Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Manning Up? And Manning Down

The new Meadowlands Stadium, which hosted U.S.-Brazil in soccer last Tuesday night and a Bon Jovi concert a few weeks ago, hosted its 1st football game last night, between the 2 teams that will call it home.

Officially, it was a Jets home game, with the Jets in their home green jerseys and the Giants in their road white -- and I don't care that they won a Super Bowl while wearing those, the Giants should not wear red numbers, ever.

The Giants won, 31-16, coming from a 13-10 halftime deficit. But it's the preseason, and as the Giants are the older, established team, their fans wouldn't brag about this the way Jet fans -- most of whom are also Met fans and used to brag about spring training or Mayor's Trophy exhibition wins over the Yankees, before they realized how stupid that was -- would.

As Billy Martin taught us, "It's an exhibition game, George! It doesn't mean anything!"

But the scary part came in the 2nd quarter, when Giant quarterback Eli Manning -- hard to believe Peyton's younger brother is starting his 7th NFL season -- got bumped by his own running back, Brandon Jacobs, and then, his helmet already loosened by that collision, got hammered by Jet linebacker Calvin Pace, and his helmet flew off.

At some point in all this, he sustained a cut to his forehead, probably from something inside the helmet as it moved in the first collision or came off in the second, and blood could be seen spurting out of Eli's head.

The immediate fear was of a concussion. In an exhibition game. Losing your starting quarterback in the 1st exhibition game? Who does Eli think he plays for -- the Jets?

(After all, in 1999, just a few months after losing the AFC Championship Game, they started the next season by losing Vinny Testaverde to a torn achillies tendon in the first quarter of the first regular-season game.)

Needless to say, Eli came out of the game and didn't go back in, and he probably would've been held out of the 2nd half anyway, as you don't want to risk anything. Sure, both teams wanted to win the first game ever at Whatever Corporate Name They End Up Awarding To It Stadium at The Meadowlands. But they also want to be fully ready for the regular season.

"I feel fine. I feel normal," Manning said. Which is good. Of course, he, like Peyton, was born and raised in New Orleans, where his father Archie quarterbacked the Saints. In New Orleans, "normal" has a very different meaning.

"I really feel like I could go back out and play right now if I had to," he said.

Clearly, his brain needs to be re-evaluated. I wouldn't play him in the next exhibition game if I were in Coach Tom Coughlin's shoes.

Give Eli credit, though: He stood up for his teammates. He was "manning up," even though he had been "Manning, down."

"The play was my fault," Eli said. "We had a run play with an option to throw a fade that I thought I might try, but Brandon was coming right up the middle. Sometimes you make a mistake and you get hit in the head. It's preseason, you learn from it."


Elsewhere, the Yankees lost 3-1 to the Detroit Tigers, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers and Cliff Lee. They are now tied for first place in the AL East. The Boston Red Sox are 5 1/2 games back, 6 in the loss column. There are 44 games left for the Yanks and Rays, 40 for the Sox.

In the AL Central, Minnesota leads Detroit by 3. In the West, Texas leads Anaheim by 8. In the Wild Card, the Yanks and Rays (tied for both the AL East and the Wild Card, at the moment) lead Boston by 5 1/2 and the Chicago White Sox by 7.

In the NL East, Atlanta leads Philadelphia by 2 1/2, 2 in the loss column; and the Mets, who climbed back to .500 last night by beating Houston, by 10. In the Central, Cincinnati leads St. Louis by 1 game, tied in the loss column. In the West, San Diego leads San Francisco by 4. In the Wild Card, Philly and San Fran are tied (Philly leads by 1 in the loss column), St. Louis a half-game back, Colorado trails by 5, Los Angeles by 7, and the Mets by 7 1/2 (8 in the loss column). The Mets' number to be eliminated from postseason eligibility is 37.

Melky Cabrera hit a walkoff homer for the Atlanta Braves against Joe Torre's Los Angeles Dodgers last night.

Manny Ramirez is now an ex-Dodger. He cleared waivers. The Yankees better not pick him up, because that will instantly transform him from "beloved, quirky, ex-Red Sox and ex-Dodger slugger" to "fucking Yankee steroid freak who should never be allowed in the Hall of Fame."

I don't want Manny on the Yankees because he would be a disruptive influence.

Speaking of disruptive influences, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez didn't just injure his girlfriend's father: In the process, he pulled a Kevin Brown. As a result of his anger, he injured his hand, will have surgery, and is out for the season.

The Mets are already considering eating the rest of his contract and cutting him loose. This would change what I said last week, that we cannot yet put K-Rod on the lists of Worst Free Agent Signings, Biggest Met Blunders, and Most Embarrassing Players. He won't really have "stood the test of time," but his time with the team in question will have come to an end.


Days until Rutgers plays football again: 16. A little over 2 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 25.

Days until the first regular-season Giants game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 26. Under 4 weeks.

Days until the first regular-season Jets game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 27.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 38, Friday, September 24, at Yankee Stadium II. A little over 5 weeks.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 52, on Friday, October 8, at home at the Prudential Center in Newark, against the Dallas Stars. A little over 7 weeks.

Days until Rutgers and Army play the first college football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 60. 2 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 68, on Sunday, October 24, at Madison Square Garden against The Scum. Under 10 weeks. Then the Rags come to the Prudential on Friday, November 5. The first game of the season against the Islanders is on Friday, November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Nassau Coliseum, followed the next day by the first game of the season against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers, at The Rock.

Days until the next North London Derby: 96, Sunday, November 21, at New Highbury. A little under 3 months.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 100.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 276 (estimated). A little over 9 months.

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 452. 15 months.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 607 (estimated). A little over 20 months.

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 710. Now under 2 years.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 793 (estimated). About 26 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 1,056 (estimated). Now under 3 years.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 1,265. Now under 3 1/2 years.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,719 (estimated). 57 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,743 (estimated). 58 months, so, less than 5 years.

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