Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock once said, "There are only two things I love -- everybody and television." While TV is an obvious and great choice, nobody in reality loves everybody. And that sentiment goes double in sports, of course. We love our favorite teams, and our favorite players are almost always on our favorite teams, but we pretty much hate everybody else. At least I think we do. Are we even allowed to show some love (or a little like) for teams and players that aren't our own? With the non-New York World Series heading to a game seven, no New York Giants game this past week and not even some preseason New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets basketball to keep us occupied, there was some extra time to watch out-of-town games, and as our own Ed Valentine asked the other week, does anybody around here even care? Sure, everyone follows the players on their fantasy teams and roots for those guys, but that's purely self interest. What's the cutoff on appreciating non-locals? Where do we draw the line?
As one gets older and the years go by, the hatred for all things not your favorite team builds and builds until you reach a fiery ball of explosive loathing with no turning back, but when you're a kid, that philosophy of detesting all things non-New York hasn't been implanted quite yet. I'm aging myself here, but when Willie Mays was still a San Francisco Giant (and I was not a Philadelphia Flyers. He hustled, he exemplified a hard-working style that I admired and he was missing his teeth. How could I pass that up? Over the years, I've been fascinated with the Gashouse Gang 1934 St. Louis , the 1970s A's and Canadiens, the 1970 Otis Taylor Kansas City Chiefs, the ABA's Denver Nuggets with , the WHA's Quebec Nordiques, the 2002 Angels, Johnny Unitas, Gordie Howe, Ty Cobb, Larry Bird, Nate Archibald, Rogie Vachon, Tiger Williams, Steve Nash, Wilbur Wood, George Brett, Willie McGee, Mark Fidrych, Phil Garner, Juan Pierre, Vladimir Guerrero, Hunter Pence and on and on.fan), one summer day I sat out in my backyard attempting to get a tan, and when my mother inquired why her five-year-old son was sunbathing, I replied, "I want to be black like Willie Mays." It didn't matter that Mays wasn't a local player (I most likely had no idea that the New York Baseball Giants once existed, nor did I have any clue of the social implications), I just wanted to be like one of baseball's great superstars. (I never did try to become Canadian to emulate Jean Ratelle, though.) A few years later, as a New York fan, I kept a shameful secret that I never divulged until decades later, and am not even proud to admit here -- one of my boyhood hockey heroes was Bobby Clarke, of the hated, rival
As a sports fan, is that all right? Am I allowed to do that? I enjoyed watching this year's World Series, which has been a highly entertaining, memorable one, what with bullpen phone fiascoes and thrilling comebacks, in part because it didn't involve any teams that I love or hate. I watched purely as a baseball fan, with no self interest (and I didn't have to write about it for SB Nation New York). But what's the cutoff on out-of-town rooting and appeal? Oh yeah, the Dallas Cowboys. How could I forget? The hatred feels good already.
And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
This Time It Counts: Darrelle Revis hanging up on Mike Francesa set the tone for the New York Jets this week, essentially telling their critics to take a hike, and Rex Ryan bid everyone good-bye going into their bye week by quoting Ron Burgundy, with a message for the Chargers, "Stay classy, San Diego." In between, the Jets got back to resembling the Jets, with a 27-21 victory over San Diego. For all the relief and euphoria that the win over the Dolphins provided, it was still only the Dolphins they beat, who have yet to win a game. But the victory over the Chargers on Sunday was the real thing. The elusive running game got going, Plaxico Burress got going and Revis had another all-world Revis game, with a crucial interception, along with blanketing Vincent Jackson, holding him to one catch all afternoon. Shonn Greene provided the ground and pound that's been missing, with help from the offensive line, of course, and Mark Sanchez played a smart game, and threw three touchdown passes to Burress (not since Jake was released from prison, got the band back together and saved an orphanage with a benefit concert has an ex-con performed so admirably under so much pressure). Jeremy Kerley also chipped in with four receptions, and showcased a little Mr. Third Down talent to boot. The D impressed as well, holding Philips Rivers to 179 yards passing at a mediocre 50-percent clip, with Kyle Wilson intercepting a fourth-quarter pass that led to some insurance points and Aaron Maybin playing like the defensive version of Mr. Third Down, and they kept the Chargers' running game to under 100 yards. Now the Jets get to go into their bye week with a two-game winning streak and feeling good about themselves, and they won't even have the need to criticize each other -- though Rex Ryan will most likely come up with some inappropriate comment before their next game with Buffalo to keep us all entertained.
