Archive for April, 2012

#9: New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders

Posted in Islanders, Rangers, Top 10 New York Sports Rivalries on April 26, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Dennis Potvin’s hit on Ulf Nilsson upgraded this Rivalry from a Battle to a War

Most people in my generation remember the intense Devils / Rangers rivalry in the mid to late 1990’s. When the Rangers and Devils faced off in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, it went down as one of the greatest series in NHL history. The Blue Shirts went on the defeat the Devils in seven games ending with Rangers’ forward Stephane Matteau scoring in overtime to win the series. But in the following season, the Devils would bounce back and win a Cup of their own.

The Devils/Rangers rivalry was one of the greatest rivalries in hockey, but it doesn’t even compare to the historic Rangers/Islanders rivalry dating back to 1975. Even though the Islanders franchise has had the reputation as one of the worst teams in the NHL since 1996, this New York hockey rivalry remains strong to this day. The Islanders franchise was established in 1972, but they were the laughing stock of the NHL in their first three seasons. In 1975, they made the playoffs for the first time and faced the heavily favored Rangers in the first round. The series would go to a third and decisive game at the Garden and overtime, Isles’ forward J.P Parise (son of Devils star Zach Parise) would score the series-clinching goal to oust the Rangers. The Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, but eventually would lose to the Flyers. Nonetheless, the “Battle of New York” officially ignited.

The two teams would meet again in the playoffs in 1979, this time the Islanders being the heavy favorites. But the Blue Shirts stunned the Isles by eliminating them in six games. In the 1980’s, the Islanders would gain their vengeance on the Rangers by simply dominating the rivalry. The Isles would go on to play the Rangers in the playoffs every year from 1981-1984 and win every series. During this time, the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups (one more than the Rangers’ three at the time). In the 90’s the Rangers finally had bragging rights by defeating the Islanders in 1990 and 1994, and of course winning the Cup in ’94 as well.

Ken Morrow’s OT Goal vs. the Rangers in the 1984 playoffs was ranked the most famous goal in New York Hockey History

The one player in the center of this heated rivalry from 1975-1994 was the Islanders’ Hall of Fame defenseman Dennis Potvin. In 1979, Potvin put a hard hit on Rangers’ center Ulf Nilsson, which Rangers fans claim was one of the dirtiest hits in hockey (apparently it was a clean hit). After the hit, Nilsson was never the same player again. The Battle of New York was also home to some of the grittiest fights in hockey history. Who can forget the classic fights between Clark Gillies and Ed Hospodar?

Today the Battle of New York  is still in full bloom as the Garden continues to chant “Potvin Sucks” during any games of the season. With the Islanders improving, let’s look forward to this rivalry to gain even more heat in the next few years.

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ALL IN

Posted in Giants on April 25, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

Never knew about this story. Thank God for Gian Paul Gonzalez…

Let’s give a shout out to Courtney Gilmartin for sending me this video

College Football Stadiums: Part 1 of 2

Posted in College Football on April 24, 2012 by sammywestside

An article this week came out ranking all 124 College Football Stadiums, with my alma mater ranking #1. This was cause for excitement amongst many other Clemson fans, but I was skeptical, as I usually am. I wanted to read the article, and after I did I decided this ranking was completely bogus. If the list looked great from top to bottom then we’d have something to talk about, but instead it was ugly. Many of the nations best stadiums were sprinkled down the list, and many of the nations worst were way too high on the rankings. In reality to be completely objective you’d have to visit all of them. Find me that guy.

My point is I’m not proud to say that Clemson was ranked number one because the guy who wrote the article clearly wasn’t qualified or remotely intelligent in my opinion. I love College Football, and what I love the most about College Football is visiting campuses and stadiums. The entire journey of visiting a College Football stadium is an amazing experience, unlike any other sport. Instead of a few hours in a day, its a whole day event, really a whole weekend event. My love for the sport is still young in comparison to some of my other loves of sports, so I haven’t visited as many stadiums as I’d have liked to yet. Still I’ve been to some, so I think I can start by objectively giving my opinion of those.

