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The New York Week That Was (Just Another Game Edition)

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Sports can give us incredible, spine-chilling moments, I-can't-believe-what-I-just-saw thrills, along with unforgettable plays and games. Sometimes we boil sports down to its purest essence -- a father and son playing catch as in the tearjerker film Field of Dreams. Sometimes we get to witness the groundbreaking heroism of a Jackie Robinson. Or a once-in-a-lifetime player such as Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan comes along. Sometimes a Miracle on Ice underdog notches itself permanently in the annals of American sports history. On other occasions, we can savor an injured, limping hero such as Kirk Gibson blast a game-winning World Series home run. Or even an unlikely Bill Mazeroski hitting a Series-winning homer. Or the opposite happens, when a ball goes through Bill Buckner's legs, forever marking him as an all-time goat. We're lucky enough to watch Immaculate Receptions and David Tyree trap a ball on his helmet. Sometimes we're glued to our TVs, frozen in our seats in front of a Monday Night Miracle or a Music City Miracle or the Miracle Mets. Sometimes guarantees come true such as in Miami in January of 1969 or New York in the spring of 1994. Sometimes we happen to be alive during some of the greatest dynasties sports has ever known, such as the 1920s (and '30s and '50s and '90s) New York Yankees, 1950s (and '70s) Montreal Canadiens, 1960s Boston Celtics and '60s Green Bay Packers. And other times, an underdog, they-have-no-chance-to-win team can overcome bullpen-phone miscues and bumbling errors by having a David Freese rescue his team numerous times in the same game. . . .

But sometimes sports are just this: New York Giants 20, Miami Dolphins 17, with the victory for Big Blue over hapless Miami being more a relief than anything special or memorable. Losing most of the afternoon to the winless Dolphins was not comforting to anyone associated with the Giants, but they have Eli Manning (31-for-45, 349 yards, two TDs, no INTs), who wove his fourth-quarter magic once again, and continued his stellar season. And they have Victor Cruz (seven catches, 99 yards) and Mario Manningham (6/63), who each hauled in a touchdown pass, not to mention Hakeem Nicks (6/67) and Jake Ballard (4/55), who made plays all afternoon long (though Nicks suffered a hamstring injury). And they have a pass rush that came through when they needed it most with a second-half sack-fest, overcoming the defense's first-half Swiss-cheese-like performance. And they have Corey Webster, who sealed the game with an interception (there's one of those key late plays, continuing Tom Coughlin's theme of "Finish" this season). And they have Justin Tryon, who played three quarters of the game with a broken arm. And they have Lawrence Tynes, who booted a pair of no-doubt-about-it field goals that made the difference, and Devin Thomas, who set up the offense with some nice field position on a few kickoff returns. They don't have much of a rushing game, though, and Ahmad Bradshaw breaking his foot is not going to help matters. But what most will remember about this game is that the Giants barely won against a bad team, but it's another "W" in the win column, with no miracles, once-in-a-lifetime plays or history books needed for this one. Sometimes a win is just a win.

And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.

Staying Put: The New York Yankees picked up the options of Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher to no one's surprise, but the big news was the re-signing of CC Sabathia, who now has five more guaranteed years to the tune of $122 million on his contract (along with a $25 million team option for 2017 or a $5 million buyout). The Yankees' ace really didn't want to go anywhere else, and there was nobody else out there for the Bombers to turn to that can do what CC can do. Sabathia knew the Yankees' hand were tied and would back up the truck for him, so why not get an extra year and add $30 million of guaranteed money to his haul? And he even vowed to lay off the snacks next summer, too. In other Yankees news, Brian Cashman signed a three-year deal. Freddy Garcia is a free agent, but the Yanks may offer him arbitration to keep him around for another year. Brett Gardner was the left-field winner of the Fielding Bible Awards, which have to be more of an accurate account of what took place on the field than the Gold Glove (the Yanks were shut out there), which at times seems to choose its winners based on a random drawing or a pin-the-tail-on-the-fielder contest. And Cano and Curtis Granderson won the AL Silver Slugger Award, which goes to the top offensive player at each position. Granderson was also given the Players Choice Award as the AL Outstanding Player.

Mets Hot Stove: The New York Mets are taking the opposite approach with Jose Reyes than the Yankees did with Sabathia. They'll let him test the market and see where the chips fall before making a move to keep their star shortstop, but signs are leaning toward the team just letting him walk away. How many years are too many? Is he too much of an injury risk? Can the Mets afford to let him go? Can they afford to keep him? It'll probably be months before the situation resolves itself. Jason Isringhausen, Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Willie Harris and Miguel Batista have also filed for free agency. The team filled out their coaching staff, by hiring Tom Goodwin as their first-base coach. And they officially announced that the walls of Citi Field will be moved in, shortened to eight feet and painted blue, which will be a psychological relief more than anything to David Wright, Jason Bay and the rest of the offense.

