New York Giants Facing Playoff Elimination
Wasn’t really worried too much about the Giants‘ three game losing streak heading into last Sunday’s game against San Diego. Despite the skid, they were still just a game behind Dallas and Philadelphia with divisional matchups with each remaining on the schedule. While the defense had been suffering ever since Safety Kenny Phillips was lost for the season, talented pass rushers like Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora were certainly talented enough to make the necessary adjustments and, oh yeah, there was still a Super Bowl MVP calling signals. There was every reason to believe the October skein was merely a hiccup. Until the Giants last possession.
Up 17-14 with a little more than two minutes left, Big Blue found itself facing a third and goal situation from the Chargers’ nine yard line and a chance to put the game away. A quick slant to Steve Smith, a fade to Hakeem Nicks or anything else in the book that allows Eli Manning to make a play was certainly in order. In the broadcast booth, Phil Simms was absolutely sure the Jints would pass, because, “You go for the win.” Stunningly, however, head coach Tom Coughlin took that moment to let the football world know exactly what the state of his team is by calling for a nice, safe dive play that netted five yards and a field goal opportunity. The kick produced a 20-14 lead that gave new life to San Diego and its quarterback, Philip Rivers, who took full advantage. Rivers led a beautiful, two-minute drive that gave the Chargers a one point victory and the Giants a lot of questions to answer.
In sports, there is nothing worse than being called a choker. Coming up small in a big situation is an athlete’s greatest sin. Like pornography, choking is something you can’t really define but recognize immediately when you see it. In trying to avoid a loss rather than secure victory, Coughlin not only choked but sent a message to his players that his confidence in them is waning. With a brutal sevn game slate to finish the season, the Giants can forget about a playoff berth if if they don’t believe in each other. Just twenty months removed from a Super Bowl title and four weeks after a 5-0 start, they’re in danger of turning into a middle-of-the-pack team. If that happens, look no further than an early November dive play on third and nine as to when it started.
Knicks Basketball Impossible to Watch
They say the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have one. So, OK, I’ll admit it. I thought I could handle it; thought it wasn’t hurting me; thought I could stop. But I can’t. It’s time for me to come clean. I’ve been watching the Knicks.
I can’t help it. I thought things would get better after Isiah Thomas left town, (Yes, I watched when he was here, too.) Then, when they got rid of Stephon Marbury, I thought my problems were solved. I mean, Head Coach Mike D’Antoni was bringing his up-tempo style to New York while President Donnie Walsh was exorcising almost all of Thomas’ bad contracts. Things had to get better, didn’t they? All I needed to do was hang on for a year and wait for LeBron James to come aboard. On closer examination, however, I’ve discovered I can’t make it.
I played men’s league basketball for over twenty years at St. Pat’s Church in Brooklyn; mostly for the exercise and camaraderie. I had no idea that we were actually building the model used to assemble the current Knicks’ squad. When we had the ball, it was one pass, maybe a second, and a three point shot. When the other guys had it, we simply stood around and waited to get it back. Who knew this intricate system would be the one chosen to carry the Knicks back to respectabilty?
Seriously, this team is such a mess that I can’t imagine any free agent, let alone James, agreeing to sign on. What the Knicks put out on the floor every night is an unwatchable mix of three point shots by bad shooters, a never ending layup line for opponents and twelve guys looking to pad their stats in order to impress potential suitors for a new contract. Since they know the Knicks have no plans for them past this season; I’m not entirely sure that’s something for which they can really be blamed.
It’s scary to think that the Knicks will actually be worse next year if Walsh fails to lure a premier free agent. There will be no help coming in the draft, either, as Utah owns what will surely be New York’s lottery pick; a little parting gift from Isiah. The only consolation then is the one we must hang our hats on now: At least they’re better than the Nets.
Mets’ GM Minaya Looks For Help
Eighty five shopping days until Pitchers and Catchers and the Mets head into the offseason reportedly split on how to patch their M*A*S*H* unit of a roster. Rumors out of CitiField have some of the brass advocating the pursuit of high end free agents with others banking on the health of returning stars and signing second-tier help. Either way, GM Omar Minaya had better get things worked out or this will be his last shopping season in blue and orange.
The Mets desperately need another starter and a big bat in left field. Now, I don’t think it’d be the worst thing to take a pass on sluggers Matt Holliday and Jason Bay as someone like Jermaine Dye would come much cheaper and still help. But to let Angels’ ace John Lackey sign with another team would be a decision from which the Amazins’ would not recover. Lackey brings a Santana-like toughness to the mound and, with Johan, would give the Mets the kind of one-two punch that’s hard to beat in a short series; be it regular season or playoffs. He also possesses a tenacity that hasn’t been seen in the Mets’ dugout for a while. Get the deal done, Omar.
Happy 17th Birthday to my favorite cheerleader and brand new driver, Lindsay Mayrose. Be careful on the roads and always call home.