Thursday, January 31, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I'm a Giants fan. Been a Giants fan since I knew what a football was. My favorite players were named Ron Johnson and Spider Lockhart. I was a Giants fan when Joe P. at QB muffed a last-second play that the Eagles Herm Edwards ran back for a game-winning touchdown. Before Tuna and L.T. and Phil Simms. Before there was even an endzone at the Meadowlands to bury Jimmy Hoffa in.

You get it? I'm a BIG fan. And yet. And yet, the Super Bowl hype is boring me to fucking tears. So little of interest, it's killing me. Let's just play the damn game already.

I can't move up the game but I can provide some intermission from the boredom. Here then are a few recent photos from my hood.

I'll be back before Sunday to offer my Super Bowl predictions.

The first photo is out my back door, taken around 7 a.m. PST. Yep, that's a sun RISE folks. Pretty awesome, ain't it? The second one is the same view later in the date, taken during a lull from recent storms. And the third was taken Tuesday morning around 2:30 a.m., of the moon as it was disappearing behind some clouds.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mets Major Move

What a week to be a New York sports fan, providing you root for the Mets and the Giants. In a move that surprised a lot of experts, the Mets made a deal for Twins lefty Johan Santana on Tuesday, giving them the number one starter they badly needed without having to give up crucial players.

In fact, this deal should go down in history as a major theft, considering how little the Mets had to give up for the best best left-handed pitcher in the majors. None of the prospects the Mets gave up were considered "can't miss" prospects and even though the Mets will have to pay Santana a boatload of cash, his history, his arm motion, his intelligence and talent ought to make it a rare time when paying a pitcher millions over several years makes sense.

Rumors say Santana isn't totally healthy but I'm thinking that Boston and the Yankees, the other front runners for Santana's services, just didn't want to risk trading viable major-league ready players for the expensive services of Santana. I feel the Yankees made a big mistake because Santana would have been an instant upgrade to their pitching staff, a staff I think is overrated, certainly as yet unproven.

The Red Sox, just off a second World Series title in four years, probably did the right thing by backing off. Trading Jacob Ellsbury, their young, electrifying centerfielder, would have been a huge mistake in part because they just don't "need" Santana. Sure, he'd be great at the front of their rotation but with their young pitching talent already making a name for themselves on the major-league level, with a presumably more comfortable and better adjusted Daisuke Matsuzak, and the hottest pitcher in the majors at the front of their rotation, I'd say getting Santana was not as important as keeping Ellsbury and Jon Lester.

The Mets need Santana in the worst way. He turns them into legit World Series contenders and more important, almost stops the talk about last season's end-of-the-year collapse. Almost. George Vecsey over at the New York Times couldn't help but bring it up today. I think he's wrong, wrong, wrong. I'll get to why as we get closer to the season.

Santana is not only talented but the guy is a serious gamer. A winner who has intelligence and ability and a penchant for rising to the occasion. He will thrive in New York, the hotter the spotlight, the better he'll play. Mark this down but for my money, Johan Santana is going to mean to the Mets what Josh Beckett meant to the Red Sox last year.

As for the Super Bowl, it's only day three of the week of the big game and I'm already over the hype. And I'm a Giants fan. It took more than half of the two week break between the title games and the Super Bowl for controversy to rear it's ugly head.

Oh and to the chick from Mexican t.v. who showed up in the wedding dress yesterday -- thanks for making it even harder for women reporters to get respect. Really. Thanks a whole fucking lot. Maybe you can show up at Jets games next year to entertain the Neanderthals.

Monday, January 21, 2008


It's been so crazy here with the strike and work and post-New Year's nonsense that I haven't had time to mosey over here to post anything. So much to post about, too. Still, I guess I needed a serious kick in the ass to get going again.

Who knew it would come from my formerly hapless hometown Giants?

