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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Changing Seasons

Being a Mets, Islanders and Jets fan has always been a challenge but it is hard to recall the last time the Yankees, Rangers, and Giants were simultaneously riding this much higher than their cross-town rivals.

The Mets had their 2012 home opener on Thursday, April 5, at CitiField, a stadium built on the premise that corporate America’s spending habits, circa 2006, would continue for the balance of the 21st century. This epic miscalculation will hurt the team’s finances for the foreseeable future. As for the on-field product, I was very dry-eyed when the Mets traded outfielder Carlos Beltran during the 2011 regular season and made no effort to re-sign free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. The Mets had both Beltran and Reyes for years and made the playoffs once. The Major League Baseball Network, in its pre-season 2012 analysis of the Mets’ prospects in their five-team division said the Mets, if everything goes right, will finish no higher than third place. Still, the Mets do have some young talented position players, such as Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, as well as up-and-coming pitchers like Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese, so all is not lost.

The Islanders are concluding another disappointing regular season on Saturday, April 7, in Ohio against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They haven’t made the playoffs in five years, even though a National Hockey League (NHL) team only needs to finish in the top eight slots of their 15-team conference to qualify for the post-season. The Islanders’ won-loss record is close to .500 but their inconsistency is absolutely maddening. With their playoff hopes completely dashed as of late March, the Isles went out and twice beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the NHL’s top teams. John Tavares, the only Islander to make the NHL All-Star roster this season, and Matt Moulson, were the most consistent offensive threats throughout the 2011-2012 campaign. The team’s immediate future is contingent on whether the Islanders’ other young forwards, such as Frans Nielsen, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo, can raise the level of their respective games. And there’s always the high draft pick that comes from finishing near the bottom of the standings.

The Giants win Super Bowls and the Jets’ head coach talks about winning them. I get that. But it is worth remembering that the Giants finished last year with a record of 9 wins and 7 losses in the regular season while the Jets were 8-8. The Jets, in fact, were 8-6, before losing to the Giants and then the Miami Dolphins, with the latter game best remembered for the late-game benching of Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who acted on that day like a JetBlue pilot headed to Las Vegas.

The Jets’ trade for quarterback Tim Tebow understandably generated headlines. Before the Jets sent Tebow out before the news media last week, however, I think they owed their fans a definitive, public explanation outlining why they believe the Tebow acquisition will improve the Jets. Instead, the Jets’ front office let the city’s tabloids and sports talk radio stations speculate on why Tebow was a New York Jet, and what it might mean, and that wasn’t a winning communications strategy.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net