Pitching is such a vital part of the game, as far as winning is concerned.

On most teams the set up man has become more valuable, on others not so valuable.

Something to keep in mind — it’s raining lightly. The infield could be very wet on ground balls.

What is a drop and drive pitcher? He is a guy who drops and drives. Very simple.

So by guessing right you might have guessed wrong.

Giambi walks too much. He’s always clogging up the bases with all that walking.

As a new day begins in New York, the sun sets in Hawaii.

If football is a game of inches then baseball is a game of inch.

If that ball had more elevation, it would have been a home run.

If the double play is a pitcher’s best friend, what is a fielder’s choice? An acquaintance?

It’s better to have a fast runner on base than a slow one.

One thing about ground balls. They don’t go out of the ball park.

The reason we call that pitch up and in is because the arms are attached to the shoulder.

He wears his hat like a left hander!

Any ball that goes down is much heavier than any ball that stays on the same plane.

The blood on his sock looks exactly like Oklahoma!

You don't want to use too many statistics. The ones that apply to a July or August game won't be relevant on Saturday.

American McCarver

If You Leave Me Now

You know what’s worse than a breakup? An impending breakup. The kind of breakup where you spend your entire existence wondering if the love of your life is getting ready to leave you. It’s been threatened. It’s been talked about. Ultimatums have been given. It’s all about to come to a head. 

And that’s where Long Island hockey fans are at right now with the Islanders. On August 1st, residents of Nassau County will go to the ballot to determine if we want to give the County and team owner Charles Wang enough money to rebuild the Nassau Coliseum and turn the surrounding area into a sports/entertainment complex, thus keeping the Islanders here for the foreseeable future instead of having them run for the hills when their lease expires in three years. 

It’s a complicated deal but one that mostly puts the financial burden on Wang. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy the past few weeks telling my fellow Nassau County residents that it’s not just about hockey, that a vote for the Islanders is a vote for their community. I’ve hammered home the point that if the Islanders go, the Coliseum goes and then the surrounding business community dies. I’ve tried to make it less about hockey and more about “it’s the economy, stupid” because that’s what anyone who is not a hockey fan will understand.

But make no mistake, it is very much about the hockey for most of us. We’ve got 39 years invested in this team. For the younger fans, they can say they’ve been Islander fans their whole lives. We’ve been together through ups and downs, through a misguided logo change, through glory days and the “dynasty” tag, through years that left us wondering why we torture ourselves with this relationship. We’ve maintained our ties with the team through bad management and horrible trades and we’ve come out to see our team play in what is probably the most awful arena in all of sports. The only thing that saves the Nassau Coliseum from being the most depressing sports place on the planet is those four Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters and even then, sometimes those banners are just a sad reminder of what used to be.

We’re on the brink of the end of our relationship. It’s a sad, heartbreaking thing. Ask any fan of any sport whose team has left them what it feels like. From the Brooklyn Dodgers to the Seattle Supersonics, from the Quebec Nordiques to the Cleveland Browns, there are fans all across North America who can tell you about the heartbreak of your favorite team abandoning you for another city. A prettier city. A city who can give them more of what they’re looking for. A city that will provide a more rewarding relationship. Ask a Baltimore Colts fan what it’s like. That’s the stuff earnest young men in black rimmed glasses with acoustic guitars write hit songs about. 

So of course it’s about the hockey as well as the well being of our neighborhood. There are people screaming in opposition about the $58.00 a year our property taxes will go up if this vote is passed and I get that, I do. We’re one of the highest taxed counties in the nation (our average annual property tax is $8,306) already. But $58.00 a year to save your hockey team? That’s too much to ask? I don’t know how else to put it to these people. I’ve explained about the economic impact of the team leaving and the Coliseum closing down. Now I’m just trying to appeal to their emotions. I’ve become a lovelorn teenager writing poorly written MySpace posts about love and loss and the empty, black space that will envelop my heart when I’m left alone with nothing but my memories. My pleas to vote “yes” have become nothing more than a Dashboard Confessional song where hockey is the one who got away. 

I love hockey. I love my Islanders. This team is part of my history, my lifeline, my entire being and our 39 year relationship is out of my hands. I’ve done what I can to keep us together and the rest of this will play out like an episode of Intervention, where you’re watching a bunch of people who think they know what’s good for everyone decided the fate of your lover. “I’m sorry, he needs to go away with us for a while. It’s for his own good. He’ll be like a new person soon. Let him go if you love him.”

Maybe the Islanders aren’t the best team around. But there’s such hope for them. They’re building up. They’re getting better. There are good years ahead of them. To think that it all could be taken away, that they’ll get their shit together somewhere else, with other fans cheering them on in a new arena in a new city with a new name, well, that breaks my heart. 

We’re spending these summer days in limbo, not sure if we’re going to still be The Home of the Islanders. We can plead and beg and try to convince the naysayers. But the ultimatum has already been given. Come the evening of August 1, 2011 we will know if our tenuous relationship will come to an end and we’ll join the legions of other sports fans who have suffered through a team breakup. It will be weird to spend the next three years giving ourselves to the team, knowing that when the 2015 season ends, so does our time together.

I can only hope the residents of Nassau County do the right thing and keep the Islanders here. Yea, it’s the economy, stupid. But it’s also hockey. Which means it’s also our hearts.

[AP photo of the Baltimore Colts leaving town in the middle of the night]


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