By Jeff Freier on April 23rd, 2010 10:24 AM
The first round of the NFL draft was held last night, and the local teams’ picks were somewhat surprising, with the Giants selecting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and the Jets nabbing cornerback Kyle Wilson. Hopefully neither will be a bust, but Pierre-Paul is the riskier pick. Ryan Leaf is probably considered the all-time draft bust, and Big Blue and Gang Green have come up with a few of their own: Rocky Thompson, Cedric Jones, Ron Dayne, Johnny “Lam” Jones – and is it time to put Vernon Gholston on this list? Here are a few other little-known draft snafus throughout the years; they’re not necessarily busts as much as misguided thinking: One GM drafted his five-year-old son as a birthday present for him; a GM in the 1990s drafted Heather Locklear because he was a huge Melrose Place fan and was hoping she would show up at training camp so he could meet her; an AFC GM back in the mid-’70s chose Anson Williams in the first round because he loved the actor’s antics as Potsie on Happy Days; a GM in the late-’60s accidentally drafted himself after pounding down a few too many Harvey Wallbangers; one GM mistakenly drafted a player who had already been on his team for five years; another drafted Johnny Unitas even though the Hall-of-Fame quarterback had been retired for 20 years (“He’d still be better than the guy I’ve got,” reasoned the executive); one GM drafted Harpo Marx for his football prowess in Horse Feathers; a GM in the ’80s drafted a slice of Key lime pie because he was hungry; and another GM panicked after he made his first-round selection and drafted the same player in every following round when the pages in his draft binder got stuck together by barbecue sauce.
Here are the top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
Jason Taylor’s a Jet: If Leo Durocher can manage the Giants and Sal Maglie can pitch for Brooklyn and Derek Sanderson, Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge can play for the Rangers and Luis Tiant can pitch for the Yankees and Roger Clemens can pitch for the Yankees and Tom Glavine can pitch for the Mets and Johnny Damon can play for the Yankees then I guess Jason Taylor can play for the Jets. But it still doesn’t seem right, though, does it?
Here’s Ike: Mets fans are starved for something positive, and the arrival of Ike Davis has them all in a frenzy. He paid immediate dividends by going two for four in his debut, and drove in a run. For the week, he batted .400 (6 for 15), and made an acrobatic catch while flipping into the dugout on Wednesday. Having him in the lineup full-time also puts Fernando Tatis on the bench, where he can help the team the most, as we saw with his pinch-hit home run on Tuesday.
Now Who’s Crazy? In a span of six days, Mike Pelfrey picked up two wins and notched a save. Who would have thought that he’d be 3-0, with a 0.86 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and have a 19-inning shutout streak going? His parents? His grandmother? That’s probably about it. There’s no more craziness on the mound, he’s focused and he’s using his new splitter, which all add up to a maturing pitcher.
The Bronx Bombers: The Yankees swept Texas and took two out of three in Oakland this week, leaving them with the second best record in baseball. And they can hit. They hit for average (.269, third in the AL), they get on base (.372, first in AL), they hit for power (.459, first in AL), they hit with runners in scoring position (.277, fourth in AL), they hit with runners in scoring position with two outs (.301, third in AL) and they score runs (81, third in AL). Oh, and they can pitch, too. Andy Pettitte has a 1.35 ERA, Phil Hughes has a 2.19 ERA and almost threw a no-hitter, A.J. Burnett has a 2.37 ERA, even with a couple of shaky starts CC Sabathia has a 3.00 ERA, and even Javier Vazquez won a game. Derek Jeter suffered through a cold this week – that’s what passes for a crisis in Yankee Land these days. Oh yeah, they even turned a triple play, for Pete’s sake.
Series Shakedown: The Mets won their first series of the year, taking three out of four from the Cubs, and went 4-3 this week. Meanwhile, the Yankees are only the third team to win five consecutive series to start a season after winning the World Series the previous year. The New York Giants did it in 1922, and Boston accomplished that feat in 1904 (thanks to Ken Singleton for that tidbit).
