Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

Darn, I know it’s been a while between posts. There’s a lot happening in the sports world—especially my personal sports world! This sure has been a funny baseball season, hasn’t it? And even though it seems like I was blogging about the Giants’ Super Bowl win yesterday, here we are on the verge of another NFL training camp, and the 2008 season awaits. I’m looking forward to this one! As mentioned in previous posts, my awesome wife gave me a huge flatscreen HD television—as well as the NFL package—as gifts when we moved to Washington, so even though I may not have too many people to watch with this year (will miss ya, Ed and Ed!), I will be able to see my Super Bowl champ Giants every week without leaving the comfort of my own living room—the first time that’s happened since I left the East Coast in 1998.

But first, a little baseball chatter. I want to say a little bit about the Willie Randolph firing. As everyone knows, it was handled very poorly and with no class. Willie is a classy guy and deserved better, no question. I think that maybe if he hadn’t brought race into it and the team started winning, Willie could have kept his job. But by adding fuel to the fire, Willie sort of created this media specter that hung over the team, analyzing every little thing so that the pressure became unbearable. At that point, even though Willie may have been a good manager, he had to go so that the team could focus on playing baseball again.

In hindsight, it’s easy to say that it was a good move. Jerry Manuel has the team winning in ways they weren’t under Willie: a 10-game win streak; come-from-behind victories; a win after a devastating loss the night before instead of a prolonged losing streak. Heads are up, chins high in the clubhouse. Some players are really surging, such as Carlos Delgado, who seems to have dropped 10 years off his life and his swing. The Mets, who were 7 games out a month ago, are tied for first in the NL East as of right now with one more game against the Phillies that’s being played while I write (they split the first two). It ain’t over yet, but at least the Amazin’s are staring to play more to their potential, and a postseason berth is not out of the question anymore.

Now to the gridiron. Obviously, it is a big loss for the Giants on the defensive line with Michael Strahan now officially retired. And trading a disgruntled Jeremy Shockey to New Orleans costs the Giants one of their big playmakers. And I know the Giants lost a couple of linebackers to free agency.

But—despite these losses in personnel, I am blown away by how many preseason power rankings pick the Patriots first and the Giants anywhere from fourth to tenth! Only one set of rankings had the Giants where they belong, at Number One. In case everybody missed it, they won the Super Bowl last year! Do I think that automatically makes them champions of 2008? Of course not, but how about at least a little respect? The Giants defense was absolutely dominant—not just in the Super Bowl, but throughout last year’s playoffs! They crushed Tom Brady—one of my favorite parts of my Super Bowl video is the montage that is shown in the fourth quarter of all the times the Giants planted Brady in the turf. Not only that, but Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense out-Bradied Brady, topping his touchdown with less than three minutes left with one of their own—a drive of which the stuff of legends is made.

So Strahan is gone! I know! Anyone happen to notice that Osi Umenyiora has made the Pro Bowl two of the last three years? That he had six sacks in one game last season? Anyone see what a monster Justin Tuck is? I know he’s not Strahan, but in Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s attacking defense, Tuck, Umenyiora, and the rest of the D-line will be as disruptive as ever and will even be able to make up for any minor flaws in the linebacking corps this year. On offense, the Jints have already proved that they can win without Shockey—his receptions will go to Steve Smith, the third receiver, and Kevin Boss will be able to fill in just fine at Shockey’s old tight end spot.

The lack of respect is a line the Giants can use to help them stay hungry. Coach Tom Coughlin was great at keeping the Giants’ “us-against-the-world” mentality going all year long in 2007, and he’ll look to do so again with the 2008 crew.

Only five weeks until kickoff!

1 comment:

Ed Attanasio said...

I think the NY Giants will actually be much better this season. One team that scares me is Minnesota. If they had a QB, I'd pick them as the favorite in the NFC. The Jets are also much improved. Great piece as usual, Meat. Properly seasoned and well-prepared, this tasty article really hit the spot!