Friday, May 16, 2014

Introducing the ...

The Calgary Flames press conference this morning at Heritage Hall in the Glens Falls Civic Center was filled with excited hockey fans, ready to show love for this new team that will be taking over the city come October.

Some of the highlights:
- The team will be named the Adirondack Flames, and their logo is going to consist of a modified version of the old Atlanta Flames logo from the 1970's.

- Season Tickets go on sale today at 2PM at the Civic Center.  Ticket information can be found at the Adirondack Flames webpage.

- Flames on Twitter: @AHLFlames; on Facebook: AHLFlames

- It's sounding like, based on the comment that we're going to be seeing different teams this season, that the American Hockey League will not be moving the Flames to the Eastern Conference, and that the Flames will have to play some Western Conference teams like Lake Erie, Chicago and Rockford.  The official conference/division alignment will not be released until July.

- The mascot has not been introduced to the public, but fans will like it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mets K.O.'d at Citi Field

deGrom -
The Mets get shut out in back-to-back games at home for the first time since 1999 as a fine pitching effort from Jacob deGrom gets spoiled by a lack of offense, as the Yankees prevail 1-0 to sweep the two games at Citi Field.

The lone run came in the seventh inning, as Alfonzo Soriano brought home the lone run with a fly ball to the gap in left field minutes after a double play attempt failed.  After Mark Teixiera walked, Brian McCann hit to a shifting Daniel Murphy, who tossed to David Wright at second base for the first, but Wright's throw was off and did not get to Lucas Duda in time for the second out.

After chasing Chase Whitley out of the game in the fifth inning, the Mets struggled against Dellin Betances, striking out six times, four of them with the bat sitting on the shoulder of the hitter.  As he was the pitcher of record when the winning run scored, Betances picked up his second win of the season.

The Mets struck out a total of 14 times, with Jacob deGrom being the lone starter who did not strike out.  David Wright had a tough time making contact with the ball, striking out three of his four plate appearances.

Jacob deGrom pitched seven innings, striking out six and giving up four hits in his first big league appearance.

A HIT!!:  The Mets pitching troubles at the plate came to an end when deGrom picked up the first base hit by a Mets pitcher all season.  The hit breaks an 0-for-64 slump all season long.

SEPTUPLET: 7 straight Mets batters struck out in the sixth through eight innings, tying a franchise record.

CAPITAL: The Mets hope their offense turns around as they make a trip to the Nation's Capital for the start of a three game set against the Washington Nationals.  This is the first time the Mets see the Nationals since the opening series of the season, where the Nats swept the Mets at Citi Field.

It doesn't get much easier for the Mets afterwards, as they return home to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mets Recap: The Wheels came off, but the Mets power to victory
Zack Wheeler didn't have his best game, but the Mets offense made that a limiting factor as they swept the two games at Yankee Stadium after Tuesday's 12-7 victory over the Yankees.

Wheeler was torched for four runs through four innings of work before the Mets padded their lead with four runs in the fifth inning.  Armed with a seven run lead, Terry Collins sent Wheeler back out so he could pitch the minimum five innings needed for the win.  The Yankees saw to it that Wheeler wouldn't get that far, getting a walk, two singles and a run scored to bring an end to Wheeler's night at 118 pitches in only 4 1/3rd innings worked.

Dice-K in relief was able to retire the next two batters to end the Yankee threat.

Wheeler's final line wasn't pretty.  He gave up seven hits and six walks, leading to five runs, all earned, as his ERA blossomed to 4.53 in the no-decision.

His counterpart, Vidal Nuño, fared no better.  He gave up seven runs on four hits and four walks, five of which were earned, in 3 1/3rd innings pitched, as he was tagged with the loss.

Four-bagger City: The Mets hitters wish they could play all their games at Yankee Stadium.  Entering the two-game set in the Bronx, the Mets had 22 total home runs for the season, one of the worst in the Majors. They have six during the Subway Series alone.

Granderstate: Two of those home runs was from Curtis Granderson, who looked comfortable in his old home, going 4 for 8 at the plate the last two games.  He now has hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games, and now has left the proverbial interstate as his batting average has peaked above the .200 Mendoza line, now at .205 for the season.

RISPY Business: The Mets were 6 for 14 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, just two days after they went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position through the first eight innings against Philadelphia before they made their wild comeback in the ninth.

New York's Team: The New York Mets have now won six straight against the Yankees dating back to the start of last year's Subway Series.  That's a contrast to in 2012, when the Yankees won five of the six games, and in 2011 when they won four of the six against the Mets.  But now the Mets must keep the momentum flowing as they return to Citi Field for the start of the pair of games in the Queens.

It won't be easy.  The Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound, who has been excellent so far this season.  The Yankees are 6-1 when he's on the mound, with the only loss being a no-decision against Baltimore in his second start, when he went seven innings, striking out ten.  He holds a 2.57 ERA, and with a pitcher's friendly park such as Citi Field, runs will be at a premium for the Mets.