Sunlife Stadium and its enormous sidelines

Sunlife Stadium (Miami, FL-Orange Bowl)- I’ll start off by mentioning a few neutral site stadiums I’ve visited. The first is the home of the Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins. Also the former home of the Florida Marlins, the stadium was used for both baseball and football until this season when the Marlins opened their new ballpark on the site of the former Orange Bowl. I was here for this past season’s Orange Bowl and I came away with a pretty indifferent feeling about the facility. The stadium located nowhere near downtown Miami and is nowhere near anything else. Situated amongst the spiraling South Florida suburbs, the only attraction near the stadium is WalMart. We tailgated significantly but the lots didn’t even open until the afternoon for an 8:00pm start. The lots are nice and scenic with Palm trees but then again its just a lot of concrete everywhere. The stadium itself is in good condition but doesn’t really have anything special about it. My biggest problem with the design is how large the sidelines are. If you sit anywhere in the lower level on the sides of the field, you are much much further away than almost any other stadium in football. This helps make it a less intimidating venue, and is definitely more of a pro venue than suited for College Football. The University of Miami is going to be at a disadvantage as long as they play here in my opinion because it’s so far from campus and crowds they draw are just never very good.

Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL-Capital One Bowl)- I visited this stadium for the Capital One Bowl a few years ago, a game between Michigan and Florida. This stadium is located in the ghetto, no joke. If it weren’t for the game I would have been terrified of the neighborhood. The parking is terrible because its located in a strange urban neighborhood about 5-10 minutes from downtown Orlando. The stadium itself is pretty old and structurally unimpressive. It’s not a bad place to watch a game though and it can be fairly loud. For a bowl game it wasn’t bad, and despite the stadium not being very nice it was still a viable facility for watching a good game of football.

Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA, Chick Fil A Kickoff)- I attended the Clemson-Alabama neutral site game to start the season a few years ago at the Georgia Dome. The stadium itself is similar in condition and quality to Sun Life Stadium, a solid pro stadium in decent condition. Inside I think it’s a lot better to watch a game though. The Stadium is much louder being a dome, and doesn’t have outrageous sidelines keeping fans from the field. We sat very high in the end zone and still had a great view of the field. Outside the stadium isn’t great. Located in downtown Atlanta the stadium has decent parking but the neighborhood isn’t great. Getting there can be hard too, because Atlanta has horrendous traffic.

Boston College (Alumni Stadium)- I’ve now been to this facility twice in the last 4 years for Clemson road games. I found this to be the worst facility I’ve attended in college football. The Stadium is very small, and seems even smaller because its not very tall. The Boston College fans aren’t very inspiring either. Both times we visited a large Clemson contingent was there, and was remarkably loaded than the home crowd. The campus of Boston College is very nice and scenic but tailgating is very disappointing. There is hardly any room to park and not many people engage in tailgating. Both times we were there we ended up walking to a bar to pre game which was a mile away across the reservoir. That was the closest bar or place where you could purchase alcohol. Needless to say that was disappointing. As a whole the atmosphere and tradition is lacking, and unless you enjoy looking at nice college campuses and not attending college football games, then you’ll be disappointed with this visit. Despite this I plan on returning once again to Boston this coming season, but that has more to do with my strong desire to see my Tigers play, and visit friends in Boston.

BB&T Field

Wake Forest (BB&T Field)- I’ve also been to Wake twice now and I’ve actually gotten to see this stadium at its best as well. The second visit though wasn’t as inspiring. I definitely liked this better than Boston College because the stadium atmosphere and tailgating were much better. The biggest thing holding Wake Forest back is the size of the school. One of the smallest D-1A football universities they only draw about 35,000 people to games, but the stadium can get fairly loud when the Deacs are playing well and the fans are out in support. The tailgating scene is solid too despite the area not being great. Wake’s stadium is off-campus, but not too far and all their sport facilities are located together in a less exciting neighborhood. The facilities are nice and the parking isn’t terrible but aestically the area is not great.

