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The New York Week That Was (End Of The World Edition)

As the year 2000 approached, the end of the world was seemingly scheduled to take place. 2000 is a nice round number, so why not end things with all those zeroes instead of in messy 2137 or some such year. And of course, there was the whole Y2K scare, in which the earth would blow up or computers or robots would take over the world, or something like that. Obviously, none of that happened. But apparently Hell might have frozen over, because what did take place since the calendar turned over to the year 2000 was the ending of one championship drought after another in the sports world.

This week saw the Giants win their first World Series since 1954, and first ever while calling San Francisco their home. In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won their first championship since 1917, when they fielded Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins, Buck Weaver and the rest of the 1919 Black Sox. The Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, winning for the first time since 1918. The Angels won their first-ever World Series in 2002, after being shutout since 1961. In hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks claimed their first Stanley Cup this past spring since the Bobby Hull/Stan Mikita days of 1961. The New Orleans Saints were the feel-good story of the NFL last season, when they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since they came into the NFL in 1967. And in January of 2002, the New England Patriots finally won their initial championship in their 42nd year of existence (after even failing to claim an AFL title). So maybe that means there's hope for the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, New York Islanders, New York Jets and New York Mets. Their droughts aren't as long as those other teams, but they've been long enough. Or maybe the debris falling from above the Garden ceiling means the end of the world is coming after all, and God just wanted to see the 'Hawks skate around with the Stanley Cup first.

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

Trick or Treat: The Jets put a rock in their fans' trick or treat bags on Halloween Sunday. The regression of their offense is becoming alarming. After looking like he was coming into his own, Mark Sanchez resembled last season's version of himself. He never saw a wide-open Braylon Edwards in the end zone, a la Earl Morrall and Jimmy Orr in Super Bowl III. But Sanchez  didn't get any help from his receivers, either, who were dropping balls left and right. Steve Weatherford's brain freeze cost the team three points, when he didn't know how many yards were needed for a first down. Should a punter even be allowed to be calling plays? Rex Ryan needs to take lessons from Tom Coughlin on when and where to throw the challenge flag. Maybe there's an adult ed class Ryan can enroll in. The defense, though, held up their end of the bargain, holding Green Bay to nine points, and two of those field goals were the result of the Packers starting their drives deep in Jets territory. There was one offensive milestone in the game, though: LaDainian Tomlinson became only the second player in NFL history to gain 13,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards. Walter Payton was the first.

Asbestos Free: Last night the Knicks ran and three-pointed their way to an impressive win over the Bulls. Danilo Gallinari finally broke out, and Toney Douglas scored a career-high 30 points. They lost to Boston and Portland to start the week, and Tuesday's game vs. the Magic was cancelled due to debris falling from the MSG ceiling. After an initial asbestos scare, the Garden is now deemed to be safe. That is, until Eddy Curry makes an appearance on the bench. Then all bets are off. The Knicks are off to a 2-2 start, which has James Dolan so excited he tried to give Isiah Thomas a contract extension.

ABC: The Nets had Wednesday's game against Charlotte firmly in their grasp, but they forgot the first rule of sales--Always Be Closing. With a 10-point lead and under five minutes to go, they fell apart on both sides of the ball, and fell to 2-2. Troy Murphy did make his Net debut, though. On Friday they came back to beat the Kings, in the clash of rookie bigs--Derrick Favors vs. DeMarcus Cousins, with the Net forward winning the battle and the war. The Nets didn't have a chance against the traveling circus that is now the Miami Heat, but Newark seems to be kinder to these new Nets than the Meadowlands was.

