A few days ago, my daughter settled down next to me on the couch. I put my arm around her and, for no particular reason, I held her wrist and started waving her arm around. She said, "I know Dad, why don't we pretend I'm dead, and you have to control my arms and talk as if the words are coming out my mouth, so everyone would think that I'm the one moving and talking." "Hey, you just pitched Weekend at Bernie's to me!" I exclaimed, though she had no idea what I was referring to until I explained the theme of the movie to her. She's a seven-year-old genius, and maybe I should think about sending her off to Hollywood to make the family fortune. Anyway, with the recent news of Donnie Walsh's resignation, it's clear that he didn't want to end up like Bernie, with James Dolan and Isiah Thomas making all the moves in the background, gesticulating for him and having their words come out of his mouth. He said he's too old to put a full effort into the job, but the real translation: "I'm too old to put up with James Dolan."
So Dolan's done it again. Walsh came in and made the New York Knicks respectable once again. And it wasn't easy. Was he perfect? No. His drafts weren't particularly great, but he bobbed and weaved the franchise out of salary-cap hell, and he removed all traces of Isiah Thomas' tenure, on and off the court. Finally, there was a grown-up running the show. And how did Dolan thank Walsh? By offering him a pay cut without full autonomy. When will Dolan learn that he's the impediment to the Knicks being a successful franchise? Apparently never. He hires and fires all the wrong people, and it's obvious to everyone but himself (and Thomas) that he should just get out of the way and let someone like the competent Walsh make the decisions.
Whether he was guided by Bud Selig or not, Fred Wilpon finally brought in an intelligent, reasoning adult to run his team in Sandy Alderson, and like Dolan, Wilpon just seems to make everything he touches worse. And now Dolan has one-upped his Met counterpart by jettisoning the one good thing that he had going for him. And now everyone awaits the nightmare of all nightmares: The return of Isiah Thomas. It's doubtful that even Dolan is that stupid, but you never know. And if he does come back, what's next? A second tenure for Omar Minaya? Or worse, will M. Donald Grant come back from the dead to haunt us all? Well, a living James Dolan is haunting us just fine, so the former Met executive can stay where he is.
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Bloodbath in the Bronx: The New York Yankees took care of business out in Anaheim, winning two out of three from their playoff nemesis, thanks to a few more home runs and solid pitching. But that was just a warm-up for Apocalypse Part 600: Another Yankees-Boston Red Sox series. The Sox came into the Bronx with a 5-1 record against their rivals, and not much changed once the trio of games was over with. Boston left town, not only completely dominating the Yankees, but they stomped all over them, intimidated them and made them kiss their cleats, as well. The tone was set by David Ortiz pulling another one of his Big Papi showboating routines, which was met with scorn by Joe Girardi. Unfortunately, the Yankee manager's team did nothing about it until it was too late. Even after the message was sent, Ortiz kept on hitting, while being as comfortable at the plate as if he were settling in for nice long nap in front of the TV. In Game One, pleasant-surprise Freddy Garcia turned into an unpleasant "oh-that's-why-nobody-wanted-this-guy" thirtysomething pitcher. A.J. Burnett was partly brought to the Bronx due to his success over the Red Sox, but he came up small once again in Game Two, as the Yankees are still waiting for him to beat Boston, going on three years now. Even CC Sabathia couldn't prevent a complete bloodbath, though he did what no other Yankee pitcher has ever done: Drill Ortiz. And now injuries are starting to hit the Bombers. They've been relatively healthy this season, but with the devastating news that Joba Chamberlain will be out for the season, their bullpen is as thin as can be. Russell Martin has a bad back. Even Mark Teixeira had to leave a game after getting hit by a pitch in the kneecap. But there's no crying in baseball, and all the Yankees need to do is gaze across town to the New York Mets, and see how they've put their head down, kept on playing and have never complained or pined for who is missing from their roster. The Yankees haven't been able to beat the Red Sox this year, but it doesn't mean they can't beat everybody else, right?