North Carolina (Kenan Stadium)- This Chapel Hill facility is best described as not living up to its potential. Located on Campus in a very nice secluded area, the stadium itself is nice and should be even nice after the renovations are complete. The surrounding campus is great too, but the fans that fill it aren’t always the exciting. Even in basketball UNC fans are known for sitting on their hands and watching their teams compete rather than cheering too loudly. Part of this is the large contingent of older UNC fans who donate a lot of money and thus fill the seats. The problem is older people don’t have the same energy and passion as the young fans. Also the UNC students just don’t get excited about the mediocre football program like they do the basketball program. If one day UNC does get the football program going at a great level than this facility can become pretty good. Its a good facility located on a beautiful campus but the atmosphere here just isn’t good enough yet.

North Carolina State (Carter-Finley Stadium)- This stadium reminds me a lot of North Carolina as well. With a similar design and size both facilities are solid, but lack the team and fans inside it to really take it to another level. The fans at NC State are a step above UNC and this stadium can get significantly louder but the area around the stadium isn’t as great as UNC. Not on campus, this facility is the in the athletic complex in Raleigh. Surrounded by parking lots there is nothing to do around the stadium but tailgate. That’s not a problem, but having a campus and town nearby would be nice too. The tailgating here is better than the previously mentioned facilities for sure. Like the Tar Heels, if the Wolfpack can ascend to a better program in College Football and get the fans rocking, than this can also be a very intimidating facility, but for now the inconsistent seasons in Raleigh aren’t going to get it done quite yet.

Georgia Tech (Bobby Dodd Stadium)- I was blessed to see this facility at its best as well, for a white out game in Atlanta. This facility has a few outside factors that are cool. First of all it is on campus which is nice, but the Georgia Tech campus isn’t that great in my opinion. The area around the stadium is good, but the parking and tailgating scene is tough to come by. It’s scattered and for a visiting fan its hard to find a good place anywhere near the stadium. The views of downtown Atlanta are cool, but the downtown area of Atlanta isn’t worth visiting. The stadium itself is old but in good condition. There is a lot of tradition and plenty of cool aspects to the facility, but this place doesn’t get overly loud. The stadium isn’t very tall so its tough to keep the noise in and the Georgia Tech fans don’t pack this place out too often.

Florida State (Doak Campbell Stadium)- This is where we really take a big step up in the quality of stadiums. Florida State has a great tradition of football and they take that too the field for their on-field pre game tradition of Chief Osceola. The stadium itself is impressive looking from the outside, but I was surprised at how tinker-toy like it was inside. The entire inside of the stadium is made of metal that is surprisingly thin. I sat up fairly high here and it was kind of intimidating thinking of the fact the only thing keeping me from falling 100 feet to my death beneath my feet was a metal that I could feel bending every time someone walked by. This is irrelevant though, as the stadium is a great facility regardless. One thing that holds it back from being one of the loudest stadiums in the country is the fact that it’s a bowl and the noise escapes easier than others. The Florida State fan base has been fading a bit over the last few years but if they can finally get over the top in the next few years than this facility can return to being one of the toughest places to play in the country. I got to see a great game here too, so I’ve been blessed to see many of these facilities at their best. Outside of the stadium the tailgating is great in Tallahassee, I attended one of the greatest tailgates I’ve ever seen here. The campus itself isn’t special, but it has some nice parts as well. The town of Tallahassee is a bit sketchy too, but not as bad as one I’ll discuss coming up.

Nebraska's Memorial Stadium

Nebraska (Memorial Stadium)- The Cornhuskers gave me my only taste of midwestern football and it was fun. Located in the capital city of Lincoln, the University of Nebraska has a nice campus located adjacent to downtown. The Stadium is on-campus and as a visitor I found it very hard to find parking. I walked over a mile to get to the stadium from a garage downtown. The downtown area is pretty nice and within walking distance of stadium. Fans can choose to tailgate or adventure downtown prior to the game. The stadium is very big, but also historic and old. The interior of the stadium was cool to see as they’ve kept a lot of the older aspects of the facility while upgrading and expanding the facility. The fans are passionate and they have some great game day traditions. I appreciate the Nebraska fans because in the state, this is the team. Everybody loves Nebraska from birth and thats why they’ve sold out every game for a very long time now. The stadium is definitely loud and the design gives most fans a good view of the field. The Tailgating wasn’t on the level of some of the southern schools, but the atmosphere was great.

