Jason Taylor returned to Miami on Sunday night (and recorded a sack to stick it to his old team), and it's still hard to think of him as a Jet. He looks awfully out of place in a green-and-white uniform. And new Giant Keith Bulluck hosted his old team, the Titans, in the afternoon, with the linebacker most likely looking very odd to Tennessee fans. But there have been a long line of players who have played in New York and looked out of place either in an out-of-town uniform or a local one. Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees by the Red Sox before there was any real rivalry between the two teams, and we're used to seeing old pictures of him in both uniforms, but viewing a snapshot of him in a Boston Braves uniform does seem a little peculiar, if not sad.
Old-timers were up in arms when Leo Durocher went from the Dodgers to the Giants (not to mention looking woefully out of place in an Astros uniform), and also when Sal Maglie made the reverse trip. Joe Namath on the Rams? Sure, it was Hollywood and LA glitz and glamour, which was right up Namath's alley, but he was Broadway Joe, for Pete's sake, not Sunset Strip Joe. Tom Seaver wasn't called The Franchise for nothing. But not in Cincinnati, Chicago or Boston (who remembers that he was on the '86 Red Sox, but was out with an injury for the postseason?). Luis Tiant just didn't look right in Yankee pinstripes. Walt Frazier in those outrageous Cleveland Cavalier unis? Should have been against the law. Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Derek Sanderson and Carol Vadnais all calling MSG their home, while Jean Ratelle and Brad Park had to wear the black and gold of the Bruins? Apparently hell had frozen over. Brian Leetch a Maple Leaf and Bruin? Tom Glavine a Met? Patrick Ewing in Seattle and Orlando? No, no and no. The Supersonics even had to move because of that abomination. There were also two great coaching atrocities that quickly come to mind - Joe DiMaggio wearing the green and gold of the Oakland A's and Yogi Berra in the Astros' multicolor crimes against nature. Players going where they should never go happens far too often. But it should never happen at all, because . . . well . . . it's just not right.
Here are the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports:
Two Wins in a Row: Another solid win for Gang Green, and it came against a division rival, which is twice as sweet. And for Jason Taylor the win came at the expense of his former team so it was three times as sweet. We all know the Giants started the whole Gatorade shower thing for winning coaches, but after Sunday's victory Rex Ryan invented the celebratory splashing of a player, when he dumped a bucket of the drink over Taylor's head. The Sanchize was impressive again, as was go-to target Dustin Keller. Braylon Edwards made a couple of huge plays, including his long touchdown. And he was so humbled by his inappropriate behavior from the previous week that he just handed ball to the ref after scoring and jogged unassumingly to the sidelines. Oh that's right, he didn't. He performed one of those "look-at-me, I'm-a-complete-jerk" celebratory dances. But what else would we expect? And yesterday the Jets added another piece to their defensive puzzle by stealing Trevor Pryce away from Baltimore.
Two Losses in a Row: Even though there are 13 games left to go, the Giants are seemingly in trouble. Sunday's disaster was their second horrible showing in a row, which follows the stench of last season's embarrassing end. The personal fouls, the penalties, the turnovers, the left-handed passes, the missed field goals, the bad field position - it was downright ugly. And don't forget about the excuses. Yes, they had a good chance to win this game, and shot themselves in the foot over and over, but the fact is they got blown out. They gained more yards, had more first downs and had the ball longer than Tennessee, but they weren't the better team. The better team wouldn't make all those silly mistakes. I mean what the heck was Kareem McKenzie doing out there? And Eli's throw? Was that an old highlight of Garo Yepremian I was seeing? And what does Tom Coughlin get for his team's undisciplined, lousy start? The increasing rumblings of Bill Cowher rumors. But Michael Strahan and Bill Parcells has his back, while Tiki Barber (of course) couldn't help jumping into the fray.
Panic Room: After losing to the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday, a panicky Joe Girardi had to use Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia when they should have been resting or moved around to accommodate their playoff starts next week, and even called in Mariano Rivera with a five-run lead. A.J. Burnett's Charlie Brown-like performance on Monday (in which he even jumped out of his clothes trying to avoid a line drive) didn't help settle anyone's nerves. Sabathia finally came to the rescue as usual, and the Bombers exhaled with one big sigh of relief. There was no talk of only caring about winning the division or any World Series or bust chatter - they celebrated like they won the World Series in the clubhouse after just qualifying for the postseason. Said Derek Jeter: "We're celebrating the 162-game schedule." He wouldn't have gotten away with that if George Steinbrenner were still alive.
The Nightmare Is Almost Over: The Mets played spoiler to the Phillies when they prevented their rivals from clinching the NL East at home by winning two out of three over the weekend. At least they did something right this year. And then back at home, it was a record-setting night for the Amazin's when David Wright broke Tommie Agee and Dave Kingman's franchise strikeout mark and Pedro Feliciano broke his own single-season appearances record (for the third time). Wright did drive in his 100th run in the doubleheader loss on Wednesday, though, and we got one last look at R.A. Dickey - The Legend. The only goal left for the Mets was to win their last four games to get to .500, but with last night's loss, that dream has died.
The Nightmare Is Over: Wade Redden was waived by the Rangers on Saturday. Maybe all the abuse he took was unfair - maybe he was more of a symbol of yet another bad contract given out by the Blueshirts. Maybe he wasn't that bad after all. Maybe if they just gave him one more chance . . . Nah. He was terrible. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but it was the right thing to do (and maybe a year too late). The Garden's boobirds now turn their lonely eyes to you, Michal Rozsival.
The Nightmare Is Just Beginning: The Islanders are unfortunately pulling a Mets, with two of their top players - Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo - already out indefinitely to start the season. They did pick up former Devil and Ranger Mike Mottau this week to help out with some defensive depth, but that doesn't begin to make up for those two losses. They're only a hyperactive thyroid, a concussion and a father-in-law beat down away from the Mets comparison being complete.
Dead Deal: Carmelo Anthony is not coming to New Jersey after all (at least for now). After discovering how poorly the NJ Transit train system is run, he said, "There's no way I'm going there just to be late for work every day because they can't get their act together and run the trains on time, not to mention getting stuck on a disabled train a couple times a month." Actually, that was me. As for the Anthony deal, there were so many behind-the-scenes machinations that the transaction never got off the ground: There was an inexperienced Denver front office who were unsure if they even wanted to trade their star, four teams involved, Anthony's own waffling, the Bulls and Knicks (who denied tampering in any way) lurking in the shadows and on and on. The bad news for the Nets was all good for the Knicks, who flew off to Italy on Wednesday to celebrate. In other good news for the team, Eddy Curry is out four to six years (or maybe weeks) with a strained hamstring. "It was getting too close to opening night," said the big lug, "and I needed to strain something in a hurry or there was a chance I might have to actually play again."
Up-to-Date Standings: Breaking news this week: The Jets have only had one player arrested since Ryan came on board last year, compared to the Bills' five and Dolphins' six. In the last 10 years, the Jets have had eight arrests, the Giants 11 and the league average is 16. Yes, things have gotten so bad regarding criminal behavior in the NFL, we now have standings for team arrests, and franchises are proud because they've only had just over a half a dozen players arrested in a 10-year span.
(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers and Islanders, go to SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Big Blue View, Gang Green Nation, Posting and Toasting, NetsDaily, Blueshirt Banter and Lighthouse Hockey, respectively.)