2003-01-04 / Sports

The More Things Change, Results Stay The Same

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

Happy Holidays everyone! Here is a little update about the situation at Beach Channel. There is no update. The situation is still the same when I reported two weeks ago that I was not allowed to enter the building before the start of the Beach Channel- Far Rockaway Men’s Basketball game. With schools on vacation, there won’t be any movement on the matter until the New Year. Hopefully, there will good news to report on in 2003.

It’s that time of year where the holidays are in full swing and I don’t sing praise for long shopping lines at the Queens Mall or getting bumped into constantly like Eric Lindros taking a bump to the head or getting lousy reports from our knowledgeable weatherman about the status of snowstorms. (Ch. 7 reported the Xmas Day storm would be 1-3 inches. A great consolation for the 10,000 people who lost power in this peninsula during the supposedly weak storm. Kudos!)

Ok, let me stop being Bill Murray in the 1988 Scrooge movie. (That was a good movie no matter what Ebert says) I had to ponder what the meaning of 2002 meant for our local sports teams, and I thought of it. Change. Yup change. If you look at it, a lot of our teams tried to change their makeup to become more successful, or, performed oil changes to keep the car running. And some of the local teams just could not stop tinkering with coaching changes, player changes, uniform changes and whatever changes I can’t think of at this moment. Some of the changes were successful and some were a colossal failure.

The New York Islanders decided to hire a new head coach in Peter Laviolette, hire new players in Mike Peca and Alexei Yashin and changed their scoreless playoff streak at 8 years with an appearance against the Maple Leafs. Change was successful and everything seemed to be on the up and up.

Uh oh, things changed again. The cowardly lion Darcy Tucker hurts Mike Peca in the playoffs and ruined good times at the Coliseum, a bad start in October led to clubhouse melodrama for the head coach and musical goaltenders once again placed the young Rick DiPietro back in the supposed good graces of GM Mike Milbury.

At least Milbury isn’t Lou Lamoriello, who changed Larry Robinson as head coach in January with the New Jersey Devils to hire Kevin Constantine. General Lou ripped a page off from his boss George Steinbrenner by hiring Robinson to come back as an assistant coach to the same players who wanted to get rid of him in the first place. When the Canes in the first round eliminated the Devs and Lou decided that Bobby Holik was expendable, Holik changed addresses to…

The New York Rangers. Glen Sather decided to make his stamp on the team by changing head coaches to Bryan Trottier, hiring a new defenseman in Darius Kasparaitis and did not change goaltenders in Mike Richter. Well the more things change, the results stay the same. The Rangers are almost in the basement, Trottier looks lost, Pavel Bure changed doctors to explore his damaged knees, Richter is sadly out for the season with a concussion and the Garden crowd is still clinging to a hopeful playoff spot. Nothing has changed since 1997, has it? Different team, same results, went to their co-tenants…

The New York Knicks. If they are comedians, their shtick isn’t funny. It’s sad to watch this team just crumble under the constant blundering of Scott Layden and the puzzled Don Chaney. Antonio McDyess, a good talent when healthy, shatters the somewhat playoff dreams the Knicks has in preseason with 2 minutes left in the game against Phoenix. I still have not received a good reason to this day from Chaney on why Antonio remained in the game. The Knicks can’t even be lousy enough to dream of landing enough ping-pong balls for high schooler Lebron James. Dropping the ball was…

The New York Mets, who reinvented the comedy pyramid with their horrendous defense in 2002. Mo Vaughn was stumbling at first, Roger Cedeno tripped on his feet in left and Rey Ordonez needed a defense lawyer from his charges of calling the fans stupid. The offense decided to take a long vacation and Bobby Valentine took one for the team with his firing. But the Mets changed their locker room bad karma with the signings of Tom Glavine, Cliff Floyd and Mike Stanton to try to sniff a 2003-playoff spot. Not bad. Always upstaging the Mets’ signings and because George demands it…

The Yankees decided to sign Godzilla for $21 mil when their #1 offense wasn’t thought of to score enough runs and signed Jose Contreras for $32 mil, because they wanted to keep their international flavor on the pitching side. Let’s not forget Georgie is paying for what he deemed a $5 million mistake in Rondell White, a $6 million goofup in Sterling Hitchcock and a $7 million liability in Raul Mondesi. The Yankees had to get rid of those contracts before the free agents were signed. George must be saying in Tampa, "Luxury Tax! We don’t need no stinking luxury tax!" And the rest of baseball curses at the leader of the pack to win the Series in 2003. Not stinking at all is their corporate brothers…

The New Jersey Nets, who claimed the mantle of best basketball team with their inspiring play and damn good decisions by Rod Thorn and Byron Scott to put together a championship contender. Jason Kidd changed his reputation from decent point guard to all-world franchise savior, the Meadowlands changed their crowd noise machine for real crowd noise and the Nets almost erased 25 years of ineptitude to bring the title to Route 3. Now if only the Nets can hope Dikembe Mutombo gets healthy and Chris Childs to change his diet, the Nets might see title dreams just like the tenants across the way in…

The New York Giants, made the big dance with their victory over the Eagles. Jim Fassel has not lost the faith from his players and changed writers’ perceptions in this town from originally labeling him incompetent after Week 12’s loss to the Oilers to inspiring. How about that? But an improbable playoff spot was also made possible by the …

The New York Jets, even in this wild and wacky NFL 2002 campaign. And who knew Chad Pennington could run with the ball? The label of bust was changed from Chad’s brief Jets biography that’s for sure. The only stamp of stable change happened at QB because the rest of the Jets were certainly the main reason for the slow start and the maddening losses to the Browns and the Bears. Now that they have made the playoffs in this wacky season, do they change the perception of the same ol’ Jets in the postseason? Whew I’m done. If I missed anybody, I do humbly apologize.

An Appreciation

There is something that I would like to say in closing about the sudden loss of singer Joe Strummer of The Clash, who recently died of a heart attack at 50. Strummer was instrumental with the Clash in not only reinventing the genre of Rock, mixing ska, reggae and rap to the public, but also creating thought provoking music.

A fan shared a story when the Clash was touring in New York in 1980. The band was walking on the streets and saw young kids and teenagers rapping. They asked about this form of singing and wanted to hear more of it, so they turned on the radio to WBLS. They immediately loved the stylings of the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow, and they quickly came up with a new instrumental rap mix version of their hit song, "Magnificent Seven", for WBLS. The song became the #1 requested song on the station for months. Keep rocking on in the next life Joe.

Until next year, Peace.

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