A brief recap for those of you who don't know what ESPN means:

The New York (football) Giants began the season with a highly-touted, under-performing quarterback who happened to be the son and younger brother of world beaters at his position. In fact, said QB Eli Manning's older bro, Peyton, the QB of the Indianapolis Colts, won last year's Super Bowl. Eli, though, was this close to be considered a wash out. The Giants number one rusher had retired and then criticized the team and the coach. The coach, Tom Coughlin, was hanging by the tips of his finger nails, his dour, unsunny disposition having worn out its welcome long ago in his locker room.

On top of all that, the Giants dropped the first two games of the season, giving up nearly 100 points in the process. Here they were at halftime of Game 3 in the visitor's locker room at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Maryland, down 17-3 to the as yet unscathed Washington Redskins.

Ah, but it was about that time that the plot began to thicken.

Somehow, the Giants defense found itself and Eli Manning led the offensive to 21 unanswered points to turn the hopeless deficit into a win and set the stage for what is turning into a dream season. For one, the Giants ended the game with an inspired goal-line stand to seal the win, stuffing Washington RB Ladell Betts on fourth-and-goal in the final minute.

But there was something else even more important about that game, though less obvious. It was played on the road. Since that game, the Giants have won nine more games on the road -- a total of 10 straight including the playoffs which is a new NFL record. At one time during the season they even played the Dallas Cowboys for position of first place in the NFC. But along the way, the Giants lost some key games -- all at home ironically. There was the drubbing by the Vikings, for example, the nadir of Eli's worst, where he threw four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

Still, their season remained in doubt up until the second-to-the-last game of the year when they went up to Buffalo following an awful loss to Washington in New York. They even trailed against the mediocre Bills, until something clicked and they ran away with the fourth quarter in the 38-21 victory. That game officially won them a playoff spot, rendering the last game of the season meaningless, right? Not so fast, sports fans.

That game, which I talked about here, turned out to be a huge boost for a team that was, even in its 16th and final regular season game, was still searching for an identity. Improbably, they found themselves in a game they lost on national television before one of the biggest audiences of the year.

That game, against the then 15-0 New England Patriots started the Giants on this unlikely run to the Super Bowl. The Patriots used most of their starters that day. They had something to play for -- being the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to finish a season undefeated. The Giants had nothing, really. Playing their starters would be risky -- there’s always the possibility someone important would be injured and since their first-round opponent was already decided (Tampa Bay, which rested its starters once the team secured the postseason), they were giving them more information about their formations and plays.

But Coach Tom Coughlin, who had shown a surprising ability to change his coaching ways from the start of training camp, decided to go for the win against the Patriots. His team wanted it, the fans wanted it and, as he later admitted, he thought that playing the Patriots would show his team where they stood in relation to the best in the NFL.

What it showed in a fabulous back-and-forth game in which the Giants held a late 12-point lead before falling 38-35, is that they could more than hold their own. They realized as a team that they weren’t that far behind the elite teams.

In the NFL, confidence is often understated. The game is physical yes, but it’s emotional too and it requires tremendous mental focus and controlled emotions to withstand the physical intensity on the field. We’ve seen so-called lessor teams beat better ones time and time again because they were more focused, more intense (hell, we saw it last week when the Giants beat the Cowboys).

The Giants have gone on to win three intensely physical games in the last three weeks -- beating a tough defense down in Tampa Bay, a very, very good team in the Cowboys and then yesterday, matching the physical, mano y mano style of the Packers with their own, tougher mentality.

On one of the first plays by the Giants offense, 6-4, 265-pound running back Brandon Jacobs literally ran over cornerback Charles Woodson, putting him on his wallet. It was a statement of the Giants willingness to be more physical than the Packers in their own house in conditions that everybody seemed to think favored Green Bay.

In that game, the Giants dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football, and only their own mistakes kept the game close. Once the two teams took the field and the game began to unfold, it was the Giants game to lose. And they nearly lost it too. But they didn’t and now they’re heading to Arizona to play in the Super Bowl.

Over the next two weeks leading up to the big game, I’ll be posting about the Giants and football in general and other odds and ends.