Q&A number 1 with Mike

This is the first Q&A Mike has conducted, in which people from Twitter and Instagram submitted questions regarding the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Here are the questions, followed by Mike’s answer to the best of his ability.

Twitter Questions:

@drewbykov39: If you were the Mets, what would you trade for and what position would enhance the team? Same question for the Isles.

Mike: While the Mets season is very young and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, to me it’s clear this Met team is missing a player who hits for average, and also has speed. I think the hope for Jose Reyes would fill this role, as he played very well in 2016, but has struggled thus far in 2017. The team has a bunch of big time home run hitters including Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. They need some guys who can get on base, to set up these home run hitters. Two guys I like are Dee Gordon at 2nd base and Joey Votto at 1st base. While both are unlikely to ever be traded to the Mets whether it’s an expensive contract from Votto or playing on an inner division team in Gordon, these two players could make an immediate impact in their own ways, and most importantly, they both get on base. But, it’s hard to tell through just a few weeks who are buyers and who sellers in the MLB. As for the Islanders, I don’t expect any blockbuster trades, but the Islanders in my opinion could still use a goalie, maybe Ben Bishop, who is an unrestricted free agent, or a veteran forward who can score goals alongside John Tavares in Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane.

@GingerCMP: Is it definite that the Isles are moving from Barclays after next season?

Mike: There’s been so many different reports about where the Islanders will end up playing whether it’s near Citi Field, by Belmont, in Hartford, or a return to the New Coliseum, but I think it still seems logical to return to the Coliseum. The Islanders fan base is generally located in Long Island, and they just renovated the venue. Reports say seating is a problem, but it seems the Islanders are the ones that don’t want to return, not the county. So, I do expect the Islanders to be out of Barclays after next season, but it’s very hard to tell. I also think it makes the most sense for them to return to the Coliseum, but it sounds like a new stadium in Belmont is not an exaggeration. For now, all we can do is watch… and for me, commute to Brooklyn to watch a hockey game instead of a 20 minute drive.

Instagram Questions:

@mmconner333: Do you think the Mets will win the World Series?

Mike: To be honest, I do think the Mets have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year, and that is because I think they’re built for the postseason. With a dominant, young pitching staff that looks as good as they ever have, the sky is the limit for this team. But, they need to manufacture runs in other ways than just home runs. Maybe that means acquiring another contact bat, but I’m not going to write off the offense yet. The season is young, and let’s see where we are in May and June. A positive with the Mets’ home run hitting is that they are never out of any game because they can march right back in a game quick. But, when the home runs go cold, the offense is in trouble, and we’re seeing that during their current four game losing streak. While people are down on the Mets right now, yes I do think they are going to win the World Series. In a playoff series with their starting pitching depth, they can beat anyone.

@bhenriksen17: Is Johnny T (John Tavares) wasting his career as an Islander or is next year the year they finally decide to put some pieces around him?

Mike: You make a valid point with this question, as John Tavares has been with the Islanders for quite sometime now, and they have not shown any consistency and have only made it to the playoffs 3 times in his 8 seasons with the team. I think this team needs to show John Tavares they are committed to winning, and quickly because he’s obviously a free agent at the end of the season. But, put yourself in John Tavares’ shoes. Why stay with this franchise and maybe make it to the playoffs once every three years? Especially when the team located near his hometown is surprising the NHL universe and giving the top seeded Washington Capitals a series in the Toronto Maple Leafs. If I’m Tavares, that’s a very appealing landing spot with their young talent, and the possibility of more playoff success than the Islanders when it’s time for his decision. But, loyalty may be something I could see Tavares considering. This team drafted him, and it’s where he made his name. So, they need to get a veteran goal scorer to play alongside Tavares this year, and make a DEEP playoff run during the 2017-18 season, or Tavares may walk out. It’s on the Islanders, but I also don’t know what Tavares is thinking. So, yes, this should be the year the Islanders make a push to get some skilled players alongside Tavares, if not, everyone should be fired. The Islanders need to show Tavares they want to win. I think it’s in the best interest of the Islanders to get a deal done before he even hits free agency, but Tavares may want to test his options. It’s on the Islanders to make it happen.

