Sunday, November 28, 2010

As Gang Green Turns: Smith Is a Cinderfella in Jets Over Bengals 26-10

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: Smith Is a Cinderfella in Jets Win Over Bengals 26-10 on Blogcritics.

There is something about a guy without a shoe scoring a touchdown that has a bit of comedy to it, and something of myth too. Cinderella lost her shoe and gained a prince; wide receiver Brad Smith lost his and helped the New York Jets (9-2) gain a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals (2-9) at New Meadowlands Stadium on Thanksgiving evening. This game was a feast to be sure for fans of Gang Green, and a reason to give thanks for head coach Rex Ryan, who hugged Smith so hard, he may have been thinking that the WR looked better than the turkey and all its trimmings dancing in his head.

This was not a game like the ones in the past few weeks, where the Jets faltered and almost lost to the Lions, Browns, and Texans. In this one the offense clicked in when it had to score points, and the defensive duo of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie helped shut down Terrell (Big Mouth) Owens and company. Owens had made some disparaging comments about Revis earlier in the week, but Revis did his talking on the field, holding TO to just seventeen yards.

The big story of the night was Smith, who took the spotlight away from Santonio Holmes, who had been the hero of the last three games. Smith scored two touchdowns, including one on an 89-yard kick-off return in which he made like Cinderfella. The lost shoe notwithstanding, Smith proved to be the Jets' best offensive weapon in the game.

Sanchez put in an acceptable but lackluster performance, going 16-for-28 for a total of 166 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Something has to change between now and next Monday night in the big showdown with the New England Patriots, who mauled the Detroit Lions (the same team who gave the Jets such a hard time two weeks ago). If Sanchez continues to play this way, the Pats are going to be walking off the field with a win.

Ryan, who alternates moments with foot in and out of his mouth, didn't waste any time to get the blood of his next opponent's blood boiling by commenting that the Patriots are the best team in football in a wise guy manner. He went on to say everyone says that "Except me." So the gloves are off and Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick has been slapped in the face. Okay, guys, choose your weapons and take thirty paces. This duel should be an exciting one.

There is plenty of time between now and next Monday for some back and forth saber rattling that should make what's going on between North and South Korea seem tame, but next Monday night's game in Foxboro Stadium will be a battle that may lead to winning the war for one of these teams this season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thinking About Thanksgiving During the Great Depression and Now

Article first published as Thinking About Thanksgiving During the Great Depression and Now on Blogcritics.

Somehow the great idea of a "day to give thanks" has been lost these days to the commercial hype for Christmas that starts around Halloween and does not let up until the 25th of December. I find Thanksgiving to be the perfect holiday, situated a month before Christmas and in, at least here in the Northeast, cold enough weather that cooking a great meal radiates throughout the house and hits visitors like a warm fragrant kiss as they walk through the door.

Unfortunately, although there is a great parade here in New York City, and people do gather around tables and enjoy meals together, Christmas still seems to be lurking at every turn. I turn on the radio and Christmas songs are being broadcast on seemingly every station. The decorations have been up in the stores for weeks already, and even individual houses and apartments have strung up lights and stuck up trees well in advance of the first day of December. This omnipresence of Christmas in November is annoying and, if you are a parent, also disturbing because it only stokes the kids' excitement and desire for the toys and games that are sought after as presents for under the tree.

Alas, it was not always this way. Speaking to my father, whose memories about seventy years ago are stronger than mine about yesterday, I get grounded in a different reality. He speaks vividly about many things from the past - a man ninety years plus who is sharp as a razor - but he can also tell me who won the competition on Dancing with the Stars or who sacked Mark Sanchez in the last Jets game.

Dad's memory of the Great Depression always gives me chills because the images are so stark, the reality so bleak, that I wonder how anyone today can compare the two times and think people had it better back then. Yes, you could get a whole pizza for a quarter and see movies for a nickel, but the average person (if he was lucky enough to be working) made less than $3,000 a year. As he always says, it is about "perspective" and he is able to give me that.

