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Giants Fans Suffer Tough Win

October 29, 2012

Winning should feel good, but that’s not always the case when you’re a Giants fan.  After the Giants beat the Cowboys on Sunday 29-24, I went to a Halloween party and this is how almost every conversation went:

A friend would say, “Hey Hollie, great win today!”

And I would respond, “Ugh, it took years off my life.”

Then the friend would question, “But you won?”

And I’d say, “I know, but only the Giants can make winning feel like losing.”

It’s a unique talent, which the Giants have perfected over the years.  Almost every season they play a game like this one.  Remember the Bears game in 2007?  That game made me physically ill.  Admittedly, it would be worse to lose these games.  Winning is always better than losing.  Yet, it these wins are more excruciating than most loses.

It’s a phenomenon that is difficult to explain to those who root for other teams.  It is not as simple as your run-of-the-mill ugly win.  It’s special.  What makes it different?  It’s a combination of several factors.

First, there is an inability to capitalize on mistakes.   Replace just one of the field goals, after one of the several turnovers, with a touchdown, and the entire complexion of the game changes.

This goes hand in hand with not being able to put the game away.   The Giants had several opportunities to distance themselves from Dallas.  Again, one more touchdown would have done it or one more first down, but the Giants couldn’t accomplish either because of ultra-conservative play calling.

When it’s fourth and inches and a first down wins the game—Go For It!  Have the guts to call the play, get the first down and end the game on your terms.   That’s it!  Right there, that is the reason these types of games are so maddening for fans.  By playing too conservatively and not being able to capitalize on mistakes and put the game away, the Giants are giving away opportunities to control their own destiny, and fans are left praying to the football gods for a miracle.

Now sometimes the football gods listen, as they did yesterday, and Dez Bryant’s finger lands out of bounds.  Game saved.  The Giants should be grateful to the football gods, but it never should have gotten to get to that point.

As Giants fans, this is something we have come to live with.  We’re used to it.  If you’re not a Giants fan, I hope this helps to clear up why some of your friends, who are Giants fans, were miserable last night.  I’d also be interested to hear if your team does this to you.  Are there other teams out there that make winning feel like losing?

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Big Weekend: Giants and Red Sox Get Must Wins

October 22, 2012

The New York Giants needed to beat the Washington Redskins to avoid an 0-3 division record.  The Boston Red Sox needed to find a way to bring John Farrell back to Boston.  Both teams faced must-win situations and both came away with victories.  It was a good Sunday.

First, the Giants took the field against RGIII and the Redskins, and, although they didn’t have their best game, they played well enough to win.  Was every pass from Eli Manning accurate?  No.  Could the defense have done a better job of containing RGIII?  Yes.  However, considering that the Giants were swept by Washington last season, I’ll take this one.  A win is a win, and a 1-2 record in the divison sounds a whole lot better than 0-3.

Interestingly enough, the other Giants, the ones in San Francisco, also won a must-win.  They avoided elimination for the second straight game, beating the Cardinals to force a Game 7 in the NLCS.  The Red Sox, however, did not have a game on Sunday, because they finished the season with the miserable record of 69-93 and did not make the playoffs.  How the Red Sox managed to win on Sunday was by negotiating a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays to bring John Farrell back to Boston as the club’s new manager.

Out of all the qualities that make John Farrell a good choice, the most important is that he has the respect of his players.  David Ortiz told ESPNBoston, “I love John.  John is my main man.”  John Lester seemed equally excited about reuninting with his former pitching coach tweeting, “Welcome back John!! Can’t wait to get back to work!! #RedSox.”

If the Red Sox are going to rise from the ashes of this season, then the players need to respect the man at the helm.  Plus, if Farrell can help guide Lester back to his 2007-2010 form, then the Red Sox have an even better shot of making a comeback in 2013.

Every win is important, whether it comes in a game or in a deal, but some wins are worth more than others.  As my dad said to me today, “If the Giants can beat Dallas next week, it will be worth 3 wins.” Division wins are inherantly more valuable because of playoff tiebreakers, but there is more to it than that.  Some wins are building blocks.  They beget other wins.  The Giants victory over the Redskins has the potential to be one of these wins.

Similarily, the Red Sox are hopeful that John Farrell can be their building block.  The team could not afford to go into the off-season with their second or third choice as manager.  They needed a win and they got one in Farrell.  Like I said, it was a good Sunday.

Expect the Unexpected: Giants Crush Niners

October 16, 2012

What have we learned from this week in football?

