The New York sports world is topsy-turvy right now. It's pointing in every direction, with teams and leagues at a crossroads. With the baseball trade deadline approaching, the New York Yankees are looking to bolster their roster for a playoff run. Will they get a starting pitcher? A bat? A reliever? The New York Mets will be making moves that will no doubt affect the future course of the franchise. Will Carlos Beltran be shipped off to a contender? Will Sandy Alderson put together a blockbuster deal that no one saw coming? In football, this was the crucial week to save the season, and with the owners voting 31-0 to pass the CBA, it looks like the New York Giants and New York Jets will be playing a 16-game schedule after all this year. Or maybe not, as the players weren't so happy with what the owners voted on. Meanwhile, basketball is just beginning the excruciating marathon brawl between the players and management, but we'll worry about that some other time.
Baseball is back from the break, and heading into the dog days of summer, while football is (maybe?) back from the dead. Now that the lockout is moving into last-gasp territory, the Derek Jeter chase for 3,000 has come and gone and it's looking like Jose Reyes won't be traded, three of the big stories of the last three-plus months will move aside for other stories and big news that will be coming down the road very shortly. The NFL free-agent frenzy (next week, please?) will be action-packed and ferocious, and the two local baseball teams will be wheeling and dealing, but for different reasons of course. So if you look down one road, there's the Bronx Bombers hoping to add missing pieces to yet another championship. Peek down another street, and there's the Mets, balancing precariously on the fence, attempting to build something for the future. Squint down another avenue, and there are the owners and players of the and squabbling yet at the same time furiously getting ready for the season. But don't bother turning in the NBA's direction. There's nothing to see down there yet; it's nothing but a dead end. But with baseball's trade deadline and the NFL almost back in action, that's enough to keep us occupied for the foreseeable future.
And now on to the top stories in the world of New York sports.
The End (Or the Beginning of the Future?): When the second half of the season commenced for the Mets last Friday, they set out to prove to Sandy Alderson that the team shouldn't be broken up, that they deserved to make a stab at the wild card. Well, even though they eventually got Reyes and Beltran back in the lineup on Tuesday, and they never say die and give their fans a bucketful of thrills (thank you, Angel Pagan), they just haven't been able to win enough to convince objective onlookers. Lose one, win one, lose two, win two, lose one just isn't going to cut it. What the Mets really needed was a nice 10-game winning streak, which they just haven't been able to string together. Whatever happens in the next week, it will most likely be too little, too late. But that just might be a good thing for the Mets' future. Hope is always good, but false hope is another story. At any rate, has Beltran played his last home game at Citi Field? If that's the case, let's take a moment to appreciate the greatest center fielder the Mets have ever had.
Treading Water: The Yankees began the second half of the season by splitting two four-game series. One night, Curtis Granderson lost a ball in the dome ceiling down in Tampa and Boone Logan failed to turn what should have been an inning-ending double play, which doomed the team, but the following evening, Granderson blasted a two-run homer and crashed into a wall to make a spectacular catch while Logan blew away Casey Kotchman with mid-90s heat to get out of a jam. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were putrid in Toronto, but fantastic against the Rays. That's the way it's gone for the Yanks -- good and bad hitting, good and bad pitching, good and bad fielding. Not even the consistent brilliance of CC Sabathia was good enough on Thursday, as the offense could only muster up one run. The Bombers already have the wild card pretty much sewn up, but they're now two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the division battle.
And Away We Go (We Hope): "At the end of the day, to me there is no such thing as no hometown discount." And with those words from Antonio Cromartie, we're ready for some real off-season football action. Free agency will be as smooth and subtle as a pack of wild dogs going after a leftover, forgotten bag of White Castle burgers. The Giants and Jets may have somewhat of an advantage over a few teams since they have the same coaching staff coming back, along with many key players who have been with the teams for years now. Of course, there will be holes to fill (Cromartie may be leaving for one), but neither team is rebuilding, implementing a new system or breaking in a new quarterback, so they have that going for them. Now all we have to do is keep our fingers crossed that the players and owners don't blow the whole thing. But one thing we know is that no one will have Kris Jenkins on their team, as the defensive tackle announced his retirement on Wednesday. He played a total of 10 seasons (three with the Jets), and recorded 24 sacks. As good as it was, how better would the Jets' defense have been the last two years if he would have been able to stay on the field for more than seven games?
This Year's Model (Plus Other Hockey News): The New Jersey Devils have finally named a new coach, and the winner is Pete DeBoer, who spent the last three seasons behind the Florida ' bench, compiling a 103-107-36 record, without a playoff appearance. He was a two-time Coach of the Year in the OHL, though. David Clarkson is on board with the hiring: "I had him as coach in junior. I just have a lot of respect for him. He knows what it takes to win." With big names like Ken Hitchcock out there, the Devils' GM surprised everyone yet again. Lou Lamoriello works in mysterious ways. In bad news for New Jersey, Mike Emrick announced he will be stepping down as the voice of the Devils, but will remain with NBC and Versus to call games. He was classy, smooth and always had the right word at the right time at his disposal. Devils broadcasts will never be the same. In good news for the New York Rangers, they signed Brandon Dubinsky to a four-year, $16.8 million contract. Will he jump up to the first line and play with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik?
This Year's Schedule (Maybe): The NBA schedule was released this week, though it just may be wishful thinking. The New York Knicks have been bumped up to marquee status once again, with 22 nationally televised games. Highlights include opening night at the new, improved Garden against the Miami Heat and their Big Three (or is it Big Two? or maybe just Big One?), and a Christmas afternoon clash with the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Nets remain in second-class-citizen land, with zero nationally televised games. Their last-ever home game in New Jersey (well, unless they move back to the Garden State for a third time) will be April 18 against the Chicago Bulls, and then it's off to Brooklyn.