He recalls Thanksgivings past living here in Queens as being "out in the country." His father and brothers "built our house in the 1920s," and it stood on a block (off what is now called Springfield Boulevard) where other houses were slowly rising, and kids were moving in and they became his friends. My father and his brother had a wonderland of streams, woods, and ponds behind their house that seems impossible in the urban reality of Queens in 2010.

One Thanksgiving, 1933, stands out in his mind particularly. The Depression was in full force, and my grandfather was a NYC policeman. Dad's friends told him he was lucky his father had a job because most of the other boys' fathers had lost theirs. Dad remembers Pop coming home about once a week with some meat (mostly chicken), courtesy of Krauss the butcher whose shop was on the beat where he worked. Pop wasn't always that lucky though, and the Thanksgiving of 1933 looked like it would be one without any meat.

My grandmother had flour and some vegetables and planned to make a big vat of soup and homemade bread, but Dad and his brother wanted more than that. As they walked around the woods they went up along a ridge and saw Miller's farm, where a chicken coop stood under a starkly gray sky. My Dad had a plan to steal a chicken, but my uncle was older and wiser, telling him they couldn't do that. They went down to a stream and picked some berries; at least they figured their Mom could use those to make a pie.

At this point they saw a turkey running through the woods. Dad said he had never seen one before, and it looked like it was lost or something. My uncle picked up a big rock and tiptoed over, hoping to crush its head and bring home the prize, but Dad said the "turkey was faster than Jesse Owens" and shot off into the brush.

The next day after school, my uncle and father took their father's shotgun from the closet and some shells and went off into the woods on a hunt. They went to the place where they had seen the turkey, waiting for hours in the cold until it was getting dark. Having no luck, they started home and saw the bird crouching behind some flaming red bushes. My uncle raised the shotgun, pulled the trigger, and the force of the shot sent him onto his back. Both boys looked to see the bird running off merrily into the woods.

When they got home, Pop was waiting on the porch smoking a cigar. They looked at each other, thinking "we were going to get the belt." Pop asked them why they had taken the gun, and the boys explained that they had seen a turkey and wanted to surprise him for Thanksgiving. Pop said, "There have been no turkeys around here for many years." He seemed to understand them though and took the gun and rubbed both their heads affectionately. "It won't be so bad, boys, Krauss gave me some chopped meat. Your mom is making meatloaf for tomorrow."

Dad said he went to bed that night and dreamt that he woke up and saw his mother cooking the turkey from the woods in a big pan. He got up in the morning and the house was filled with aromas, and he rushed to the kitchen and saw his mother basting a big bird in the oven. He screamed, "Mom, where'd you get that turkey?"

She smiled as she closed the oven door and put two steaming pies on the windowsill. "Why don't you ask your father? He's out in the garage."

My father went outside in the cold air and raced into the garage. He saw some big sheets of the butcher paper Pop got from Krauss spread all over the workbench covered with blood. Next to the bench was a bucket of bloody parts, and Pop was cleaning his shotgun. "Pop," he asked, "where did you get that bird?"

Pop said, "You and your brother got me thinking that there was a turkey out there, so this morning at dawn I went out to where you said he was, and I saw him running around. He had a broken wing; that's why he was stuck out there."

"You shot him?" Dad asked. He kind of liked the idea of eating turkey for Thanksgiving, but the killing part didn't seem real until that moment.

Dad and his brother and parents sat down at the table, held hands, and gave thanks for their blessings. Pop said something about them being lucky, and Dad remembered looking around the table, smelling all the good food, and feeling that this had to be not only the best dinner in Queens that day, but in the entire USA. They ate well that year, and Dad never forgot that, even though the times were hard, life was good in his family.

Looking back on it now, he said it really makes him think about what has happened to Thanksgiving. "It's not the same anymore," he says. Well, that's true about a lot of things, but I wonder if he is right since Christmas seems to have encroached on this day and made it just like the opening door to the "holidays" instead of being an important holiday in and of itself.