The Mets send Rafael Montero for his first big league start.  Montero went 4-1 for the Las Vegas 51s, with an Earned Run Average of 3.67.  He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last start against Salt Lake before a high pitch count forced the end of his night.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Long Bombs and Big Plays spark Mets to Subway Series Win

Empire State Building Twitter

The Mets overcame three run deficits twice and their defense came up big when they needed to most as the New York Mets took the first game of the Subway Series 9-7.

Lucas Duda set up two double plays [the first], but most will remember the second of the two when he dove, caught the ball, threw to David Wright covering second, and then took the throw from Wright to end the game in the 9th inning.

On offense, the Mets overcame a three run deficit after Bartolo Colon gave up a grand slam to Brett Gardner in the 2nd inning.  Travis d'Arnaud hit his first of the year in the 5th inning to narrow the gap to two, and then in his first game since signing with the crosstown Mets, Curtis Granderson tied it in the 6th inning with a two-run blast.

The Mets bailed Colon out again after he gave up three runs, two earned, in the bottom of the 6th.  Eric Young hit a two run bomb to claw within one in the 7th, and Lucas Duda brought home Eric Campbell on a shattered bat single to center.  He would score on Chris Young's base-clearer to close the scoring in the 8th inning that gave the Mets the lead for the first time since the 2nd inning.

In the 9th inning, Kyle Farnsworth came on for the save, and found himself in trouble quickly as he walked Derek Jeter.  After Jacoby Ellsbury flied out, Mark Teixiera, who spent the game on the bench, hit a grounder that made its way all the way to the wall in right, but was only able to coax a single out of it.  That led to Brian McCann grounding to a diving Lucas Duda, who put away the Yankees with his double play.

It was the 5th straight win for the Mets over their crosstown rivals.

ROBBED: Lucas Duda nearly hit a extra base hit to the warning track, but was robbed by a quick-running sliding Jacoby Ellsbury produced the third out of the inning.

DEMOTED: Jenrry Mejia was demoted from starter to bullpen duty and made his first appearance for the Mets in the 7th inning.  He gave up two hits, but kept the Yankees from scoring.  He became the winning pitcher on record when the Mets completed their comeback in the 8th inning, winning his fourth win of the season.

PROMOTED: The Mets prior to play called up Rafael Montero from Las Vegas, who will take Mejia's spot in the rotation and will start on Wednesday in the first of the two games at Citi Field against the Yankees.  In addition, Jacob deGrom is coming to the Mets bullpen, replacing Gonzalez Germen, who is heading to the disabled list with a virus.

NEXT UP: Zack Wheeler takes the mound for the Mets as he makes his first ever appearance at Yankee Stadium.  The Mets are 3-4 when he takes the mound, with the latest loss coming in a 1-0 heartbreaker at Marlins Park.  The Yankees send out Vidal Nuño.  He earned his first win of the season last Wednesday when the Yankees won against the Angels.  Nuño struck out 3 in his 6 1/3rd innings of work.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mets Recap: Mets win in 11 to end skid

Corey Sipkin | New York Daily News
For the better part of four hours, it seemed like the Mets were going to leave Citi Field with a six game losing streak.

Their offense was floundering.  The ability to drive home base runners wasn't present, going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in a series that saw over three dozen runners left on base.

After falling into a 3-1 hole, former closer José Valverde surrendered one more run when he walked Jimmy Rollins, and gave up a triple to Chase Utley to bring Rollins home.

Then in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets caught a break as they did not have to face closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Instead, Antonio Bastardo gave up a double to Eric Young and a home run to deep right by Daniel Murphy.  After getting David Wright to strike out swinging, he gave up a double to Chris Young that ended his afternoon.

Friday's starter, Roberto Hernández, gave up a single to Bobby Abreu to set up runners on the corners with one out.  Juan Lagares was able to do something very few Mets have been able to do this series, bring home base runners with contact, as he was able to ground the ball to the shortstop, allowing Chris Young to plate the tying run.

After a scoreless 10th, the Mets were able to leave runners on 1st and 2nd after Reid Brignac grounded to Lucas Duda to end the top half of the 11th.  Then with the bases loaded, Ruben Tejada lines to left field [CSN Philadelphia feed] to bring Chris Young home to end the Mets 5 game losing streak.

Having pitched the top half of the 11th inning, Scott Rice was the pitcher on record for the win, his first of the season.  Jeff Manship was charged with the loss for Philadelphia.

WHEELING: After Chris Young singled to kick off the Mets 11th, Terry Collins sent Zack Wheeler to the plate.  Wheeler's involvement in the game as a pinch hitter became obvious immediately, he was up to square a bunt.  It worked, as Young was able to move to 2nd.

Had Zack Wheeler been able to get a hit, it would not be registered as a hit by a pitcher, thus continuing their 0-for streak at the plate for the 2014 season.

STREAKING: Speaking of that streak, that streak will be put on hold the next two nights as the Mets kick off the Subway Series with two in the Bronx.

