Today in Local Sports Coverage: Black Monday, Chasing the Cherry

Bad news for the Mets yesterday. The two aces left on the market both agreed to go elsewhere: John Lackey is headed to the Red Sox, and Roy Halladay is headed to the hated Phillies.

In the Daily News, John Harper declares it “Black Monday.” He says neither pitcher wanted to play for the Mets because the Mets are seen around the league as “losers.” So now they’re left to go after Kelvim Escobar, an aging hurler who’s missed most of the last two years after shoulder surgery. “Halladay, Lackey, Escobar. Black Monday indeed,” he writes.

But the difference between Harper and your columnists in the Post is that Harper thinks the Mets never had a chance, while Kevin Kernan is more than happy to blame the Mets’ brass. “Once again Omar Minaya and the Mets were outsmarted by their chief rival, the Phillies,” Kernan writes. Well, their former rival, according to Kernan:

The 59-win Nationals are the Mets’ new chief rival.

Omar, how low can you go?

Maybe they’re waiting for Day Two, but no one seems to be writing about the staggering price the Phillies paid to get Halladay. They’re giving up Cliff Lee, who struggled a little last year, but–as you may recall–won a Cy Young in 2008 when he went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. And they’re giving up Kyle Drabek, son of the wonderfully-mustached Doug, and one of the organization’s best pitching prospects. Halladay will help, but it’s not like they got him for nothing.

It’s not quite Black Monday for the Yankees, but there is some bad news: World Series MVP Hideki Matsui is leaving for L.A., taking his gaggle of Japanese reporters with him.

The Post is optimistic about the Jets’ playoff chances, and I’m starting to come around. They’ve got an injured Falcons team, along with the Colts and Bengals, both of whom might have their playoff spots sewn up by then. So maybe Rex Ryan was right to needle the press by sarcastically calling their chances “improbable.” Mike Vaccaro thinks they can ride Thomas Jones and the D into the postseason, and that recipe seems like kind of a no-brainer, given that they’re near the top in rushing and total defense, and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has been turnover-prone in the team’s losses.

But Rich Cimini isn’t taking the easy prescription. He says the key to the rest of the season is Sanchez–who’s back to being called “Sanchise.” 

A playoff berth would be a cherry on top, but the sundae still would taste good with Sanchez leading them to a 9-7 or 10-6 record, even without the postseason.