South Carolina (Williams-Brice Stadium)- I’ll try to be objective here, and in doing so have them ranked accordingly to what I truly think. Despite this, I found no part of my experience in Columbia enjoyable. The Stadium is located in a very bad area, basically surrounded by abandoned factory buildings, and not within walking distance of anything. They’ve started to attempt to clean up the area by adding a few businesses and newer apartment buildings, but they still have plenty to go. The town itself is also disappointing as it is generally quite poor and rundown. The downtown area is mostly empty minus a few hotspot areas to go out. The facility itself is pretty standard, nothing unique but in good condition. Overall the Gamecocks don’t have a ton of traditions but I will give them credit for their newer stadium entrance. It is the second best I’ve seen, and that’s hard to admit. The stadium was pretty loud and I got to see it for a big game as well. Overall atmosphere wise the place is pretty good, but the surrounding area and game day experience could be better. Additionally I’ve never seen more hostile fans, everywhere you go you get ribbing from fans but most end up engaging and being helpful. In Columbia, people legitimately would try to pick fights and their were multiple stabbing and robberies before, during and after the game of fellow fans. Maybe one day I’ll go back, but I’ll be a bit more mindful of what I’ll be facing next time.

Virginia Tech (Lane Stadium)- This was one of my most anticipated trips and I came away a little disappointed. The Enter Sandman entrance looks really cool on TV and in person but the noise level and length of it was surprising. I got to go to a night game and it should have been a great representation of the environment. The town of Blacksburg isn’t bad, I like college towns like it but they don’t have a great downtown. I’ve been to Blacksburg many times and it always seems dreary and depressing there. The tailgating is pretty good at Lane Stadium but doesn’t have the sheer volume of some other great southern stadiums. The facility itself is cool, and a lot bigger than you’d think despite not having a second deck. Unlike other one-level stadium, Lane Stadium is steep and taller so if you’re sitting near the top its quite a hike. Overall, I really liked the stadium, this facility is probably just outside the top 10 in the country.

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn (Jordan Hare Stadium)- Unlike Lane Stadium, this facility and campus exceeded my expectations. Auburn is very similar to Clemson in many ways, but I like the comparisons are a bit overdone sometimes. The town of Auburn is significantly bigger than Clemson, and the campus has much more concrete than Clemson. Despite this, the town was a fun place to go out, but a bit overcrowded on football weekends. The campus is nice and tailgating takes place all over the campus like at Clemson. The distance to walk around was a bit further than I hoped for as a visiting fan, but it was fun getting to see lots of different areas in town. The Stadium is on campus and is a similar facility to Clemson with two upper decks, the only difference is there are a few more seats in the end zones and no hill. I got to sit in the student section at Auburn and was very impressed. The students arrive early because its first come first serve seating, which is a fantastic idea. The only thing is the student section is separate from the rest of the facility, so no freedom as a student. I loved the student ticket policy but the freedom is a bit limited. The fans were into the game from the start and were very loud. Much like Sunlife Stadium though, Auburn has absurdly and unnecessarily large sidelines. This takes away from the views for fans and the noise level for the field. Still the fans and atmosphere deliver one of the best environments in the country.

Florida (The Swamp)- I’ve had the pleasure of attending two games at the Swamp as well. This facility was built to be loud. Surrounded by towering decks which are always filled with Orange and Blue, this is really cool stadium to watch a game in. The seating views are great and no big sidelines. The tailgating is good, but there aren’t as many enormous lots as some other stadiums I’ve visited. There are good bars within walking distance of the stadium and plenty of excitement on the streets nearby. The atmosphere inside is great too, the band is loud and boisterous and the students can be loud too. I was expecting the best atmosphere because of the rave reviews, but it wasn’t quite top notch. Auburn was louder than the Swamp, but I wasn’t at quite as big of a game either time. Overall I still appreciate why its one of the top stadiums in the country and I’d love to go back again.

