SPORTS AND THE CITY
The common perception of the NFL team trainer is that of a normal-size man among monsters. Trafficking in athletic tape and ointments, he trots onto the field, attending fallen players. The less he is seen, the better. Basically, he’s a functionary.
Not so with the New York Giants’s Ronnie Barnes. Mr. Barnes, who became the Read More
I first recognized it on Dec. 14, 2009, though I didn’t know its name then.
The news broke that Hideki Matsui—the George Harrison of the Yankees, the quiet, stoic performer, and the 2009 World Series MVP—wouldn’t play for New York the following season. The Yankees told Mr. Matsui’s agent that he wasn’t a priority, so Matsui took a one-year, $6.5 M. contract with the Anaheim Angels.
The same team who gave Carl “Ass Injury” Pavano a $40 M. contract (for which he earned $17,646 per pitch, having thrown in only 26 Yankees games) not four years before let Matsui go, just one month after he was named the MVP of the World Series he’d helped the team win. Even now, when I speak with fellow Yankees fans about this travesty, they just shake their heads and shrug, as if to say: Yeah, we know. What’re you gonna do?*
It was a classic, symptomatic moment of Steinbrenner syndrome, a disease characterized by short attention span, poor memory and fits of ecstasy followed by angry outbursts. It affects nine out of 10 New York sports fans (and 10 out of 10 New York sports editors). Its only treatment is frequent, intense doses of winning.
They were the epitome of determination during a season that seemed lost on more than one occasion. To be sure, they looked overmatched at times, pretenders who had no business being mentioned among the league’s elite teams. But their coach preached a single word—finish—and eventually the message took hold.
And so the Giants finished their season in high style, winning their second Super Bowl championship in five seasons. Like their title run in 2007-08, this one seemingly came out of nowhere. A season that seemed like the very definition of mediocrity became, almost in an instant, a magical, memorable season of brilliant moments and unforgettable images.
Through it all, through the depths of a four-game losing streak that seemed to doom their playoff chances, through the blitz of called-in demands for coaching changes and doubts about the quarterback, the Giants’ owners did precisely what Giants’ owners traditionally do.
They did nothing. More to the point, they did nothing rash. They said nothing to incite back-page headlines. They issued no demands of their players. They ended no sentences with the phrase “or else.”
The Mara and Tisch families run the Giants with a sort of patience and class that seems so very old-fashioned in the 24-hour sports-media cycle.
Everyone’s a hero in the sports sections this morning—even Alex Rodriguez–after the Yankees secured the A.L. East with a sweep of the Red Sox, and the Giants and Jets stayed undefeated by beating up on a couple of winless teams. Oh, and the Mets won too.
You know it’s a happy day Read More
Everyone seems to have a Joe Girardi story this morning. And it makes sense, since the Yankees’ manager has the team poised to clinch the A.L. East after missing the playoffs last year. The Daily News tells us that Mr. Girardi has managed to put on a “happy face” Read More