Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 10 Sports Memories of the Last Decade (2000-2009)

10. Yankees/Angels ALCS Game 2- October 17, 2009

I notice that a lot of these games happened around my birthday (10/14). This one is on the list simply because of what I was doing while the game was going down. I had just walked into the club and was drinking a little when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with the Yankees down 3-2, and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Based on what had transpired this past season with Rodriguez and Fuentes’ propensity to implosion, I thought something big was coming. When Rodriguez hit the ball, and it proceeded to barely make it over Bobby Abreu’s glove, the place went CRAZY. Then immediately after the “walk off error” by Maicer Izturis, the DJ proceeded to play a mix of Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. That is one of the two times I actually appreciated the song “Empire State of Mind”. The other was, you guessed it, the 2009 World Series ticker tape parade/rally. This was one of those nights, and the Rodriguez homer triggered it.

9. Mike Piazza’s Game winning HR against Braves- September 21, 2001

I'm not a Mets fan, but the feeling I had when Piazza hit this HR isn't matched by many in my years of watching sports. While I understand sometimes the overemphasis of the importance of sports, this game was a getaway of sorts. With all the stuff going on, the tragedy and such the game was a nice way to get away from it all. It was ten days later but the lingering effects were still there, and this was the first professional sports game in New York since the tragedy.

In a city in need of an emotional lift of any kind, Piazza stepped up to the plate with his team down 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning with a man on base. He proceeded to homer to center field, and sent chills down my spine and lifted a city in turmoil. That home run was about more than baseball. It was like something straight out of a movie and it almost felt as if a spirit was watching over the Mets that night as they gave the city a well needed jolt.

8. Jets/Dolphins, Monday Night Miracle- October 10,2000

For once, my undying loyalty to the Jets paid off. For the most part, unless Kliff Kingsbury is playing QB, I stick around until the game is over. While I was a young pup at this time, that was still my modus operandi. At 30-7, all I can think was that the game over, and then the unthinkable happened. The Jets were on the giving end of a heartbreaking, gut wrenching defeat. I’ll never forget the look on Jumbo Elliott’s face as he looked up to the Jumbotron after catching the game tying touchdown pass. Honestly, the only reason this one is so far down the list is because I wasn’t old enough at the time to truly recognize the magnitude of the comeback and appreciate it for what it was.

7.Jets/Packers, Win and you’re in regular season finale- December 29, 2002

The game itself was relatively uneventful as the Jets blew the doors off Brett Favre and the Packers, 42-17. The events before, and during the game made the game and the day special for Jets fans. The Jets needed a win and some assistance from the hated Patriots to make the postseason.

They needed the Patriots to beat the then division leader Dolphins, and it didn't look good when the Patriots trailed 21-10 with five minutes left to play. Then the tables turned in unbelievable fashion as the Dolphins folded like a cheap tent. They let the Patriots score 11 unanswered in the last 4 minutes, and proceeded to lose in Overtime. I remember seeing a 'Game Break' on Fox detailing the loss, and being excited. For once as a Jets fan, I had no doubts they were going to win, and they did exactly that setting off a three and a half hour long party in the Meadowlands

6. Yankees/Red Sox- July 1, 2004

I know most remember the game for Jeter diving in the stands and bloodying his face, but the game itself was an incredible game. On a side note, a forgotten nugget in that game is that Nomar Garciaparra was the only active player on EITHER SIDE not to play in the game, and that basically hastened his exit from Boston. In the game itself, it was a hotly contested game, and I'll personally never forget the image of Ruben Sierra huffing and puffing while looking like he was about to collapse, on his way to home plate on the game tying RBI triple on Miguel Cairo. Then John Flaherty, the lightest hitter on the team, came through with the GW RBI 'double' to win it. This was yet another awesome game in the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry.