The House That Reyes Built: Citi Field may be in David Wright's and Jason Bay's heads, but it's the perfect place for Jose Reyes. It's a triple-hitter's heaven, and Reyes is taking full advantage of every nook and cranny in the park. So while the Mets are seemingly a tornado of badness, with everything - injuries, injuries that won't go away, bullpen meltdowns, poor play -- getting scooped up into the storm as it steamrolls over New York, Reyes happily, and with a smile on his face, goes about his business enjoying playing the game of baseball, while helping his team to hang in there and not fade away. Maybe the Mets should pull a 1970s Kansas City Royals or 1980s St. Louis Cardinals and build their team around the stadium they play in. Maybe gap-hitting speedsters is the way to go in Citi Field. Though they should at least lower the left-field wall, if only to give us back the exciting, Endy Chavez-like play of robbing a home run that has been taken away from us. Reyes returned from the bereavement list to lead the Mets to a series win over the Braves, which ended their home stand. And when they moved on to Milwaukee, Reyes was the star there as well, driving in the only two runs the Mets would need in Chris Capuano's Wisconsin homecoming. And after it looked like their bullpen was back in order, with a perfect three innings from Pedro Beato, Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez on Tuesday, the following night, Beato and Isringhausen couldn't get the job done, blowing the team's chances for a fourth straight win. But in the finale, while Reyes' 12-game hitting streak came to an end, the rest of the offense picked up the slack, and Jon Niese didn't need any setup men, as he lasted into the eighth inning, and the Mets took their second straight series from an elite NL team.
The Future: The Mets selected Wyoming high-schooler/American Legion outfielder Brandon Nimmo with the 13th pick in this year's draft. Paul DePodesta has said all along that the Mets were going away from the franchise's previous draft philosophy and were going to nab the best player available, so the Nimmo selection wasn't a total surprise. The fact that they didn't select a pitcher is where they confounded the experts. Nimmo's committed to Arkansas, but hopefully the Mets can convince him to turn pro. With their next pick, they chose pitcher Michael Fullmer, who also may be attending Arkansas next year. Met Director of Amateur Scouting Chad MacDonald stated, "He pitches mean." Which is something the Mets need -- I'm looking at you Mike Pelfrey. With their first pick, at No. 51, the Yankees chose Dante Bichette Jr., from Orlando, Florida. He's a power-hitting third baseman, with a major-league pedigree, which always seems to give young players a head start. In the later rounds both teams concentrated on pitching, with the Mets going the college route and the Yanks choosing a plethora of high-school hurlers.
The Past: The New York Chris Drury. It will save the hirts $3,333,333 in cap space for the upcoming season. Good guy, good face-off man, good penalty killer, but the signing didn't quite work out. And thus ends the Scott Gomez/Chris Drury mistakes from the summer of 2007.are going to buy out
The Circle of Life: Plaxico Burress was released from prison on Monday. I was a little disappointed that Elwood Blues didn't swing by to pick him up, though, so they could get the band back together. What's next for the receiver? A stint with the Eagles? The Rams? The Jets? First things first, though. We need the NFL to get back to business before anything can happen. And just as Burress was walking out of prison, another former New York athlete, Lenny Dykstra, was hit with 25 felony charges, including grand theft auto, identity theft and drug possession. If found guilty, he could get up to 12 years in prison. It's not easy being a member of the 1986 Mets.
Belmont Stakes: New York's biggest race of the year takes place this Saturday. Sure, there won't be a Triple Crown winner, but Animal Kingdom and Shackleford are acting like David Ortiz and Joe Girardi, with a little bit of trash talking leading up to the race. Animal Kingdom said, it "stretched the limits of credulity" that Shackleford could last the one and a half mile run at Belmont Park. Shackleford shot back, "In the Preakness, Animal Kingdom never went past us in the gallop out, and I don't think he was going to." Ok, it was Animal Kingdom's owner and Shackleford's trainer who made those comments. The horses in question are too classy to engage in that type of smack talk.