I'll cut out the middle man (me) for this week's introduction, and we'll track the highlights of the week through the plethora of memorable quotes that we heard over the past seven days.
"That's f***ing bull****!" - A.J. Burnett
"You can write what you want and you can say what you want, but he was pissed he thought he struck out Joe Mauer. This is really silly. We had a fistfight. I came in and looked at the pitch. Everybody wants to blow up about A.J. Nothing happened to me and A.J. and I am tired of it. Me and A.J. have mutual respect for each other. People are always looking for A.J. and I am tired of it. Case closed." - Joe Girardi
"It's more a media circus. It's fair to ask the question about what happened, but some don't believe what happened, happened." - Brian Cashman
"I will figure it out." - Burnett
"I [couldn't] care less what they say. I've got a job to do. On the road, they're gonna boo you, simple as that." - Francisco Rodriguez on the fan reaction he received on Saturday at Citi Field
"Thought? No. Hoped? Yes." - Jason Bay on if he thought his double off the wall on Sunday was a home run
"I was happy with the way I felt. Today, I felt great." - Alex Rodriguez on his first game back from the DL
"It's a day that myself and my family have been waiting for that would inevitably come. It just felt good to get back what I love to do so much and that's run around on a football field and score touchdowns, and compete at the highest level of competition playing in this league. It's definitely a privilege to play." - Plaxico Burress, after Sunday's game
"It ain't a bad dream we're going to wake up from. It's reality." - Justin Tuck on the Terrell Thomas injury
"We can't allow ourselves to just play out the season. Hopefully people realize there's a lot on the line going into next year, and we need to try and clean it up and play better baseball." - David Wright
"Just another day in paradise." - Terry Collins, after Tuesday's loss and the news that Jon Niese and Scott Hairston were both injured
"I was wondering why things were moving in my living room. . . . I like things to kind of stand still." - Nick Swisher commenting on Tuesday's earthquake
"The injury report is not something I'm real happy about." - Tom Coughlin
"We're not going to be pitying ourselves, because the teams we're playing this year definitely aren't. You've got to move forward. Does it hurt? Absolutely. But it's football. Every team's going through injuries and have people go down." - Tuck
"Today wasn't my day." - Rafael Soriano
"I don't give a *@#! what they say. That's his opinion. Ask him how he felt when he was in a five-game losing streak. You're on edge." - Collins on Phillies announcer Gary Matthews ridiculously calling the Mets crybabies
"I know our offense is potent, but that even surprised me." - Girardi, after the Yankees' record-setting day on Thursday
"Now you guys know why they moved me behind the plate. . . . Good glove, no throw." - Jorge Posada on playing second base
And now on to the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
He's Back: The New York Jets looked good for the most part in their 27-7 win over the Bengals, with Mark Sanchez again working efficiently (12-for-20, 173 yards), Santonio Holmes scoring a touchdown, Aaron Maybin picking up a sack and a forced fumble and Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard intercepting passes, though the first team offense only gained 16 yards rushing (156 total for the game, but they were missing Shonn Greene, of course) with the offensive line not opening any holes to run through, but the big story was the return of Burress, playing in his first game since 2008. Sanchez went to him on the first play from scrimmage, and in total Burress caught three passes for 66 yards, including a diving touchdown pass, culminating a 99-yard drive. Will Gang Green go to the air more this year and eschew their previous ground-and-pound philosophy? We'll see.
Dropping Like Flies: The New York Chicago Bears, with the special teams improving by leaps and bounds (highlighted by ' three kickoff returns for 138 yards, including a 73-yarder, a blocked punt and Steve Weatherford and Matt Dodge impressing), (48 yards on six carries, 8.0 average, touchdown) rumbling through the defense like the days of old, Domenik Hixon catching a TD pass, the first-string defense holding the Bears to a pair of field goals and a Da'Rel Scott 97-yard touchdown run, though Eli Manning again struggled (though he completed a nifty 21-yard fourth-down pass to Victor Cruz), his receivers are still having trouble catching the ball and the fullback and tight end positions are black holes, but the big story of the game was Thomas' torn ACL. And to add insult to injury, it happened with 22 seconds left in the first half and what was supposed to be his last play of the game. Prince Amukamara is out for a few months, Bruce Johnson is out for the year and even Brian Witherspoon is now also out. Aaron Ross (who had a good game on Monday) takes over, but the Giants are thin almost everywhere on the field now, because, oh yeah, defensive tackle Marvin Austin is also gone for the season, but reinforcements are on the way, with the signings of CB Brian Williams and DT Jimmy Kennedy. We've had floods, an earthquake and now a hurricane is on the horizon -- maybe we should add Big Blue's injuries to the natural disasters that have recently plagued our area.certainly played a lot better this week than their first game, in their dominating 41-13 victory over the
More Football News & Notes: It's official, the New Meadowlands now has its second name in two years, as for the next 25 years it will be called MetLife Stadium, with the Giants and Osi Umenyiora won't be there for another month or so, as he elected to have knee surgery, but he claims his rehab is already going faster than anticipated. And one player who won't be in East Rutherford at all this year, Vernon Gholston, went off on his former coach, Rex Ryan, blaming him for all of all of his shortcomings as a Jet. Gholston might as well have blamed Ryan for Tuesday's earthquake, as well.raking in $16 million a year.