5. Jets/Chargers AFC Divisional Playoff- January 8, 2004

This game honestly should not even be on this list. Had it not been for Eric Barton going Mortal Kombat on Drew Brees head needlessly and unnecessarily, this game wouldn't be here. That is part of the Jets charm though since in the rare instances they do win, it is never painless. Up 17-10, on a 4th and goal inside the ten, the Jets had the victory before Eric Barton decided to deliver an elbow to Brees’ head, which gave the Chargers new life and they proceeded to force OT. The Jets then got a missed FG from Nate ‘Baby Face’ Kaeding, and proceeded to drive down for the winning FG. As usual with the Jets, after the game is over I felt like I was on the field with them for 60 minutes.

4. Yankees World Series run/subsequent parade- November 2009

Honestly, most of the games were fairly nondescript (save for Game Two of the ALDS, Game Two of the ALCS, Game Four of the WS), but just being old enough to actually appreciate the title, and being there among literally a sea of Yankee fans was an experience I’ll never forget and hope to replicate in the near future.

3. Yankees/D'Backs 2001 World Series Games Four and Five- October 31- November 2, 2001

I’m telling you, the Yankees always make things interesting. This series came on the heels of 9/11, and while the Yankees were outclassed in pretty much every way imaginable the entire series it seemed like it was destined for them to win the series. Regardless, games Four and Five were all kinds of drama. Tino Martinez hitting a two out game tying HR in Game 4, and Scott Brosius hitting a game tying two out, two run HR in Game 5 marked the loudest I’ve ever heard Yankee Stadium. I felt the noise all the way from the Northeast Bronx. Both those home runs gave me the chills, and you had Game Four ending with Derek Jeter hitting a walkoff home run at the very beginning of November. That was an incredible 2 nights of baseball.

2. Giants/Patriots SB XLII- February 3, 2008

As everyone and their mother knows, I loathe the Patriots. I’m also a Giants supporter. I’m a New York kid, so I support all the locals besides the Mets. That being said, this entry is more about the hated Patriots losing their bid for perfection than anything else.

I remember the week before the game, ESPN with ‘fantasy matchups’ of the Patriots vs teams like the 1985 Bears, and had the Patriots “winning”. That kind of stuff just made me say “Can they win the damn game first before we crown them? Good grief,” Lo and behold, The Giants defense put Tom Brady on his back countless times, and Eli Manning drove the troops down the field, in a drive that will go down in football lore, to win the game. And the David Tyree play was probably the most shocking play I have ever seen in my life, considering this guy was cut a year later, and that year had 4 catches. It was great to see someone finally one up Tom Brady, and end the Patriots run for perfection. Thank you Eli Manning. I wonder how Mercury Morris felt?

1. Yankees/Sox Game 7 2003 ALCS- October 16, 2003

This is probably the most heart pumping, exciting baseball game I’ve ever watched. As much as I get tired of the Yankee and Sox centric coverage, I definitely miss the Yankees- Sox ALCS’. They featured fights, great games, great players, and just epic wars. This game itself was epic. The Yankees fell behind 4-0 early, then got two Jason Giambi home runs.

They were trailing 5-2 going into the eighth inning, where Derek Jeter, like he has so many times, got the rally started with a double to right field. Bernie singled him home , Matsui then doubled, setting up a matchup between Jorge Posada and Pedro Martinez, who had a confrontation earlier in the series where Martinez pointed towards his own head as if to say that is where he’d hit Posada. Posada then served a blooper into no man’s land to tie the game and I swear I felt my TV shake. After three innings of impeccable scoreless relief from Mariano Rivera, Aaron Boone stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning. He took one mighty swing at one of Tim Wakefield’s knuckleballs, sent Yankee Stadium into hysteria, sent me into my pillow screaming in joy, and sent the Yankees to the World Series.

Honorable mentions-

Jets release Chad Pennington
Jason Kidd traded to Nets- Summer 2001
Jets blow out the Colts 41-0 in 2002 Wildcard Round
LeBron James goes off for the last 25 Cavalier points in Game 5 of ECF vs Detroit
Nets make the finals in 2002
Nets make the finals in 2003
Yankees come back from 0-2 down against Athletics
Jason Giambi's walk off Grand Slam against Minnesota in the rain in 2001

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thoughts on NFL Week 16

-While I think the 'Indy benching scandal' is being overblown, considering what the Colts have to play for at this point, I didn't agree with how they handled the situation. I thought, at 15-10, Caldwell should have given the offense a shot to go up two scores. Then once you get up two scores, bench your starters and such, or just have them play three quarters. I think if you play the starters for three quarters each of the last two games, that keeps them 'fresh' enough and in good enough 'game shape' for the postseason. That being said, all the folks who are complaining and criticizing now, would be the same ones who would be complaining and criticizing had an important player went down with a significant injury. Health>being undefeated.

