Ok, yesterday was Thanksgiving, which means eating turkey, drinking all day and watching football, March of the Wooden Soldiers and Channel 11's Odd Couple marathon until you pass out in the living room covered in gravy and pumpkin pie. If you have a goodhearted and kind family member, maybe he or she even rolled you into a corner and covered you with a blanket so you didn't get trampled. The holiday is, of course, also time to give thanks. So here's a list of things I'm thankful for in the New York sports world.
I'm thankful that the Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel reign of terror (or is that error?) is finally over.
I'm thankful for Terry Collins. We can all start out with a bit of optimism, can't we?
I'm thankful for Ryan Callahan hitting everybody in sight and playing hockey the way it's supposed to be played.
I'm thankful for the excitement that is the 2010 New York Jets.
I'm thankful for Rex Ryan. His Rob Ryan get-up was the best New York coach's costume since Bobby Valentine's fake mustache disguise.
But I'm also thankful for Tom Coughlin and his tough love and discipline. Whenever I slack off on mowing my lawn or raking the leaves, a voice in the back of my head chastises me for it. And for some reason, that voice is always Tom Coughlin's. Though that stern voice hasn't solved my fumbling problem, as I always seem to drop my rake (though I've just been informed I've been replaced by Brandon Jacobs).
I'm thankful the New York Giants still have six more games to fix their problems (though I should probably watch what I wish for).
I'm thankful for Landry Fields. See above note about Ryan Callahan and insert "basketball" where it says "hockey."
And I'm thankful there are nine local teams to love, hate, drive us crazy, drive us to euphoria and drive us to drink.
And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports:
Miracle: Part Three: Will the New York Jets' mistakes, fumbles, penalties, interceptions, blown assignments and other shooting-themselves-in-the-foot ways ever catch up to them? Sunday's win was their third miracle comeback in a row. Mark Sanchez is making his bones week after week, coming up big at just the right time. Shonn Greene fumbles. Uh-oh. Sanchez throws a pick. Uh-oh. But have no fear, as Santonio Holmes is here, while the Jets keep on pulling themselves out of the abyss and win game after game. But on Thanksgiving, the Jets finally won a game in a decisive manner. In the first half it was looking like here-we-go-again time, but Brad Smith put an end to any doubt about this one. The only thing slowing him down were his shoes. And the only turkeys on the field were Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. Next up for Gang Green is a first-place showdown with the Patriots a week from Monday.
Can't Anybody here Play This Game? Watching the Michael Vick, hold the Eagles offense to field goals, block a field goal, score twice to take the lead--don't even matter because they're offset by all the horrible mistakes. Does anybody have any confidence in this team anymore? Even in their victories, they were turning the ball over, and now it's reached nightmarish proportions. Every player on the team needs a couple of layers of Stickum on their hands this Sunday. And the problems keep mounting, now that Hakeem Nicks is out for three weeks, adding injury to insult. They signed former first-round Michael Clayton (is there anything George Clooney can't do?) to pick up the slack. Maybe the Giants will just take all their woes as a challenge and surprise us all.play these days is like having front-row seats to a greased-pig-chasing contest at the old county fair. Their games are like those pick-up-and-slaughter games we played as a kid, with everybody chasing a loose ball around the field. The Giants are beyond sloppy, beyond frustrating, beyond undisciplined, beyond beyondness. All the good things they did--contain
There's a New Sheriff in Town: And his name is Terry Collins. One of the supposed strikes against Collins was the way his tenure ended with the Angels. There was a player revolt, supposedly led by Mo Vaughn. Maybe I'm wrong, but shouldn't that be counted in Collins' favor? It's doubtful Sandy Alderson is going to bring in a pack of new players for 2011, so maybe Collins' intensity is what the going-through-the-motions New York Mets need. They need discipline, organization, fundamentals and a swift kick in the butt. If Wally Backman was chosen, wouldn't the Wilpons' fingerprints have been all over that hire? Isn't that what we're trying to avoid here? And besides, did we really want Bob Melvin? Dan Warthen and Chip Hale will be back, but the Howard Johnson era is over.
. . . and a New Pitching Coach: The New York Yankees hired Larry Rothschild as their pitching coach last weekend. He held that position with the Cubs for the last nine years, and he's also worked for Florida and Cincinnati when they each won the World Series. And let's not forget he was the Tampa Bay's first-ever manager. His playing career consisted of seven games, when he was a September call-up for the Tigers in 1981 and '82, throwing eight and 1/3 innings, to the tune of a 5.40 ERA. More importantly, A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain have already moved into his basement for the winter. As for Derek Jeter, the Yankees insist they're not going to pay him for his legacy and legend, but isn't a three-year, $45-million offer for a soon-to-be-37-year-old who's a statue in the field and is coming off a .710 OPS doing just that? And why all the hostility shown toward him? They may or may not have offered Cliff Lee a six-year, $140-million contract. And Robinson Cano finished third in the MVP voting, which sounds about right.
. . . and a New Attitude: It's a whole new world for the Knicks these days. A California sweep, winning games with clutch free throws instead of the usual meltdowns, getting contributions from everyone in the lineup--what's going on? Do we even remember how to react when the Knicks go on a winning streak? It's five and counting. Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari are stepping up their games big time, and let's not forget the difference Ronny Turiaf is making now that he's been inserted into the starting lineup. Even the Nets are winning here and there, and when they lose, they make things close by playing hard. Avery Johnson's tough love seems to be working on Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. But Terrence Williams was sent to the principal's office for violating team rules.
. . . and a New Brand of Toughness: The New York Martin Biron for covering for the slumping Henrik Lundqvist. The King is going to revert back to his old reliable self, isn't he? Right? Please?were finally beginning to follow the example set by Ryan Callahan, until Wednesday happened. He leads the NHL in hits and always plays full-out, doing all the little things that need to be done. And the Blueshirts were starting to do that as well. They rebounded from a stinkfest in Colorado to beat Minnesota on Saturday, won a tough, hard-fought game over Calgary on Monday but got walloped on Wednesday. Let's give some credit to
. . . and a New Team in Newark: Speaking of backup goalies, Johan Hedberg has the New Jersey Devils on a two-game winning streak. It's their first back-to-back wins of the year. On Monday, they paid tribute to former coach Pat Burns, who led them to the Stanley Cup in 2003 and who passed away at the age of 58 last Friday, and whipped the Capitals, 5-0, and then another old coach, one of those Sutter brothers--I think it was Harpo--came into town on Wednesday and the Devils beat them in a shootout. Will Robbie Ftorek be at Friday's game to act as inspiration? Maybe they're not dead yet.
But the Same Old Islanders: The poor, sadsack New York Islanders just can't seem to scrounge up a win. They lost the old-fashioned way on Saturday, 4-1, to Florida, but came close to two wins later in the week, with an overtime loss to the Thrashers and another OT loss to Columbus. That's 14 defeats in a row, which means they're closing in on the record of 17 held by the 1975 Capitals.
(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Giants, Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Big Blue View, Gang Green Nation, Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Posting and Toasting, NetsDaily, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.)