Our segment called "Sunday Morning Coffee" which highlights various topics relevant to Broken Bat Blog over the past week. 

The New York Mets were delivered a major blow when it was announced that Zack Wheeler will have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2015 season. This comes on the heels of the announcement that reliever Josh Edgin will also miss the season with the same surgery. It's a good thing the Mets didn't trade any pitching this off season.

Former Tri-City ValleyCat and the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Mark Appel pitched three scoreless innings, striking out two against the New York Yankees in Grapefruit League match-up on Saturday. The outing lowered Appel's spring ERA to 2.57. This is great news for the Houston Astros who need Appel, their top prospect to have a bounce back season after struggling early in 2014. 

Mark Appel pitching for the Tri-City ValleyCats in 2013 (Photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
Kris Bryant smashed his 8th home run of the spring for the Cubs and it's still not clear whether he will make their opening day roster. Bryant should be third baseman on opening day. Yes, baseball is a business but you haven't won a world series in over a century.

The New York Islanders finally got back in the win column defeating the New Jersey Devils Saturday night 3-0. The win coincided with the return of defenseman Nick Leddy. The Islanders will need forget their recent struggles and focus on making the playoffs.

NCAA Basketball
The University at Albany lost their 2nd round match-up to the University of Oklahoma on Friday night. It was a great season for the Great Danes.

On March 18th, Vermonters celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the University of Vermont beating Syracuse University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

NCAA Hockey
The University of Vermont Catamounts lost in the Hockey East semi-finals to the UMASS-Lowell 4-1. The Cats' offense was on exisitant while their Brady Hoffman was shaky in goal. The Cats' will need a miracle to make the NCAA Tournament otherwise their season is over.

Independent Baseball
The Long Island Ducks announced earlier in the week that they will be retiring the numbers for arguably the two greatest players in their organizations history, Justin Davies (#4) and Ray Navarrete (#16). These will be the first two numbers the Ducks have retired in their 16 year history.

By: Corey Mansfield
Here is my 2015 Tournament Bracket:

By: Corey Mansfield
A year after I graduated from the University of Vermont I was sitting on a couch on Long Island, NY watching the Vermont Catamounts stun the college basketball world by upsetting Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. All week leading up to the game I was bragging to friends and family that Vermont would win.

The Cats' were primed a team destined to write a new story in UVM athletics. They were experienced having made two previous trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 and 2004. They had the four previous America East players of the year on their team in T.J. Sorrentine (2001-02) and Taylor Coppenrath (2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05). Throw in an eccentric head coach in Tom Brennan who if was around in biblical times could have sold the idea to David that he could be defeat Goliath, and you have the makings of something special.

People around college basketball knew that Cats' were for real especially ESPN who featured them in an article for their college basketball preview called "Super Crunchy Nutty Buddies." One of the captions for the article was "If a team grows in the forest will we hear them in March? The Vermont Catamounts just might have the answer." And an answer they did.

ESPN College Basketball Preview 2004-05
Outside of the little community of Burlington, VT no one thought the Catamounts could win. Most sport outlets couldn't make references to Vermont without bringing up Ben & Jerrys or maple syrup. It was just another team on another bracket filled with powerhouses like Duke, North Carolina, and of course Syracuse.

For years the basketball program had been in the shadow of legendary hockey program which nine years earlier made their own run in the NCAA hockey tournament advancing to the Frozen Four behind the play of Tim Thomas, Eric Perrin, and future NHL hall of famer Marty St. Louis. Vermont was a hockey state. But things were about to change.

I knew some of the players on the team having only graduated a year earlier. Some of them were in my classes and others I'd see around campus. While most of them were from out of state, Taylor Coppenrath wasn't. He was a Vermont product from St. Johnsbury Academy who had stayed in state. He was the best player the league which made this situation, this game mean so much more. He was one of us...a Vermonter.

My brother was also a Vermonter and an UVM Alumni who had transplanted to Syracuse, NY. He was a former writer for the University of Vermont student newspaper the "Vermont Cinic" and covered UVM sports for years. He was no longer a Vermont guy, but now a Syracuse guy. The week leading up to the game we exchanged barbs, so it felt good when this happened!

Don't ask me about the details of the game because I honesty don't remember (However, this was the lasting image I'll remember and thanks to technology and YouTube I can watch it over and over).

The Vermont Catamounts had stunned the country and beat Syracuse. For the tight knit community of Vermont it was a big deal. Probably the biggest deal in Vermont sports history.