Today I will sit down with my own family. My mother is gone now, and this is our fifth year without her. Dad's parents are gone even longer, but I remember them and he says that he thinks of them everyday. As we light candles and enjoy our feast, I will think of how easily we came by it. We went to the store where frozen and fresh turkeys filled an aisle, bought vegetables and fruits and desserts with no effort except to put them in the shopping cart, and drove home in the warmth of a car to a house surrounded by other houses, with the only streams and woods far off on Long Island.

As we eat I will look at my children and give thanks that they eat well and live well, but the memory of Thanksgiving 1933 will be in my thoughts too. It puts things in perspective and, even though times may seem rough now, we have an abundance that is overwhelming. I'll ignore the Christmas songs on the radio, the decorations in stores and on houses, and I will give thanks for what I have and for what my Dad once had as well, because this is the true reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Mets Mess: New Manager Introduced: And the Crowd Yawns

Article first published as Mets Mess: New Manager Introduced: And the Crowd Yawns on Blogcritics.

The news that the Mets hired Terry Collins as their new manager did little to inspire dancing in the streets here in New York City. NY Mets fans like myself are sick and tired of an organization treating us with less respect than the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield ever got.

Mets fans wanted a big fish. We wanted Joe Torre, despite all the stuff that went on between him and Jerry Manuel. Who cares about that? We wanted someone like Wally Backman, who maybe didn't ever manage in the majors but was surely a spitfire as a player. We would have even accepted the second coming of Bobby Valentine; at least he had a pulse and caused people to get excited about the game.

Instead, we get Terry Collins, who hasn't managed a baseball game since 1999. Uh, what the heck was Sandy Alderson and that Mets brain trust thinking when they made this choice? This is about as exciting as naming Pee Wee Herman as our starting second baseman for next season. Come to think of it, he'd probably do a better job than Luis Castillo.

Anyway, this Collins guy has an awe inspiring 444-434 record as a major league manager. We wanted a superstar and instead we got the understudy. Mets fans have been so poorly treated in recent years, one has to wonder what objective this franchise is playing for next year. Is this yet another "transition" year? Is this yet another year when we have to suffer with the likes of Castillo and Oliver Perez on the payroll?

Maybe I am wrong and this guy Collins will come in here and make things right again, but during the press conference at Citi Field today it sounded all wrong to me. Collins, who quit as manager of the California Angels in September 1999 due to problems with the team, readily admitted, "I did a bad job managing the clubhouse, no question about it." Way to go, Sandy Alderson, just what we need.

This sounds like another Art Howe kind of guy. Come on, even the Pittsburg Pirates were smarter than this when they hired Clint Hurdle right out from under your nose. If this is the way Alderson plays chess, Mets fans are going to be hearing "Checkmate" before the All Star Break and, if that is the case, the seats are going to be so empty in Citi Field next summer the bored ushers and vendors will be hearing lots of pins drop.

During this same press conference, Collins stated that he felt the Mets had a chance to contend in 2011. Well, right now that sounds to me like the builders of the Titanic saying it was unsinkable. We know how well that turned out.

I wish I could look at this as a good move, but the truth is that I think Mets fans have once again been given damaged goods. Terry Collins? Well folks, I think you all better have a Tom Collins or beverage of your choice and sit back and get ready for what looks like another year of no joy in Metsville.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As Gang Green Turns: Holmes Continues to Amaze in Jets 30-27 Win

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: Holmes Continues to Amaze in Jets 30-27 Win on Blogcritics.

How many times can Santonio Holmes pull the rabbit out of his hat? Well, he may say, "It's elementary, my dear fans," and we would accept him on his word after these last three weeks of amazing catches that win games. Simply amazing!

If it sounds like I am channeling my inner NY Mets fan, you are indeed right. I keep thinking of the late great Tug McGraw's mantra, "You gotta believe!" It applied to the 1973 Mets and it certainly applies to these 2010 Jets. How else can you explain what happened at New Meadlowlands Stadium today?

