By Tim Marcin
Elm Staff Writer
The New York Knicks rattled off an unlikely 5 game winning streak at the time of this writing. The Knicks seem to be finally getting over the hump of mediocrity that has plagued them for years.
The Knicks are actually surprising a few people with their play recently. After beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, and winning their fifth straight game, they are now 13-9, putting them at four games above .500. That is the first time they have been four games over .500 since the end of the 2000-2001 season. This sudden surge of good play is due in large part to off-season acquisition Amare Stoudamire. He has scored over 30 points in each of their five straight wins. The last Knick to score 30 in five straight games was Stephon Marbury back in 2005.
It is always good for the league when popular teams are winning. Imagine if the Knicks keep playing well. Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of basketball, will be returned to glory. There is no better place for basketball, and when MSG is rocking, there is no better environment for a fan. What if all the success eventually draws Carmelo Anthony to New York—rumor has it he already wants to play there anyway. Imagine the possibilities of Amare and Melo in the Big Apple. Exciting, is it not?
I don’t want to prod at Derek Jeter again. But what choice do I have? I wanted to let him slide on strong-arming the Yankees for more money. I want to let him slide on his agents remarks during the process. Then he gets his contract (valued at 3 years $51 million) and has the guts to say he was angry about the negotiation process, in his press conference announcing the deal.
Yes, it got a little ugly, but that has a lot to do with Jeter himself. It was his agent who called a prior offer of 3 years $45 million, “baffling.” Most people would be “baffled” in a good way by that, especially when offered to a shortstop who hit only .270 with 10 home runs the prior year.
Jeter is one of the last remaining baseball icons, and is the face of the New York Yankees. At the end of his career, he will be a hall-of-fame player, and a Yankee legend. He did not need to heckle as he did, and then complain about the process, however. He was particularly disturbed when the Yankees brass told him to shop the free agent market if he was not satisfied with the offer. A fair point, considering no team in their right mind (beside the Yankees) would pay $15-$20 million a year for a 37 year old shortstop on the decline.
I guess it can all be summed up by a story of a Yankees great in the past. Don Mattingly, a former captain like Jeter, once told the Yankees front office to decrease his pay, and to search for a replacement at first base, because he could no longer play at the level they needed him too. But, seeing Jeter in another uniform or taking a huge pay-cut would be insulting to such a legend. But a little less whining would have been nice.
The Jets. In all honesty, I could end it right there. In a game advertised as two of the best teams in the NFL squaring off, the New England Patriots trounced the New York Jets 45-3. Tom Brady lit up the usually great Jets defense, throwing for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez was a reverse image of Brady, throwing 3 interceptions in the game and looking like the confused rookie of last season.
The Jets were simply outdone in every facet in the game, especially coaching. Rex Ryan’s usual bravado quickly disappeared, as the Patriots were simply better prepared by their coach Bill Belichick. Ryan also made some questionable in-game calls, throwing an ill-fated early challenge flag and calling for a 53-yard field goal attempt in a swirling wind that resulted in an embarrassing miss.
The Jets never even looked like they had a chance. They are still 9-3 and have a lot of season ahead of them, so hopefully they will turn it around. If they meet the Patriots in the playoffs, however, they better have an improved performance. Otherwise, they stand no chance.