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The New York Week That Was (Barnacle Bill's Edition)

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There was no New York Week That Was last week, though the week actually existed of course -- I was just off on vacation. I returned last weekend to find that the local sports world had gone completely crazy. Steve Smith was wearing an Eagles uniform. Lifetime Jet Shaun Ellis was up in New England playing for the enemy. Prince Amukamara broke his foot before I could even see him take one step on the field for the New York Giants. Daniel Murphy had disappeared. Jose Reyes was back on the DL. Mariano Rivera and CC Sabathia gave up home runs at a dizzying pace. And in a symbolic gesture from the gods, my basement flooded the day after I returned signifying that the end may be near (or maybe that I'm just living in the wrong place). What in the name of the Bizarro World happened?

But that was last week's news. This week, things were a little more normal, or have at least settled into its craziness. The New York Yankees are in first place. They won yet another series against the Royals (with the umpires giving a big assistance to Kansas City in the Yanks' lone loss, though). Rivera was back to being unhittable. Sabathia notched another win, while most of the other starters continued with their quest for consistency. The Giants and New York Jets looked like works in progress in their preseason openers, which was to be expected. Deon Grant is back with Big Blue, which is good news. Osi Umenyiora is still mad. Somebody wants to fight Rex Ryan (there's nothing abnormal about that). The New York Mets were swept in Arizona but once again showed a little resiliency by winning their series in San Diego. Which is all how I left things a few weeks ago.

I did get to work on my golf game, though, while I was away, shooting a three-over-par 42, including a hole-in-one, but I fell apart on the back nine. Hey, Barnacle Bill's is a tough course. I just couldn't get the darn ball through Snoopy's doghouse.

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

What We Learned About the Giants in Game One: Not much. Of course, you always have to take the good and the bad of preseason with a grain of salt. Which is why we shouldn't put too much stock in the 20-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, and why we shouldn't put the electrifying Jason Pierre-Paul in the Hall of Fame quite yet, but on the flip side, we should give the rejiggered offensive line time to gel. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss will be missed, and Eli Manning was out of sync with his offense, but Domenik Hixon is back (five catches for 86 yards), and Ahmad Bradshaw gained 21 yards on five carries for a 4.2 average. Michael Boley intercepted a pass and brought it back for a touchdown, thanks to Pierre-Paul's pressure. But the special teams continue to not be so special. Reinforcements are here, though, as the team signed kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd and re-signed valuable veteran safety Deon Grant. And Umenyiora may be back, but the defensive end is angry. How angry? Well, we need to paraphrase some of the greatest writing of the 20th century to explain how he feels: "Osi is angry this year, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli." Finally, Manning and Jerry Reese both received the Quotes Blown Out of Proportion Award this week for the relatively tame things they said that caused widespread panic (just as Ryan's quote about Ellis going to New England looked much worse in print than the spirit it was intended in his press conference).

What We Learned About the Jets in Game One: Again, not much (see Giants above). The good, though, in the 20-16 loss to the Houston Texans, included a sharp performance by Mark Sanchez (6-for-7, 43 yards), who clicked with both Derrick Mason (three catches, 21 yards) and Santonio Holmes (two catches, 17 yards), Jeff Cumberland and Patrick Turner both hauled in six passes and Shonn Greene averaged 6.4 yards per carry (32 yards). The bad? The offensive line gave up seven sacks (Sanchez twice and Greg McElroy five times), the team committed too many penalties, the first-string offense couldn't finish the job once they were in the red zone and -- the biggest negative of the night -- versatile backup offensive lineman Rob Turner broke his leg. The Jets were already thin at O line depth, and this injury will surely hurt them. Joe McKnight also didn't come out of the game healthy, as he suffered a concussion and will miss Sunday's game against the Bengals (as will Greene). They did add another player to bolster their pass rush on Wednesday, when they signed former bust Aaron Maybin, who was let go by the Bills, and Plaxico Burress finally practiced (while managing not to shoot anybody in the process).

Mound Auditions: The Yankees can score runs in bunches, and their bullpen has been coming around again lately, so the big question for the team is about their six-man starting rotation. Just when you think Phil Hughes needs to be shipped back to the minors, he throws three solid games in a row. Just when Ivan Nova looks like the second best starter on the staff and his name is all over the place in the Rookie of the Year conversation, he gets blasted by the Royals. Bartolo Colon also got roughed up in Kansas City. And however A.J. Burnett pitches (does three runs and 10 hits in five and 2/3 innings count as a positive outing for him?), he just can't be trusted. Freddy Garcia's nicked-up finger has made Joe Girardi's decision-making easier for him, as he can use a five-man rotation until Garcia is ready, but the performances of each pitcher lately has just muddled up where to go moving forward. At any rate, the Bombers went 4-2 this week, though there was controversy in Wednesday's loss to the Royals, but an umpire ruling the next night went in their favor. Girardi at least admitted to his own mistakes in the erroneous ruling. That never would have happened to Bobby Valentine -- who was more prepared and knew the rules better than he did? And Derek Jeter was honored on Saturday at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th hit, and he celebrated by knocking the stuffing out of the ball all week long.

Looking Ahead: What's left for the Mets but the future? With not much etched in stone for next season besides David Wright at third, Ike Davis (hopefully) at first, Jason Bay (unfortunately) in left and Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey in the rotation, there will be plenty of roster spots up for grabs in 2012, so evaluating youngsters such as Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Justin Turner, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato, not to mention Angel Pagan (who's no lock to be the starting center fielder next season) and Mike Pelfrey (who's carving out a nice career as a fifth starter for himself) will be the Mets' number-one goal the last quarter of the season. Duda is putting himself in the running as the team's future right fielder as he's been the Mets' best hitter since the All-Star break, with a great grasp of the strike zone and his power finally showing up. There were a couple of highlights for a few veterans in the Mets' 2-4 week, though, when good-guy Jason Isringhausen recorded his 300th career save on Monday in San Diego and Wright made the fielding play of the week when he faked out Cameron Maybin and tagged out the Padre when he tried to scramble back to third base. And as for the far-away future, the Mets signed first-round draft pick Brandon Nimmo without a second to spare, and they went over slot to do it, which made every selection from this year's draft signed, sealed and delivered.