Here is the final segment of our three-part look at 2010 in New York sports.
Football season opened with Rex Ryan predicting the New York Jets would not only win the Super Bowl in February of 2011 in Dallas, but they would also win it last season, three years from now and in 1971 and 1989, too. "Our swagger transcends time and space," he claimed. They got off on the wrong foot, though, when they lost to Baltimore in the season opener, 10-9, with a Boog Powell grand slam being the deciding factor. The Jets rebounded with a convincing win over New England, 28-14, in the Battle of the Pretty Boys I, with Mark Sanchez outplaying Tom Brady. The story of the game, though, is Tom Brady's hair, as the Pats' quarterback used all the team's timeouts to wash and condition his flowing locks. Gang Green kept up their momentum with another win, this time against Miami. LaDainian Tomlinson quieted his critics who claimed he was washed up by not being washed up.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants avenged last season's embarrassing loss to Carolina by soundly defeating them, 31-18, in their season opener, highlighted by Hakeem Nicks' three touchdowns. To spice up the Manning Bowl the following week, Eli and Peyton decided that, instead of the Giants and Colts meeting, they would play a Wiffle ball game in their old backyard just like old times. The elder brother won, 38-14, but Eli got the last laugh when he gave Peyton a dead arm afterwards while they were enjoying their Twinkies and Kool-Aid. The Giants lost their second straight when they committed a penalty on every single play against Tennessee, who scored all their points on the infractions without having to actually run a play.
As for baseball, there are rumors that the New York Mets finished their schedule but that can't be confirmed. There are some accounts that the last game of the season (which was reportedly played in October) lasted 14 innings, and as a last act, to revenge the team that would soon fire him, Jerry Manuel inserted Oliver Perez into the game to ensure a loss. And sure enough, the Mets lost. Johan Santana pitched his last game of the year on September 2, before having to shut things down so he could concentrate on his fantasy football team.
The New York Yankees limped to the end of the regular season, only winning 13 of their final 30 games. Joe Girardi's lineups and managing acumen were called into question when, in his attempt to rest his starters for the postseason, he used the 1982 Yankees for a series against Tampa Bay, many of whom were in their 50s and 60s. And adding Billy Crystal to the starting rotation to help limit Phil Hughes' innings raised a few eyebrows. The team ultimately finished in second place. In other bad news, on September 7, CC Sabathia lost his first game at Yankee Stadium since 1992, when his Little League team used to routinely beat the early-'90s Yankees. Sabathia did earn his 20th win of the season, though, on the 18th against Baltimore.
October began with the month looking like a normal October--with the Yankees winning a playoff series. A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, Ed Whitson, Hideki Irabu and Kenny Rogers were all left off the postseason roster, with the result being a Bombers sweep of the Twins. But the Yankees looked old as they were bounced out of the playoffs by the upstart Texas Rangers. Their pitching came unglued, and the veterans had trouble staying awake for those late games. "If the games were played at 9 AM, we would have killed them," stated Jorge Posada.
Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel were finally let go by the Mets. At the press conference to announce the firings, Fred Wilpon said: "Didn't we fire these guys two years ago? I could have sworn we did after 2008. And I know we definitely did after 2009. We didn't? Are you sure? Didn't we hire Bobby Valentine again? I thought that was him in the dugout the last couple of seasons wearing one of his disguises." On October 29, the team formally introduced Sandy Alderson as its new general manager. It was such a smart, obvious, wise choice by the Mets that everyone was completely confused. His first order of business was to send Jeff Wilpon to his room.
The month was good to the Giants, as they produced their best stretch of games of the year. They romped over the Bears, Texans, Lions and Cowboys, and knocked one quarterback out of the game after another. Their defense was so punishing that even Roger Staubach went on injured reserve after the Dallas game. The Jets finished October with the same record as the Giants, 5-2, but they went about it in a much different way. They easily handled the Bills, but then snuck by the Vikings on a rainy Monday night, and were helped by a distracted Brett Favre who spent most of his time on the field texting and often came out of the huddle zipping his pants back up. The following week was the Mile High Miracle win, when a pass interference call was whistled on Mark Sanchez's last-second Hail Mary. After the bye week, the Jets closed out the month with a 9-0 loss to the Packers. According to STATS, Inc., it was the first time the Jets were shut out since the last time they were shut out.
On the ice, Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit began the season on injured reserve. Those injuries didn't slow down the New York Islanders, though, as they opened the season going 4-1-2. But they would lose every other game for the rest of the month and even the ones in the future that haven't been played yet. The NHL has already counted them as losses. The New York Rangers, missing Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, whipped Buffalo on opening night, 6-3, with Derek Stepan having the greatest debut in the history of the world when he notched a hat trick. But they had trouble scoring the rest of the month, with Marian Gaborik going down with an injury the third game of the season. The Blueshirts finished October with a 5-4-1 record, though. Wade Redden was demoted to Hartford before the season began, and Ranger fans spent all of October deciding which player to boo. They settled on Sylvain Lefebre. As for the New Jersey Devils, Kovalchuk's contract was approved the previous month, which took up the entire team's salary cap, so he had to play every game by himself. He lost most of them.
The new-look New York Knicks began the season with a rousing victory over Toronto on October 27. Stoudemire, Felton, Landry Fields, Ronny Turiaf and Timofey Mozgov all made their Knick debuts. After much preseason hype, Mozgov finished with zero points, so with no choice, Donnie Walsh sent him to Siberia. The team lost their other two games in October, and Stoudemire is declared a bust. "I can't ever imagine him doing something like scoring 30 points in nine consecutive games or something like that," one unnamed Knick is heard saying. Meanwhile the New Jersey Nets won their first two games of the year, which is the same amount of games they've won the previous four seasons combined.
