The Yankee juggernaut keeps on juggernauting. They've struggled somewhat lately and find themselves in a tight race for first, but that just makes things more exciting. Their fans can keep watching, rooting, living and dying with every pitch, hoping for a division title and the best record in baseball, while looking forward to the upcoming postseason. But the Mets' season is basically over (unless the players caught the 1973 edition of Mets Yearbook last week and got inspired, but let's face it, going on a big winning streak now that it's too late is almost more painful to watch) - so what do Mets fans do now? Of course we'll still tune in to every game. When you're a fan, you're a fan - you just can't help it. But it's just not the same when the games don't matter as much. So what is there to do for the last five weeks of the season to keep us occupied in a fun-filled Mets way? Well, here are a handful of ideas to try:
-Grow a cool, bushy Keith Hernandez mustache. Groom and comb it at game-time, and it'll be fully grown in by season's end.
-Always wanted to make a homemade papier-mâché Mr. Met head to wear around the neighborhood but just haven't had the time? Well, now would be the perfect occasion.
-Savor the times that Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Jeff Francoeur aren't in the lineup, close your eyes and pretend they were never even on the team. The fantasy may only last five seconds, but it will be worth it. "Hey wait, didn't Castillo just get a game-winning hit?" you ask. Easy, just imagine that it was Edgardo Alfonzo instead.
-Live in the past and watch DVDs of the Mets' 1986 and 1969 seasons over and over and over again.
-While watching each painful remaining game, quietly chant to the TV for nine full innings, "Fire Omar, fire Jerry, sell, Fred, sell" just to make you feel better.
-Deck out your car to look like the old-fashioned Mets bullpen cart from the '60s and '70s, get hammered and then drive around your neighbors' yards yelling at them to get out of the way as you claim you're Tug McGraw trying to get to the pitcher's mound having just been called into the game by Rube Walker.
-Get out your stationery and write a nice letter of apology to Nolan Ryan and Amos Otis for trading them four decades ago (better late than never).
-Fashion a life-size cardboard cutout of assorted Met greats and pretend you're watching each game with a different legend; the imaginary conversations you have will be priceless.
-While tuning in to each game, pat yourself on the back while bragging to your wife that you've never beaten up her father.
-Just watch the damn games and fume silently in a bitter rage.
Here are the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports (in a new, exciting question-and-answer format):
Are men who have been portrayed by Oliver Platt and Larry David eligible to be honored in Monument Park?
The answer is yes. Prior to the Sept. 20 game against the Rays, the Yankees will unveil a monument dedicated to George Steinbrenner. Big Stein will join Babe Ruth (once portrayed by William Bendix and John Goodman), Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper and Edward Herrmann), Miller Huggins (Fred Lightner and Joe Ragno), Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Joe DiMaggio (Christopher McDonald) in the pantheon of Yankee legends. Ruth's shrine reads: "A Great Ball Player, A Great Man, A Great American"; Mantle's: "A Great Teammate"; and DiMaggio's simply states: "The Yankee Clipper." Steinbrenner's will be brief and poignant. Etched into his memorial will be the words: "Costanza, where's my calzone?" On the field this week, the Yankees just couldn't get any momentum going to pass the Rays. With A-Rod on the DL (though the Yanks have had astounding success without him in the lineup this season), the Bombers could only go 3-3 against Seattle and Toronto. The highlights included Robinson Cano's explosion on Sunday, the five-home-run win on Tuesday and Ivan Nova's first major league start on Monday. He went a respectable 5 1/3 innings, only allowing two runs, and showed fire and guts with his "brushback" pitch to Jose Bautista. Unfortunately, Bautista and the Blue Jays got the last laugh in the game and the series. Now on to Chicago, where Joe Girardi will be bombarded with questions about replacing Sweet Lou. And he'll also be asked if he can recall the exact time and place when former teammate Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English.
What if the Mets start winning too much?
