The season's all over for the Mets (though they took long enough yesterday). The only thing left is for the Goodfellas-like bloodbath to begin, so let's cue up the last few minutes of "Layla" and see where the bodies end up. Will we find Omar Minaya hanging in the back of a meat truck? Jerry Manuel slumped over the steering wheel of his Coupe de Ville? The last straw was when Manuel's wife came into the locker room with a brand new fur coat right after the team was swept by Atlanta in mid-September.
Meanwhile, the postseason-bound Yankees did all they could just to win a damn game in Toronto while trying to clinch a playoff spot, with CC Sabathia riding to the rescue. Then it was off to Boston, with first place still at stake. But they could only manage a split in the torturous, marathon doubleheader on Saturday that lasted eight hours and 18 minutes. Can you imagine the pain if someone listened to Joe Buck in the first game for four-plus hours and then switched over to radio and had to endure John Sterling into the wee hours of the night? The horror, the horror.
And with yesterday's loss, the Yankees had to settle for the wild card, and limp into the playoffs making Yankee fans everywhere sweaty and nervous. As for football, the Jets steamrolled over Buffalo, while the absolutely manhandled the Bears. And now on to the Player of the Week:
LaDainian Tomlinson: Not since Emmitt Smith found the fountain of youth after being chastised by Keith Hernandez and Walt Frazier for being Mr. Graybeard in a Just For Men commercial have we seen someone as revitalized as the Jets' new running back. Tomlinson had his best game in two years yesterday, when he ran around, through, over and under the Bills all day long, for 133 yards on 19 carries (7.0 average). He scored the first touchdown of the game on the opening drive, and then punctuated his day with a vintage 26-yard TD while faking Donte Whitner out of his shoes and socks along the way - and I think he stole his wallet, too.
The resurgent Tomlinson, who was brought to New York as a complementary back, also added three catches for 22 yards. He's fast approaching the 13,000 career-yard mark, and passed Tony Dorsett for seventh place on the all-time list on Sunday. It was also the 47th 100-yard game of his career. His 'stache is surely not trash.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Osi Umenyiora/Justin Tuck: Now that was a good old-fashioned New York Giants type defense last night. They recorded a record nine sacks in the first half, 10 overall (two shy of the league record), with two interceptions, and knocked two quarterbacks out of the game. Were the Bears that bad or the Giants that good? Umenyiora and Tuck led the way, with three sacks each. Osi also had two forced fumbles and four tackles, while Tuck forced a fumble and racked up seven tackles.
Shonn Greene/Ahmad Bradshaw: The "other" running back for the Jets had quite a day for himself, too. Greene gained 117 yards on 22 carries, for a 5.3 average. His longest was a 17-yard run, but more importantly, he didn't fumble. He finally looked like the Shonn Greene from last year's playoff run. And Bradshaw was one fumble away from being in contention for Player of the Week. He slashed and cut his way to 129 yards (5.6 average), and scored a TD. Tom Coughlin needs to pull him aside (along with Brandon Jacobs), and give him the Tiki Barber how-to-hold-onto-the-ball seminar (hey Tiki, remember how the coach that you love to malign saved your career by teaching you how to properly hold the football?).
Dustin Keller/Mark Sanchez/Brad Smith: The Keller/Sanchez connection keeps on rolling. Keller caught four passes for 28 yards, and hauled in two TD throws in the span of a minute and 33 seconds. He now has 19 catches on the year, and an impressive five touchdowns. Sanchez had a low-key yet effective game, going 14 for 24, for 161 yards and two TDs, which makes it eight for the season with zero interceptions or fumbles. And Smith threw one of the Keller touchdown passes, and returned three kickoffs for 84 yards, including a 38-yarder.
Terrell Thomas/Corey Webster/Jonathan Goff: A big reason why the defensive line was able to pick up all those sacks (besides Jay Cutler holding onto the ball way too long) was the coverage downfield. Webster set the tone early with a deflected pass and some solid tackles, Thomas had an INT, a defected pass and six tackles, and Goff was all over the field, getting in on 10 tackles and even had half a sack himself.
CC Sabathia/R.A. Dickey: This odd couple was the local teams' Cy Youngs, aces, whatever you want to call them, for 2010. Sabathia has come through in the clutch time and time again this season for the Yankees, and he did it again on Tuesday, when he was called into service screwing up his rest for the first round of the playoffs. The burly hurler picked his team up, put them on his shoulders and clinched a postseason spot all by himself, as his teammates were choking, sputtering and underperforming all around him. He went eight and 1/3 innings, only letting in a run, while striking out eight. He finishes up at 21-7, with a 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 237 and 2/3 innings - almost identical to last season's stats.
As for Dickey, I almost don't want the Mets' season to end just so I can keep watching him pitch. He polished off his season with a seven-inning, one-run performance on Wednesday and then, just because he's R.A. Dickey and can do anything he puts his mind to, he threw an inning of scoreless relief on Saturday, which ended his remarkable year at 11-9, with a 2.84 ERA (seventh in the NL), 1.19 WHIP, 104 strikeouts and only 42 walks in 173 and 1/3 innings (26 starts). And let's not forget how well he swung the bat, ending the season with a .255 average. He's smart, he's articulate, he's a leader, he doesn't speak in clichés, he came out of nowhere and he throws a knuckleball. What's not to like?
Derek Jeter/Robinson Cano/Francisco Cervelli: Jeter batted .391 this week, with two ribbies, and came up with the game winner in the first game of the double dip on Saturday, with his excuse-me, check-swing squibber. Cano went six for eight in the two games on Saturday, and batted .347 for the week, with two homers and four runs batted in. And Cervelli went an efficient five for eight, with three walks and three RBI.
Pat Misch/Josh Thole/Ike Davis/Ruben Tejada/Angel Pagan/Lucas Duda: Yes, Misch is an afterthought (actually all the Mets are sort of an afterthought about now), put he twirled a gem on Friday night, lasting eight innings, only allowing a solo home run and struck out a career-high 10 batters with just one walk, and then had to come in out of the bullpen and clean up Oliver Perez's mess yesterday.
And let's give one last shout out to the kids: Thole blasted the walk-off dinger in the series opener against Washington, Davis finished one of the most productive rookie seasons the Mets have seen, with a .264 average, 19 home runs, 71 RBI and 72 walks, Tejada had a game-winner of his own on Tuesday, and finished the season batting .350 this week with three walks, Pagan hit .321 this week, to put the finishing touches on his probable team-MVP season (unless it's Dickey), and after having one of the worst starts to a career in major league history, Duda belted a couple of dingers to give him four for the year.
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