The month of November was a thrill ride for the Jets. Though they played poorly, they defeated the Lions in overtime. Though they played poorly, they defeated the Browns in overtime. Though they played poorly, they defeated the Texans on a last-minute Santonio Holmes touchdown catch. Though they played poorly in the first half, they easily defeated the Bengals on Thanksgiving, all thanks to Brad Smith's two electrifying touchdowns, one while only wearing one shoe. Realizing he could accomplish so much with one shoe, Smith's left foot has remained shoeless to this day, whether he's on the field or off. As for the Giants, they destroyed Seattle, 41-7, and were promptly declared the best team in the NFL. But then, due to numerous and unforgivable turnovers, they lost the following two games to Dallas and Philadelphia, and were declared the worst team in the NFL. With injuries piling up at an alarming rate, they narrowly defeated Jacksonville with only two active receivers: Kevin Boss and 80-year-old Frank Gifford. Boss scored the winning points, and the Giants were declared the pretty goodingest team in the NFL.
At the Garden, the Knicks showed promise with two wins to open the month, but they were followed by six consecutive losses. And then to the surprise and amazement of just about everyone, they went on a 7-1 run. Basketball became meaningful again in New York, and no one knew how to act or what to do. Pedestrians bumped into each other on the street, cars careened off the road, dogs continuously howled, people forgot to eat--the city was thrown into a state of chaos and confusion. But once everyone saw that the Nets had gone 4-11, normalcy slowly returned to the area.
On the ice, the Rangers were carving out a brand-new, hard-working, blue-collar identity for themselves, going 9-7 for the month, while the Devils were a mediocre, losing machine, and no one knew how to act or what to do. Pedestrians bumped into each other on the street, cars careened off the road, dogs continuously howled, people forgot to eat--the city was thrown into a state of chaos and confusion. But once everyone saw that the Islanders had gone 1-7-3 and fired their coach, normalcy slowly returned to the area.
Baseball's hot stove didn't heat up for the New York Yankees or New York Mets this year. Derek Jeter re-signed with the Bombers, but had to settle for a paltry $51 million. The shortstop was forced to sell six of his 18 homes in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Cliff Lee spurned New York, when he chose to go to Philadelphia. His final decision was reached when he realized he liked It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia just a little bit better than Seinfeld. At the press conference introducing Lee, the ace pitcher popped out of a couch, naked, Frank Reynolds-style. And the Yanks lost out on another top pitcher when Zack Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. As for the Mets, they shut things down for the month because they just couldn't find anything to do.
The up-and-down seasons of the Giants and Jets continued. Big Blue opened the month on fire, with a romp over the Redskins and an easy 21-3 victory over Minnesota, which was played in Detroit because the Vikings were trying to untangle themselves from Brett Favre and didn't tell him where the game was played. His record consecutive game streak came to an end as he stood on the Metrodome sidelines by himself while the two teams clashed at Ford Field. The Jets, on the other hand, started out December in disastrous fashion. They lost to the rival Patriots in The Greatest Blowout Ever Played, and then fell to Miami, 10-6, in a feebly played game. Strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi was caught tripping a Dolphin player who was covering a punt, which earned him a season-ending suspension. After a thorough viewing of the game tape, it was also discovered that Alosi racked up eight tackles and two sacks, and intercepted a pass in the third quarter. Week three of December saw the two local football teams swap emotions. The Giants lost in historic fashion to the Eagles, blowing a 31-10 lead. They immediately hired Sal Alosi to teach their defense and punt coverage unit how to trip the opposition, but it didn't help as they continued their December swoon by getting shellacked by the Packers. The Jets recovered from their two early month debacles with a hard-fought win over the Steelers. It was the first time the Jets have ever won in Pittsburgh, and that includes the 10 years that they played in the same division as the Pirates from 1995-2004, before they were caught sneaking into the National League and kicked out for not paying their dues. They then lost to Chicago, but clinched a playoff spot anyway.
The Knicks began December with six consecutive wins, which extended their overall winning streak to eight games, which coincided with Amar'e Stoduemire setting the franchise record with eight straight 30-point games. They finally fell to Boston when Stoudemire's three-point shot at the end was disallowed because Spike Lee ran onto the court doing cartwheels and back flips. He was not banned from the Garden or arrested, though, because of the clause on the back of each ticket that states that celebrities can do anything they want because they're famous and better than the rest of us. The Knicks then kept losing as they fell to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, who were in the middle of their "Everybody Hates Us" tour, and the James-less Cavaliers, who were in the middle of their "F*** LeBron, Who the Hell Needs Him" tour. They did recover to beat Oklahoma City and Chicago. Across the river, the Nets lost their first seven games as they began a month-long celebration in honor of the one-year anniversary of last season's historic team. But then they started winning, ruining their tribute to the 2009-'10 Nets.
The Rangers started December with a wild 6-5 win over the Islanders. The Blueshirts spent the month in "finding-a-way-to-win" mode, going 7-4-1. And even though it's against league rules, they defeated Washington and Pittsburgh in back-to-back games, with Brandon Dubinsky putting the exclamation point on the win against the Capitals by punching out Alex Ovechkin. The NHL did step in, though, by punishing the team when Gary Bettman declared that Ryan Callahan had broken his hand "whether the right winger knows it or not" and would miss the next two months of the season. The Devils kept on losing, in close games, blowouts and any which way they could, showing off their versatility, which led to the firing of John MacLean. Jacques Lemaire thought he was out, but he was pulled back in. And on December 11, after a 5-4 loss to Atlanta, the Islanders were kidnapped by an angry group from Quebec, escaped after a week held captive in a Canadian basement and then went 4-1-1.