Faux-Rod: Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the year on Saturday, which gave him 584 for his career, passing Mark McGwire on the all-time homer list. His bat was immediately taken in for questioning by the FBI (“What did you know and when did you know it?”). Of course, his dinger just makes him part of the “faux all-time home run list,” with Barry Bonds as its king (and A-Rod’s such a phony bonehead that he even pretended not to know that he passed McGwire, which puts him on the all-time false humility list). Much was made of A-Rod’s accomplishment, but what was mainly ignored was the little detail of his cheating. If you think A-Rod only took PEDs while he was playing in Texas, I have a swamp, a couple of bridges and some old gym shorts to sell you. Yeah, I know, there wasn’t any player testing until 2002, but steroids have been illegal in the U.S. since the 1980s, and they’ve been on major league baseball’s banned substances list since 1991, when Fay Vincent was commissioner, so it’s really never been “ok” for players to use them. So all the A-Rods, Bonds and McGwires can hit all the home runs they want, but Hank Aaron and Roger Maris are still the real home run kings.
One and Done: The Devils found themselves down three games to one going into Thursday’s game, just as they were in 2000. Then-coach Larry Robinson famously threw a garbage-can-tossing tirade to inspire his team to win the series. He stole a page out of his old Canadiens’ coach Scotty Bowman’s book, who once stuffed 5’ 7” Yvan Cournoyer into a garbage can during the 1976 playoffs and pushed him down the Montreal Forum stairs. This year Jacques Lemaire used another old Bowman method of inspiration – threatening to trade an underperforming player for Pierre Larouche, as the Habs once did with Peter Mahovlich. The 54-year-old Larouche sat right behind the Devils bench glaring at the New Jersey players with an icy stare throughout game five, never losing eye contact. The ploy didn’t work, however, as the Devils were eliminated in the first round for the third straight season.
20 Innings: The Mets played their fourth game in franchise history of 20 or more innings on Saturday, when they defeated the Cardinals, 2-1. Luckily for Keith Hernandez the game was broadcast by FOX. Can you imagine if the Mets announcer had to sit there for over seven hours? His mustache would have exploded. Here are some highlights from the other three marathons the Mets have played: May 31, 1964 – The Mets lost to the Giants, 9-6, in 23 innings at Shea. And it was the second game of a doubleheader! The game lasted seven hours and 23 minutes. Gaylen Cisco pitched the last nine innings for the Mets and was tagged with the loss, while Gaylord Perry pitched 10 innings in relief for the Giants and picked up the win. Two Alou brothers played for the Giants (Matty and Jesus) and went a combined 4-16, while right fielder Joe Christopher went 4-10 with a home run and three ribbies for the Mets. April 15, 1968 – Houston defeated the Mets, 1-0, at the Astrodome, in a 24-inning, six-hour-and-six-minute pitcher’s duel. The winning run scored when a groundball went through second baseman Al Weis’ legs. Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda both went 0-10, and Tom Seaver started the game and pitched 10 shutout innings. September 11, 1974 – The Mets were beaten, 4-3, by the Cardinals in 25 innings. The game lasted seven hours and four minutes, and ended when Bake McBride singled to lead off the 25th inning, and Hank Webb made a throwing error trying to pick him off first, with McBride racing all the way around the bases to score. Keith Hernandez had to sit through this one, though, as he pinch hit for the Cards. Dave Schneck went 2-11, Felix Millan 4-11 and Wayne Garrett 0-10 for the Mets. Jerry Koosman started and pitched nine innings while Jerry Cram pitched eight innings in relief for New York. Claude Osteen threw 9.1 innings in relief for St. Louis. The 1974 Mets were also the only team in baseball history to have players named Cram and Schneck on the same team. It was in fact the only time in the history of the world two people with the names Cram and Schneck ever met.