Here are some of the highlights, lowlights, scandals, trades and car accidents of the past week in the New York sports world.
Nate-Gate: The surging Knicks have won three games in a row, they’re spreading the ball around on offense and playing solid team defense – yes, defense (somewhere Dave DeBusschere is smiling).
They’re moving up in the standings, but Nate-Gate is in full bloom, with chants of “We want Nate” raining down from the Garden faithful while Nate Robinson is tethered to the bench. Whenever he doesn’t play, the Knicks win, so the erratic guard may never see action again. Shooting at the wrong basket, too much goofing around and breezily fraternizing with the enemy have done him in.
After realizing that he’s getting paid $4 million to watch NBA games a few times a week and is getting front row seats to boot, he’s not complaining, and is settling into his role as the Knicks’ Little Bit o’ Luck guy.
He’s starting to make himself at home on the bench, dressing in a robe and slippers with his dog, Waffles, sitting on his lap. He’s set up a George Foreman Grill and mini fridge near his chair and has the latest copies of Field and Stream and Prevention nearby for some light reading during timeouts.
Next on Mike D’Antoni ’s DNP-CD list: Oliver Perez and Michal Rozsival .
N-E-T-S, Nets, Nets, Nets! The nightmare has ended! Sure, for a while it looked like they might go 0-82 and Tiger Woods has more girlfriends than the Nets will have wins this year, but the first victory is always the hardest (well, if you’ve already lost 18, it is).
After that first elusive win, the Nets have caught fire, winning one of their next three games (that qualifies as being “on fire” when you’re the Nets).
Hatred: “Dallas is a team that I just absolutely can’t stand. I’ve hated Dallas ever since I knew anything about football,” says Brandon Jacobs .
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned, healthy hatred. Beating a loathed rival is not only fun and satisfying, it’s good for the soul. And the Giants needed to beat the Cowboys to save their season.They’ve now beaten Dallas twice but the Cowboys (and Eagles) are still ahead of them in the standings.
There’s no hatred like a Dallas hatred, but coming in second is the Eagles. And the Giants get their crack at them this Sunday night. It’s another must-win, and a chance to get back at Philly, who have owned the Giants recently.
Baseball Hot Stove: The Yankees upgraded in center field with the acquisition of Curtis Granderso n .
The former Tiger hits home runs, he’s fast, he’s under 30, he has a reasonable contract, he’s a good guy and the tabloids will have a field day with puns on his last name. Sure, his strikeouts are up, his OPS is down, he can’t hit lefties and giving up top-prospect Austin Jackson may have been somewhat surprising, but the deal was worth it.
Andy Pettitte is back, at $11.75 million. And Brian Bruney was shipped off to the Washington Senators for Del Unser , or was it the Nationals for their Rule 5 draftee (those old-school Senators hats they wear always confuse me)?
Meanwhile, the Mets are most likely just laying in the weeds because we all know how cagey and crafty Omar Minaya is, always outsmarting his peers. Ok, actually they don’t want to overpay for free agents for a change (or are they just being cheap?), but every other team is doing just that, splurging for mid-level, injury-prone pitchers, which is making life more difficult for the Mets.
They did make offers to Bengie Molina and Jason Bay , though. But whether they should have is another question.
103 Shutouts: Martin Brodeur tied Terry Sawchuk ’s mark of 103 shutouts this week.
We know all about Brodeur, who’s breaking just about every goaltending record there is these days, but what about Sawchuk? He played 971 games (1949-’70, for Detroit, Boston, Toronto, LA and the Rangers), had a record of 447-330-172 and a 2.51 goals against average. He backstopped four Stanley Cup winners, won four Vezina trophies, pla
yed in 11 All-Star games, had his #1 retired by the Red Wings and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1971.
And, unfortunately, he knew what pain and suffering was. A lifetime of hunching over caused him to walk with a permanent crouch and resulted in an affliction called lordosis, preventing him from sleeping for more than a few hours at a time.
And here’s a laundry list of injuries and ailments compiled over his career: He had three operations on his right elbow, a broken instep, a collapsed lung, an appendectomy, ruptured discs in his back and severed tendons in his hand. Oh yeah, he had about 400 stitches sewed to his face before he started wearing a mask in 1962. And on top of all that, he suffered from depression.
After the 1969-’70 season (playing for the Rangers), he got into a fight with teammate Ron Stewart and died shortly thereafter due to internal injuries attained in the fisticuffs.
The life of a goalie can be tough and lonely, especially in Sawchuk’s era when there were no backups, no goalie coaches, no masks and no Jacques Lemaire keeping you safe with a defense-is-everything system.
You Can’t Stop Him, You Can Only Try to Contain Him: Islander defensemen Brendan Witt was hit by an SUV on Tuesday morning on the streets of Philadelphia and then played against the Flyers that night.
The car made an illegal left turn, hit Witt and he slid across the hood then crashed to the pavement. He bounced right up, declared that he was ok because he was “a hockey player” and casually strolled off on his merry way, with many onlookers not believing what they just saw.
This qualifies him as my new hero. I know Philly has some tough fans, but trying to kill an opposition player? That’s a new one.
Even Steven: The Rangers played three games this week, and totaled three points. For the season, they’ve played 30 games and have 30 points. Yes, you can quantify mediocrity.
And apparently, it has all been Matt Gilroy ’s fault, as he was sent down to Hartford yesterday. Michal Rozsival continues to live a charmed life with no consequences for his putrid play.
Out With a Knee: Mark Sanchez will sit out Sunday’s game vs. Tampa Bay because of his sprained right knee. Sanchez is “mad as a hornet” about it, so Rex Ryan is inviting Nate Robinson to Jets practice to tutor the QB on the proper technique for sitting out a game.