Author Archives: Tom Favaloro

About Tom Favaloro

Blogger and creator of BiancoNeroBlog.com

Is it Time For Hans Backe to Go?

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Sure the NY Red Bulls are better than they were before Hans Backe’s arrival in 2009, but at what point do the Red Bulls decide to part ways with the underachieving manager? For all of the big money the team has spent on big names, New York hasn’t accomplished anything in its history. Take a look at the names.Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel, Rafa Marquez, Tim Cahill, Dwayne De Rosario, Juan Agudelo. I can go on and on. There are a ton of reasons why he should get the boot.

After finishing the regular season atop the Eastern Conference in 2010, Backe’s team failed to even make it past the first round of the playoffs after losing disgracefully to the San Jose Earthquakes at Red Bull Arena. A year later, the team fell completely apart mid-season and barely made the playoffs after defeating FC Dallas in a wildcard match. They then proceeded to lose to the Galaxy in the next round. Of course the coach blamed the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the struggles of the Red Bulls as players were away from the team to play for their countries.

Speaking of CONCACAF, Backe has failed to make the Champions League the past two seasons. He notably benched his entire starting team last season against the Chicago Fire in a US Open Cup game that would have put NY in good position in the tournament. He took a lot of criticism after basically admitting that he didn’t care about the US Open Cup.

If you look past the disappointing results the past two seasons, you should take a look at the way the Red Bulls play. We all know the Swedish and former Notts County manager wants to bring a European style to the MLS. The Austrian owned Red Bull organization seems to think every European is the way to go. From the players they have brought in like Victor Palsson, Markus Holgersson, Brian Nielson, Joel Lindpere, Jan Gunnar Solli, and Frank Rost. Backe and his European buddies seem to be infatuated with bringing mediocre European players to the MLS.

Here is something the organization should begin to realize. All of that stuff doesn’t work in America. You can try to play the European style all you want, but if you don’t have the quality it won’t work. Why must we cut young and promising American players like Matt Kassel and Sacir Hot? Why do we give away talent every year including players like Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Mac Khanji, Juan Agudelo, Dwayne De Rosario, Mike Magee, Jeff Parke, and a whole list of quality players. The American game, with no disrespect, is not the same game as it is in Europe. MLS is a lot more physical game but it is less technical than other leagues around the world. It is difficult for European players to adjust. Just ask Thierry Henry who struggled when he first arrived in New York. Backe has to either adjust his style to the American game or continue struggling week in and week out vs. MLS-savy coaches like Sigi Schmidt and Dom Kinnear. Sure the MLS style is not as flashy or technical as the EPL or La Liga or Serie A, but the MLS has its own unique characteristics that make it what it is.

I don’t know if it is just me, but does anyone out there see what I see when I watch the Red Bulls play? Backe’s style eliminates the midfield and forces the defenders to do the playmaking. We often see no movement off the ball, no runs being made, and futile long ball attempts which result in a loss of possession. I cannot believe Backe doesn’t see this. Holgersson and Conde should not be linking up with the forwards and setting up goal opportunities. Roy Miller should not be responsible for providing service to Henry. That is the job of the midfield. No other MLS team has their defense pass and and have as many touches as the Red Bulls do. Tim Ream once led the team in passing last season. This should not happen.

Besides his unintelligent tactics, Backe is also questionable when it comes to forming the lineup. He constantly changes the lineup every week and prevents any chemistry from being made with players. The organization as a whole is guilty of changing the roster from year to year. Just this week they got rid of Mehdi Ballouchy after trading Dane Richards for Sebastien Le Toux earlier this season. Hans is also notorious for making bad subs or no subs at all.

How much longer do we have to see this flat team underperform while having the best roster on paper. Surely any other quality MLS coach would be unstoppable with the roster Backe has. Imagine Sigi Schmidt had Henry, Cahill, and Cooper at his disposal. Sigi has done nothing but win wherever he goes, even without a team of well-known players.

It might just be time for New York to find a new coach. Backe should not be back if this talented roster does not win the MLS Cup this year. It is not too much to expect this season with the rest of the MLS containing mediocre teams. No excuses. It is championship or bust. If it is a bust, the Red Bulls must make changes and look at MLS coaches to take over, not European ones who are unfamiliar with the American game.

We will see what happens as the playoffs approach.