Ruben Tejada's 2-for-4 game including the game-winner in the 11th inning breaks a six game hitless streak for the shortstop, and helps bring his average up to .195 for the season.

MURPHY MURPH: Daniel Murphy scored 5 runs during the weekend series, and has a hit in 21 of the Mets last 24 games.  He has multiple extra base hits in three of those games, including two doubles in yesterday's win over Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Abbotsford's move east should bring AHL division changes

American Hockey League -
In the 2014-15 season, the Abbotsford Heat will move east to Glens Falls.  The Adirondack Phantoms, who used the Glens Falls Civic Center as their temporary home until the arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania was ready, will become the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  

This one year after the Vancouver Canucks moved their farm team from Chicago to Utica, becoming the Utica Comets.  The American Hockey League did not alter the Conferences when that move was made, so as a result the Comets played in the Western Conference even though they are east of Syracuse and Binghamton, two Eastern Conference teams.  

Next year, the St. John's IceCaps will be pulling out of Newfoundland, and moving west to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where they will be closer to their parent club in Winnipeg.

In a league that has so much weight on the east coast, it's hard to set up a true geographical mark between west and east.  And with that pending move of St. John's, the league might not want to pull a realignment immediately. 

This is my suggestion for a divisional alignment for the 2015-16 hockey season.  Keep in mind this is purely a suggestion and outside factors could weigh in on how these teams get aligned.  In addition, note that the divisions are really just for standings purposes, as the schedules do not weigh the divisional opponents evenly. 

Atlantic Division
Manchester Monarchs
Providence Bruins
Worcester Sharks
Portland Pirates
Bridgeport Sound Tigers

East Division
Hartford Wolf Pack
Springfield Falcons
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Hershey Bears
Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Empire Division
Adirondack _______
Albany Devils
Utica Comets
Syracuse Crunch
Binghamton Senators

Toronto Marlies
Hamilton Bulldogs
Lake Erie Monsters
Rochester Americans
Thunder Bay ________

South Division
Norfolk Admirals
Charlotte Checkers
Oklahoma City Barons
Texas Stars
San Antonio Rampage

Midwest Division
Chicago Wolves
Grand Rapids Griffins
Rockford IceHogs
Iowa Wild
Milwaukee Admirals

The toughest decision is figuring out who moves west.  Thunder Bay would be an obvious choice -- they're going to be one of the westernmost teams in the league.  But the second team comes down to who could move without affecting local rivalries.  Therefore moving one of the New York teams west would be difficult, as you could make a case for either Binghamton or Syracuse to go west and join Rochester in their division.  

The same holds true with the Pennsylvania teams.  

You have to figure the league is going to try their hardest to keep the Eastern New York teams together.  

But remember what I said above.  The divisional placement of teams means little in the American Hockey League.  The league's going to schedule the games so that while you will play divisional teams, you're going to play your closest rivals more.

The above was a commentary of the author and the material does not reflect the opinions and thoughts of the station management nor its sponsors.  

The Heat is On! Calgary's AHL affiliate is coming to Glens Falls

On April 18th, 5,000 plus fans roared as the Adirondack Phantoms played their final game at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

At that point, it was unsure whether or not there would be hockey in Glens Falls come October.  Some speculation was made given the recent announcement that the Abbotsford Heat was terminating their contract with the city and leaving to a venue to be announced later, but it was still uncertain the Calgary Flames would choose the city of Glens Falls.

That uncertainty was absolved with the announcement that the AHL Board of Governors approved the move of the Abbotsford Heat from British Columbia to Glens Falls for the 2014-15 season.

"Glens Falls has had a terrific history with the American Hockey League," Flames General Manager Brad Treliving said in a press release, "and will be an ideal location and environment for the development of our prospects."

As the only team in the Pacific Time Zone, the Abbotsford Heat faced long travel schedules.  The nearest team for Abbotsford up until two years ago was in Winnipeg, well over a thousand miles away from Abbotsford, British Columbia.  The Manitoba Moose left for St. John's to make room for the NHL Winnipeg Jets, and with last year's move of the Houston Aeros to become the Iowa Wild in Des Moines, the nearest team became better than 1,500 miles from B.C..

Travel costs were amplified by the Heat only packing 3,000 into the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre, which placed them next-to-last for attendance in the 2013-14 season.  Portland, who had the worst attendance of the 30 clubs, was playing their season in Lewiston, Maine due to renovations and then a contract dispute with the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.

The move will allow the Flames affiliate more time on the ice practicing and less time on planes and in hotel rooms, which will reduce their expenses considerably.

The Heat made the Calder Cup Playoffs this year, but found themselves facing the Grand Rapids Griffins in the first round.  The Griffins, last year's Calder Cup champions, ended the Heat's tenure in Abbotsford with their game four series clinching victory in Grand Rapids, winning the best-of-five series 3-1.

A press conference will take place next week to formally introduce the city of Glens Falls to the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate.  The date and time has yet to be announced.