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13 July 2008

Hodgepodge on sports

For the newest edition of The Canessa Corner, I thought I'd take a hodgepodge look at the Tri-State Area sports situation. So here it goes.

• You've got to really feel for Willie Randolph. Unquestionably, he's got to be aware of what his former team is doing of late — and that includes a 9-game winning streak, and pulling to within .5 of Philadelphia. When he was fired, the Mets were 5.5 behind Philly.

I often wonder what a fired manager must think when his once-struggling team goes on to a streak like this — one that should propel the Mets to playoff birth.

• With that said, you've got to love with Jerry Manuel is doing with this team. He rewards good, solid play with starts, he's got a great command of the media and he just seems to have brought a new-found fun to Shea, something that wasn't there with Willie.

Every post-game press conference seems to have part baseball, part stand-up routine. And considering how banal Willie was, this is a refreshing change for most Mets' fans.

• The New York Rangers appeared, at the end of last season, to be just a piece or two away from being a serious contender for The Stanley Cup. As a New Jersey Devils fan, having had to deal with watching Sean Avery pestering Martin Brodeur was painful. Which is why I just can't understand how the Rangers could allow Avery to go to Dallas.

Devils fans once had a love affair with the pesky Claude Lemieux. And we knew what a menace he could be. Avery was a modern-day version of Lemieux — and any chance a team has to have a player like that should be capitalized on. But for some reason, the Rangers chose to let Avery walk.

It just doesn't make sense — and it sets the Rangers back, coupled with the loss of Jaromir Jagr.

• The Devils, meanwhile, continue to show they're serious about winning another Cup for their 12,309 fans (I'm one of them). Bringing back Bobby Holik, old as he is, will help, and Brian Rolston's 30 or so goals will bring much needed offense to a team that struggled to score so often.

Perhaps most intriguing with the Devils is a rumor they're pursuing Sergei Fedorov. This would be a tremendous move if Lou Lamoriello can fit him in under the salary cap — and it's one that could help the Devils give the Penguins and Canadiens a serious Eastern Conference challenge.

• I never liked the Yankees, but there are some Yankees who I've always admired and respected. One was Bobby Ray Murcer, whose death this weekend was bothersome. When you listened to him on TV or doing Old Timers Day, didn't you just get the feeling he was speaking directly to you? He was like an uncle you always wish you had.

What a tremendous loss this is. Rest in Peace, Bobby. God bless you and your family.

• If you've listened to a Mets' game on WFAN, don't you get the feeling Howie Rose can't stand Wayne Hagin? Of course, Hagin is Rose's third broadcasting partner in four years, but there's something about Hagin that seems to really piss Howie off.

In Sunday's game, when a foul ball was heading to the radio booth, Rose tried to get out of the way, but couldn't, because Hagin apparently didn't move far enough. So, instead, Howie went the other direction, only to meet a wall.

"I was trying to get out of the way but someone didn't budge," Rose said on the air. "The wall doesn't give that much, Wayne. I was trying to get out of the way, but someone else wasn't."

It's not the first time he's gotten testy with Hagin. And it probably won't be the last.

Of course, Hagin's OK as a broadcaster, but when compared with Gary Cohen and Tom McCarthy — there really isn't a comparison. Hagin's very slow in his delivery and shows very little emotion. Sometimes, his home run calls are so slow that a runner is likely between second and third before he says "home run."

Makes you long for the days of Bob Murphy, Cohen and Gary Thorne.

• Speaking of announcers: Man John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman irritate me. The two absolutely ripped the Mets for the way they treated former Yankee Willie Randolph. Of course, neither of the two homers peeped a word after the Yankees screwed Joe Torre after winning for World Series and after making the playoffs in every year of his tenure.

I don't mind them being critical of the Mets, but if they're not going to rip their own team for the crappy way they treated Torre — then they'd be better off keeping their annoying mouths shut.

Then again, this is the same duo who thought it was "dramatic" that the Yanks brought Roger Clemens back last year for one of the team's all-time greatest busts.

• That's all for now. Enjoy the week, everyone — and enjoy the All Star Game.


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