@angelooneill: Would love to know what your first moves would be for the Islanders now that the season’s over and they missed the playoffs.

Mike: The Islanders top priority should be assuring they will have John Tavares for longer than the 2017-18 season. It’s on upper management to bring in a goal scorer, as I said earlier, maybe trade for someone like Evander Kane. I also think it would be worth it to bring in goalie Ben Bishop, and then trade either Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak. Making these moves should give this team a chance to win games. I think they’re close to being capable of making a deep run in the playoffs, as some guys stepped up at the end of the 2016-17 season. We can’t be too negative, as the team missed the playoffs by just 1 point. The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win. The Islanders would win the offseason if Tavares has a contract extension before the regular season even starts. If that happens, I’m sure many Islander fans would be happy and feel they won the offseason.

@anthonypiparo: Do you think Mikhail Grabovski’s career is over?

Mike: Grabovski is still under contract with the Islanders next season, but he has still had issues with his concussions, as he did not appear in any games during the 2016-17 season. At age 33, he needs to consider the dangers of returning as concussions are very serious as we all know. I think it’d be nice to have him back, but it seems like there’s not much news about him. Did any Islanders reporters or the broadcasts even mention him? Maybe he needed a year off, but I can’t really determine whether his career is over. It might be the smartest decision, but that’s up to Grabovski, who could really help the Islanders with his speed and his ability to work well with former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nikolay Kulemin.

@coviefitness_88: Who was the best Mets killer on the Phillies?

Mike: Boy, there’s so many Mets killers, particularly one’s from the Phillies. From what I’ve seen, Pat Burrell always had the Mets’ number, as well as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. It always seemed like those guys would come up in the big spots late in games, and deliver. All that mattered was that they were playing the Mets. If you want, check out a piece I wrote last year titled The All Time Mets Killers Team. There’s 4 Phillies on that lineup.

Anonymous Questions:

Why is Todd Bowles still (the Jets) head coach?

Mike: Todd Bowles is still the Jets head coach for various reasons, but 1 major reason is that it’s only his 2nd year. Yes, the team took huge steps backward during the 2016 season after a 10 win season in 2015, but he deserves at least another year. It’s not like he had a team full of superstars. His team was full a veterans whose best years were behind them, and didn’t seem to care once the team fell to 1-5. One thing to look at and question is if Todd Bowles has lost the locker room. We had guys showing up late to meetings, missed tackles, and missed blocks last year, which made many question if it was time for Bowles to go. While it wouldn’t have been outrageous to fire him or shocking, I still think he deserves more time. For the Todd Bowles haters, he has a team now that quite frankly does not look like they’re going to be very good, so if he wins 5 games this year, it could very well be a success. Given their roster, how can you fairly fire him after the upcoming season? I predict they will let him play out the final 2 years of his contract, but if this team plays lazy and careless during the season, he could very well be fired. I think the Jets have more roster issues than coaching issues. They see Todd Bowles won 10 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, so my guess is that’s why he’s still here. But, it’s clear he might be on the hot seat.

What do you think the Isles have to do to convince (John) Tavares to sign long term?

Mike: The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win now, and have Stanley Cup aspirations led by him. That being said, he needs help, and the team needs some forwards that can score goals, as well as more consistent goaltending. They also need an arena to play in, because right now we don’t know where they’re playing in the near future. Why would Tavares want to play for a team that’s going to be on the move, and have possibly a third home arena during his tenure with the team. So, if this team somehow finds their way back at the Coliseum, and picks ups some pieces that leads to a deep playoff run, then it would seem logical for John Tavares to resign with the team. But, given the situation right now, can you blame him if he leaves?

If you had to pick one, replay option or computer generated strike zone and calls, which would you prefer?

