Miami Dolphins

Meet The *New* Jets (Same As The *Old* METS)

Perhaps The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is one of the most plagiarized songs in sports.  If you think about it, the whole “Meet the old boss/same as the new boss” line gets rehashed over and over…and over and over…and over some more, and once again, in the sports lexicon.  No matter what sport, team or pro/amateur, whatever, we can always use that line to describe how a team we follow has performed.

I promised myself never to do that, since I believe it to be cliche.  Yet, I haven’t weighed in on the whole Jets performance at the end of the season for that very reason: it’s a cliche.  You have a semi-new “boss” who has talked a big game and practically predicted a championship  each year since his hiring.  You have a young stud hotshot whose hopes for the future have been pinned upon.  You have a bunch of mercenaries playing on a team that really just care about personal performance, but aren’t “team” guys.

Factor in a New York (“big market”) team facing a Miami (“small market”) team on the last game of the season with playoff implications for the big team and what do you have?  A recipe for disaster.

You may think I’m talking about the Jets, but I’m not entirely.  You see, I’ve read this story before.  It’s happened to the Mets as well.

I’ve often argued that 2006 for the Mets was the aberration: the year that should have never happened.  Yet, at the time, I was drinking the Kool-Aid like everyone else, or rather, I was just enjoying the time and place in front of me.  But who believed they wouldn’t at least *MAKE* the playoffs that year?  I can say until I’m blue in the face that the last series of 2007 for the baseball Mets was not the killer — we could point to any series lost against the Phillies after All-Star Break that year, not to mention the series before against the Washington Nationals where if they only won just ONE goddamn game, we wouldn’t be even blinking an eye about their floundering now — but rather it was indicative of the whole season.  The giant falls, and we’re not talking baseball or football giant, we’re talking a big market team, no matter what the pro sport.

But look at the Jets.  A team that simply got too big for its britches.  A team that believed everything its big talking coach told them, a team that believed its young stud quarterback wasn’t actually overrated.  Hey, you know what, I don’t apologize for liking Mark Sanchez.  He’s young, and may even be successful without the fish bowl of New York media.  But I’ve gotten attacked on Twitter for saying Eli Manning was overrated (so the fuck what about a Super Bowl title), but I was also saying that the Jets aren’t much better in that department.

Then look at how the Mets floundered in 2007.  I’ve often said the denouement of that quasi-dynasty was Carlos Delgado.  And he was barely a Met.  Yet, he came to the team, and they rode his confidence.  Yet, the second he started to slump, so did the team right behind him.  Perhaps Billy Wagner put it best when he looked to his locker after a game in 2008 and said, “f**kin shocker” in response to being interviewed in a game where he didn’t even play.

Substitute Santonio Holmes on the Jets for Carlos Delgado on the Mets, and you have yourself a good comparison. I have to admit that I like Holmes, and even past tense, especially when he was on the Steelers (for some reason, I have a lot of friends who are Steelers fans).  He’s been criticized by Joe Namath, but also by his own teammate LaDainian Tomlinson.  Injured reserve rookie QB Greg McElroy didn’t name names, but didn’t really have to when he said that the Jets locker room was infiltrated by selfish personalities.

If you look back to the reasons why the Mets faltered late in the season in both 2007 and 2008, there were rumors that a faction led by Carlos Delgado kind of undermined their “boss” Willie Randolph.  To be honest, I was not a fan of Willie Randolph, but it seemed like a bit of a longshot that Delgado or anyone on the team woud have tanked on purpose just to get him fired.  On the flip side, there was almost a direct correlation to the team doing better (especially specific players) after Randolph’s midnight firing.

So does this mean that the rumors were true — that Holmes, among others, were just tanking to get Brian Schottenheimer fired?  If that’s the case, then fuck ’em, these are professionals who should be playing to win.  Not lose to spite a coach they are not fond of IF IN FACT that is the case.  Yet, it’s doubly wrong and implies that Holmes, a team captain, wasn’t even trying for whatever reason, mostly selfish.

