By Jeff Freier on April 16th, 2010 10:19 AM
The Yankees received their World Series rings in their home opener on Tuesday, with Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra on hand to pass them out. After criticizing the Yankees’ spending last week, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was caught spying on the ceremony while hiding behind some bushes. As he was led away to the Yankee Stadium jail that’s set up for disgruntled Yankee haters, he was heard mumbling that the Bronx Bombers spent more on their rings than the whole Brewers franchise is worth.
For the record, here are a few other cost comparisons between the wealthy Yankees and the small-market Brewers: More money has fallen out of Alex Rodriguez’s pocket than Prince Fielder spends on his yearly grocery bill; Derek Jeter’s splurge-fest on bottle service at VIP sections of nightclubs throughout New York City is 10 times more than the payroll of the Brewers bullpen; Joba Chamberlain spent more on off-season twirling and fist-pump lessons than Milwaukee did on overseas scouting; A.J. Burnett’s 2009 shaving-cream pie budget was extensively more than the Brewers paid Ryan Braun; Nick Swisher spends more money on one haircut than the Brewers pay their manager and coaching staff for the year; the money spent by the Yankees to exhume Bill Dickey so he can teach Jorge Posada how to catch a curveball and call a game far exceeded Milwaukee’s minor-league budget; it cost the Yankees more for the material for all their World Series flags than it did for the Brewers to build Miller Park. But all the complaining from the Brewers is canceled out because they are actually going to spend money to build a statue of Bud Selig for display outside their stadium, and they have the nerve to place it near the statues of Hank Aaron and Robin Yount. A statue for the guy who canceled the World Series, oversaw the steroids era, forced an All-Star game to end in a tie, brought us the pain and suffering of interleague play, World Series games in November and made the game un-fan-friendly with every move he made? The bratwurst from Milwaukee’s sausage race deserves it more than that guy.
Here are the top stories in the world of New York sports this week.
The End: The Rangers played two somewhat important games this week – ok, they were the most important games in the history of mankind (well, almost). The first game was a thriller, with the Rangers beating the Flyers, 4-3. The team that played on Friday wasn’t the same Ranger team we watched for the first five-and-a-half months of the season. Somewhere along the line they got an identity transplant – maybe when the Artem Anisimov/Brandon Prust/Jody Shelley line was thrown together. The victory set up a game-seven-like match for the finale. Unfortunately, the Rangers stunk. Only Henrik Lundqvist saved them from getting blown out. And to lose in a shootout to decide a season? Thanks, Gary Bettman (I’d say that even if the Rangers won). So the Rangers’ season was like a sandwich – two successful stretches at the beginning and end of the year wrapped around a big piece of dung in the middle. Ok, a foul-tasting sandwich. (Note: The draft lottery was held on Tuesday, and the Rangers get the 10th pick.)
Crush! Kill! Destroy! The Yankees’ $200 million machine is rolling right through the beginning of the season, taking three consecutive series against the cream of the crop in the AL. They started the week off poorly on Friday when Javier Vazquez was rocked for eight runs, but it was nothing but sunshine and lollipops for them the rest of the week (well, except when Vazquez pitched again and was booed off the mound). CC Sabathia flirted with a no-hitter into the eighth inning of the Yanks’ 10-0 win on Saturday, but Joe Girardi said he would have taken him out after eight innings anyway – are you kidding me? Big picture, long season, blah, blah, blah. Come on, Joe, look what happened to the Colts when they didn’t go for history. The other big news for the Bronx Bombers was the home opener and the handing out of their World Series rings. Gene Monahan was on hand, and old teammate Hideki Matsui was there as well. Derek Jeter played a practical joke on his old friend – he insisted that the Yankees not sign him this winter so the DH would have to go play in Anaheim. Matsui had a good laugh when the Yankee shortstop confessed to him before the game that it was Jeter’s crazy sense of humor that forced Matsui to go play for the Angels. And fittingly, it was the old core of Jeter, Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera who starred in the first game of the year at Yankee Stadium III.
Big Pelf, Little Mets: Mike Pelfrey opened and closed the week for the Mets with two outstanding performances. Yesterday’s start could have been one of the best outings of his career, striking out six without walking anybody. He’s now 2-0, with a 1.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Things are looking up for him. The bullpen has surprised everybody, and is looking like one of the team’s strengths. Jeff Francoeur has been on fire since opening day. And David Wright‘s hitting home runs and is a base on balls machine (13 in nine games). Things couldn’t be better for the Mets. Oh yeah, I forgot about those four games in between the Pelfrey starts. There was the Johan Santana game, the Oliver Perez game, the John Maine game and the Jon Niese game. The team was already talking about feeling the pressure, pressing and wanting to get out of town – I didn’t think that would happen until at least May. They can’t hit with runners in scoring position. And they’re still asleep on the field half the time (hello, Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo). It was a rough start to the season, and it can get late early around here, so they better start to pick it up. Yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day around the major leagues, but whenever I see a Met wearing #42 I get flashbacks to Butch Huskey waving at a breaking ball in the dirt for strike three.
Thank God It’s Over: Has there ever been a basketball season around these parts worse than this one? The Knicks finished the year with a loss on Friday to Orlando, a loss to Miami on Sunday, a win over the Wizards on Monday and a final loss to Toronto on Wednesday. About the only thing they’ve done right in the last five years was to draft David Lee. He works hard, is easy to root for and is the first Knick since Patrick Ewing to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Is this it for his Knick career? I guess it all depends on the free-agent movement this summer. The Knicks cleared up all that cap space, but what if nobody comes to New York? What if they get shut out by the big names? What then? As for the Nets, the only notable event this week (besides the season mercifully ending, with the last game dragging into double overtime as neither team seemingly wanted to win) was that the final game at the Izod Center was played (and even that’s a footnote). Larry Brown’s Charlotte Hornets beat the Nets, which was only fitting as the Nets, with Brown at the helm, lost the first game there, also, to the Knicks, 103-99, on October 30, 1981. That was the first NBA game for Buck Williams and Albert King.
The New Jets: After acquiring “troubled” receiver Braylon Edwards and “troubled” cornerback Antonio Cromartie, the Jets traded for the “troubled” Santonio Holmes. He won’t be available to the Jets for the first four games of the season as he was suspended for one of the many things he’s done wrong; nobody’s quite sure which one it was, though. The Jets are trying to turn themselves into the old Oakland Raiders or the Portland Jailblazers. Soon they’ll just cut out the middle man, and start recruiting directly from the prison system. They’re the Mean Machine come to life. They’ll surely win next year’s Super Bowl – as long as it’s played against prison guards.
The Other White Meat(s): The Devils beat the Isles, 7-1, on Saturday to clinch the Atlantic Division title and whipped Buffalo on Sunday to wrap up the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Devils make the playoffs every year as surely as the sun comes up every day. But success in the postseason is not as easily assured, as we’ve seen the last seven years. They started off this year’s playoff run with a loss to the Flyers on Wednesday, with Martin Brodeur now 4-12 in his last 16 playoff games. The Islanders finished in last place for the third year in a row, but they were in the playoff picture for much of the year and improved by 18 points from last season. This year was mainly about John Tavares, though. He played in all 82 games, hit a wall halfway through the season, but still totaled 54 points on 24 goals and 30 assists. The Isles will get the fifth pick in the draft this year.