Mike: The idea of a computer deciding a baseball game scares me. I don’t mind replay in baseball, but the system needs some improvements, especially enforcing time limits on how long the manager has to decide to challenge. I like the idea of getting calls right, but it needs to be sped up. If the call is too hard to determine, the call on the field should stand. This process shouldn’t take more than a minute or 2. As for computer generated strike zones, it takes away work for many umpires, and I’d worry of a malfunction in the strike zone. How long would it take for a team to rig the strike zone? Yes, technology is great, but I think we should stick to human umpires, while improving video replay. Plus, with no umpires, who would players and fans blame when they lose?

Who is your favorite Mets player? 

Mike: I’ve always liked Steven Matz of course because he’s from Long Island, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. My favorite position player is Michael Conforto, as I love the way he hits, especially when he takes the ball to opposite field. I’m also a big Jacob deGrom fan, as I still stand by my opinion that he currently is the best pitcher on the Mets’ staff. So, these 3 guys are definitely my favorite Mets.

 

 

Mike’s Current Ranking of All 8 New York Sports Teams

New York sports have some pretty solid teams, but also some pretty bad teams. Here, Mike ranks each of the 8 New York teams from worst to best.

8. Brooklyn Nets

A Brooklyn Nets fan does not have much hope. As they currently sit last in the NBA, they’d almost be guaranteed a top 5 pick in a very strong NBA draft. However, that draft pick will be going to the Boston Celtics, involved in a trade the two teams made several years ago. The team can’t rebuild with a top 5 draft pick, and I don’t see them attracting many free agents. The Nets could very well be a bad team for sometime, which is why I rank them the worst team in New York.

7. New York Jets

After finishing the 2015 season in second place in the AFC East, the hope was the team would make the playoffs in 2016. Well, that didn’t happen, as they finished the season in last place in the AFC East, and now sit with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. The team is full of question marks. A major one is who the team’s quarterback will be for 2017. Is it a rookie they will find in the draft, a current free agent, or someone on their roster? The team is old, and they are looking to get young. In 2016, not only was the offense abysmal, the defense struggled as well. The team has a lot of holes, and this is a huge offseason for the Jets. In the NFL, teams generally don’t accept a total rebuild, but the Jets might have to consider that. They are full of older players who want to win now, but winning does not appear to be in the horizon, which is why I put the Jets at 7 on this list.

6. New York Knicks 

Some looked at the Knicks going into the 2016-17 season and thought they would be a playoff team. Well, that looks unlikely as they sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have been a mess for quite sometime now, but I thought they were turning the corner when they found success when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. They need to rebuild, but instead they continue to bring in players, paying them for what they did in the past, not what they will do with the Knicks. Knicks fans are losing patience, and this team looked like they would be better this year. They have a young star in Kristaps Porzingis, so they need to build around him by making the right decisions in the draft. Then they will be able to attract some big name free agents. Fans can only hope they start to improve, but right now they are a bad team, which is why they sit at number 6 on this list.

5. New York Yankees

The best run franchise in New York is at a stage where they are rebuilding. They have numerous talented, young prospects, and a potential star in Gary Sanchez. But, at this point the Yankees are looking toward the future. At the same time, they could be pretty competitive in 2017, as they were in 2016. But, I think this team is going to have some losing season’s ahead of them. They have some holes, especially in their pitching staff. But, at anytime they could make a big splash in free agency. For now, I look at them as the middle of the pack team in the MLB, which is why I have them at number 5 out of all the New York teams.

4. New York Islanders

About a month ago, the Islanders were in last place. However, they have climbed their way back into the playoff mix, and are currently sitting with the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Over the past few seasons, the Islanders have had decent success. They also have arguably the best current athlete in New York in John Tavares. With a team that is still pretty young, as long as they have John Tavares they could have a bright future. Fans are still waiting for the team to make a deep playoff run. They have proven they are able to make the playoffs, but they have not proven to be a dominant team in the NHL. For now, they sit at number 4 on this list, with potential to be the best in New York. That is, if John Tavares stays with the Islanders if he hits free agency.