Back after the 2006 season, the Mets came out of nowhere to come within a game of making the World Series.  Each year after that, their performance has gotten worse and worse, and more embarrassing by the season.  Now, they are almost in a rebuild mode (a hybrid of cutting ties with “dead weight” and ties to previous losing seasons, and letting the young guys play, whether they win or lose).  Taking a cue from the public service announcement that “It Gets Better.”  For the Mets, though, it’s gotten progressively worse, and should continue to get worse before it ever gets better.

In 2007 and 2008, the Mets had respective season-ending series against the Florida (Now “Miami”) Marlins that could have swayed their playoff position.  I’ve argued that there were games each season that they SHOULD HAVE won and COULD HAVE won but DID NOT.  So when those series were lost, yes, it sucked, but I just took it.  The same goes for this big market football team, losing to a subpar team located in Miami, in a game where a win could have changed everything.  By the same token, a win anywhere else in the preceding three weeks could have changed everything too.

I root for three major New York teams — the Mets, the Jets and the Rangers.  Each one incompetent in their own special way.  But the Mets and Jets have more similarities than I care to admit.  And yet, I have to wonder if after a taste of almost success in making it to the conference championship could have been just enough of a taste for a team that didn’t make it quite as far as they should have.

The Jets are in a bind.  They believed their own hype and became too big for their britches and then what happens? Players start to quit.  And it becomes a bigger story than the team itself.  They lose games they should be winning by considerable margins.  But that’s just it: THE ENTIRE FUCKING SEASON WAS LIKE THAT.  I could go back to when they started 2-3 after losing three straight on the road.  Winning just ONE of those road games would have made a difference.  The shitshow back in November after Thanksgiving.  All in all, the Jets have no one to blame but themselves, since it’s a team loss.  But if you are having individual players making individual decisions about how the team should operate…then expect more of the same, as long as Mark Sanchez, whipping boy du jour, is around.

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Turn The Beat Around

There are two parts to every football game.  There’s the football game itself, and there’s the tailgate preceding it (sometimes, if you’re lucky, especially on a Sunday afternoon, you get a postscript to the tailgate, by tailgating afterwards).

I attended my first Jets game of the season Monday.  It was last-minute, as a friend decided he wanted to go to the tailgate party, but didn’t want to stay for the whole game.  Since I’m not working full time now, and I’d never been to a Monday night game live, I figured, what the hell?  You only live once, right?  So off to the Meadowlands I went Monday afternoon.

Tailgating is some serious business at any football game.  On a Monday though, I spent a good four hours before the game preparing and doing the pregame before actually ENTERING the stadium.  When all was said and done, I left my house around 4 pm yesterday, and didn’t get home till around 1 am.  All for the Jets.

Good thing they won.

 

Few notes about the tailgate process.  You have to admire football fans for putting so much thought and effort into having the comforts of home and being able to somewhat beat the system by bringing your own food and beverage, so that you don’t spend money in the stadium. As I walked around, I saw $11.25 large draft beers…seriously?  That’s more than a six pack!  Although to me, the preparation and expenditures for a football game is a small fortune, but I guess you can justify it for a few reasons.  My friend, as an example, joined a tailgate “group” in parking lot L11, so each of the crews provides a cooler of beverages, different types of food, each person brings something and it’s all shared.  It’s not a bad idea.  Plus it takes the pressure off one person who is trying to do it by themselves by having back-up.  So within a half hour, I had some deep fried buffalo wings (brought to you by a guy who brings his own DEEP FRYER), Mike’s Hard Lemonade (for some reason, I don’t like beer anymore…and my friend who invited me has a margarita mixer that’s battery operated…but made pina coladas…blech), chips, homemade chili with cornbread (that was some serious chili), then they broke out the dogs and sausages, and I had seriously the best sausage sandwich ever (it was the bread that did it, yummy crusty Italian bread).  I had about three dinners and two desserts.

Bad news?  The day before was the Giants’ home game…and whoever is in charge of clean up neglected to provide us with clean port-a-potties.

