The Sports Blog
Time for a regular cleansing of sports-related issues that have been on my mind. This has been an interesting (read: not necessarily good) year for New York sports. So here's my take on it. Note, hockey is absent, because I honestly don't care about it. Sorry Rangers/Islanders fans.
A flat out a heartbreaking year for my team, the Amazins. Not just because of the unheard of late-season collapse, but because things aren't looking up for next year. 2007 was their year. Going into 2008, they've yet to replace Tom Glavine's 13 wins and 35 starts. Orlando Hernandez was very good when healthy, but nobody really knows how old the guy is and his injury-plagued '07 might have been proof that he's closer to 50 than 30. It remains to be seen whether John Maine and Oliver Perez can repeat or improve on their impressive seasons. Perez is the ultimate hot or cold guy. 12 K's and a two-hitter when he's on. Gone by the third when he's off. Between Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright, the Mets haven't had a young core this good since the heyday of Darryl, Nails and Doc. And if Beltran can stay healthy (a major if) that's an unmatched top of the order. Carlos Delgado seems to be on the downside of a terrific career, but his contract means the Mets will be stuck with a .250 average, 25 homers, 80 RBIs and $17 million a year to a guy the DH was made for. But hey, at least he's not Jason Giambi. I'm also worried about Pedro, as there aren't a whole lot of pitchers in their mid-thirties who regained their form after major shoulder surgery. Pedro at 75% is still a top-20 pitcher, but his durability, always a concern, is in big neon lights in '08. Can the Mets squeeze 25-30 starts from his 165 pound frame? They also horribly overpaid Luis Castillo, who used to be a fine player, but is now the proud recipient of the Carlos Baerga "over-the-hill second baseman getting paid a boatload based on name recognition alone" memorial trophy. I'm not too upset at losing Paul "Tony Manero, Jr." LoDuca, but Brian Schneider and Johnny Estrada don't bring a whole lot more to the table. And considering how long the Mets refused to include Lastings Milledge in any trade talks, they'd better be right that Milledge's character issues will undermine his talent, or that Ryan Church is ready to break out. Otherwise it's Scott Kazmir all over again. And all those Billy Wagner 9th innings where he gives up a single and a walk (or a leadoff homer) before closing the door? Wags's surgically-repaired elbow will be 37 next summer. Deep breaths...
The most confusing team in all of sports. They're 9-4, assured of the 5th seed in the NFC, have a defense that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing QBs--yet every game has Giants fans pulling their hair out. Eli Manning has looked as accurate as Nuke LaLoosh, and if you take away the first game of the season Eli has thrown 14 TDs and 16 INTs this year. Not exactly what you hope for in a franchise quarterback in his 4th year in the league. Yet despite Eli's troubles and an injury-prone running back-by-committee, they're still 9-4. They never win convincingly, but they do win. One of the NFL maxims is "good teams win close games on the road." Well, the Giants have won 6 straight on the road. Plus they beat the teams they're supposed to beat. Their four losses have come against Dallas, Green Bay and Minnesota, who are a combined 30-9. Whether or not the Giants can advance in the playoffs is one thing, but the they're definitely the most underrated overrated 9-4 team in the league.
Back in high school, any time one of my friends got tickets to a Knicks game, everyone else was insanely jealous. It was like saying you'd scored 50 yard line seats to the Superbowl, just got a dial-up modem, or had a date with Claire Danes (who went to my high school for one semester). In college I watched just about every televised Knicks game I could. Now, I haven't watched a game in, I'd say, three years. I just don't care any longer. The Knicks are too depressing to even think about. I honestly don't hate them for being bad. Every franchise has its ups and downs, and true fans stick with their teams through the tough times. But I hate this Knicks team for being unlikeably bad. They're like a new version of those early-mid 90's Mets teams with Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Vince Coleman, the teams that won 70 games in a good year, then threatened reporters and set off firecrackers in the parking lot. There's nothing to root for on this Knicks team. They have five guys (Marbury, Randolph, Lee, Crawford and Curry) who are arguably among the top 8 players in their position in the league. Yet it's a team full of "that guy" from the playground. You know, the guy you play pickup ball with who's the most talented player on the court, yet you're miserable when you play with him. He refuses to pass the ball because he thinks he can take it to the rack every possession, always dribbles through triple teams, doesn't play defense because it's 'beneath him', and launches 35 footers instead of passing to the wide open guy under the basket. And when you lose, he's the one complaining about having to carry everyone. That's the Knicks, times twelve. Not to mention the fact that nobody, not even James Dolan, can explain why Isiah Thomas still has his job, other than the fact that Isiah must have naked pictures of Dolan stashed in Marbury's jeep. Not only has Thomas been a terrible coach and a terrible GM, he's single-handedly set the Knicks franchise back fifteen years. Due to the horrendous contracts still on the books, the Knicks won't be legitimate contenders until the later side of the next decade. Please, for their own well being, trade Renaldo Balkman and David Lee before their inherent unselfishness is vanquished by this team of malcontents. I'm going to sound like an old man, but bring back the days of Ewing, Starks and Oakley. Back when being a Knick meant something. When you were proud to be a fan. Now being a Knicks fan means putting up ticket price hikes to cover the $11.5 million sexual harassment suit against your GM/Coach.