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Mets Wearing 1989 Throwback Uniforms

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Courtesy of Justin Turner’s twitter account (@redturn2), take a look at the throwback away jersey the Mets will wear tonight when they take on the San Diego Padres. The 1989 uniform will be worn as part of “80’s Night” at Petco Park. I wish the Mets could wear these throwbacks a lot more frequently!

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Eli Manning in Elite Company in Madden 13

Before last season,  Eli famously proclaimed that he was an elite quarterback on a local radio station in New York. Claiming he was on the same level as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees, everyone other than those in the Manning family scoffed at the bold statement made by the Giants quarterback.

A year and a second Super Bowl ring later, those doubters are now convinced Eli is the real deal. His brilliant postseason helped back up his talk and helped him gain respect from NFL fans and players.

The ratings for quarterbacks in this year’s Madden 13 are out and EA Sports has taken notice of Manning’s terrific 2011-12 championship season. Ranked the 4th best QB in the game, Eli is rated 97 overall and is better than his older brother Peyton.

The only QBs rated better than Eli are Drew Brees (OVR 98), Tom Brady (OVR 98), and Aaron Rodgers (OVR 99).

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by | July 31, 2012 · 7:19 PM

Should Mets Be Buyers, Sellers, or Stand Pat?

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A lot has happened since the Mets 46-40 first half start to the season. The team went on a 6-game losing streak, failed to win a single game on a 6-game homestand, and let various late leads get away. All of this resulted in the Mets losing 13 of their last 17 games. At 50-53, they are 12 games behind the Washington Nationals, and 8.5 games behind the final wildcard spot which currently belongs to the Atlanta Braves.

It is a tough position to be in right now as the Mets are in between being buyers and sellers. While New York has been struggling, the season is not over just yet. Think back to last year when the St. Louis Cardinals overtook the Braves after being 10.5 games behind on the 24th of August. Of course, anything can happen in baseball. And we have seen the Mets have two consecutive historic collapses. So why can’t it happen to the Braves?

I’m not saying they should trade away a Zack Wheeler or any other big prospect to acquire a top player at the trade deadline, but they can afford to make a small trade to acquire a reliever like Grant Balfour or Jonathon Broxton. If Sandy Alderson does not make a move, the Mets terrible bullpen will prevent the team from even cooming close to a wildcard spot.

In terms of hitting, they can also try to trade for a right-handed catcher like Yorvit Torrealba to help out the offense.The Mets could not land Geovany Soto but they might just be able to get Torrealba for cheap. He will be available after being designated for assignment as a result of Soto’s arrival in Texas.

If Alderson decides to sell, the Mets biggest commodity is Scott Hairston who has had a terrific season this year. He  has 14 home runs while playing part-time in the outfield, and he is a monster against left-handed pitching. I don’t think the Mets should trade him, however, because they would only receive a mid-level prospect in return. Hairston is too important to the team right now.

The Mets have also been trying to trade Daniel Murphy, but again, other teams do not value him as highly as the Mets do. As a result, New York would most likely get a relief pitcher in return for a quality hitter in Murphy. Surely that is not enough for an everyday player who is important to the lineup.

The best way to go about it for the Mets according to Sandy Alderson  is to keep the team they have right now and stand pat. By no means will they trade Harvey, or Wheeler at the deadline. Also, it would not be smart to start trading away guys like Murphy and Hairston for mid-level prospects and relief pitchers. New York fans do not appreciate fire sales while their team is still in contention.

The trade deadline is just a few hours away and sources are reporting that the Mets will not trade away Hairston but they will also not look to make any big moves. It looks like they will indeed stay where they are and possibly use the waiver wire to improve their roster if they are still in the hunt down the road. It is a tricky call for Alderson, but is it the right one for the Mets?

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Punches Thrown and Shots Fired in USA Women’s Olympic Soccer Game

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The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup runner-up United States steam-rolled their Colombian opponents yesterday in the second game of the group stage. Megan Rapinoe fired a rocket of a goal past the Colombian goalkeeper to give USA a 1-0 lead. Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd followed with goals to give USA a 3-0 victory at the final whistle.

USA dominated as usual, but the story of the game wasn’t the 3 goals scored or the convincing victory over the South Americans. Instead, the only thing people are talking about today is Wambach’s black eye and Hope Solo’s heated comments on Twitter.

