Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

Rangers and Devils Crawl on Their Bellies Out of the Playoffs April 28, 2009

Hockey Season is Over

The Rangers went down in defeat, blowing a 3-1 series lead and dropping Game 7 in Washington to the Capitals, 2-1. The Caps scored the winning goal with 4:59 left, completing what was undoubtedly to most hockey mavens a predictable loss for the listless Rangers.

The only thing that made this night sweet for Ranger fans was utter collapse of the Devils and “Mary” Brodeur in the last 1:20 of the third period, surrendering goals to Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal, and giving Carolina the series with a 4-3 come-from-behind win. The Hurricanes have saved the hockey world from any more Devil hockey for the rest of the Spring.

Thus ends hockey in the New York market before the Second Round. Advertisers for Versus and NBC-TV need to be nervous, not so much because the New York area teams lost but because of the way they lost. These losses and collapses by the Rangers and Devils, although different types of losses, leave fans disgusted. The last thing they will want to see anytime soon is another hockey game.

The Second Round match-ups in the East do not bode well for future playoff TV audiences. Washington and Pittsburgh have little out-of-market pull other than having the two of the premier players in the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin (maybe you could include Evgeny Malkin). The troublesome part for advertisers and the NHL is that either Crosby or Ovechkin will make a second round exit.

While Carolina (formerly the Hartford Whalers) have congratulations from this ex-Connecticut resident for dumping the Debbies, it’s over in the Second Round for the Hurricanes. To quote George C. Scott as General George Patton, the Bruins will rip through the Hurricanes “like crap through a goose.” It’s four games and out.



Brashear Gets His Wrist Slapped and Butt Kissed by Soupy April 27, 2009

Puck Daddy Gets it Wrong … Again

First, the news: Donald Brashear, noted hockey goon and executioner for the Washington Capitals, received a six-game suspension for his blind-sided shot to the head of New York Rangers Center Blair Betts. The suspension was issued by NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin “Soupy” Campbell.

This suspension is, in essence, another win-win situation for the Capitals. Brashear does little to contribute to the success of the Capitals. On the other hand, Betts brings speed to the Rangers fourth line and is arguably one of the better penalty killers in the league. Others much wiser than me have suggested that Brashear’s knock-out of Betts may have indirectly contributed to two power play goals by the Capitals in their 5-3 win in Game 6 on Sunday.

Since Betts will definitely miss Game 7, the trade-off is that the Caps lose Brashear and the Rangers lose Betts. Who do you think wins that trade-off? The hockey gods at Puck Daddy would have you believe that the punishment fit the crime and this suspension was “another” (???) stroke of genius by Soupy. Just like the death penalty, this “landmark” (???) suspension would serve as a deterrent. The gang at Puck Daddy really needs to stop planting their lips on Soupy’s ample arse and must bring an end to their chemical dependencies before it is too late.

In the meantime, I guess I should be flattered that Puck Daddy threw my humble little blog a link yesterday, even though the editor felt compelled to misinform readers of my intent. Quoted from the Monday Morning Headlines: A contrarian view on the John Tortorella suspension, which calls our analysis “lame” and then argues that the NHL is fixing the series to increase television ratings. Written from the co-pilot’s seat of a black helicopter hovering over Area 51.

It must be hard for them to write such pearls of wisdom in-between dropping and raising those baskets of fries into and from the tasty oil bath at McDonald’s.



Soupy Blows it Again April 26, 2009

Fans Need to Send a Message

NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell issued a one-game suspension to Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella for squirting a fan with water and then throwing the water bottle at the fan. And, despite the rantings of hockey buttheads like Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy fame, the situation was mishandled, as usual, by Soupy.

Wyshynski would have you believe that the punishment fit the crime, and that’s what you would expect from the usual lame analysis from Wyshynski . The true statement is that the punishment fit the financial objectives of the NHL.

From the outset, let’s make it clear, I am a long-time Rangers fan but I am not a fan of Tortorella. I openly condemn his actions. While a HUGE fine to Tortorella and the Rangers was in order, hockey fans need to understand two things. First is that a suspension serves the business interests of the NHL. Second is why Soupy must accept blame for mismanaging yet another incident.

Let’s examine Soupy’s “as usual” screw-up first. Even if you put aside Campbell’s well-documented inclination to stick it to the Rangers every chance he gets, there is an issue in law called proximate cause. Proximate cause refers to the specific action that ultimately results in an outcome. Lay people may understand the principal better from a related term called mitigating circumstances, which is actually justification for somebody responding in an incorrect manner.

There are no mitigating circumstances in what Tortorella did. His exchange with the Washington fans was totally unprofessional, unacceptable and contrary to everything he preaches. However, the proximate cause of the situation was the lack of response by Capitals’ security to complaints from Rangers’ bench personnel about spitting, cursing and threatening behavior from the fans near the bench.



Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? April 22, 2009

Escape From New York Comes True

Wow! It’s been almost 16 months since my last post, and it is amazing to see the changes in the world and my own life during that span. It’s been an interesting time, hasn’t it?

Let’s see … Hillary didn’t make it, Obama did, but Hillie is playing Secretary of State. I looked at my prediction for an Obama v. McCain Presidential Race and was amazed at my accuracy; overall, it was a good, fair race. The one black spot was the biased attacks from the media on Sarah Palin. Once again, anyone who turns to network news in this country is a damned fool.

