Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Catchin' Up With New York
By Tony Mangia
New York Sports Recap
A lot can happen over the span of ten days in New York City--and especially when you have not read a newspaper or seen one of the talking heads on ESPN for that time span. I just got back from hiking and rock-climbing in California. In other words, I've gone from the quiet, pristine valleys and waterfalls of Yosemite to the smelly, concrete alleys and tourist-flowing sidewalks of Manhattan. Guess where I'd rather be?
Yosemite's 3000 foot wall of granite called El Capitan is a marvel to behold and the athletes who conquer it are as crazy as they are daring. Speaking of captains, what's up with Derek Jeter? Skeptics are jumping all over the Yankee shortstop's recent slump. He is batting around 50 points below his career average of .314. He is having by far his worst statistical season ever and the 36 year-old is in the final months of his contract. Last week he had four hits in 38 at bats. The player's popularity--with teammates and fans alike--could be tested this winter and create a chasm between Hal Steinbrenner and the aging player wider than, well...a Yosemite canyon. Jeter is, after all, the face of the Yankees and maybe all of baseball.
Optimists expect Jeter to return to clutch form when the playoffs begin and others suggest that the streaky hitter will soon enough start another tear. GM Brian Cashman might be giving thought to moving Jeter to another position or using him as the future DH during contract talks, but has only said "That's for another day, for after the season." Yankee players refuse to discuss the situation as well. There is plenty of talk about moving him to a lower spot in the lineup. Look at it this way, the Yankees have the best record in baseball and Derek Jeter is still a good player. Why change now?
One thing I learned about scaling rocks is that it's a lot easier going up than coming down. Ask the Tampa Bay Rays. The weak bats of the Rays continue to haunt the team and a couple of losses to the injury-plagued Red Sox combined with last week's eight game win streak by New York helped the Yankees inch up to a 2 game lead last week.
Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez made his return from the DL to the team a memorable one. An sacrifice RBI gave the third baseman 100 RBIs for the season. He is the first players to have 14 seasons reaching that total. Pretty impressive considering A-Rod spent a lot 0f games on the DL and hiding from the paparazzi with Cameron Diaz.
Fantasy Island Meets Hard Knocks
The New York Jets, with the recent signing of cornerback Darrelle Revis, have anointed themselves Super Bowl contenders. Owner Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan actually flew down to Revis' Florida home and persuaded the all-pro to sign a 4 year $46 million contract. Word has it that Woody threw Rex out of the meeting and sent him to Revis' hot tub. Revis Island has six days to get into game shape. Hope he's got a life preserver because the first three wide receivers he has to cover are Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall.
When Did The Giants Become Contenders?
Last week's Sports Illustrated scouting report had the New York Giants winning the NFC East Division. Where did this come from? A month ago most pundits had the team looking up at the Redskins. The keys to the season are apparent. On offense the Giants must regain their running game. Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off feet surgery and looked good in the pre-season and Brandon Jacobs must return to his old bruising style. The O line is getting old and one or two injuries could be the team's Achilles Heel and young receivers like Steve Smith must come up big again.
Defensively, look for Justin Tuck to have a big year. Osi Umenyiora seems to gotten over his diva complex and if Linebacker Keith Bulluck and safety Kenny Phillips can return to form after knee surgeries count on solid improvement on the defensive side.
The new Meadowlands Stadium (Giants Stadium) can expect about a dozen home victories this season between the Giants and Jets.
Save It For The Video
I'd rather have bedbugs than sit through any match with Maria Sharapova and her porn-style grunting. It's a weird mixture of annoyance and being turned on by her loud bursts of exertion...no, wait...I'm annoyed by it and I'm glad she got bounced from the U.S.Open by Caroline Wozniacki.
I missed the drunk at the Open who started a fight with a woman and her 65 year-old father in the stands. The jackass was loudly cheering the 180th ranked tennis player he bet on. Betting on tennis in the first round? Here's another sure thing--- Angola with 54 points against the USA basketball team.
Everyone likes the mini-treats but when did this cupcake phenomenon begin? Cupcakes are the stars of a dozen television reality shows and their delectable goods seem to dot every block of Manhattan with their $4 red velvet and frosting goodness? Give me a Hostess Snowball any day. The only cupcakes I want to see are Chicago, Jacksonville and Detroit on the New York Giants schedule.