Going into the fourth quarter, the Jets (8-2) had what looked like a sure fire win over the Houston Texans (4-6). When you go into the fourth quarter with a 23-7 lead, and you have the defense that the Jets have (even despite looking not so great in the last two games), it would seem to be a no-brainer that the game was over, but guess again. These are the Jets, after all, and they excel at giving their fans every kind of torture one can imagine during four quarters.

I don't know what happened in that fourth quarter, but all of a sudden the Jets were down 27-23 with less than a minute on the clock. Yes, I was playing with my son and talking to my father and ready for the high fives to go around, and then we were on the verge of losing. What exactly happened there?

Well, I know what happened. After a Shonn Greene fumble, the defense that had shut down Andre Johnson and the rest of the Texans for three quarters fell apart, allowing twenty points in about twelve minutes. The same thing happened in the last two games against the Lions and the Browns. Those games went into overtime and the Jets salvaged wins in both cases and again here today. Say it with me: "You gotta believe!"

I have to credit Mark Sanchez with enormous grit and pluck and determination to make the drive that he did with those final seconds ticking away like crazy. How do you make such incredible passes under pressure? Sanchez seems to have found some kind of late game mojo, completing four passes for seventy-two yards, with the final pass to Holmes completed with just ten seconds left in the game.

Sanchez did have one interception today and, as in past weeks, that has hurt him, but he was also 22 for 38 for 315 yards with three touchdowns, that last one being the game winner. He is starting to look like the guy Jets fans are expecting him to be, and he has a way of making the big passes when needed just the way old Broadway Joe used to do.

After the game, head coach Rex Ryan said, "We keep finding ways to win, and that’s what championship teams do. If I have to apologize for every week I will, all the way to the Super Bowl."

Right now the Jets are tied with the New England Patriots atop the AFC East with the best record in the league. Some people might say they should be at least 5-5 right now, with these last three weeks being all games they should have lost, but I'm not so sure anymore.

As Rex said, they do keep finding ways to win, so "You gotta believe!" At least until Thursday night anyway.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

As Gang Green Turns: He Ain't Just Heavy; He's My Brother

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: He Ain't Just Heavy; He's My Brother on Blogcritics.

The fact that we had the battle of the siblings in Cleveland yesterday - between Jets' head coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob (Browns' defensive coordinator) - should have been enough drama in the usual Gang Green weekly soap opera, but let's not forget that we're talking about the Jets: a team that can turn your stomach in hundreds of ways during a game.

The battle of these heavyweight Ryans made for some good stories and pictures, and there was also the subplot about Cleveland's head coach Eric Mangini getting some kind of revenge against his former team. Of course, what would any Jets game be without plenty of conflict on and off the field?

For the second week in a row the Jets went into overtime with a 20-20 tie. Now, if that's not bad news enough for those of you who have green running through your veins like I do, let's be honest and say that the Jets really should have lost this game (and the last three overall). If you do the math and face the facts, the Jets should be 4-5 right now instead of 7-2.

This week's hero was not kicker Nick Folk, who could have been the goat of the game for missing three field goals, but a new hero emerged: Santonio Holmes. He did manage in just the last remaining seconds of the game to not only create a victory but also to absolve his team of its many sins, including his quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Once again this week Sanchez was a mixed bag, even though his numbers (27 for 44 for 299 yards with two TDs) would seem to suggest otherwise. He threw another interception, and he looks tentative at times. There is no shaking the feeling that Sanchez is not yet where he should be, but we can say that about the rest of the team as well.

The defense again seemed shaky, unable to hold a 17-13 lead at the half or a 20-13 one in the fourth quarter. Rex Ryan is notably always saying how great his defense can be "man-to-man," but in truth the last few weeks have brought his whole game plan into question when teams like the Lions and Browns can be so effective against it.

