This week we settled into the post-NFL free-agent frenzy and post-MLB trading deadline, which is kind of like the day after Christmas. On December 26, you wake up in the living room after passing out on a pile of shredded wrapping paper and empty boxes, open your eyes and remember what Santa brought you the day before. Look, there's Zack Wheeler in the corner! Plaxico Burress is under the tree (but wearing a New York Jets jersey)! Osi Umenyiora never showed up for Christmas dinner, but he promised to swing by the following day (which he did), but he was not filled with any sort of holiday spirit. But a couple of expensive, shiny new toys you were hoping and wishing for never materialized. A couple of kids down the street did get to unwrap a Nnamdi Asomugha and an Ubaldo Jimenez, though, while you got another Antonio Cromartie instead.
You never know who the winners and losers are until the games are played and seasons are finished, but we can judge each local team against themselves. The New York Jets proved to be Jetsian, the New York Giants acted like the Giants, but the New York Yankees were not very Yankee-like and the New York Mets are turning over a new leaf.
Gang Green went for broke, succeeding in bringing back Santonio Holmes and Cromartie, but failing in their quest for Asomugha, which may have led to their losing Brad Smith (though they probably wouldn't have matched what the Bills gave him), and they swooped in to sign yet another troublemaker, in Burress, to replace Braylon Edwards. The former prisoner should fit right in with Rex Ryan's law-breaking gang of rebels. The Giants certainly weren't going to go out on a limb for Burress and his going to their crosstown rival isn't a big loss. Could Burress really have gotten along with Tom Coughlin? Doubtful. The Giants upgraded their punting situation and re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw and Mathias Kiwanuka. They did lose a couple of key veterans on the offensive line, but quickly nabbed a new, younger center in David Baas. But they have the Osi Situation festering in camp, with the defensive end now claiming he needs knee surgery.
In baseball, the Yankees surprisingly did nothing. Almost every other contender made news with at least one acquisition, but Brian Cashman is hoping the returns of Rafael Soriano, Eric Chavez and Alex Rodriguez, not to mention Ivan Nova and maybe a few minor-league call-ups, along with the continuing quality pitching of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia will be enough. And the Mets, for a change, didn't make any desperate "going-for-it" moves but instead wrangled the best pitching prospect from the San Francisco Giants with Carlos Beltran as the bait, and they also dumped Francisco Rodriguez's contract on the Milwaukee Brewers.
So who won, who lost and who just treaded water? We'll find out soon enough. But now on to the other top stories in the world of New York sports.
Standing Pat: No Ubaldo Jimenez. No Hiroki Kuroda. No Heath Bell. For now, no problem. It's better to do nothing than to do something stupid after all. The Yankees did put Jorge Posada, A.J. Burnett and Soriano on trade waivers this week. That's not exactly how they pictured the way 2011 would play out for that trio, but Brian Cashman can at least say "I told you so" when it comes to Soriano. And even though he's on the DL, that's not stopping A-Rod from ducking controversy, as he now finds himself in hot water due to his alleged participation in illegal poker games. He (and every player) knows that gambling in any form and baseball don't mix. Even Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were suspended from baseball after they retired when they became greeters for an Atlantic City casino. As for their play on the field, life would be perfect for the Yankees if they could play Baltimore all the time. The Bombers had a season's worth of offense in one day against the Orioles on Saturday. After warming up with eight runs in the opener of the double dip, the Yankees lived up to their Bronx Bombers moniker and scored 12 runs in the first inning alone, which was a franchise record. Or maybe they could play the Chicago White Sox every day, as they piled up the runs against that team as well. CC Sabathia (who was just named the AL Pitcher of the Month) was on the mound on Monday in Chicago, which is all but a guaranteed win. Ivan Nova looked good for the second straight time. And things are going so well for the Yankees that even Phil Hughes was impressive in his start and picked up a win. But 18 runs wasn't enough for A.J. Burnett to record a win. At this point, he is what he is-- an unreliable, mercurial starter. Now it's off to Boston, where we'll really see what the Yankees are made of.
Dawning of a New Era: It was not a good week for the Mets. The post-Beltran age is now in full bloom, and after a rousing start, the Mets are settling into mediocrity. They lost two out of three to the Washington Nationals and a pair to the Florida Marlins, which is no way to make a run for the wild card. They even hit consecutive two-out-in-the-ninth game-tying home runs this week, but managed to lose both games. And in three consecutive devastating losses, a combination of boneheaded fielding plays, base-running blunders and an ineffective bullpen did them in. They looked more 1962 Mets than Terry Collins Overachieving Mets. But with the Braves coming into town, this is the Mets' (last?) chance to show they are truly playoff contenders. On top of their subpar play on the field, Johan Santana came across a road block in his rehabilitation, which turned about to be shoulder fatigue, which could be viewed as good news if one were an optimist. There is one bright spot in Met Land, however, as Gary Carter's brain tumors are reportedly 80 percent better and they're starting to go away, according to the Hall of Famer's daughter.
Giants News & Notes: Bradshaw was the Giants' top priority, and with the list of teams who were interested in him making other plans, the running back really didn't have any choice but to return to New York. Bradshaw signed a four-year $18 million contract while Jason Snelling was conveniently meeting with Big Blue. At any rate, he's back, and Brandon Jacobs' restructuring his contract had a big hand in his return. Steve Weatherford is a sight for sore Giant fans' eyes, but not for Matt Dodge. Gabe Watson, Stacy Andrews, Ben Patrick and Michael Clayton were signed to give the team depth. David Carr may be back. And Prince Amukamara signed on the dotted line. But Steve Smith and Kevin Boss are still unsigned, and Umenyiora is physically with the team but not mentally, emotionally or spiritually. He is one angry man, and he's not afraid to let everyone know about it. But it looks like he and the Giants are stuck with each other (at least for now).
Jets News & Notes: After spending much time and energy trying to lure Asomugha to the New Meadowlands, the Jets ended up with their second choice, Cromartie, signing him to a four-year deal. Maybe every player doesn't want to play for Rex Ryan after all. But maybe not nabbing the former Raider cornerback was the best thing for the team in the long run. Weatherford bolted as quickly as he could, but they replaced him with Chris Bryan. And they locked up David Harris, with a four-year contract. The Jets did outbid everyone for Burress, which may be a gamble. He hasn't played a game or practiced since 2008, so who knows how he'll fare. Will he be better than Braylon Edwards? Or at least as productive? Of course, it's possible Burress won't miss a beat and will be a great corner end-zone target for Mark Sanchez. And they made another receiver switcheroo, by releasing Jerricho Cotchery and adding Derrick Mason. So after the dust has settled, Gang Green is basically back to where they were last season, with a few comparable replacements but minus Smith and with Muhammad Wilkerson starting in place of Shaun Ellis. With no blockbuster acquisitions, the key to the team improving is the ongoing development of Sanchez.
Hockey News & Notes: The New Jersey Devils and Zach Parise made life a little easier for both parties when the star winger agreed to a one-year $6 million deal. That will ensure Parise doesn't have any type of pesky holdout or come into camp disgruntled, a la Osi Umenyiora, but gives them both time to keep negotiating a long-term deal. Smart move by everyone involved. And the Devils freed up some cap space by buying out Colin White and the just-acquired Trent Hunter. Bad news for the New York Islanders, though: Nassau County residents voted "no" for a new Nassau Coliseum on Monday. So what happens to the Islanders now? Brooklyn? Kansas City? Quebec? And how long will Charles Wang last? Hopefully, they'll somehow, someway stay where they are. But their up-in-the-air future will be the main talking point for the foreseeable future, so Islander fans have that to look forward to.