This week, the New York sports scene was filled with a wide range of emotions along with numerous types of games. There were heartbreakers, blowouts, blown leads, comebacks, blown leads with comebacks, redemption stories and did-that-just-happen moments galore. The swing of feelings in Wednesday's New York Rangers game alone could send anybody straight to the nuthouse--from an exhilarating high to heart-rending low in the matter of minutes. The week saw three different kinds of home runs (the traditional, the replay-aided and the Little League variety), two Mariano Rivera blown saves, the New York Mets go from downtrodden to hopeful, the New York Yankees keep on rolling and the New York Knicks' and Rangers' seasons come to an end. And mixed in all that was the Player of the Week. Though he's really the Player of the Past Six Months.
Amar'e Stoudemire: The Knicks didn't win a game this week, but Stoudemire gets the award anyway for making his team relevant again. He tried to pull a Willis Reed in Games Three and Four of their series with the Boston Celtics, playing with a pulled muscle in his back, but he just couldn't inspire his teammates the way the old Knick captain did 41 years ago. Of course, this version of the Knicks doesn't have Walt Frazier or Dave DeBusschere to pick up the slack. Carmelo Anthony did put in a heroic performance in Game Two, with 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, but he didn't do so well in the Game Three team-wide no show, when he played most of the game as a point-forward. It was the first playoff game at the Garden in seven years, and the scene was set for an inspiring upset win: The atmosphere was electric, the flashy, over-the-top introductions were flashy and over the top and the crowd was in full voice. The Knicks were the only ones who didn't hold up their end of the bargain. Anthony Carter, Jared Jeffries, Shawne Williams pitched in here and there throughout the four games, but with all the injuries, the Knicks never stood a chance. And Mike D'Antoni didn't distinguish himself in this series. But Stoudemire promised that the Knicks would be back. And they are. Well, sort of.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Dan Girardi: The Rangers were defeated in both of their games this week, ending their season. Wednesday's heartbreaker was their big chance to take control and momentum away from Washington, but the swarming Capitals offense was too much for the Blueshirts. They were overwhelmed and finally fell in double overtime on the fluke of all flukes. And it was all Washington in Game Five. Girardi gets singled out as the star of the week for the Rangers for epitomizing what this year's version of the team is all about--sacrificing the individual for the good of the team. The defenseman got in front of an NHL playoff-leading 26 shots in the series. The loss is disappointing, but how can you not like this team? The Capitals just have better and more talented forwards. That was the difference. Henrik Lundqvist did all that he could, but the wave of Capital players coming at him was too much for one man to stop. The Rangers' power play was virtually nonexistent. Marian Gaborik had a few good moments but wasn't close to being a dominant player. The Blueshirts put up a good fight, but they just don't have the talent yet to make a long playoff run. But this year was a good stepping stone to the future. And hat's off to Girardi and the rest for giving us all hope and something to look forward too.
Curtis Granderson: The Yankees' center fielder has joined the home run parade, and he did it with a vengeance this week. With rain outs and off days, the Bombers only played four games this week, going 3-1. And Granderson homered in three of the four, and drove in six runs. His average is inching up toward .300 and his slugging percentage stands at a Babe Ruth-like .708. He wasn't the only hot bat for the Yankees, though, of course. Russell Martin continues his strong start, batting .462 this week, and had a two-home run game with four RBIs on Saturday. Nothing can slow Alex Rodriguez down, not even all the not-so-secret Derek Jeter-A-Rod rumors that the two aren't exactly BFFs. A-Rod is moving up many all-time home run, grand slam and RBI lists, but it's a shame--and I don't mean this in a wise-guy way--that anything special about these feats had been erased due to his PED usage. He gets thrown on to the Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire pile of guys where any accomplishment comes with a figurative asterisk. And the Bombers had a number of excellent pitching performances this week (just not by Rivera): CC Sabathia picked up his first win of the year, overcoming his bout with the flu (and is sporting a 2.73 ERA, with a 1.24 WHIP), Freddy Garcia threw his second gem in a row and Bartolo Colon is making an early run for Comeback Player of the Year.
Ike Davis: The Mets actually ended up having the best week out of the local teams, crawling back from the dead, and putting together a modest four-game winning streak. Davis was the big stick for the Amazin's. There's no sophomore slump for him this season, as he's showing Dave Kingman-like power, but without the .220 batting average. And he has his hockey playoff beard going in full force. For the week he belted three homers (including a towering tape-measure job) with six RBIs, and put up a .381/.440/.905 line. On the season, he's hitting with two outs (1.292 OPS), hitting with RISP (1.058 OPS) and hitting with two outs and RISP (1.012). Jason Bay returned, and not only didn't he show any rust (an early 1.078 OPS), but he stretches out the Mets' lineup. David Wright broke out of a slump in a big way, hitting three homers and driving in six runs, to the tune of a 1.078 OPS for the week. Mike Nickeas and Jason Pridie both notched their first big-league dingers, and Pridie also came up with his first hit. Carlos Beltran continues to produce and stay on the field. The Mets got impressive pitching performances across the line from their starters, with Mike Pelfrey (maybe the team should ensure that he's ill for all of his starts by making him stand out in the rain all summer if that's what it takes to get him to perform the way he did on Friday), Jon Niese, Chris Capuano, R.A. Dickey and Dillon Gee all pitching well enough to win. And all of a sudden, the team's seventh, eighth and ninth inning guys, Pedro Beato, Jason Isringhausen and Frankie Rodriguez, are the best late-game trio in town (well, at least they were this week).