This game could have devolved into a loss when Mike Adams sacked Sanchez in the third quarter, but the sophomore QB didn't let that keep him down, though he did seem hurt on that play. Rob Ryan must have been thinking he had his brother down for the count and would have the last laugh, until he and everyone else watched Sanchez throw that pass to St. Holmes, who beat three defenders to take the ball in for the game winner and a final score of 26-20.

In the end, Rex and Rob probably could look at each other not as opponents but as brothers. One could see the disappointment in Rob Ryan's face and the quiet happiness in usual loudmouth Rex's countenance, but maybe the hardest hit of all was Browns' coach Mangini, who missed this golden opportunity to stick it to his former team.

For this week the show is over, but the drama never ends in the soap opera "As Gang Green Turns."


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mets Mess: Hire Martha Stewart As Manager Now!

Article first published as Mets Mess: Hire Martha Stewart As Manager Now! on Blogcritics.

If you are a fan of the New York Mets like I am, you must be steaming right about now. The organization treated the hiring of Sandy Alderson as General Manager like the second coming of Frank Cashen, but the truth be told I think they should have about as much confidence in him as the financial advice once given to them by Bernie Madoff.

Most baseball fans are familiar with the famous routine “Who's on First?” by comedians Abbott and Costello. It is an hilarious look at baseball in general and is apropos for the Mets in particular. Alderson is messing around with managerial interviews and taking forever; he should take a page from Mayor Bloomberg’s book: he fired Joel Klein and faster than you can say “Chico Escuela” he hired Cathie Black to lead our NYC public schools.

Hey, I have a great idea: Alderson should go out and hire Martha Stewart to run the Mets, and you know they could do worse. They have dissed Met favorite Wally Backman (who did a great job with the Single A Brooklyn Cyclones this year), and they are looking at everyone from Clint Hurdle to Pee Wee Herman to run the show. Come to think of it, I think Ms. Stewart would be an ideal manager. If Ms. Black can come in and run the city schools with no educational experience, surely Ms. Stewart could do the same thing with the Mets.

If we take a look at previous managers in the last twenty years - and that’s not such a great crop to be sure - the one that stands out to me is Willie Randolph. Fellow New Yorker Randolph, who grew up in Brooklyn as a Met fan, not only has the right pedigree but he is baseball smart. Now, Bobby Valentine is baseball smart too, but he also was as bad a combination with the Mets as are Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly on their first date.

Now, back to the Abbott and Costello routine. There is no question that Alderson is putting around the green and not sinking any balls. He is obviously afraid of making a big mistake - before making an even bigger mistake of messing up the team more than it already is.

My advice is to hire Ms. Stewart and let’s get on with it. She will have the guys knitting in the clubhouse, making a mean soufflĂ© before the game, and having tea parties after the game (don’t forget to extend those pinkies, guys). After Ms. Stewart is firmly ensconced in the field they call Citi (and I still say it should have been called Shea Stadium just the same way the Yankees called their new park by its rightful name), these are the things that need to be attended to before New Year’s Eve:

First Base: Ike Davis. Enough said.

Second Base: Let Luis Castillo and his wobbly legs go. Hire Orlando Hudson like yesterday.

Shortstop: Give Jose Reyes a chance to not lead-off and he will find himself again.

Third Base: David Wright is the Mets’ Derek Jeter. "Always and Forever." I can hear Martha singing now.

Leftfield: A guy named Carlos Beltran, who looked bad in center last year, will look pretty good out there. Give him a chance to belt 40 dingers, but please, no looking at a called strike three anymore, Carlos.

Centerfield: Angel Pagan, the little train that showed he could. Now he’s a locomotive. Chug-a-chug-a, Angel. This will be his year.

Rightfield: There’s a guy named Jason Werth out there now. Martha should send a hologram of herself to Fred Wilpon saying, “You’re my only hope, Obi-wan, get me Jason Werth.” The force is with him to be sure.

Catcher: Two words: Josh Thole. I bet that he will emerge as the Jerry Grote of this team. Now all he needs is his Tom Seaver.