This may sound crazy, but if the Mets win somewhat consistently down the stretch (stop laughing), and finish in third place with, say, 86 wins, will this give the powers that be false hope into thinking things aren't so bad in Queens? Will we start hearing, "Well, if Carlos Beltran wasn't injured the first half of the season, and if we had a healthy Jose Reyes for 162 games; if Mike Pelfrey didn't go into a midseason funk; next year when Jason Bay is fully acclimated to New York . . ." Would it be an excuse to not clean house? Will they actually give Omar and Jerry one more chance? Uh-oh. Meanwhile, Howard Johnson read the riot act to the Met offense in a team meeting before the Pittsburgh series, and for two games his words seemed to resonate. The Mets "exploded" for 12 runs on Friday and Saturday, which led to the team's first road series win against an NL team this season. On Saturday, the two teams wore Negro League uniforms, which looked kind of cool. A game between the New York Cubans and Pittsburgh Crawfords would probably be more entertaining than a contest between the 2010 Mets and Pirates, though. In that baggy uniform, and with his crouching and choking up, Josh Thole resembles someone from 1908. But on Sunday, the Mets offense was back to its anemic self, making Johan Santana a hard-luck loser once again. There was a little magic on Tuesday against the Marlins, but it ran out on Wednesday. And on Thursday, not only wasn't there any magic but there was the opposite of magic (whatever that is), and Jose Reyes reinjured his oblique as well. The Mets claim the injury is "mild," though, and are listing him as "year to year." Finally, over the weekend, Rod Barajas was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers (and, of course, he hit a three-run homer in his debut game with LA). Now he's just a footnote in Met history. In a few years, fans will say, "Remember that catcher who hit all those home runs for a month or two and then stunk and disappeared? Who was that guy?"
Will the Giants have enough players to field a team?
Aaron Ross is wearing a boot, Shaun O'Hara has been fitted with a cast, Eli Manning couldn't wear a helmet, and Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, Jim Sorgi, Chase Blackburn, Ramses Barden, DJ Ware, Terrell Thomas, Michael Johnson, Rich Seubert and the tight ends are all nicked up with one injury or another. Things were so bad it was up to Rhett Bomar to lead the Giants against the Steelers in Saturday's preseason game. If the third-stringer was unable to go, the Giants looked into briefly signing writer George Plimpton, who played one series at QB for the Lions in 1963 as research for his book (and subsequent movie) Paper Lion. Unfortunately, Plimpton died seven years ago, so Bomar had to take the field. The Giants lost, 24-17, but there were a few positive signs for the team. The Giants defense limited Ben Roethlisberger to just three points in his time in the game, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora made some key plays, Corey Webster intercepted a pass, Ahmad Bradshaw scored a touchdown while looking Bradshaw-esque and Keith Bulluck and Kenny Phillips made it through the game (although seeing limited action) without any setbacks. And speaking of injuries, the Giants signed oft-injured, semi-troubled, two-time Pro Bowl lineman Shawn Andrews. Just in case. But most or all of the banged-up players will be ready to go on Sept. 12, so, yes, they will have enough players to field a team.
Why does Nick Mangold get a new contract and not Darrelle Revis?
Because he showed up for training camp and demanded less guaranteed money. Right? Well, maybe. But whatever the case, Mangold is now the highest paid center in the NFL after signing his new seven-year contract, which is worth up to $55 million. There were rampant rumors of Revis' imminent signing all week, but the corner remained a recluse, only leaving his house to stock up on Bugles and Funyuns. In other news, Mark Sanchez is back to wearing a knee brace, Tom Brady hates the Jets, the Jets hate Tom Brady, the Patriots hate Rex Ryan, the Jets hate Bill Belichick, but there's no word on how everyone feels about the almost-return of Johnny Damon to the Red Sox. As for the game vs. the Panthers on Saturday, as always, all preseason-game analysis comes with a warning: It's only preseason. The Jets beat Carolina, 9-3, but it wasn't exactly a feel-good win. Sanchez wasn't close to what he was against the Giants, and the offense could only muster up a total of 112 yards (though LaDainian Tomlinson looks spry so far). The defense, on the other hand, kept Carolina's starters scoreless during the first half. The D and special teams created a few turnovers, but the O couldn't convert them into TDs. But no one will remember any of this once the next game is played.
Why does the NHL hate the Devils?
Just because. On Monday, New Jersey presented the league with a reworked Ilya Kovalchuk contract, officially tabbed Version II (This Time We Mean It), but it was nixed once again. Which resulted in unanswered questions floating around all week: Will Kovalchuk go back to Russia? Will the two parties work out a third contract? Will the winger retire? Will he travel back in time to circumvent the cap and play for the Kansas City Scouts? Well now we may know, as his agent has given the team and the league a 48-hour deadline to get a contract done or Kovalchuk will go play in the KHL. When the news came down, Lou Lamoriello instantly sprung Reggie Hammond from prison, and the two are on the case.
(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets and Devils, go to SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Big Blue View, Gang Green Nation and In Lou We Trust, respectively.)