1.  Never count out a Manning

2.  Anything is possible

3.  Nothing is predictable

This Sunday, I had to tape (digitally record, if you insist on being technical) the Giants-49ers game and watch it that night.  When, I got home around 7:30pm PDT, I went straight to the TV and turned it on but not the sound.  I also shielded my eyes so I could only see the DVR list and not what was playing live in that little box—this isn’t my first rodeo—I have a method.  I figure, if I have to tape a game, which I loathe doing in the first place, then I am going to make sure I don’t find out what happens before I see it for myself.  Yet, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see transpire over the next two hours (how long it usually takes me to watch a taped game when I fast forward through most of the commercials; there’s always a few that get you).  Nothing.

Bye, Bye Bobby V: The Red Sox Move On

October 5, 2012

Who sings the song that goes, “It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday?”  I think it’s Boys II Men or some boy-band, but whoever it is clearly is not a Red Sox fan.  When you’ve had the season that the Red Sox just had, it is not so hard to say so long to yesterday.

Giants Loss was a Team Effort

October 1, 2012

The Giants played a nearly perfect game against Carolina, and they followed it up with a performance, which, at best, can be described as subpar.  It would be easy to point fingers at a few players, plays and calls that cost the Giants the game against the Eagles.

We could blame:

Lawrence Tynes for missing a 54-yard field goal—twice.  However, it would have been a career long kick for Tynes, who did make a good adjustment after the first try.  Plus, the Giants had 15 seconds to get him closer or score a touchdown.

Ramses Barden for his flagrant pass interference penalty, which knocked the Giants out of field goal range.  There is no question that this penalty hurt, but the Giants had two PI calls go in their favor and, again, should have been able to do more with the time they had.

The coaches for poor decision-making and inopportune play calling.  Why risk throwing a pass when you’re already in field goal range?  Why not run?  The answer is, because you have Eli Manning, the best 4th quarter QB in the league.  Exactly!  The field goal should never have attempted, and, after Tynes missed it the first time, Tom Coughlin should have sent Eli back out onto the field.

Eli Manning for throwing an interception in the end zone.  If the Giants had scored there, then we would not be having this discussion.  Eli did not have his best game, but the defense should have given him more opportunities.

The defense for not putting more pressure on Michael Vick.  This was not the same defense that played in Carolina.  That defense would have been able to contain Vick and stop him from making the game winning drive.  That defense would have had more than one sack.  However, Vick’s job was arguably on the line, and he and his offensive line deserve credit for their efforts.

The coaches could have done a better job preparing the team, and the players could have done a better job executing the plan.  So who’s to blame?  Everyone.  This loss was a team effort.

Three things that are keeping me sane:

  1. Vick and the Eagles wanted/needed it more and that is hard to beat.
  2. The Giants will bounce back.  They always do.  My father says this all the time and it’s usually true.
  3. The Eagles may have our number, but we have the one (or four) thing(s) that the Eagles want the most.  Rings.

Bottom line:  Losing to the Eagles makes the Giants road to the playoffs more difficult, but the Giants play their best when their backs are up against the wall.

Stop the Insanity: Bring Back the Regular Refs

September 25, 2012

How glad am I that I waited until after the Monday Night game to finish this post on the replacement referee situation?  Very.   Although, I’m disappointed in the league’s response–to the blown call in the Green Bay-Seattle game, not my post. If only!  If you make a mistake, the classy thing to do is to acknowledge the mistake and promise to make it right.  The NFL can’t/won’t fix the outcome of Monday’s game, but they do have the ability to limit the damage by getting the regular officials back out on the field.

 

 

Tom Coughlin vs. Greg Schiano: Whose Side Are You On?

September 18, 2012

This probably goes without saying, but I’m on Tom Coughlin’s side.  Or at least I think I am.  I never want to see any of my guys, especially Eli Manning, take an unnecessary or “cheap” hit.

On the other hand, I hate when the Giants are on the receiving end of the “victory formation.”  In those situations, I hope and pray for a miracle.  So I understand the impulse.  If winning is the goal, why not do everything in your power (that’s legal) to win a game?

What Schiano had his team do was not technically illegal, but the Bucs did violate an unwritten rule.  As Tom Coughlin said, “You don’t do that in this league.”  One could ask, “Why not?”  In the spirit of “finishing,” why do teams wave the proverbial white flag when the other team kneels?  It would certainly be more exciting to eliminate kneel-downs altogether and make teams run an actual play.  There is some logic to this.

However, in situations where it would take more than some miracle fumble to win a game, the benefits simply do not outweigh the risks.  The NFL is all about player safety, as they should be, and, the fact of the matter is, kneel-downs make the game safer.

The victory formation isn’t going anywhere.  Giants fans who witnessed the “Miracle of the Meadowlands” don’t need to worry.  Taking-a-knee is a part of the game, but the question remains, should teams expect a certain level of protection when they have the chance to kneel down for a win?