Clemson's Death Valley

Clemson (Memorial Stadium)- Look, I swear I’m not being biased as saying Clemson is the loudest stadium I’ve ever been too. I love the school, the tailgating, and the tradition, but I am always trying to compare Clemson to other schools in every way possible outside of football. I know the university isn’t the best academic institution in the US, nor does it have the nicest campus I’ve been too (although a great one), but I’ve never been to a stadium louder. I’ll give you this, Clemson fans can be quiet too when expectations are higher and the results are poor. I’ve never seen a quieter 82,000 people before than after a field goal fell short at the end of the BC game in 2007. The great times are great though, and this place gets loud for many reasons. The fans are on top of the field, the stands are steep, the upper decks are high, and the whole stadium is literally in a valley. The tailgating is great, and I love the town. Gamedays in Clemson are my favorite, but I also realize that there are many other schools out there that are great too. I’ve obviously only been to these aforementioned college stadiums, so I realize there are plenty of stadiums that might be louder, but I truly believe Clemson deserves to be way up there.

In my next article as a follow up I will attempt to use my extensive research on College Stadiums to rank the top facilities. I will try to be as reasonable as possible and try to not be biased at all. Thanks for reading and hope you get to visit some of the best stadiums sometime.

Greetings from Sunday Night Baseball

Posted in Yankees on April 15, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

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When Was the Last Time the Yanks were 0-3?? Oh yeah, that’s right…in 1998

Posted in Yankees on April 8, 2012 by EAST SIDE RYNO

So apparently everyone thinks the season is over since the Yanks got manhandled against the Rays this weekend. I can already hear it on 660 The Fan tomorrow, “They’re too old…Kuroda can’t pitch in New York…Girardi can’t manage…Rivera is done…” Now I totally understand why people overreact during the first week of the season. We’re all still in football mode where a three game losing streak could potentially ruin a season. Plus, the last time we all watched baseball was in October during a five game playoff series. So let’s all take a step back and breathe while I drop some knowledge.

The 1998 Yankees started the season 0-3...they went on to have the best single-season record in MLB history

The last time the Yankees began the season 0-3 was in 1998. Yes, the same year the Yanks won an American League record 114 games. I still remember that first series at Anaheim that season. It was very similar to this past series against Tampa Bay – the offense was unproductive while their top two starters had less than stellar starts. The Yanks would go on to drop to 1-4 that season and there was great concern Joe Torre was going to lose his job if they didn’t turn it around. In the sixth game of the season, the Yankees blew out Seattle at the Kingdome and they never looked back.

So why can’t the same thing happen this year? The pitching is there, the offense is electric, and the bullpen should be stellar. Rivera had one bad outing, it’s going to happen. He’s old, but he still has the stuff to be the best closer in the game this season. A-Rod has already shown he’s in better shape than last year. Teixeira will have his usual 30+ homers and 100+ RBI. Jeter looks like he’ll be perfectly fine in the leadoff spot. Granderson will continue to drop bombs and play a phenomenal center field. This team has depth offensively and on the mound. Mark my words – they will win the division. Now let’s just forget about this weekend and move on to the next series. The Yanks take on the Orioles for a three game series starting tomorrow night.

2012 Yankees & MLB Preview/Predictions

Posted in Yankees on April 2, 2012 by sammywestside

Believe it or not the 2012 season is actually underway, but excitement and drama from the A’s and Mariners in Japan wasn’t quite there. Both the A’s and Mariners both sport clubs that are likely to finish 3rd and 4th respectively in the NL West. This year the power of great teams seems to be skewed towards the American League.

The playoff format should end up making the end of the season more exciting, but I disagree with the way they have designed it. A one-game playoff is just way too quirky and doesn’t reward teams for playing well all year. I say make it a 3-game series. Back the games up tight so we don’t lose those days and push back the other teams. You’d put strain on the two wild card teams by hurting their depth of starting pitching but would give a better chance for the better team to win. Baseball is a wild game and anyone can win anyway, a one game playoff for two teams that don’t finish with the same record necessarily doesn’t seem fair. It’s possible that you could have a 95 win team as the first wild card and an 85 win team as the second depending on divisions, and one-game doesn’t seem fair to the 95 win team which might be the second best team in their league. This becomes clear with unbalanced division like the AL East, which is far stronger than other divisions.

