoff predictions from two of our hockey minds!

Robert Kowal Derek Wasiak
Islanders over Penguins in 7 Penguins over Islanders in 6
Canadiens over Senators in 7 Senators over Canadiens in 6
Rangers over Capitals in 5 Capitals over Rangers in 7
Bruins over Maple Leafs in 5 Bruins over Maple Leafs in 7
Blackhawks over Wild in 4 Blackhawks over Wild in 5
Red Wings over Ducks in 7 Ducks over Red Wings in 7
Sharks over Canucks in 6 Sharks over Canucks in 6
Blues over Kings in 6 Kings over Blues in 7
Canadiens over Islanders in 6 Penguins over Senators in 7
Rangers over Boston in 7 Capitals over Bruins in 6
Blackhawks over Red Wings in 5 Blackhawks over Sharks in 7
Blues over Sharks in 6 Kings over Ducks in 6
Rangers over Canadiens in 6 Capitals over Penguins in 6
Blues over Blackhawks in 7 Kings over Blackhawks in 6
Blues over Rangers in 7 Kings over Capitals in 7

 Good Riddance Tim Tebow

After a huge sports weekend filled with nail-biting playoff basketball, the much anticipated NFL Draft and a full docket of Major League Baseball match-ups; the release of “ESPN darling” Tim Tebow has quickly overshadowed the world of sports.

Upon selecting Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick, the Jets had no intention of bringing six quarterbacks into OTA’s. After Jets General Manager John Idzik spent the weekend begging teams to give him something for the former Heisman trophy winner, he decided to cut ties. Tebow may have been more of an appetizing trade chip had he not come with the ESPN circus that followed him to Jets training camp last summer. As crazy as it may sound, Skip Bayless may be the reason Tim Tebow never dons an NFL jersey again.

Tim Tebow should be happy that he collected an NFL paycheck for as long as he did. Tebow is in no sense of the word an NFL quarterback. The Jets are moving away from the circus atmosphere that Woody Johnson usually likes to stir up around his team and focusing on winning football games. Idzik has been touted as a no nonsense businessman and all of his moves so far as general manager have echoed that sentiment.

As we look back on the Jets sending two draft picks to the Denver Broncos in exchange for the highly polarizing services of one Timothy Richard Tebow, it is clear that the move was one of the most ridiculous publicity stunts ever to be pulled in the history of New York Sports. And this is a town that has witnessed the abomination that was the “Mercury Mets.”

The old saying was true for the Jets last year: when you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterbacks. After supposedly developing a secretive wildcat package for the unconventional lefty, the Jets under-utilized Tebow and ultimately turned him into a laughing stock of the National Football League. It not only tore down whatever clout Tebow still held with NFL teams, it caused catastrophic damage to their once beloved franchise quarterback: Mark Sanchez.

As the Jets and their boy band of five quarterbacks move closer to the NFL season one question remains, who takes the snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 8th..

 The Time for Wheeler is Now
A big opening day win lifted the spirits of Mets fans everywhere, but reality soon came knocking with another setback for veteran pitcher Shaun Marcum. Recently scratched from a simulated game with a neck injury, this his isn’t the first injury for Marcum- who had a cortisone shot in his shoulder early in spring. He was brought here to be a veteran innings eater but he’s failed to pitch a mere ten innings of Grapefruit league play. With the less than stellar replacement arms of Aaron Laffey and Colin McHugh waiting in the wings, the need for Zack Wheeler’s electric arm is too much to ignore.

Despite his short stint in major league camp, Zack Wheeler managed to turn a lot of heads this spring. Many veteran players were outwardly against the idea of him not being on the Major League club. Sandy Alderson has pointed to the lack of triple A experience for Wheeler as to why he’s pitching for the Las Vegas 51’s and not the New York Mets, but this is nothing but a smokescreen. Under the current “Super Two” rule in Major League baseball, if the Mets elect to promote him sometime in mid June than he is awarded another year of salary arbitration. This gives the Mets control of him for longer and at a significantly lower price. This organization can no longer ignore the fact that they play in the biggest sports market in the world. While Fred and Jeff “Coupon” may love pretending they are the Minnesota Twins, the fan-base is becoming restless. They are used to this team cutting corners and skimping on player salaries, no better example is the lack of talent beyond the infield dirt.

While the payroll has been on a steady decline over the last few years the talent on the field has taken a corresponding dip. Losing the National Batting champion in 2011 to trading away last year’s Cy Young Award winner, Flushing has definitely seen brighter days. Mets fans have become accustom to the phrase “next year” or statements like: “when are young guys are ready.”   If Wheeler comes up and pitches to his ability he arguably becomes the ace of the staff. No other pitcher in the Mets organization rivals Wheeler’s “Strasburg like” arm. The fans deserve better from a management team that has put them through some of their worst seasons in recent memory. At least with a starting rotation of Wheeler and Harvey, fans will have something to look forward to at Citi Field this summer.