The Ghost of Larry Csonka: This Sunday is the New York Giants' turn to pick on Miami (who will be trying to avoid a reverse of the 1972 edition of the Dolphins this season), and Big Blue should be as healthy as they've been all season. Chris Snee, Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs (who's already counting down the days until he's an ex-Giant) are all expected to return, which will be the first game all season that the pass-rushing four-headed monster of Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka will be on the field together. Prince Amukamara practiced, though it looks like he won't play, as he'll be eased into the lineup, and Ramses Barden also practiced this week for the first time this year. With the new practice rules in place for a bye week, teams coming off their off-week have not had much success as of yet this season, but most of those teams are subpar or were road underdogs, and were expected to lose anyway, so that just may be a fluke. With a tough schedule coming up, though, the Giants need to avoid any letdown -- bye week, bad opponent, they overslept, an old friend came in from out of town, whatever excuse -- and take care of business against the Dolphins.
National Lampoon's New York Rangers Vacation: The Rangers' trip around the world finally came to an end, and the theme so far this season for the Blueshirts has been too many penalties, no offensive firepower, no power play success, no puck control or forecheck, a subpar defense and outstanding goaltending. Despite all those deficiencies (and because of Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron), the team completed their West Coast trip with a 3-1 record, finishing this week with a 2-0 loss to the Oilers and a somehow-they-pulled-it-out 2-1 win over the new Winnipeg Jets. A microcosm of the Rangers' season took place in the third period against Winnipeg when the Jets had the puck in the Rangers' zone for a full minute and a half but when the Rangers finally cleared the puck out, the Jets committed a penalty and Ryan Callahan scored on the ensuing power play, which was the winning goal. They've been continually outplayed but managed to acquire points along the way. When they returned home to the new-and-improved Madison Square Garden on Thursday against Toronto, they began the game with an energetic, 16-shot, crashing-the-net first period but they reverted back to their road-trip ways in the last two periods, only Lundqvist couldn't save them this time, losing 4-2. Hopefully the Rangers won't be trending toward yet another poor home record.One thing's for sure, though -- these aren't your 2010-11 New York Rangers.
Can't Anybody Score Around Here? Like the Rangers, the New York Islanders just can't score, while their goaltending has been exceptional. They've only netted 16 goals in eight games (the same as the Rangers). Jack Capuano went so far as to shave off his facial hair to change things up, but so far there aren't any signs of a Jason Giambi-like thong permeating the Islanders' locker room. The Isles lost to the Panthers on Saturday, 4-2, and had a couple of rematches with the Penguins. The two teams piled up 346 penalty minutes in a memorable game last season, but this week they stuck to playing hockey, combining for a measly 12 in the 3-0 loss on Tuesday and 18 in Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss, which gave the Islanders one point and four goals in the three games played this week. Rick DiPietro made his season debut, though, relieving a fatigued Evgeni Nabokov in the shootout portion of Thursday's game. Maybe Capuano just invented a new position -- the closer equivalent for a goalie. DiPietro could turn out to be the Dennis Eckersley of hockey.
Center-less: The New Jersey Devils lost another center on Friday, in a 4-3 shootout loss to San Jose, when Jacob Josefson broke his collarbone, forcing them to put wingers up the middle (first it was Patrik Elias, and on Tuesday Zach Parise played the pivot). In Saturday's game vs. the Penguins, Petr Sykora successfully pulled off the old switcheroo by hightailing it to the penalty box when it was in fact Elias who committed a four-minute minor penalty. Elias scored a shorthander with Sykora sitting in the box, but karma got the best of them as they lost 4-1. Johan Hedberg (where would the Devils be without him with all of Martin Brodeur's injuries?) shut out the Kings on Tuesday, but New Jersey continued their up-and-down season with a 5-3 loss to the Coyotes on Thursday.
Opt-Outs & Options: The powers that be that run the New York Yankees have been down in Tampa, brainstorming a way to keep CC Sabathia in the fold before he exercises his opt-out clause. The answer will, of course, be lots and lots of money. Meanwhile, Scott Boros called Brian Cashman (who's wrapping up a new contract of his own) in the hopes of tearing up Robinson Cano's present contract, with two more option years remaining, and getting a giant long-term deal done, though Boros later claimed he was just joking, but the agent stated Rafael Soriano will not opt out of his contract (no one would give the reliever Yankee-type money after last season's performance, obviously), while the Yankees are expected to pick up Nick Swisher's option, but rumors are circulating that they're interested in Carlos Beltran, which would cancel out Swisher (though they could pick up his option and trade him). With the World Series winding down, the hot stove is about to heat up and the dominoes will begin to fall.