In the world of “Nothing Changes” (so true), a hockey fan found this blog yesterday searching for stuff on one of my favorite whipping boys, Colin “Soupy” Campbell (see Why the NHL Sucks … besides Colin Campbell. Our beloved Soupy issued another in a long series of ridiculous suspensions to Boston’s Milan Lucic (one game) for a cross-check that was little more than a love tap … but Soupy did not suspend Ian Lappierre or Mike Komisarek of “Les Habitants” for their cheap shots. Little matter as the Canadiens got flushed down the bowl in four by the Bruins. And, for all the miserable Canadiens fans who booed the “The Star Spangled Banner” on Monday night, go to hell!

Imus, who recently announced that he is battling cancer, survived his first year at Citadel and WABC-AM (New York) in grand fashion and, despite a few backhanded stabs at him, was doing some of the very best radio of his career. While the snipers are still ready to take Imus out, he is not going to leave himself open. The New York Rangers … well, it’s kind of like when Ron Swoboda was playing right field for the Metsies: every day is a new adventure for the Garden Faithful. Even being up 3-1 on OvieCaps doesn’t make a Ranger fan feel safe. Bloomberg … well, he and the entire NYC Department of Education can also kiss my grits.

So what changes are happening in Mr. Smith’s Neighborhood … or, should I say Senor Smith’s Barrio?



Obama, Hillary, Billary, Republicans, Imus, Bloomberg, and Clemens January 7, 2008

What’s Going On in da ‘Hood?

Barack Obama: Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama continues to build on the momentum of his victory in the Iowa caucus with a substantial lead over Hillary Clinton in the polls leading up to the New Hampshire primary. Polls over the weekend show that Obama has built as much as a ten point lead over Clinton while John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich continue to trail the two front runners.

Obama apparently captured the hearts and imagination of the voters with his message about the need for a change. It’s still very early in the primary season but the real news is that the Democrats now have a genuine race for the nomination. Polls prior to the Iowa caucus indicated that Clinton’s campaign might have been an unstoppable juggernaut to the White House. Registered Democrats now have a reason to tune in, get involved and get to the polls.

Hillaryland in Flames: The last week has not been kind to the Clinton presidential bid and, despite the calm spin being pitched by Bill and Hillary, there is a new sense of urgency from campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle and her staff. Urgent emails seeking more donations for the massive Clinton war chest, and another desperate email sought volunteers to participate in a phone blitz of New Hampshire voters. The smug attitude previously presented by Clinton’s campaign, much like the guerilla marketing tactics of an industry leader, has now made a dramatic shift to the “We Try Harder” image of a “Number Two” company like Avis Car Rental.

Clinton is now focusing on Obama’s weak points, including his record and lack of experience. It is foolhardy to think that the Clinton campaign is circling the bowl at this early stage of the game. Obama has momentum and the Oprah Winfrey factor working in his favor, but the Clinton campaign is backed by big money from shadowy figures like George Soros. The unseen forces that profited from Bill’s presidency have much to gain by another Clinton in the oval office. The battle for the nomination is far from over.



Rangers Continue to Roll December 31, 2007

Are All Montreal Fans Brain Damaged?

Last night (Sunday, Dec. 30) the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on a breakaway overtime goal by Brendan Shanahan. The real highlight of the game, however, was the hundreds of Montreal fans who paid two and three times the face value of a ticket and then proceeded to act like idiots in the stands. More on that later.

After taking a 2-1 first period lead on goals by Dan Girardi and Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers played a lackluster second period. It was most likely a letdown following a very emotional 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The league-leading Montreal power play took advantage of the referee’s generosity to score two second period goals and lead 3-2 to start the third period. Montreal scored on three of their four power play opportunities but were a marginal offensive team at even strength. One of Montreal’s goals came after a hit on Dan Girardi that should have been called boarding but was not.

After early success against the highly-touted Canadien defense, the Rangers reverted back to their “excessive passing” game and stopped skating. While the Canadien defense looked like traffic cones on the ice, the Rangers seemed to have lost their offensive drive.



Christmas in My ‘Hood December 25, 2007

Dino and Christmas Tree

Where Are We 2,000 Years Later?

It is Christmas Eve and, as a youngster, this was my favorite night of the whole year. It was the night that my mother’s family came to our home, we had a fabulous fish and seafood dinner, and then we stayed up all night playing games, singing and waiting for my Uncle Red to ascend from the basement as Santa Claus.

Things have changed through the years but it is still a special night, the time when my children join me as we try to keep certain family traditions alive. The changing context of family life and the demands placed on parents do not make holiday celebrations very easy. My family has adapted by going to to The Crab Shanty on City Island (Bronx, NY) for our fish and seafood dinner, saving us the time and work to shop, cook, serve and clean up. It is money well-spent.

During the last few years, devoid of children on Christmas Day, I have enjoyed the time alone in marvelous meditation on the true meaning of the day. My recent marriage has made visiting family on Christmas Day a necessity, so I’ve turned to those quiet hours around midnight on Christmas Eve to remember a special birthday.

Just over 2,000 years ago, a very special child was born into a humble, holy family. While researchers and various religious organizations continue to put forth theories, suppositions and proselytisms about the circumstances of the baby boy’s birth and youth, we know for certain that Jesus later emerged on the shores of the Jordan River to be baptized by St. John. Jesus would use the next three years to teach lessons that have influenced 2,000 years of humanity.