 Banged Up Knicks Trade Deadline Mistakes

The NBA trade deadline was February 21st. Many teams were said to be active before the 3:00 P.M. EST deadline, including the New York Knicks. Coach Mike Woodson opted for no trades leaving the Knicks with a roster with only one person younger than 27 years old. Now that we are 20 days removed from the NBA trade deadline expiration, let’s take a look back on the deals the Knicks should have made.

Trade: New York Knicks Iman Shumpert for Phoenix Suns Jared Dudley

Reason: The deal for Dudley to some didn’t make a lot of sense for the Knicks. On the surface, the Knicks would lose the youngest player on their roster and a potential defensive star. Since the trading deadline, Shumpert has reached double figures only once and is shooting a pathetic 29% from the field, and has failed to make things difficult for Seth Curry, Dwayne Wade, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. On the other hand, Dudley is shooting 46% from the field in his last 10.

Trade: New York Knicks Iman Shumpert and 2nd Round Pick for Orlando Magic’s J.J. Redick

Reason: Redick would have been a candidate for 6th man of the year honors if he hadn’t been shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks. Quietly, Redick was the Magic’s second leading scorer at 15 ppg and a dependable playmaker. The acquisition of Redick would have solved the streaky shooting of J.R. Smith, and the efficiency issues with Shumpert. Redick has improved each year in the league since 2006. He’s now a better defender and ball handler, plus he’s a marksman from the arc.

Trade: New York Knicks Iman Shumpert and Marcus Camby for Utah Jazz’s Al Jefferson

Jefferson has been one of the most productive big men in recent years and this year is nothing different. Pairing Jefferson with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler would have given opponents a problematic frontcourt.  Jefferson’s scoring ability would give the Knicks the low post option that could threaten the Miami Heat.

The three trade options all bring in an additional scorer to compliment Anthony. During the course of this season, defenses have let Anthony erupt through the first three quarters and shut him down in the fourth. Leaving the Knicks to fend for points in the last 12-minutes and ultimately lose games.  Since the trade deadline, the Knicks are down from 39% to 30% from beyond the arc, and have seen a five-point drop in points per game.

The inconsistency from beyond the arc has been a huge issue. The Knicks ultimately live and die by the three. Dudley and Redick both shoot 39% shooters in that department. Substitute either player for a struggling Jason Kidd or Shumpert and things could look different in the fourth quarter. Here are the best fourth quarter line-ups of the trades the Knicks could have made.

Option 1







Option 2






The line-up with Jefferson would pose the biggest threat in the eastern conference. If the Knicks had a dependable low-post scorer not named Amare Stoudemire, a first round playoff exit wouldn’t be a topic in the media. Jefferson is second amongst centers in scoring and has more double doubles than the entire Knicks roster combined (29).

The would-have, could-have, should-have version of the Knicks didn’t happen and now the playoffs are looming and the roster is set. The free agency pick-up of Kenyon Martin has showed promise. Martin brings a toughness, and defensive mindset that could help the Knicks at the end of April. With Stoudemire now out six weeks from knee surgery, should the Knicks look to free agency to add another piece? Who should they add?

Follow me on twitter: @Ty_Hardamon

 Nash Propels Rangers in OT Win over Isles

Rangers forward Rick Nash lurks in front of the Islanders net.

UNIONDALE, NY – In a playoff atmosphere before a sold-out crowd of 16,170 last night at the Nassau Coliseum, the crunch time heroics of Rangers forward Rick Nash were on display as he led the Rangers to a 2-1 overtime victory against their cross-town rival New York Islanders. Nash tied the game 1-1 at 14:37 of the 3rd period, and later setup the game winner by Marian Gaborik at 0:42 of overtime.

Gaborik’s 8th of the season came on the power play, with Michael Grabner sent off for hooking 0:21 in to the overtime period.

Both teams came out strong, and the play was up and down the ice at a fast pace for most of the night. Islanders forward Michael Grabner opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season, burying a shot in the top right corner on a feed from Colin McDonald behind the net at 11:51 of the first period. Grabner played a strong game, registering 4 shots on goal. In the second period, Grabner used his speed to get around Rangers defenseman Roman Hamrlik, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Hamrlik played well in his Rangers debut, seeing 18 shifts for 15:48 of ice.

The Isles had a number of chances to build on their early lead, and would regret not being able to do so.