Ahhhhhhh!  I’m torn.  If there are two seconds left and the kneeling team has more than an 8-point lead, then, obviously, bull rushing the line and knocking the QB down is a cheap and dirty play.  But…when the lead is less than 8 and it’s your team on the losing end, the right answer isn’t as easy to find.  You play to win the game, but what goes around comes around.  This seems to be where the Coughlin vs. Schiano debate ultimately leads.  Right or wrong, if the Bucs want to dish it, then they better be prepared take it.

Cast your vote and post your comments below.   If you have any other questions you would like me to tackle, then please send them my way.  You can tweet questions to @AFanDivided or submit them using our newest feature: Ask AFD.  I may even answer your question in my next post. 

A Productive Loss for the NY Giants

September 8, 2012

I was pretty confident that the Giants were going to win this game.  I remained confident until the Cowboys last drive.  I had no doubt that Eli would lead us down field and get us to within seven, but, after that, I wasn’t so sure that we’d get the ball back.  The defense came out firing in the first half but looked sluggish in the second, and, as I feared, they couldn’t come up with the stop even though it was 3rd and long.

That’s not to say that the defense lost us this game.  It was a collective effort.  The defending champions did not play their best football.  It’s disappointing and demoralizing, but it’s certainly not the end of the world.  In fact, this loss could actually help the Giants.

A Fresh Start

August 27, 2012

Somewhere along the road, the Red Sox made a wrong turn.  They started spending like the Yankees.  They tried to buy a winning team, when they needed to build a winning team.

Some may say that their only offense was signing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  Others could point to John Lackey.  If you believe it was when we paid over $50 million just to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, then you’re getting warmer.  That may have been the moment when the trend began, but that’s not when the seed was planted.

In December of 2003, the Red Sox were denied a chance to trade for Alex Rodriguez, and, ever since then, they have been determined, some may even say hell-bent on not letting other huge deals slip through their hands and into the Yankees lap.  The era of over-spending began here, and, hopefully, ended this weekend, as the ink dried on the mega-trade.

Whether you love or hate what the Red Sox did, I think we can all agree that something needed to be done.  I doubt we’ve even seen the last big change the Sox will make before next season, but I do believe that we’re finally back on the right track.  Even if you disagree, there are a few things all fans should keep in mind as we navigate the road ahead.

 

 

Red Sox West

August 25, 2012

The Red Sox are coming.  The Red Sox are coming!  In one fell swoop, I now live closer to 16% of our team.  Welcome to Los Angeles boys.

It’s amazing—first Manny and now this.  When the Red Sox need to unload a guy, or three, the Dodgers have certainly stepped up to the plate.  I hope, for their sake, that this move works out better, in the long run, than the Ramirez trade did.  I’m sure it will, and the immediate impact will definitely be huge.  It could very well be enough to propel them past the Giants and into the playoffs.  Although, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for Josh Beckett to play in a city that is famous for its chicken and waffles and where you can buy beer in a grocery store.  Even on a Sunday!

Another amazing thing is, last year at this time, the Dodgers were in bankruptcy, and, today, they made a deal that is going to cost them over $200 million dollars.  That’s what a little “Magic” will buy you, I suppose.  It’s an exciting time to be a Dodger fan.

It is also not a bad time to be a Red Sox fan.  I have a feeling that the team will finish the season strong. More importantly, the Sox have freed up a lot of cash to focus on the future.  They can now afford to give David Ortiz a multi-year deal.  I’d also love to see us sign Jacoby Ellsbury, but with Nava and Kalish, the Red Sox may decide to save the money and put it towards pitching.  Obviously, we need to shore up the rotation and the bullpen.  If you’re watching the game now, you just saw us blow our second 6 run lead in three games.   Without a doubt, our focus in the off-season will be pitching.  It’s too bad that we couldn’t have snuck Lackey and Dice-K into the deal.  Now that would have been hitting the reset button.

We are also in need of a first baseman.  I doubt James Loney will be a long-term solution, but you never know.  It’s funny, if we hadn’t signed Adrian Gonzalez, this mega-deal would never have happened, but, also, Kevin Youkilis would not have had to move from first to third, the Middlebrooks controversy probably wouldn’t have happened, and the Red Sox may not have traded Youk. It’s a shame and ironic…don’t you think?  (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

The Red Sox have lost/given up a lot this season, but, the bottom line is, this monumental trade is the clean slate that the Red Sox desperately needed.  A topic we will discuss in further detail, on Monday.

In the meantime, Josh, Adrian, Nick and Carl, thank for your service, and best of luck to you and the Dodgers.  I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon.

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