In the 39th minute, Colombian defender Lady Andrade whacked Wambach in the face with a right hook in an off-the-ball incident which the referee did not see. Replays show that Andrade might have intentionally punched Wambach in the eye to prevent the striker from going to goal. If the referee saw the incident, Andrade would have definitely given her a red card. In true Olympic spirit, Wambach did not retaliate, showing her sportsmanship instead of playing dirty.

The other big story from the game is Hope Solo’s ongoing Twitter war with commentator and former US Women’s soccer player, Brandi Chastain. After Chastain mildly criticized the Americans in their 3-0 victory, Solo sounded with a series of angry guided towards Chastain. Here are the tweets:

I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute, especially bc @arlowhiteis fantastic.@brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport #fb

Its important 2 our fans 2 enjoy the spirit of the olympics.Its not possible when sum1 on air is saying that a player is the worst defender!

3-0 and onto the quarters! Proud of our team for keeping our composure during a chippy game! On to Manchester! #fb

Lay off commentating about defending and gking until you get more educated @brandichastain the game has changed from a decade ago.#fb

Its 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represents the team&knows more about the game @brandichastain#fb

After the 3-0 win punched USA’s ticket to the quarterfinals, they will take on North Korea in their final group stage game. Stay tuned everybody. The commentating for next game should be really interesting.

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Mets Could Release Jason Bay

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Terry Collins has given Jason Bay yet another opportunity to start in left field for the Mets, but the Canadian-born player has failed to prove himself once again after coming back from the DL. The fans have lost patience with Bay a long time ago and now it seems as though Collins is growing tired of the lack of production from the $16.5 million man.

Bay is hitting a measly .164 with 5 HRs and only 8 RBI so far in 2012. If these numbers aren’t pathetic enough, he has struck out 35 times in just 33 games. Obviously the Mets need more from Bay who was supposed to be a dangerous right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup when he signed back in 2009.

Collins has told Bay that he will have less playing time due to his incredible struggles this season, as he will likely platoon with Jordany Valdespin in left-field. Bay will play vs. left-handers while Valdepin will get the start against right-handers. There has, however, been speculation that Sandy Alderson might just cut ties with Bay before his hefty contract expires after the 2013 season.

If they do release him they will still have to pay his remaining $35 million, but Mets fans would no longer have to witness such a frustrating player who strikeouts out virtually every at-bat. It is a very possible scenario as the the Mets aren’t afraid of releasing players before their contracts expire. They cut Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez who were making a combined $18 million with a year left on both of their contracts. Bay is already giving contributing absolutely nothing, so why not get rid of him? The team was playing better without him with Hairston and Baxter in left-field.

Mets fans, you might just get your wish. New York might just move on and release Bay if no team wants to trade for him this season. It is unlikely that anyone would take on his contract in a trade and it is also unlikely that he will be traded through waivers. As a result, the only option is handing him the pink slip.

Hopefully the Mets learned from this situation and they will think twice before throwing a boat-load of money at a free agent.

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Matt Harvey Shines in MLB Debut

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In the most anticipated Mets debut since Doc Gooden in 1984, Matt Harvey did not disappoint in his start vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mets young prospect took the mound in a familiar stadium, Chase Field, where he appeared in the 2011 MLB All Stars Futures Game. He showed no nerves whatsoever and pitched a quality game in a hitters haven.

Harvey’s final line is impressive as he pitched 5 1/3 innings with zero runs on three hits and 11 strikeouts, while picking up his first career major league win. Despite his control issues in AAA, the right-hander only walked two and had a good feel for the strike zone.

The 24-year old came out firing darts, reaching 98 MPH on several occasions. He also had good control of his fastball and mixed in his off speed pitches well, something that was not the case in his time with Buffalo. To add to his impressive debut, Harvey also picked up his first two hits as a pro with a double in his first plate appearance and a single in his second at-bat.

Matt Harvey finally brought a bit of excitement to this team after New York’s six game winning streak put a damper on things. The Mets hope he can spark the club and provide the jolt they need to get back in the playoff spot. If he can continue his success, the rotation will be impressive with R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and a rested Johan Santana coming back from the DL. Don’t give up yet, Mets fans! There is still hope.

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Battle for NY: Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks Open Season in Brooklyn

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It doesn’t get much better than this to kick off the 2012-13 NBA season. After Joe Johnson fired the first shots against the Knicks, the trash talk will be settled on the court in the season opener for both the Nets and Knicks as they will meet November 1 at 7PM at the brand new Barclays Center.