The Burlington Free Press, March 19, 2005
While the Catamounts celebrated their victory, Syracuse shrugged it off. Many of the Orange players would go to he NBA or return to the "big dance" the next season. For the players and fans of Vermont is was a life changing victory.

By Corey Mansfield
The Long Island Ducks announced today that they will be retiring the numbers for arguably the two greatest players in their organizations history, Justin Davies (#4) and Ray Navarrete (#16). These will be the first two numbers the Ducks have retired in their 16 year history.

Justin Davies sent a message to our blog earlier today about this honor,  

"Honestly. I'm a bit speechless at this point. This is truly an honor. Something that I never imagined when I first started with them and even when I retired. Not only to have my number retired at all but for it to be the very first number is amazing. There have been so many great players that have come through the organization during an after my career. All that I can say is I'm extremely honored and appreciative of this."

Davies was one of the most recognizable and electrifying players in Ducks history was. For the first six years of the Ducks existence he was the face of the franchise and a leader in the club house.

A native of West Babylon, he we a 23rd Round Pick (681st overall) in the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft of the Toronto Blue Jays.

In 2000, after he was released by the Blue Jays he was signed by the Ducks, and was the table-setter on the 2004 Atlantic League Championship team with his speed and patience at the plate, which also earned him playoff MVP honors.

His hard work, dedication on the field; and personality, and fan interaction off of it made him a fan favorite not only on Long Island but around the Atlantic League.

One name was been synonymous with the Long Island Ducks over the last decade is Ray Navarrete. His big smile, grit and flair have made him a fan favorite not only on Long Island but around the league.

Navarrete, a native of New Jersey was signed as unrestricted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 after completing a stellar career at Seton Hall University. He played five years in the Pirates organization before being traded to the Houston Astros organization.

In 2006, Navarrete signed with the Mets organization and was assigned to Triple A-Norfolk.

In July of 2006, he signed with the Ducks and has been a main stay for the Ducks ever since.

Navarrete became the Ducks All-Time Hits leader in 2011, and was named Atlantic League MVP in 2009. He also helped lead the Ducks to two Atlantic League Championships in 2012 and 2013.

Not only has Navarrete become a fan favorite on the field but he's a successful entrepreneur off of it with DIGMI.

Both players are extremely deserving of this honor and I'm proud to say I know both of them.

Davies #4 will be tired on Friday, June 19th, and Navarrete's #16 will be retired on Sunday, August 16th. 

By: Corey Mansfield

Our segment called "Sunday Morning Coffee" which highlights various topics relevant to Broken Bat Blog over the past week. 

Spring Training is in full swing and the Mets are playing solid baseball. I don't take too much stock in spring training but I am worried about Zack Wheeler who struggled in his first start of the spring giving up 6 runs in 1.2 innings for the Mets. Wheeler plunked a couple batters and didn't look in his element. Hopefully it's just some cobwebs.

The New York Islanders dropped three straight games this past week including games to the Rangers and Canadiens. The Isles power play has looked awful with too much passing and not enough shooting. The bigger problem for the Islanders maybe that the team is tired with the players looking to John Tavares to win each game. Someone needs to step up.

The New York Jets continued to re-build their team by completely revamping their secondary by signing Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine, and Marcus Gilchrist. They solidified their offensive line by signing James Carpenter and re-signing Willie Colon. And oh yeah, and they also added quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nice work "Magic" Mike Maccagnan.

NCAA Basketball
The University at Albany beat Stony Brook to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Peter Hooley who lost his mother to cancer in January hit a buzzer-beater that punched the Great Danes ticket.

NCAA Hockey
The University of Vermont Catamounts dispatched of Maine earlier in the week in the Hockey East Tournament and tonight they look do the same to Boston College in game 3 of their quarterfinal match-up. 

By: Corey Mansfield
The New York Jets have made some of the biggest splashes of the NFL offseason so far with the
signings of Darelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Antonio Cromartie, James Carpenter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Gilchrist and the trade for Brandon Marshall.

People can no longer say that Mike Maccagnan is the Jets "new" general manager with all the moves he's made so far. He's endeared himself to Jets' fans by addressing some of the biggest issues that the previous regime avoided including the secondary. 

Last season, the Jets had one of the best front seven in football but it was an after thought because of the week secondary which constantly got burned for big plays (Many could also attribute the overall poor defense to being warn down to do to an inept offensive which couldn't allow the defensive to rest by sustaining drives). 