-On a related note, thank you to the Indianapolis Colts and Jim Caldwell for benching Peyton Manning. I'll be at the game next week (my first, and the last at the Meadowlands), and now it is actually for something. That was the best Christmas present I got.

-The Cincinnati Bengals are the Shrek of football. Hopefully they don't look like Snow White this week.

-Why are the Ravens such an undisciplined football team? I swear, every time I look up they are being flagged, but most of all some of them are either boneheaded, completely obvious or both. On the TD return on the INT by Dominique Foxworth, Terrell Suggs committed a block in the back that had absolutely no impact on the play. Suggs could have literally lied on the field making pretend snow angels, and Foxworth would have scored, so why the penalty that costs your team 6 pts? They have always been a chatty bunch, full of talk and bravado, but a dumb one as well.

-Who the hell was that playing QB for the Rams this past week? I consider myself an avid football fan, and I have never once heard of the guy in my life.

-The Giants are an absolute embarrassment. It's bad enough laying an egg like that, making Matt Moore look like an All-Pro, and getting steamrolled in every sense of the word, but it was also the last game in the Meadowlands for the Giants. This is how they say farewell to the Stadium? What a joke. I have no idea what happened to that defense but I think it's safe to say, from a football sense, that the Giants and Steve Spagnuolo both miss each other dearly.

-All the Tony Romo bashing that I've heard repeatedly over the course of the years, does it stop? Or is it now, that he played an excellent December, he needs to win in the postseason? Whatever it is, he deserves a ton of credit, as he played very well in December which I was led to believe was an utter and complete impossibility of apocalyptic, earth shattering type of proportions.

-The New England Patriots win this week helped the Jets. So, I'll throw them a thank you. Thanks New England. On a related note, to the Jaguars, you might want to get a hand on that guy named Moss. I've heard he's alright.

-That is the Jay Cutler I've come to know and love. He played an excellent game, though the Vikings defense is struggling. Too bad it's too little, too late. Hopefully he can build on that for next season.

- San Diego will represent the AFC in the Superbowl. As much as I don't trust them, the only team in the AFC I see getting in their way is Indianapolis, and I think the Colts D is soft like tissue paper.

-I swear, the Texans and 8-8 go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, like chocolate cake and ice cream. And next year all the prognosticators again will tell me how it will be the year they will breakout. Now it very well may be, but it reeks of throwing stuff at a wall and hoping it sticks. Every single year, Houston is supposed to breakout and it never happens.

-Watching Jay Cutler and Brett Favre, as much as I can't stand Favre, go tit for tat was great. I absolutely enjoy great QB play, and that game had it all in that regard.

-Do the Packers still need to have Brett Favre and were idiotic for letting him go? Or will the media, and others FINALLY let that go and admit that Aaron Rodgers is the BUSINESS?

-The Redskins, per the usual, are a hot mess.

-I'm curious to see how this Eagles-Cowboys game plays out next week. Both teams are playing well, and the Eagles are now playing for a first round bye. Who would've thought that was possible about, oh, 2 weeks ago? Boy, can things change quickly.

-On his last throw of the Steeler/Ravens game, what in the name of everything that is holy and sacred was Ben Roethlisberger doing?

-The Denver Broncos started out 6-0, and have gone 2-7 ever since. But wait, I thought Kyle Orton was this winner? Yet, their PPG took a dip, and Eddie Royal (at this point, he almost warrants a 'Who?', even though I was led to believe that he was simply unbelievably awesome and a top flight WR) has completely disappeared. At least the ridiculous Orton nonsense, making him out to be something he is not (anything more than average, and an MVP candidate) has died like a bug on a windshield.

-Happy Holidays to all those who read.