The first professional sports game in Brooklyn since the Dodgers last game at Ebbets Field in 1957, the season opener will draw a ton of interest from New Yorkers. There is destined to be a great deal of Knicks fans in attendance to see their Atlantic Division rivals begin their transition to Brooklyn.

The game is set to be an intense one between both on the court between both teams, and in the stands between both both sets of fans. Expect hard fouls, physical play, and a raucous crowd on an extremely exciting sports night in New York. The battle for the city begins.

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Tim Cahill Arrives in New York, Makes Red Bulls Championship Contenders

 

Seemingly out of nowhere the New York Red Bulls landed Everton attacking midfielder Tim Cahill for a reported fee of $1.5 million. The 32-year old Australian international is New York’s third Designated Player along with Thierry Henry, and Rafa Marquez and he is already thinking championship for the team as he joins his new teammates at practice in New Jersey.

Cahill spent eight seasons at Everton where he scored 68 goals in 278 appearances, where he made a name for himself after his move from Millwall. The attacking midfielder also represented his country at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup, scoring 24 goals in 55 caps for Australia.

Cahill brings great attacking skill to the midfield, while adding to the offensive firepower with strikers like Henry, Cooper, and Le Toux. The Aussie will play just behind the two strikers, allowing Henry to stay up front instead of tracking back to receive the ball. Along with Cahill, the Red Bull midfield will include the resurgent Dax McCarty in a defensive midfield position, Le Toux wide on the right flank, and Joel Lindpere on the left. It is to be seen whether Marquez will be traded or remain in the starting lineup for Hans Backe.

With a potent offense with the likes of Henry, Cahill, Cooper, Le Toux, and Lindpere, it is now up to New York’s defense to perform. The team will score plenty of goals but the leaky defense will have to hold up and key players like Wilman Conde and Heath Pearce need to stay healthy and contribute.

Just think of this 4-4-2 starting lineup:

Goalkeeper: Ryan Meara

Defenders: Jan Gunnar Solli, Wilman Conde, Heath Pearce, Roy Miller

Midfielders: Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, Sebastien Le Toux, Joel Lindpere

Forwards: Thierry Henry, Kenny Cooper

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Mets Make Roster Changes, Harvey Could Debut Thursday Vs. Arizona

41-year old Miguel Batista claimed that the Mets were “the best team in baseball” last week. Now he will no longer be part of the club as he has been designated for assignment after yesterday’s start in which he surrendered 4 ER in 3.2 innings. The Mets clearly saw enough out of Batista the last few times around to earn him a demotion. This season he has a 4.82 ERA while starting and relieving games in the absence of Mike Pelfrey and Dillon Gee.

New York has announced corresponding moves with RHP Elvin Ramirez being promoted back to the majors after struggling with his control in his first stint with the big league team. He will go to the bullpen while the Mets will need a starter for Thursday’s game in Arizona.

Jeremy Hefner, who was called up to replace Johan Santana, will start on Wednesday and could also work out of the bullpen if they need him to. There is speculation about whether Matt Harvey will be called upon to pitch in Arizona, but after his last start for Buffalo, the Mets are having second thoughts about handing him the ball. He was roughed up in an outing in which he allowed 6 runs on seven hits. Harvey threw 96 pitches but only 61 for strikes as his heavy pitch count has ruled him out of starting Wednesday for the Mets.

With Harvey being lit up in AAA, Sandy Alderson and the Mets front office is a little frustrated with the recent slew of injuries that has devastated the starting rotation. Surprisingly, the team is considering calling up Collin McHugh instead of Harvey for Thursday’s start. McHugh, who is not as highly touted a prospect, is similar to Dillon Gee in that he does not throw hard but has good breaking pitches. He is 1-3 in seven starts for AAA Buffalo, with an ERA of 4.54 after being called up from AA Binghamton.

The Mets rotation is getting really thin all of a sudden with three out of the five opening day starters on the DL. New York is running low on options and needs to make a move to help the struggling rotation and horrendous bullpen. Whether it is Harvey or McHugh, it is hard to expect either to do much in their first major league experience. The season is fading fast and this might be the last chance for the Mets to stay relevant this season. Pitching needs to be better than it has been so far in the second half of the season and it needs to give the team a chance to win on a regular basis.

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