Starters: Martha, get that hologram fired up again, and this time ask for Cliff Lee (a lefty Tom Seaver). The force is with him too, and this is what the Mets need to do to let the Yankees and their fans know who’s boss in this town again.

Bullpen: Sayonara, Hisanori Takahashi. You did well when we needed you, but you're headed elsewhere. Oh, and the Mets can drop Oliver Perez into the same dumpster where they put Castillo and forget about him. Also, like it or not, we are stuck with Francisco (I never met a guy I didn’t want to beat up) Rodriguez. Let’s hope he can be K-Rod again and not K-Dud.

Bench: Can we coax Lee Mazzilli and Rusty Staub out of retirement? Oh well, I guess not, but they have to find a few vets to round out the roster and come off the bench when we need a hit. Can anyone say Jeff Francoeur? Oh, Frenchy, we need you more than Sandy did in Grease. Don’t be a Mets dropout and please come home - fast!

So that’s my version of "Who’s on First?" Only in this case we have some real answers here. Now the big question is whether or not Sandy Alderson was brought in to talk a good talk or to walk the walk. Come on, Sandy, Martha is only a phone call away. She’ll drop that butternut squash soup and come running if you call. Do it now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

As Gang Green Turns: Jets Defeat Lions in OT 23-20

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: Jets Defeat Lions in OT 23-20 on Blogcritics.

Okay, New York Jets fans, you can take a deep breath. The Jets (6-2) defeated the Detroit Lions (2-6) at Ford Field, but you can't feel too good about this game. Yes, a victory is a win, but the struggle to get this one should worry head coach Rex Ryan and the rest of us as well.

In a week that featured the lowly Cleveland Browns beating the New England Patriots, this could have been a game the Jets regretted all year long, but they did pull out a victory courtesy of Nick Folk's thirty yard field goal (Folk's thirty-sx yard field goal tied the game and sent it into overtime).

I've been pretty hard on quarterback Mark Sanchez in the last few weeks, mostly due to his penchant for throwing interceptions. While he gave one away today, he also completed 22 of 39 passes for a career high 323 yards. He tossed one magnificent touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards, a 74-yard beauty that came near the end of the first half. This doesn't mean Sanchez had a great game, because he looked lost at times (as I have been pointing out consistently), but he and the offense got the job done overall.

The Jets defense was not much better than the offense in this one, although Darrelle Revis and company did limit Calvin Johnson and that was a big factor in this game. Also, during the game injuries to Lion's kicker Jason Hanson and quarterback Matthew Stafford certainly helped matters.

Gang Green and all their fans can breathe a sigh of relief after getting away with this one, but we should have no illusions; a good deal of luck and some mistakes and injuries for the Lions made the game go to the Jets.

I don't know what Rex Ryan is going to do, but he had better get these guys playing like they did at the end of the game for four quarters, or there are going to be lots of unhappy Jets fans when the playoffs come around and we're watching other teams on the field.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Celestial Celebration: The Giants Win the World Series

Article first published as A Celestial Celebration: The Giants Win the World Series on Blogcritics.

"Old New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodger fans don't die, they just become Mets fans."
-my grandfather in conversation.

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in Texas last night, fifty-six years since they did so as the New York Giants playing in the Polo Grounds. It has been a long time coming for old New York Giants fans, who like their cross river National League cousins the Brooklyn Dodgers, see this as a victory for them as well as those cheering people in the city by the bay.

There was no logic or reason in being a Giant or Dodger fan back in those days, except as a defiant and perhaps illogical stand against those damned Yankees from the Bronx. I asked my grandfather if he ever thought about becoming a Yankee fan after the Dodgers left in 1957, and he shook his head sadly. "Not a chance."

Old Fred and my uncles Matty and Charlie were under the assumption that the Yankees and their fans had made a pact with the devil, and something like the play Damn Yankees could only confirm that for them.

My grandfather said of 1957 that "I cried me a river of blue" when the Dodgers left, and my uncle "cried him a river of orange" for the Giants. This eventually "washed out to sea" as he saw it, but somehow or other came back in 1962, swirling around the waters of Flushing Bay, and a nascent team crawled out of those waters in blue and orange and called itself the Mets. Fred and his brothers were back in business, having a team to root for that was not the Yankees.

