Men's Health magazine revealed the results of a recent poll of the angriest cities in the United States. New York City was way down in 43rd place. 43rd? Are you kidding me? There are 42 cities angrier than New York? That should make us all furious. Detroit is the angriest of all cities, which kind of makes sense, and Los Angeles is ahead of New York, which also isn't surprising--I mean Charlie Sheen's recent outbursts alone could put that city in first place. But Baltimore second? I once went to an Orioles-New York Mets game at Camden Yards and the fans couldn't have been friendlier. There was no cursing, drunkenness or public urination--the only obnoxious people in the stands were Met fans. And St. Petersburg third? Is Derek Jeter's mansion causing that much strife in the Florida city? And come on, a place like Orlando is angrier than NYC? Isn't that supposed to be the happiest place on earth? Did somebody wipe the smile off Goofy's face while we weren't looking?
Apparently the magazine's research didn't take into account Met fans. What group of people has been angrier than that gang last few years? Long Island must not count, either. That New York Islanders-Pittsburgh Penguins game the other week had more angry people on the ice than in all the Florida cities put together. Name one person who was angrier than Micheal Haley? Not to mention Trevor Gillies. And apparently the pollsters never got hold of John Tortorella, Tom Coughlin or the expletive-throwing, enraged Antonio Cromartie. Maybe the New York Rangers should have added more goons this season to move us up the list. Any rate, are we going to stand for this? I guess we just need to try a little harder in 2011.
And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Learning to Fly: The New York Knicks are up. And then they're down. And then up. And so it goes, as the new roster learns to coexist together. The embarrassing loss to Cleveland was forgotten 48 hours later, when the Knicks' new Big 3 defeated the Heat's old Big 3 down in Miami in scintillating fashion, with big shots and big blocks. It was just like the '90s, as even Jeff Van Gundy came out of nowhere to grab onto LeBron James' leg. But then the Knicks lost a somewhat winnable game to the Magic, but blew out the Hornets, with Toney Douglas picking up the slack for the injured Chauncey Billups. The team will need to find some defensive consistency, off course, but with Carmelo Anthony and Billups here to transform the team, is anybody still pining for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler or Raymond Felton, let alone Timofey Mozgov?
The Other White Meat: As for the New Jersey Nets, on the surface nothing has changed. They played three games, and they lost three games. But Deron Williams at least gives Net fans somebody exciting to watch. He's set an NBA record with 47 assists in his first three games with the Nets, which is the most of any player playing for a new team. He made his home debut in which the Nets were a split second late in getting a win. And now Williams and his new teammates get to travel to London for their next two games. Brook Lopez is excited about the trip: "I want to try beef and kidney pie." If they can't win in New Jersey, maybe they can turn the trick in England.
Comings and Goings: Like the Oscars' tribute to those who have passed away in the last year, New York/New Jersey said goodbye this week to Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Vernon Gholston, Jason Taylor, Ben Hartsock, Corey Brewer, Kelenna Azubuike, Jason Arnott, a Ranger seventh-round draft pick that we'll never get to meet and even Martin Biron, who is out with a broken collarbone, and Chris Drury who is now out for the season. But we also get to say hello to a bevy of newcomers: Jared Jeffries, Derrick Brown, Bryan McCabe, David Steckel, Cam Talbot and John Mitchell (well, Hartford says hello to him).
Ice Capades: If it weren't for the fact that they might not exist in a few years, the Islanders sure have a bright future. Kansas City or Quebec or [fill in city here] may have a talented, hard-working team on their hands if it comes down to that, but Long Island deserves to see their team come to fruition. The Isles went 1-1-1 this week, with their win over Minnesota on Wednesday one of their sharpest victories of the year. The Rangers aren't going anywhere, and that might include the playoffs, as their ship is sinking fast. They whipped the Capitals into submission on Friday, but two one-goal losses followed, and the week was capped off by Thursday's 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Wild. In a change of pace, the Blueshirts started out fast, getting on the scoreboard first, but they ended slow, dooming themselves to another bitter loss. Meanwhile for the New Jersey Devils, it's the same old story--winning. The only question for them is: Will they run out of time?
Wanna Buy a Bridge? Every day a new rumor sprouts about the finances of the New York Mets. This week's revelations included a $25 million loan from MLB to the Wilpons in November, with MLB then announcing there will be no more handouts for the team. The Mets are also reportedly trying to secure a loan from JPMorgan Chase. Many investors have come out of the woodwork as potential buyers, including a group with Bobby Valentine in the mix. Every week gets just a little worse. But when Fred Wilpon tries to pull a Charlie Finley and start selling off his players to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, as the former A's owner attempted to do with Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi in 1976, then we know the Mets are really, really in trouble.
Spring Training Snapshots: Things got off to a rocky start in Yankees' camp when A.J. Burnett beaned Greg Golson, and over in Port St. Lucie Oliver Perez hit everything but Golson's coconut and a catcher's mitt in his first appearance, getting hammered for four runs. Burnett, with a changed delivery, did throw two scoreless innings in his debut game on Wednesday, though, while Perez hurled two shutout innings of his own in his follow-up outing, though he didn't strike anybody out and his velocity is way down into the low and mid-80s. But what if Ollie's kind of good this spring and finagles his way onto the team? Is there any doubt that he'll be the same old disaster once the calendar turns to April? Other highlights from Florida: From CC Sabathia to Ivan Nova, to Mike Pelfrey, Chris Young and R.A. Dickey, the two teams' starters were all looking good in the first week of exhibition games. Carlos Beltran selflessly ended the Mets' center-field debate, with he and Terry Collins thanking each other for their professionalism. Derek Jeter is putting on his own performance of My Left Foot, with his brand-new hitting mechanics. Jason Bay looks fully recovered from his concussion. Luis Castillo looks not-so-fully-recovered from his not-so-goodness. Ronny Paulino may arrive this weekend. Jesus Montero gunned out a pair of Pirates at second. Portly Joba Chamberlain was effective in his first outing. Angry Frankie Rodriguez also pitched well. And in the once-upon-a-time category, Mark Prior and Jason Isringhausen were both impressive this week. Let's just hope that Isringhausen's comeback fares better than David Cone's last hurrah with the Mets.
R.I.P. Duke Snider: The Duke of Flatbush died on Sunday at the age of 84. Sure, Snider had a lifetime batting average of .295, belted 407 home runs, drove in 1,333 runs, was an eight-time All-Star and won two World Series (including hitting four homers and driving in seven runs in the 1955 Series victory over the Yankees). But his team, his ballpark and his era fueled a romanticism in baseball that hasn't been seen since. Songs were written about Snider ("Talkin' Baseball") not to mention the epic poem-like The Boys of Summer. Brooklyn was in love with the Dodgers, and the Dodgers and their players were interwoven in the fabric of the borough's day-to-day life. It was a flat-out love affair, with nothing but tears when they left for Los Angeles. The Dodger (and Met and Giant) was more than a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest center fielders ever to play the game--he was a memorable stanza in the poetry that is baseball.
Football? There's no poetry in football these days, though, as we're all keeping our fingers crossed that there will actually be a 2011 season. At least a 24-hour extension was put in place giving us a little hope. Maybe this season's Apprentice should have revolved around solving the NFL's labor dispute. Gary Busey could have been put in charge of one side and Meat Loaf the other, with Donald Trump declaring a winner. I can't see how anything could go wrong with that brainstorm.