The New Old Rangers: It's not exactly Simon and Garfunkel or Martin and Lewis splitting up, but Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik were put on separate lines this past weekend. Tim Erixon was demoted to Connecticut. And Sean Avery is back (though not quite yet). The New York Rangers couldn't make it into November without having to shake things up, but it worked like a charm. After Saturday's disastrous shootout loss, where they blew a late three-goal lead, the Blueshirts recovered with their best game of the year on Monday, defeating the Sharks, 5-2. They not only had no problem protecting a three-goal lead this time, but they finally resembled last year's edition, with a strong puck-control game, a strong forecheck and were strong in their own end. And it was the hard-working duo of Ryan Callahan (two goals, assist) and Brandon Dubinsky (two assists) who led the way, along with their new center, Richards. On Thursday, in their 2-1 shootout win over the Ducks, the Rangers didn't play the complete game they did on Monday, but they picked up two points without "How did they pull that off?" wonderment following the victory. Henrik Lundqvist recovered from two subpar outings, and even the usually-inept-in-the-shootout Gaborik scored the game-winner. Next up, we'll get to see what the Blueshirts look like with Sean Avery thrown into the mix, though Wojtek Wolski may be replaced by Mats Zuccarello after straining his groin, and Marc Staal may be put on the long-term injury exemption list with Anton Stralman as his replacement.

Here We Go Again? Not only is Avery back, but his arch nemesis, Martin Brodeur, returned as well. The good news for the New Jersey Devils in their 5-3 loss to the Maple Leafs? They scored two power-play goals, which almost doubled their production from the previous nine games, and Adam Larsson recorded his first NHL point, assisting on a Patrik Elias goal. The bad news: Brodeur looked rusty and indecisive and let in five goals, though he didn't get much help in front of him. Even though they played better in Saturday's game against the Stars, they lost that one, too. But on Thursday, they were finally rewarded when they scraped together a huge two points with a shootout win over the Flyers, with David Clarkson tying the game and Elias scoring the winner in the shootout. Adam Henrique chipped in with his first NHL goal, but Ilya Kovalchuk left the game with an injury. It may be overstating things to say that the Devils were beginning to go down the tubes like they did at this time last year, but they at least stemmed the tide and set themselves up for a rebound. The New York Islanders, on the other hand, keep on sinking. They saw a goalie come back, too, when Rick DiPietro made his first start of the year in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks, though they were hosed by a phantom Travis Hamonic delay of game call in the extra period. And they were shut out on Thursday by the Jets, 3-0. They're now 0-4-2 in their last six games, and score at a 1.8-goal-per-game pace, which is last in the NHL. This is the type of streak that got their coach fired last season.

Angry Ripostes, Bold Quotes & Zingers: It's 2011, which means a week can't go by without athletes trashing and taunting each other, making confident predictions or bad-mouthing their fans, and they now have numerous tools to use: Twitter and blogs, not to mention the good old-fashioned media. Here's a sample from this week: The Rangers' 5-2 victory over the Sharks didn't impress Joe Thornton, who called the Rangers "soft." The always blunt John Tortorella blasted right back: "Joe's a heck of player." Ok, he said more than that: "So what he should do is just shut up. It was uncalled for, it was classless, and I've never had it happen like that before." Brandon Jacobs, who will get his wish for more playing time now that Bradshaw is most likely out, isn't very happy with Giants fans: "I don't care if I get booed. They could boo me every day. But make sure you're booing when I'm scoring touchdowns as well. You're gonna see a change." The outspoken Antrel Rolle isn't intimidated by the upcoming slew of playoff-caliber opponents: "I don't worry about our schedule. I think our schedule needs to worry about us." Santonio Holmes wouldn't bite on whether he was unhappy with his production: "We're here winning ballgames right now." And finally, Joe Namath zinged Rex Ryan when he was informed that the Jet coach was spotted wearing his jersey during the bye week: "I'm just stunned that the jersey with No. 12 comes in that size."

Where Are the Jets? Things were awfully quiet around the Jets this week. Jacobs made more noise than all of Gang Green put together. Where are the pronouncements, predictions and proclamations? Where's the Rex Ryan bluster? Where's the in-fighting? What's with all the peace, harmony and humbleness? Who are these guys?

My Favorite Alou: Former Yankee (and Giant and Pirate and Cardinal and A and Padre) Matty Alou passed away on Thursday, at the age of 72. He played for the Yankees for most of the 1973 season (with his brother Felipe as his teammate), splitting time between right field and first base, before being sold to the Cardinals on September 6th. He came up with the Giants, who once fielded an outfield of all three Alou brothers, which was the first and only time in MLB history that three brothers played in the same outfield, and Matty, Felipe and Jesus hold the record for total hits by three brothers (5,094). Matty was the quintessential singles hitter, who put up a career .307/.345/.381 line, won a batting title while playing for Pittsburgh in 1966, with a .342 average, was a two-time All-Star and was a member of the World Champion 1972 Oakland A's.

Yes, It's Come to This: Ex-Met Lenny Dykstra will trade punches with ex-Yankee Jose Canseco in a celebrity boxing match on Saturday. I wish I were making that up.