Now all this time has passed, and the San Francisco Giants were dancing around with the World Series Trophy in Texas. They are a spunky team, with no big guns like the great Willie Mays, but they have great pitching and lots of heart, and sometimes that stops the big guns dead in their tracks.

So this was a win for those Giants fans who have long passed on, but were no doubt watching in the celestial place they call home. All that noise we heard last night over New York wasn't thunder, but the sound of champagne corks popping in paradise.

At one time the gods of baseball deemed New York City as its own Mount Olympus. Can you imagine having three center fielders like Duke Snider, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle all playing in the same city at the same time? There is simply no comparison today in all of sports. It was too overwhelming to be real but it was real nonetheless.

Many years later, I had asked my grandfather about rumors I heard regarding a "big trade" that involved Mickey Mantle for either the Duke of Flatbush or the Say Hey Kid. My grandfather shook his head as he would do. "Mickey Mantle could have never played for Brooklyn or the Giants, and the Duke and Willie could have never been Yankees. It wasn't in their blood."

Well, all these years later, I think my grandfather was right. He is no doubt raising an ethereal glass of the bubbly with my uncles. Besides that one time when Bobby Thomson's homer caused a spat between them, they basically always rooted for each other's teams because they hoped they would win and beat the Yankees. I am so happy for them up there, and all those people out in San Francisco too. As a Met fan, born from Dodger blue and Giant orange, I could never see it any other way.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

As Gang Green Turns: Three Turnovers Doom Jets as They Lose 9-0 to the Packers

Article first published as As Gang Green Turns: More Trick Than Treat: Jets Lose Halloween Game 9-0 to the Packers on Blogcritics.

Ladies and gentlemen, if some kids rings your doorbell tonight wearing a Jets outfits, please be generous in order for them to drown their sorrows in candy. This game was proved to be no treat for the fans or head coach Rex Ryan either, as they watched the New York Jets (5-2) get shutout by the Green Bay Packers (5-3) at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Even with the bye week giving them extra rest for this game, the Jets' offense came in looking like they needed more time off. Although quarterback Mark Sanchez's numbers were not terrible (16-38 for 256 yards), he did throw two interceptions. Ryan has to be alarmed that Sanchez has thrown four of these in his last two games.

Many people have been talking about Sanchez's new maturity, but there is a definite sense that he loses it when things don't go the right way. It didn't help matters that his receivers couldn't keep their hands on the ball and out of the hands of their opponents.

More problematic than Sanchez's inability to lead today was that the rest of the offense seemed to come up lame, and a strange fake punt attempt failed too. Both of Ryan's replay challenges failed, so the Jets went into halftime down 3-0. Ryan, who can talk with the best of them, obviously failed to get Gang Green's offense motivated in the lockeroom, because it was more of the same the rest of the way.

One good sign was that the Jets' defense was definitely going well today, limiting the Packers to three field goals, but Ryan can take little solace in this because the offense that looked so strong during that five game winning streak seemed not to show up today. In its place were Halloween zombies who couldn't get it together to score any points.

People here in New York have been talking about an almost pre-destined Super Bowl match between the Jets and Giants, but all this talk is obviously premature at best after this debacle. Even with a healthy Darrelle Revis and a tight defense, the team cannot win if it doesn't score any points.

All of us fans can keep dreaming about Gang Green going against Big Blue in the ultimate football showdown, but if the Jets keep playing this way, they will be lucky to even contend for a wild card.

Things looked pretty dismal today and, even with the home field advantage, the Jets went down and looked like they were out for the count early on. Hey Rex Ryan, in case you are wondering, that booing you heard wasn't Halloween ghosts drifting through the stadium; it was your Jets fans who knew a stinker when they saw one.

Well, hopefully next week things will get better, but one never knows in the soap opera As Gang Green Turns.