Josh Bailey found himself all alone in the high slot in the second period, but a hurried wrist shot was turned away with the blocker by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqist. Matt Moulson managed 3 shots on goal, including a partial breakaway that saw him sail a backhand high over the glove of Lundqvist at 11:40 of the second period.

The Islanders did not get a chance on the power play, the first time since January 7, 1989 that the Isles did not have a power play in a game against the Rangers. The Isles weren’t very happy about it.

“Maybe we’re wrong; maybe they played a real clean game… It’s very frustrating,” said Islanders forward Matt Martin.

Still, the Islanders aggressive penalty kill generated the better chances when Casey Cizikas was sent off for holding at 11:07 and Kyle Okposo went off for tripping at 16:05 of the second period. Lundqvist came up big for the Rangers stopping Martin on a short-handed breakaway, and Grabner on a great chance in front of the net with the Isles down a man. Lundqvist stopped 28 of 29 shots against the swarming Islanders.

While the Rangers were also playing with great intensity, they were having even more trouble getting a puck past Evgeni Nabokov- who turned away 35 of 27 shots. Ryan McDonagh and  J.T. Miller were stopped on great chances in front of the net in the second period. In the third, Darroll Powe was all alone in front but couldn’t get it past the Islanders netminder. Nash made a particularly nice inside out move towards the net early in the third period, only to be turned away by Nabokov.

Nash’s persistence paid off when he finally broke through on the Nabokov with the tying goal late in the third, and later setting up the game winner in overtime. All of Nash’s 8 goals this season have come in the 3rd period.

“He’s an elite player, big and strong,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “You have to have an awareness when he’s on the ice and try to contain him.”

The Rangers take their 4-game winning streak back to Madison Square Garden to face-off against the Senators tonight, while the Islanders prepare to host the Capitals tomorrow afternoon.

Link to Photo Gallery

 Rangers, Islanders Look to Keep Streaks Alive

Rangers vs Islanders © by Robert Kowal

The Islanders will be playing their sixth game of a seven-game home stand tonight when they host their cross town rival New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum this evening at 7:00pm.

The teams split a pair of games in New York in February, with the Islanders rallying for a shootout victory on Valentine’s Day in the teams’ last meeting. The Rangers have out-scored the Islanders 7-4 in those games, including a 4-0 advantage in the first period. While the adrenaline should fuel a fast pace early in the game, the Islanders must stay focused against a Rangers team that seems to be hitting their stride.

“We’ll be ready. Everyone follows through on their checks a bit more when we play them,” said the Islanders Matt Martin this morning, who leads the NHL with 110 hits this season.

Although the Islanders have had their troubles at home this season, the team is 3-1-0 against the Rangers in their last four contests at the Coliseum. Still, it will be key for the Islanders to play a smart, consistent game- particularly in the defensive end early and throughout the game.

Both teams have played well of late.

The Rangers come in to the game on a three-game winning streak, matching the club’s longest of the year. After a slow start on the power play, the team has scored with the man advantage in six of their last nine games (7/31, 22.6%). Forward Rick Nash leads the team with 7 goals (all in 3rd periods), and the team is 10-2-1 in the last 13 games he has played.

Meanwhile the Islanders have won their last two games, recording their fifth two-game winning streak this season with their 6-3 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday. While Nash has lead the way for the Rangers, the Islanders John Tavares has lit the lamp 14 times this season (third most in the league), and is arguably New York’s best player right now.

Brad Richards was not on the ice for this morning’s skate, and according to the NY Daily News Pat Leonard he will likely not play in tonight’s game .

Rangers head coach John Tortorella will likely replace him in the lineup with former Islander Micheal Haley. Looking to add some toughness to his lineup, Islanders head coach Jack Capuano will dress Eric Boulton in place of David Ullstrom. I wonder what lines will start the game… it should be an entertaining contest tonight!

 The Shaun Livingston Effect

The days of oversized ball handlers with superior court vision is upon us. Hopefully we all remember the likes of Magic Johnson, Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway and now LeBron James and soon to be Michael Carter-Williams (MCW).

What about Shaun Livingston? He’s the former Duke Blue Devil signee who opted for the NBA Draft instead. Livingston was selected fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2004 draft. Scouts loved Livingston’s prowess as a 6’7 point guard and his ability to create shots for teammates. Unfortunately, we will never know if Livingston could’ve lived up to his Magic Johnson comparisons. In 2007, Livingston suffered a gruesome knee injury that sidelined him for nearly four years. Now he’s a journeyman fighting to make any NBA roster.

