Abbott & Costello once had a routine entitled "The Susquehanna Hat Company." In the bit, the two comedians agreed to do a favor for a friend by returning a box of straw hats to the hat shop, which was located on Bagel Street. Lou Costello decided to sport one of the lids as they wandered along the avenue looking for Bagel Street. He and Bud Abbott stop a passerby to ask for directions, and when the man asks where Lou got his hat and the answer is, "the Susquehanna Hat Company," the stranger flies into a rage over the company's use of child labor, punches a hole in Lou's hat and stomps off in anger. The duo then stops a woman for directions to Bagel Street, and she flies off the handle because her husband died on Bagel Street, and setting her off even more is the fact that he was wearing a hat from the Susquehanna Hat Company at the time. "Susquehanna Hat Company!!? Susquehanna Hat Company!!?" she yells as she destroys another of the hats and runs off down the street. Another man destroys his own shop with an ax at the mere mention of the Susquehanna Hat Company, and on and on it goes.
The last few weeks, the world of New York sports has been having its own Susquehanna Hat Company moment. If one turns on a radio or TV, clicks on a Web site or opens up a newspaper, former New York Jets and New York Giants are apoplectic at the mere mention of their former teams. A long line has formed, including Joe Namath, Bill Parcells, Antonio Pierce and Michael Strahan, not to mention Kris Jenkins, Ray Lucas and Joe Klecko in the SNY studios and Carl Banks on the radio, with all them acting like Lou Costello just uttered the words Susquehanna Hat Company: "The New York !!? Their coaching stinks, the offensive line stinks, the running back stinks, the quarterback stinks!!" If Mike Francesa were wearing a straw hat, Broadway Joe would have ripped it off his head, tore it to pieces and stormed out of the radio station at the thought of the 2011 Jets.
Ghosts of New York sports past are everywhere: The aforementioned players and coaches, Al Leiter in the SNY and YES broadcast booths, Marty Lyons analyzing Jet games on the radio, Walt Frazier doing New York Knicks games and Dave Maloney, Ken Daneyko, Chico Resch and Butch Goring voicing their opinions on the local hockey teams, plus former players coming out of the woodwork to criticize (or support) the present New Yorkers. Even Charles Oakley recently ripped the New York Knicks -- and they're not even playing. Part of the deal for players around here is dealing with their predecessors, for good or bad. Everywhere one turns is a reminder of the old days. The past and present are forever linked., Ron Darling, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, Ken Singleton, John Flaherty and
All poor Mark Sanchez wants to do is find Bagel Street. But as he's discovered this season, it's just not that easy. And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
First Place: We can call off the dogs for one week at least (well, two since the Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs for not playing will have to defer to Osi Umenyiora, who defended his teammates last week, and helped his team to a hard-fought 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, shorthanded and all. The win gives the Giants sole possession of first place. The offensive line was much improved, and Eli Manning had a mistake-free afternoon, making all the right decisions and throwing at an accurate 65.6 percent. Kevin Gilbride and the Giants stuck with the run even though it wasn't translating into big yardage, but it kept the Buffalo defense honest, giving Manning a chance to pick them apart through the air. And at the end of the day, Ahmad Bradshaw ended up with 104 rushing yards and three touchdowns (along with executing some key blocks), so the plan worked. Jake Ballard and Mario Manningham led the receiving corps with five catches, while Hakeem Nicks hauled in four passes. Corey Webster made the big plays on defense, with two interceptions, including one that stopped the Bills from scoring and led to the winning field goal for the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul recorded yet another sack, and deflected the last pass of the game by the Bills to seal the victory. Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka each notched a sack, and the defense made some crucial third-down stops, not to mention the game-ender on fourth down. The D let up two huge plays for Buffalo's first two touchdowns, but otherwise was effective all afternoon, and won the turnover battle. No fumbles for the Giants, no interceptions and solid play from all three phases of the game. That's how you go into your bye week.have this weekend off). Pierce and Strahan and whoever else wants to criticize
The Monday Night (Non)-Miracle: In a classic Rex Ryan move, the Jets coach sent out the squabbling duo of Brandon Moore and Santonio Holmes for the coin flip, and if he could of, he probably would have sent out Joe Namath and any other of his critics as well. The first quarter-plus, though, looked a lot like the offensively challenged Jets that everybody has been screaming about, with four consecutive three-and-outs. It was only Darrelle Revis, sort of getting one of those NBA superstar non-calls, who kept the crowd from storming the field and going after Brian Schottenheimer and Mark Sanchez with pitch forks and torches with his 100-yard touchdown return of an interception (his first of two on the night), which tied Aaron Glenn's franchise record. But after they finally got their first first down on a 14-yard Jeremy Kerley catch (hey, that's why they dumped Derrick Mason, right?), a light bulb went on for the offense, and they got some rhythm and never looked back, putting away the dreadful Dolphins. It all started with the offensive line, as they played their best game since the beginning of the season (especially Wayne Hunter), and gave Sanchez plenty of time in the pocket, and also allowed Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson to do some damage. The defense held Miami to a pair of field goals until the offense got themselves together, with Bart Scott and Calvin Pace leading the way, along with Revis, of course. Sure, it was only the Dolphins, but the critics can take a week off to regroup until San Diego comes to town on Sunday, because if Gang Green would have lost this game, even some old players from the hapless New York may have spouted off about the 2011 Jets. But Ryan once again proved that the Jets and tranquility just don't mix by inadvertently tweaking Chargers' coach Norv Turner this week. Ryan is now even guaranteeing Super Bowl rings for teams he never worked for.
Heeeere's Johnny: It was like 1975 all over again on Saturday night, as the Islanders stuck it to their most hated rival, the Rangers, though they didn't need overtime to beat the Blueshirts, 4-2. Instead, John Tavares put on a show, having a hand in all four of his team's goals, with a hat trick and an assist. And Evgeni Nabokov notched his first win in his debut with the Isles in that game. But they and Al Montoya had a letdown game on Thursday, losing to Tampa Bay, 4-1. It's too early to be a trend but if the first line doesn't produce will the Islanders get enough offense?
One Win and a Long Rest: There's not much going on with the New Jersey Devils this week. They beat Nashville on Saturday, 3-2, in a shootout, and then had a five-day vacation until Friday night's game against San Jose. It did give Martin Brodeur and the banged-up Adam Larsson a chance to heal, though.
Consigliere: Bob Geren was named the new bench coach of the New York Mets. He was most recently the manager of the Oakland A's, until he was fired this summer, by his best friend, Billy Beane. Luckily Huston Street isn't on the Mets, and we'll assume he wasn't one of Geren's references, as he had this to say about his former manager: "For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age six to 27." Terry Collins had past issues with players, too, and he's worked out just fine for the Mets, and now Geren gets his chance to turn his reputation around. And the team said good-bye to Ryoto Igarashi, as they released the Japanese reliever, who just didn't pan out for the Mets.