3. New York Giants

The Giants made it to the playoffs in 2016, and had one of the best defenses in the NFL. They also have one of the best football players on the planet in Odell Beckham Jr. Even though Eli Manning had a mediocre campaign in 2016, fans still know what he is capable of. With Super Bowl aspirations, the 2017 season will be a big one for this team to make a run in the playoffs. Eli Manning is not getting any younger, but he has a great defense and some solid playmakers on offense. With very little holes on this team, the Giants stand at number 3, and they are in a situation where the hopes are for sustained success for the future. Only time will tell.

2. New York Rangers

The Rangers have made it to the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Every year, they are relevant and if you are a fan, you can’t complain about that. While they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994, they continue to have good chances at winning another. This year, they are a very fast team with a solid offense. Henrik Lundqvist is not getting any younger, and you bet they want to win a Stanley Cup with him. They currently sit in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, and have been playing well of late. Just when you think this team is starting to decline, they prove everyone wrong. I give the franchise credit for making it to the playoffs so consistently. They’ve chocked in the playoffs a few times being a pretty high seed, but maybe they need a year like this where they are not the top dog. With the consistency this team has shown, and how they appear to be headed to the playoffs again, they are very worthy of number 2 on this list.

1. New York Mets

In 2015, the Mets hit the MLB by storm, winning the National League Pennant. With a dominant, young pitching staff, they had World Series hopes in 2016. However, injuries held them back, but they still managed to make it to the Wild Card game, with many key players going down that season including  Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Going into 2017, the team has so much depth all across the board. If their pitching stays healthy, this team could make a deep run in the playoffs. They also have a lot of depth in their offense. With a long baseball season ahead, players get hurt, so it’s good to have a team with so much depth. While the team does have some question marks, they still are favored to battle right with the Washington Nationals for the NL East title. The sky is the limit for this team, and they have the potential to be the best Mets dynasty of all time. For now, they are looking like they could be a force in 2017, which is why I rank them the best team currently in New York.

 

Top 5 Current Athletes in New York

5. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

Noah Syndergaard at just the age of 24 is making a case to be the Mets ace in their pitching rotation. In 2 seasons, he has a career ERA of 2.89, with 23 wins and 384 strikeouts. He has continued to improve every time he’s out on the mound with his 97 plus mph fastball. Last season, he impressed the baseball universe throwing 7 shutout innings in the National League Wild Card game with 10 strikeouts, but Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants would be too much for the Mets to handle, as they would go on to lose the game. Without him, the Mets pitching staff would be in trouble as he is the only one to stay healthy in each of his seasons so far. Don’t forget he’s also a threat at the plate. Last season, he hit 3 home runs, including 2 in 1 game. The sky is the limit for him, and I expect him to be the Mets best pitcher for years to come and lead them to a World Series.

4. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets, Starting Pitcher

As of now, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher the Mets have. In the 2015 postseason, he came up big time for the Mets, especially in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he started 2 games, winning both with a 1.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts. In his 2 starts, he picked up the wins against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. deGrom’s season was cut short in 2016 due to injury, but for his career in 3 seasons he has 30 wins with a 2.74 ERA and 492 strikeouts. He also won the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. He is a little older than Noah Syndergaard at age 27, and I expect Syndergaard will pass him at some point as the Mets number 1 starter. Right now, deGrom is still slept on in this Mets pitching rotation, and right now he is the best pitcher they have.

3. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets, Outfielder

The turning point of the 2015 season for the Mets was at the trading deadline when they acquired Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers. He hit the National League by storm after that trade, hitting 17 home runs for 44 RBI’s with a .287 batting average in 57 games. At one point, he was in the discussion for National League MVP, as he proved to be very valuable to the Mets. He was the bat they needed, and he was a major part in why they won the National League East, and would later win the National League Pennant. In 2016, injuries definitely affected his season. However, when he came back from injury, he led the Mets offense to a Wild Card berth, however they were eliminated against the San Francisco Giants. Don’t forget he is a game changer in the field, with a cannon of an arm, being a threat to throw out baserunners at any time. In his time with the Mets which is about a season and a half, he has 48 home runs for 130 RBI’s with a .282 batting average. Without Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets offense would be very weak. He is perfect for them along with their talented young pitching staff. If he stays healthy along with the pitching staff, this team could be a dynasty. He arguably means more to them than any of their pitchers because he jumpstarts their offense and makes everyone around him better.

2. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants, Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr. is a top 5 wide receiver in the NFL. He hit the league by storm in his rookie season, catching 12 touchdown passes for 1,305 yards in 12 games, and winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is a game changing player for the giants, with incredible speed and arguably the best hands in the NFL. He has sort of helped revive Eli Manning’s career with the Giants, and made them relevant again after it looked like they were on their way down. For his career, he has 35 receiving touchdowns for 4,122 yards with 288 catches, as well as being a 3 time Pro Bowler. Beckham Jr. is arguably the best athlete in the NFL and one of the league’s most exciting players. As he continues to make strides every year, he has the potential to be the league’s best receiver at any moment. Having the potential to be the best receiver in the NFL will certainly land him on this list, which is why he ranks in at number 2. The Giants have a solid core with a great defense, and some playmakers on offense to help out Eli Manning. It is very possible that they win a Super Bowl with Odell Beckham Jr., but he has to continue to improve every year and have his head in the right place on the field.

1. John Tavares, New York Islanders, Center

At the age of just 26, John Tavares tops our list as the best athlete in New York. Being on 1 of the smaller market New York teams, he does not always get the respect he deserves. The former number 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft has been a superstar since day 1. He continues to come up with clutch goals for the team, especially in the postseason. Who could forget his numbers in the 2016 playoffs, where he had 6 goals for the team, including the tying goal in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Florida Panthers with under 1 minute remaining in the 3rd period. To add to that, Tavares would later score the game winning goal in overtime in that game, leading the Islanders to their 1st playoff series win since the 1992-93 season. Tavares is a top 10 player in the NHL, and the Islander captain continues to improve every season. This Islanders team will only go as far as he leads them, as the team rallies around him. For his career, he has 514 total points on 227 goals and 287 assists in 561 games, as well as being a 2 time All Star. He has never won it, but has been in the MVP conversation numerous times. He’s certainly the MVP for all of New York teams, as this Islanders team would not be nearly as good without him. He means more to his team, than any other player in New York, which is why he is number 1 on this list. Fans hope he will lead the team to a Stanley Cup, and he certainly has the skill to do it.

All Stats via Baseball-Reference, Pro-Football-Reference, and Hockey-Reference.

Mike’s Championship Sunday Predictions

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

If you thought the Packers matchup in the Divisional Round with the Dallas Cowboys was high scoring, expect much of the same in this one. Arguably the two hottest offenses will matchup in an attempt to make it to Super Bowl 51. I predict that whoever possess the ball last in this game with a chance to win will win the game. Both these teams have more faith in their offenses. I’d say the Falcons have the edge on defense, as well as home field advantage. But, Aaron Rodgers has been playing flawless football since mid November. I expect him to continue the Packers win streak, and upset the Atlanta Falcons. Right now, I don’t think anyone can beat Aaron Rodgers. Some of the Packers best receivers are questionable to play including Jordy Nelson, but as long as Aaron Rodgers plays, I expect them to win. This matchup will indeed be a shootout. I’ll say Packers 45, Falcons 41.

AFC Championship

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

In 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls, the AFC team has been quarterbacked by either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, or Peyton Manning. Make that 13 of the last 14 as Roethlisberger will be squaring off with Brady in what I expect to be an all time classic. The Steelers offense is lethal led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. The Patriots on the other hand have a guy that strictly wins in the playoffs in Tom Brady. To be clear, each of the 4 teams left are known for their offenses. The defensive play in this game should be a little better than the NFC Championship. This matchup will come down to which quarterback makes that one mistake in which the opposition will take advantage of. Each team is going to score points, but the defense that makes that one big play should lead that team to victory. The Patriots appear to have a better defense, and I think that will be the difference in this game. Tom Brady will appear in yet another Super Bowl, and I predict he will school the Steelers defense that has been playing good football of late. This matchup is exciting, and Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will not go down without a fight, but Tom Brady is just so tough to beat, especially at home in the playoffs. I’ll say Patriots 35, Steelers 27.