While the 2009 is coming mercifully to a close on Sunday for one of the most awful Mets teams in quite some time, one that might lose 95 games, it might be worth it for this team to look across Manhattan and into the Meadowlands to see how a pro sports team should be run. I could mention that team in the Bronx, but $423 million had something to do those guys reaching the postseason after a dismal 2008. Plus, talking about them right now just pisses me off.
So I’d rather talk about the football team I’m passionate about, the New York Football Giants. (No disrespect to the Jets, who are off to a great start, but my dad brought me up as a G-men fan). The Giants were on the verge of firing their coach a couple years back when Tom Coughlin could not seem to win that elusive playoff game, and he couldn’t seem to keep Eli Manning from making mistakes at critical times. Plus, he had a disruptive clubhouse thanks to mouthy veterans like Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, who seemed like they were trying to make the coaching change themselves at times.
But then after Tiki retired after the 2006 season (following a playoff loss to the Eagles), Jerry Reese took over as GM and gave Coughlin his endorsement (maybe with a mild warning). He also had a fantastic draft in 2007 in which every player drafted participated in the Giants’ remarkable postseason run, including a Super Bowl victory. He also hired Steve Spagnuolo, a Jim Johnson disciple in Philly, away to be his defensive coordinator. After two sloppy games, the team became familiar with Spags’ attacking style defense, and became one of the most feared defenses in the game. Suddenly, Coughlin and Reese looked like geniuses. Those who doubted Coughlin were now on his side, mainly because dude now had a Super Bowl ring.
In 2008 the team came barreling out of the gate at 11-1 before losing their star wide receiver for the season because dude did something really stupid with a gun. The team was crushed physically and emotionally and weren’t prepared to pick up the pieces in time, and flamed out in the first round again. This year they have begun 3-0 with Manning and most of the Giants collectively having a remarkable season already.
And then there is the one thing that seems very different about the 2009 Mets and the 2009 Giants. The Giants have been hit really hard with the injury bug. Granted, not to guys named Manning or Jacobs or Smith or Umenyiora, but to some key players like Kenny Phillips, Aaron Ross, Justin Tuck, Kareem McKenzie, Hakeem Nicks, Danny Ware, and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Mets have lost most of their stars for parts of the season, but lacked the depth to keep the team competitive. Upper management as well as the training staff has looked downright stupid at times. Contrast that to the Giants, who handle every setback with grace and move forward with a new piece in place like nothing happened. Heck, they even did that last year when Umenyiora went down and was replaced by Tuck.
The difference is, you feel like the Giants are on a winning mission at all times with Reese and Coughlin. With the Mets’ Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, you don’t get that feeling at all. It’s more a feeling of, “What are they going to screw up next?” At least that’s the feeling I get.
And have I mentioned that I’m so glad football season is here?