#FAIL

If this was an oversight, it’s a bad oversight.  For one, if you can’t handle the facility issue at your grounds, perhaps you should rethink scheduling back-to-back games in the future.  Especially for events where tailgating is encouraged.  Luckily, after some sleuth work, I found a non-overflowing latrine, and did my business Austin Powers-style, then resumed my pregame festivities.  That doesn’t excuse that horrific oversight though.  I’m not a guy.  I can’t just point and shoot.

Anyway, our DJ for the festivities in L11 brought me back to my high school and college days.  I heard some Nirvana, 311, Bush, and a host of other 1990s music.  It set the mood right, and made me think that I really underestimated the music that came out during that time period.  No Backstreet Boys or Hanson, thank goodness.

I kept going around there, getting myself pumped for the game.  It’s kind of hard, when you’re having such a great time at a party, to get the motivation to go into the stadium and go to the game.  I know, it’s the primary reason you are there, but if you haven’t noticed, the Jets weren’t doing that great, on a three-game losing streak.  One vote in their favor was that the Dolphins were their opponent, who hadn’t won a game yet this season.  The bad thing was that a loss to them would have people jumping off the rafters.

Around 7:30, I decided it was time to head in, so I bid my friends, old and new, farewell, and went into the new Meadowlands Stadium, now christened MetLife Stadium.  It’s better than the old Giants Stadium in several ways, but most of all that the Giants name wasn’t plastered all over the place in this one.  On Jets game days, it’s Jets-Jets-Jets stuff, and at night, there is green lighting surrounding the stadium.  I’m sure it’s something similar for Giants game days (which, by the way, if you know anyone who ever needs an extra hand in taking a ticket, I’d love to see the differences between a Jets home game and a Giants home game at MetLife).  But the Jets have the slight edge there, since you can just call it “JetLife” Stadium.

 

I still had about an hour to kill till the game actually started.  But this is where things started to get a little weird, as I ran into a Mets buddy of mine, Metstradamus, who was in disguise as Jetstradamus.  I saw him as I walked past a stand for the Food Network, which had a noteworthy item on their menu called Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.  Yes please!  I did order it later, but I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed.  It sounded better than it tasted.  Worlds also collided when I found out a friend of mine, JDR, from the Rangers world of my life, was there celebrating her birthday, looking all cute in her Dolphins gear…We’re all Marino fans, at heart, I believe.  Don’t be fooled…she’s really a Giants fan (sorry that I outed you babe!).

I walked around the lower-level concourse for another few minutes, then headed back to my seat.  I was in the 100s level…I probably would never opt to sit there on my own, but these were pretty nice.  Many thanks to my friends who offered me the seat to begin with!  Here are some miscellaneous views from before and during the game, thanks to the killer zoom on my camera!

 

Because of the build up to the game, the downfall is that it could actually be sort of a let down.  This game was not, though the Jets were really testing our patience after a particularly slow start.  Then for anyone who watched knows that Darrelle Revis turned that beat around, took an interception all the way into the end zone for a TD…that set off the chain of events that led to their win.  You should have also heard the ovation for the first down of the game…it was almost like they won the Super Bowl!

There were some significantly ugly turns in the game, but the good news is the Jets still have “it,” and that “it” is they can beat the teams they are supposed to beat.  The Dolphins are a team you need to beat…I’m sure they’ll win a game eventually, but to make the Jets legit, they needed to take no prisoners.  A win is a win is a win, so we should take pride in that.  Till next week of course, but momentum is a many splendored thing.

Perhaps we can look back at this game and see that Revis play and point and say, hey that’s where the season turned around.  It’s also at a point where it could be a footnote to an otherwise blah season.  Trust me, I’m used to that with the Mets.  I have had high hopes for this Jets team for awhile, and I hope they prove me right.  The good news is, they responded favorably to a good play and turned around quickly.

So the game was the capper of an otherwise fun party before the game.  Of course, I ran into Metstradamus on the train going back home.  Leave it to NJ Transit to stick it to us and pretend to be an efficient organization.  I can dream, can’t I?