MLB Opening Day Looming, March Madness in Full Swing, Rangers’ Smith Dilemma

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NEW YORK – With winter refusing to die, it’s hard to believe that we’re less than a week away from MLB Opening DayMarch Madness has been okay and the NY Rangers have less than ten games left before they start setting themselves up for a busy draft. And they’ll also have to figure out what to do with Brendan Smith.

But start of the Major League Baseball regular season comes not a moment too soon. It’s been a rough sports winter, with Buddy Diaz’s Eagles winning the Super Bowl and the Rangers sucking. Now baseball is back. It gives us something to watch every day. Both the Yankees and Mets have a good shot of making the playoffs this year, which makes things a lot more interesting. The first pitch fired in anger comes next Thursday and I’ll be happy to see it.

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In basketball, the future is looking bright for the Michigan Wolverines, who cruised into the Elite Eight last night with a 27-point win over Texas A&MLoyola Chicago continued their amazing run with a 1-point win over Nevada… It’s been an historic tournament already, with top-seeded Virginia getting crushed by a 16-seed in the first round… Grinding Ax Walter Hyne’s Villanova are now favorites to win it all. But Duke is lurking and Michigan could surprise everyone. It’ll all shake out in the next week or so.

As for my Blueshirts, the aforementioned Brendan Smith was a top four defenseman when he came to the Rangers from Detroit for a couple of draft picks. He was a bright spot on the Rangers blue line last season in the playoffs. The Rangers rewarded Smith with a four-year deal worth $4.35 million a year. And almost as soon as the ink was dry on the contract, the 29-year old defenseman forgot how to play hockey. His play all season was somewhere between piss-poor and dreadful. His season at the Garden came to an end when the Rangers waived Smith in February… on Smith’s birthday. Nobody wanted the huge cap hit so, Smith was shipped off on the Fung Wah to Hartford.

Hartford-WhalersThis Wednesday news broke that Smith was done for the season after breaking his hand in a locker room brawl with Vinni Lettieri. Now the Rangers have to decide whether they’re going to keep Smith around and hope that he improves, trade him, or release him. It’s possible that this year was an aberration and B-Smith can return to his 2017 form next season. After this mess in Hartford it’s tough to see the Blueshirts brass giving him another shot. But they always seem to surprise me with the nonsensical, so we’ll see.

If the embattled Smith is released, the team would be hamstrung by a cap hit for the next five years. If they keep him around and he keeps sucking, they’ll be hamstrung by a larger cap hit for the next three years. He doesn’t have much trade value and I don’t see any teams chomping at the bit to take on a $4.35 million cap hit for a defenseman with no value. Maybe a rebuilding team that needs to hit the cap minimum will take Smith’s contract but in that case, the Rangers won’t get much in return. Time will tell what Brendan Smith’s future holds.

That’s it for now, come back tomorrow for a guy that Fung Wah’s it to Buffalo, just for kicks, @JunoirBlaber. And you can find us on Twitter, @Different_Matt, @Matt_McCarthy00 & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

P.s… Check out Craig Carton on Rugby Wrap Up:

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Different Matt is our cunning Cornell grad/rugby player. "Diff" joined us just after the switch from being "Mets only" to an all-sports stop. He's a Yankee fan; thus he was "different." Aside from the Yanks, he's a diehard NY Giants, NY Rangers and NY Knicks fan. He also likes long walks on the beach and cappuccinos and nearly died in Las Vegas.

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