Defending A.J.: It's become a cottage industry in the New York Yankees universe to defend Burnett. They go to lengths unforeseen to protect the shaky right-hander. Sure, they can't just come out and say, "Well, we know he stinks and will most likely not turn things around, but what can we do?" But both Girardi and Cashman are making themselves look ridiculous by not holding Burnett accountable and blowing up at the media. And Burnett continues to make himself look buffoonish, even if he was directing his anger at the umpires, by pointing fingers at everyone but himself. At least Cashman began leaning toward reality as he softened his stance on defending Burnett later in the week by stating that money will not be in the equation when planning their upcoming five-man rotation. In other A.J.-less news this week in which the Yanks went 3-3 and fell back into second place(?), A-Rod returned to the lineup, sprained his thumb, disappeared again, but was back on the field on Thursday, and on Friday, he'll meet with MLB about his alleged high-stakes poker-playing. On Sunday, Ivan Nova won his 13th game, which is the most victories by a Yankee rookie since 1973 when Doc Medich went 14-9 (2.95 ERA, third in the Rookie of the Year voting). Mark Teixeira drove in his 1,000th career run on Friday. And the Bombers put an exclamation point on their memorable week with an unbelievable comeback victory over the A's on Thursday, hitting a record-setting three grand slams and coming away with a 22-9 win. Somewhere up in heaven Phil Rizzuto was heard saying, "Holy cow!"
The Little Team That Couldn't: The feel-good-ness of the 2011 New York Mets' season has quickly disappeared. It doesn't feel so good anymore. The overachieving Little Team That Could has evaporated in the August heat, punctuated with a 1-5 record this week. The bullpen is blowing games left and right (with rumors of Mike Pelfrey being asked to close games next year -- really, the most soft-headed pitcher on the team who becomes unglued at the slightest sense of trouble and can't hold runners on base to boot?), the starters are crumbling before our eyes, the hitters can't hit, the fielders can't field, the base runners can't slide, Jon Niese and (possibly) Scott Hairston have joined the plethora of Mets on the DL and even Citi Field appeared like it was going to burn down on Saturday afternoon. In other words, they're not exactly firing on all cylinders, or not even one cylinder for that matter. But instead of piling on we'll focus on a few bright spots. We know Ruben Tejada is a top-notch fielder, whether he's playing second or short, so if he can find his niche as a high OBP guy (.452 since his August 8th recall) who hits line drives the other way or up the middle maybe he's the team's long-term answer at second (if the Mets re-sign Jose Reyes that is), with Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy as utility backups. Now that the PED/power era has come to an end, teams aren't going to have eight position players who can all hit 30 home runs anymore, so Tejada's lack of power may not be such a handicap. Lucas Duda's OPS (.823) and OPS+ (126) are higher than anybody on the Mets with the exception of Reyes (and Ike Davis if we want to count him). And we know Sandy Alderson isn't going to fill the team with free agents this winter, so Duda just may be the team's right fielder next year. Actually there's one other player who has a higher OPS and OPS+ than Duda, and that's the suddenly red-hot Nick Evans (albeit in only 60 plate appearances), who went crazy at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday afternoon. And Bobby Parnell, though a little shaky, came through with a save in the first game of his tryout as the new closer.
Retired: Lost in all the football, A.J. Burnett, grand slam and fading Mets shuffle was the announcement that Chris Drury retired. The former captain of the New York spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres as well as the Blueshirts, winning a Stanley Cup and the Calder Memorial Trophy. In his four seasons in New York, he played in 264 regular-season games, with 62 goals, 89 assists and 151 points. In 21 playoff games with the team, he accumulated eight points (four goals, four assists). Miscast as a top-line center, he was most effective as a checker and penalty killer, along with being entrusted with crucial faceoffs. His time with the Rangers will be viewed as a disappointment, but his effort and fortitude were never questioned.