If MCW compares close to anyone off the short list it’s Livingston, and by that I mean the raw potential of what Livingston could have been. MCW is a 6’6 sophomore point guard running the show for Jim Boehiem at Syracuse. MCW is second in the nation in assists, fourth in steals and has his team ranked 17th in the nation.

The comparisons are uncanny between Livingston and MCW. The height naturally draws attention but it’s more of their style of play. In 2006, Livingston had athleticism, ability to see over a defense and a competitive edge; all of which MCW has now.

What separates the two is something simple. MCW opted for college while Livingston went straight to the NBA.  MCW should use Livingston as an example. This isn’t a knock on Livingston, but he could have used his college years to bulk up, and get the proper mentoring before embarking on such a difficult path.

MCW was put on a leash his freshmen year to learn, grow and understand the Boeheim way. Sharing time with veteran players, MCW barely managed to average 10-minutes per game. Now he leads the team in minutes and is expected to be a lottery pick in this year NBA Draft.

Living vicariously of course,  we may really get to see the potential of Shaun Livingston.

 Isles Fall to Leafs 5-4 in Overtime

Islanders scramble in front of the Maple Leafs net. © by Robert Kowal

UNIONDALE, NY – The Islanders got off to a strong start last night, scoring on their first shot of the game when Kyle Okposo setup Josh Bailey on a pretty pass in front of the net at 3:34 of the first period.

“It was a heck of a play by Okie,” Bailey said after the game.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, Nazem Kadri’s first career hat-trick proved to much to overcome, as the team lost to the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. The Islanders continue to struggle at the Nassau Coliseum early in this shortened season losing their fourth straight at home, leaving the team with a home record of 2-8-1.

“We’ve been inconsistent, obviously,” said Isles Coach Jack Capuano.

Lubomir Visnovsky scored his first goal of the season at 6:22 of the second period, but inconsistent play on defense and between the pipes put the Islanders down 4-2 through two periods.

To their credit, the Islanders came out strong to start the third period, and Andrew MacDonald brought the team within a goal of tying the score with his first goal of the season on shot from the point at 5:31. Okposo then scored his second of the season at 10:08 to tie the game at 4-4.

Michael Grabner, who missed on a penalty shot in the first period, nearly won it for the Isles early in overtime before Dion Phaneuf secured the victory for the Leafs at 1:11 of overtime for a 5-4 final score.

The Islanders continue their home stand when they take on the Ottawa Senators this Sunday at 3:00pm.

Link to Photo Gallery

 Cooperstown 2013: What the Hall Happened?

Cooperstown, New York © by Dougtone

Now that it’s all over, the dust has settled and the fog has lifted from Otsego Lake, we can see the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum nestled in the little village of Cooperstown, NY – and there’s no living member being allowed to pass through its hallowed portals for 2013. What happened?!

To gain election, a player must appear on 75% of the ballots cast by the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. This is the eighth election by the BBWAA that did not produce a Hall of Famer and the first since 1996. That year, the top three vote getters were Phil Niekro (68.3 %), Tony Perez (65.7 %) and Don Sutton (63.8 %). All were subsequently elected; Niekro in 1997, Sutton in 1998 and Perez in 2000. For 2013, the top vote-getters were Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 hits and was a seven-time All-Star while playing three positions (68.2 %), pitcher Jack Morris (67.7 %), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (59.6 %), catcher Mike Piazza (57.8 %) and outfielder Tim Raines (52.2 %).

I realize that the standards implemented at the Baseball Hall’s inception in 1936 for election to Cooperstown exceed those for any of the other major sport’s halls of fame. I also recognize the challenges voters are faced with in this era with the specter of steroid use looming. There were 569 ballots cast, the third-highest total in the history of the voting, still none of the 37 candidates in the 2013 vote gained mention on the required 75 percent for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The problem lies with some members of the BBWAA. Whether it’s apathy or personal protest in this age of PEDs, there is absolutely NO reason for blank ballots to have been submitted by five writers. This, along with votes wasted on players on the ballot who may have been friends or hometown favorites but who really have NO business being considered for the Hall of Fame. Players like Aaron Sele, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Shawn Green, Kenny Lofton and others – nice ballplayers but not close to being Hall of Famers. These votes plus the filling out of the blank ballots may have generated enough votes to push Biggio, Morris or Piazza over the 75 % mark and over the threshold into the HOF! Get the vote into the hands of writers who not only understand the election criteria, but take it seriously as well!

Take the vote seriously, or be forced to give up the privilege. Until the voting process tightens up and until baseball comes to terms with the “Steroid Era,“ which will take years, we may be faced with more years of wondering “what happened?” when the HOF voting results are announced annually.




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