It was evident from the beginning of 2014 that the Jets secondary was suspect. The always stubborn Rex Ryan continued to play man coverage and bring blitzes that left his secondary completely exposed. It was obvious that Rex was spoiled from having a good secondary during his time in Baltimore and with his early years with the Jets. It was also obvious that general manager John Idzik wasn't going to address the secondary issue as he signed offensive player after offensive player to improve a dismal offense.

Like Rex Ryan, new head coach Todd Bowles also likes to bring pressure and will bring blitzes leaving his corners in man coverage down the field. Mike Maccagnan, fully aware of this and knew he needed to bring in the right personnel to make the defense successful...enter Revis, Cromartie, Skrine, and Gilchrist.
In 2014, Revis (2), Cromartie (3), Skrine (4), and Gilchrist (1) had a total of 10 interceptions between them. The Jets secondary had 6 total.

Revis, Cromartie, Skrine and Gilchrist also combined to defend defend 47 passes in 2014. While the entire Jets team had 51 total.

Needless to say the Jets secondary is much much better on paper right now. Only time will tell if these signings will make the Jets a playoff contender.
We are bringing back our segment called "Sunday Morning Coffee" which highlights various topics relevant to Broken Bat Blog.

Matt Harvey made his return for the New York Mets and pitched two scoreless innings. It was a big moment for Harvey and the Mets. However, Mets fans' need to tone back their excitement until we see Harvey pitching in a regular season game and beyond. The Mets have too much pitching to over work Harvey. Be smart Sandy, Be smart Terry...Matt Harvey really isn't Batman.

The New York Islanders made a trade sending back-up goalie Chad Johnson and a 3rd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Michal Neuvirth. While Neuvirth lost his first game in net for the Islanders on Saturday, Chad Johnson was hurt ending his season. Kudos to Garth Snow for solidifying his goaltending.

The New York Jets re-signed linebacker David Harris and shocked the NFL be trading for wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The addition of Marshall means Percy Harvin will most likely be shown the door. Goodbye Percy!

NCAA Hockey
The University of Vermont Catamounts face a game three battle with the Maine Black Bears tonight at 7:05 in the Hockey East tournament. The Catamounts have been extremely inconsistent all season. Which team will show up tonight.

I've lived outside Albany, NY for the better part of seven years but have never gone to a basketball game at The University of Albany. I finally got a chance to go this past weekend when I watched the Great Danes take on my alma mater, Vermont. I'm not a huge college basketball guy so I really didn't know what to expect going to this game. I was going to keep an open mind and just watch the game.

Prior to all my visits to new venues I try and find out how much parking is so I have the appropriate amount of cash. I searched all over the internet for parking prices but I came up empty. Finally I just decided to wing it. I mean how much is parking at a college basketball game $5...$3...Free?

It's pretty easy to get to UAlbany from where I live. The campus is located off Interstate 90 and once you're on campus it's easy to find SEFCU Arena. As I approached the parking lot I noticed numerous cars pulling U-turns choosing not to park in the parking area. I rolled down my window and asked the parking attendant "How much?" he replied "$7." My mouth nearly hit the ground. Seriously, $7 to park at a college basketball game?  I asked the attendant if there was other parking and he said there was but it was on the other side of the arena and you'd have to walk a little ways. I had just finished a long work week so I wasn't in the mood to "walk a little ways" so I just paid the $7 and parked. This was a huge mistake because come to find out I had to walk around the arena anyways which was probably the same distance I would have had to walk from free parking.

After meeting up with a friend I entered the arena. SEFCU Arena isn't as nice or as big as some of the major college venues but it fits UAlbany well. Because of it's small size fans are closer to the action. I can honestly say there isn't a bad seat in the arena.

Here's a picture of the view from my seats:

UAlbany pre-game festivities (Photo Credit: Corey Mansfield
This game was extra special for me because of was watching my alma mater, the University of Vermont. I thought for sure the arena would be sold out since Burlington, VT is only a couple hours from Albany and the fact that Albany and Vermont are rivals. However, to my surprise the game wasn't a sell out (most likely because UAlbany had already clinched the #1 seed for the America East tournament).

I won't bother my readers with the details of the game. UAlbany won 79-73.

Overall, I enjoyed the game. The UAlbany athletics department puts on a great show with games and promos during TV time outs.

Concessions were very limited as there was no hot dogs or bottled soft drinks left during the halftime intermission.  I settled on a pretzel and a bottled water which ran me $7.

I recommend hitting up a UAlbany basketball game if you're in town.  Just make sure to park off site and walk over.

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