Lets move on to this year’s New York Yankee team. With Michael Pineda going to the DL with tendonitis the starting rotation is set for at least the next month. At this point the rotation is solid, and if each of the pitchers lives up to their potential then it could be very successful. The question becomes what happens when Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda are back? I’d suspect at least one rotation spot will open because of performance. It’ll be tough for everyone to pitch great for a month and not give one of those guys a chance. An injury can always pop up and it’s nice to know the Yankees have so much depth and hopefully things will work themselves out as the season progresses.

1. Sabathia

2. Kuroda

3. Hughes

4. Nova

5. Garcia

The bullpen is going to a strong suit in for the Yankees in 2012. They have potentially the best pen in the majors. Beyond the reliable Rivera, David Robertson was amazing last year, while Rafael Soriano is due to have a strong bounce back year after a mediocre 2011. Boone Logan and Mike Rapada will start as the Yankees lefties in the pen, while Cory Wade and a long reliever will finish off the rest of the pen. The Yankees have a bunch of injuries in the pen right now that could end up helping them down the road. Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and Pedro Feliciano all could end up back with the team in the second half of the season providing some extra valuable experience.

The Yankees on the other side should be pretty set and strong. A starting lineup that will look the same as last year with the exception of Raul Ibanez replacing Jorge Posada, and a bench that will be as well. Andrew Jones, Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli should be a nice supporting cast. The depth is there to support extended injuries just in case, and the Yankees should score runs as well as anyone in the Majors.

Overall if the starting rotation does well and the bullpen lives up to expectations this team should be as good as anyone in the majors. I think this is the strongest team they’ve put out on the field to start a season in quite a while. Injuries can always ruin any good team and the Yankees are still susceptible despite possibly having the deepest team in the majors.

The American League has six teams this year that really stick out. The depth of the league is the best its been in a while and one team is going to miss the playoffs that is very good. The Tigers appear to have the easiest path to the playoffs in the weaker AL Central. The AL East will once again sport the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays battling. Even a pesky Blue Jays team is almost lurking around. Finally the Rangers and Angels look strong out in the AL west. Here are my AL Predictions:

AL East:

1. Yankees 97-65

2. Red Sox 93-69

3. Rays 92-70

4. Blue Jays 80-82

5. Orioles 67-95

AL Central:

1. Tigers 94-68

2. White Sox 82-80

3. Twins 77-85

4. Royals 74-88

5. Indians 73-89

AL West:

1. Rangers 97-65

2. Angels 91-71

3. Athletics 73-89

4. Mariners 69-93

The National League is quite as deep and the gap between the leagues might be the biggest its ever been, especially at the top. The NL East is the haven for the best teams in the NL though. The Marlins, Nationals, and Braves are all up and coming to try and take down the strong hold Phillies. The NL Central will have the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers as top contenders but some teams lost some big pieces from last year. In the west the Diamondbacks will look to defend their surprise title and hold of the pitching heavy Giants and Padres. Here are the National League Predictions:

NL East:

1. Phillies 91-71

2. Braves 89-73

3. Marlins 88-74

4. Nationals 82-80

5. Mets 69-93

NL Central:

1. Reds 86-76

2. Cardinals 84-78

3. Brewers 83-79

4. Cubs 72-90

5. Pirates 71-91

6. Astros 65-97

NL West:

1. Giants 85-77

2. Diamondbacks 84-78

3. Rockies 77-85

4. Dodgers 76-86

5. Padres 73-89

Playoffs:

1st Round:

Red Sox over Rays

Braves over Marlins

Division Series:

Yankees over Tigers

Rangers over Red Sox

Braves over Giants

Phillies over Reds

AL/NLCS:

Rangers over Yankees

Phillies over Braves

World Series:

Rangers over Phillies