By Jeff Freier on April 9th, 2010 10:12 AM
The Yankees opener, which was a typical American League softball marathon (and umpire Joe West was not happy about it!), didn’t quite go as planned, what with the losing and all. I took a break from the action on TV to grab my daughter, as it was her bed time, and I found her watching the Sound of Music. Julie Andrews had just made clothes for the von Trapp kids out of the drapes in her room – she could have easily put together more than enough outfits for the whole family out of the pants CC Sabathia was sporting on Sunday, too. And that movie is pretty much a carbon copy of my childhood, well, except our governess was called “the TV” and my brothers and I paraded through our town, not singing “Do-Re-Mi,” but the theme to Three’s Company – and the townsfolk pretty much wanted to punch our faces in. Oh, and we didn’t so much escape the Nazis as just our teachers, when we’d skip school.
The Mets opener, on the other hand, couldn’t have gone better. David Wright’s first at bat ended in the best possible outcome for him – a home run (he then gathered his teammates around him in the dugout as he serenaded them with a touching rendition of “Edelweiss”), and a bunch of new guys (Jason Bay, Gary Matthews Jr., Rod Barajas) all made their mark in their debut game for their new team. Of course, the real reason the Mets won was because my daughter wore her Mets/David Wright T-shirt to school that day. Even Citi Field was impressive, with all its new features and spiffed-up changes. A real Mets Hall of Fame? Banners of great players in franchise history? Shea Bridge? The original apple displayed outside the park? Sounds like the Mets actually did something right. Now where’s that giant statue of Ed Kranepool that should be standing outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda?
Here are the top stories in the world of New York sports this past week:
Week One – Yankees: The Yankees started out with a fizzle – with a subpar performance by Sabathia and the bullpen – but there were a few highlights. Curtis Granderson started his Yankee career in style by homering in his first at bat as a Bronx Bomber, and he and Jorge Posada went back to back. It was the first time the Yanks have accomplished that on opening day since Dave Winfield and Steve Kemp did it in 1983, and it was the fourth opening day homer for Posada tying a team record. But those two also had moments they’d like to forget – the new center fielder couldn’t come through in the clutch at the end, and the winning run scored on a passed ball – it looks like Posada’s defense is picking up right where he left off in the playoffs. The second game once again saw poor starting pitching and bad defense, but the bullpen came through, though there’s no word yet on whether Goose Gossage called Joba Chamberlain a clown for his Barnum & Bailey−like antics on the mound. Joba makes Frankie Rodriguez look like a monk out there. And Nick Johnson had a classic Nick Johnson game – two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a hit by a pitch. The only thing missing was a season-ending injury. In the rubber match vs. the Sox, the Yanks got an old-fashioned Andy Pettitte performance and three shutout innings from Chan Ho Park, but it was Granderson who was the hero, when he blasted the game-winning home run in the 10th off of Crazy Joe Davola.
Week One – Mets: It was a perfect opener for the Mets. Johan Santana shrugged off a mediocre spring training and was his old self again, Fernando Nieve and K-Rod combined for three scoreless innings, and the defense and offense came through in the clutch. Even God helped out, as it was a beautiful spring day. Hollywood couldn’t have written a more perfect script. And then in game two of the series, John Maine took the mound and reality set in for the Mets. He was behind in the count and hit hard throughout his five innings of work. And the bullpen (except for K-Rod and Pedro Feliciano) wasn’t much help. The much-anticipated debut of Jenrry Mejia was a disappointment, as the Marlins smoked the ball all over the field against him (send him back down to the minors and let him start!). And Fernando Tatis added a base-running blunder to the mix to help the lost cause. The Mets lost the final game of the series, even though they got a quality outing from Jon Niese and three more scoreless innings from the bullpen. They just couldn’t come up with the big hit (where have we heard that before?). So in the first three games of the season, the Mets received two solid efforts from their starting pitching, two good performances from the bullpen, and they made only one error. But they only hit one home run, couldn’t do much with runners in scoring position and their first basemen are a combined 1 for 13 (while Ike Davis went 3 for 3 in Buffalo’s season opener last night). That adds up to one win.
80 Down, 2 to Go: The Rangers started off the week flying high by sweeping the Florida teams over the weekend, they then lost a debacle of a game in Buffalo, which was a complete turnover-fest, but they rebounded by destroying the nothing-left-to-play-for Maple Leafs. And Brandon Prust has been their best player down the stretch. I’m not exactly sure what that says about the team, though. But I like him. So the Rangers beat up on the bad teams and couldn’t defeat the good teams, but it was enough to stay in playoff contention. And now it all comes down to two games against the hated Flyers. Here’s the rallying cry for the weekend: Win two for Dale Rolfe!
Playing Out the String: The Knicks lost to Golden State on Friday, but David Lee recorded his first career triple double (37 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists) to become the first player to have a 30/20/10 line since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar accomplished the feat on March 5, 1976, also against the Warriors. The Hall-of-Fame center scored 35 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and had 12 assists. Four days later, Keith Moon of the Who also pulled off a triple double by taking three different kinds of tranquilizers and drank two brands of whiskey and then collapsed onstage 10 minutes into a show at the Boston Garden. The Knicks followed up the loss by beating the Clippers on Sunday. And then Nate Robinson returned to the Garden on Tuesday. A video tribute of Robinson’s many times sitting on the bench with a DNP-CD was all ready to roll, but halfway through the game, the team decided to go with a film honoring Earl Barron’s time with the D-League Iowa Energy instead. The newly signed center scored 17 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in his second game with the team, in the Knicks thrilling victory over the Celtics. Danilo Gallinari contributed a career-high 31 points in the win. The Knicks closed out the week with a loss to Indiana on Wednesday, which clinched their third consecutive 50-loss season.
Fighting for First: The Devils are battling to stay ahead of the Penguins for first place in the division. They lost to Chicago in OT on Friday, but came back to beat Carolina, 4-0, on Saturday, and Atlanta, 3-0, on Tuesday. The win over the Hurricanes was the 600th victory for Martin Brodeur, and he hadn’t recorded back-to-back shutouts since 2006. They lost to Florida last night, which leaves them with the exact same record as Pittsburgh. There is some unrest in Newark, though, as Jamie Langenbrunner isn’t happy with coach Jacques Lemaire, who didn’t play the captain against Carolina but still made him fly all the way to the game. The uncommunicative coach had Mike D’Antoni break the news to Langenbrunner that he wasn’t going to play, but since D’Antoni rarely speaks to players himself, the Knick coach had Billy Martin do it, but since the former Yankee manager is dead, the ghost of Martin haunted Fran Healy, who finally told the Devil winger he wasn’t going to play.
Not Going Down Without a Fight: The Nets and Islanders may be long out of contention, but they’re not going away quietly. The Nets beat New Orleans on Saturday, and lost to Washington on Sunday and Milwaukee on Wednesday, but they’re 4-4 in their last eight games, which for them means they are absolutely on fire. And the Islanders won two out of three this week (beating Ottawa on Saturday and Montreal on Tuesday, while losing to the Penguins last night). They’re going out in a blaze of glory, as well, winning five out of their last seven games.