Puttin' on the Foil: In between losing to Montreal on Friday and Carolina and Ottawa the last couple of days, the Islanders had to put up with the antics of the reincarnated Broad Street Bullies. Looking like a cross between Dave Schultz and Syracuse Bulldog Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken, Daniel Briere crosschecked mild-mannered Frans Nielsen across the chops, which started a brawl and earned him a three-game suspension. Rick "Killer" DiPietro tried to stick up for his teammate and went after Briere but couldn't get to him. Maybe they should put a bounty on the cowardly Flyer the next time Philadelphia comes to the Island. And Trevor Gillies received a triple minor for his part in the donnybrook. A Triple minor? Is that like double-secret probation? Speaking of Slap Shot, the son of a Hanson Brother plays for Toronto (Christian Hanson), who lost to the Rangers on Saturday night. Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant, as he shut out the Leafs. The Brandon Dubinsky/Ryan Callahan/Artem Anisimov line led the Blueshirts to a victory over Chicago on Monday. And speaking of the Flyers, the Blueshirts fell to them last night. The Rangers won the two fights, but couldn't get any offense going at all, so lost the war. And while Sean Avery couldn't skate two feet without being whistled for an infraction for a few seasons, Daniel Carcillo is mysteriously allowed to leap and wallop Ruslan Fedotenko in the head and not be sent to the penalty box. How did the refs miss that one? When challenged by Derek Boogaard, Carcillo wanted no part of him, of course, but did take on Brandon Prust, who got the best of the cheap-shot artist.

The New Jersey Cowboys: Are the Devils hockey's answer to the Dallas Cowboys? They're the NHL's biggest disappointment by far--a roster filled with talented players who just can't seem to put it all together. They're also in the second season of their new building. And now the Devils have an injury to a star player, with Zach Parise out for three months with a bum knee, though I hate to lump Parise in with Tony Romo. New Jersey beat Chicago on Wednesday just so they didn't have to read another post-game recap starting with "It's the Devils worst start since . . .". If they don't use that win as momentum to turn things around, they'll soon start being compared to their historically bad precursors, the 1975-'75 Kansas City Scouts, who went 12-56-12.

Hot Stove: Sandy Alderson's first move was to hire old-friend J.P. Ricciardi as the Mets' assistant GM. He then gave first-base coach Razor Shines the heave-ho, though he initially thought it was all just a practical joke that the Mets even had an employee named ‘Razor Shines.' And to no one's surprise he picked up Jose Reyes' option. Managerial interviews began this week, starting with Bob Melvin and Dave Jauss, and continue over the weekend with Wally Backman, Chip Hale and Terry Collins. And the team mercifully lowered ticket prices, while longtime employee Charlie Samuels was suspended and is under investigation for gambling on baseball. Texas Ranger owner Chuck Greenberg disparaged Yankee fans this week, calling them violent and apathetic, and went on to say that Eli Manning is overrated and you never know which Eli you'd get on any given Sunday. He immediately apologized to the Giants QB, after remembering what he did to the Cowboys. The Yankees re-signed hitting-coach Kevin Long to a three-year extension. And Hal Steinbrenner has publicly stated he wants to bring back Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, and lure Cliff Lee to the Bronx, as well. Though he said "things could get messy" with the Jeter negotiations. The two sides need each other, though, so something will get worked out. The Yankees don't have anybody suitable to replace him, and Jeter needs to play shortstop for the Yankees the same desperate way that Ron Burgandy needs to anchor the news.

This One's for Chris Speier: The San Francisco Giants may have abandoned New York over half a century ago, but their ancestors are New Yorkers - John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Monte Irvin - and those ghosts of Giant past must have liked what they saw on Monday night. Sabermetricians, on the other hand, must have cringed throughout the Series, as words and phrases like "grit," "team chemistry" and "heart" were thrown around a multitude of times about the World Series-winning team. When San Francisco's brain trust accepted the World Series trophy, they might as well have been handed David Eckstein. The Giants also represented the anti-PED faction, as, thankfully, they won it all without the services of Barry Bonds.

R.I.P.: Clyde King, Maurice Lucas and Sparky Anderson all passed away this week. King served as GM, coach, manager and special assistant to the GM with the Bombers in the 1980s. He pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds. He also managed the Giants and Atlanta Braves. Lucas died on Sunday of bladder cancer, at the age of 58. The Enforcer played for eight different teams in his 14-year career, including the Nets, Knicks and the creatively named Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA. He won a championship with Portland in 1977, made five All-Star teams and was named one of the 30 greatest players in ABA history. And Anderson died yesterday, at the age of 76. He won two World Series while managing the Big Red Machine, and another in 1984 with the Tigers. He was the first manager to win the World Series in both leagues, but more impressively, he guest-starred on both WKRP in Cincinnati and The White Shadow.

(For in-depth analysis and discussion of the Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Gang Green Nation, Pinstripe Alley, Amazin' Avenue, Posting and Toasting, NetsDaily, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.)