The Book of Eli: The Final Chapter

The Book of Eli: The Final Chapter

The Book of Eli: The Final ChapterBy Steve LaudatoSo this is it – the end of an era. Eli Manning made his first career regular-season start against the Atlanta Falcons at Giants Stadium on November 21, 2004. In that game, he threw his first career touchdown on a six-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey in the third quarter. And though we don’t know when his last game will be just yet, he at least for the moment has re-emerged as the starting quarterback for the Giants following the injury to his successor Daniel Jones.
As we are witnessing the final moments of Eli’s career as a New York Football Giant dwindle down to a precious few, we should look back on his career and take some time to reflect. He will be missed by New York sports fans, that’s for sure. Coming from football royalty, Eli put together a career that had no shortage of magical moments. Heck, he helped deliver two Super Bowl titles to the Big Apple – in a span of four years – against one of the most dominant team dynasties we’ve ever seen in all of sports (the Bellicheck/Brady led New England Patriots). Who can forget the image of Eli escaping pressure late in the 4th quarter of the first Super Bowl victory, only to miraculous connect on a desperation pass to David Tyree’s helmet? Not to mention, throwing the game winning touchdown against an all time great team that was on the verge of becoming only the second undefeated team in the history of the NFL (would have been the first since they expanded the regular season to 16 games). Or how about that beautiful pass down the sideline to Mario Manningham late in the 4th quarter of the second Super Bowl victory, sparking yet another game winning drive?
Eli has been everything a football organization, a teammate, and a fan could ask for. And even more impressive was the fact that he was equally as great off the field -whether that meant being charitable in the community, or just being a great role model for budding athletes – he did it the right way. Two Superbowl MVP awards, a career record hovering around .500, will finish with top 15 statistics in terms of Touchdown passes and yards… is he a Hall of Famer? I’m sure we could argue that answer for hours on end. But one thing we can all agree on – he was fun to watch, a great competitor, and a great role model – and he’ll be missed when he decides to retire.
It‘s a shame the way the last few seasons have unfolded, especially after the start his career got off to. Whether it was being benched in the midst of his consecutive starts streak, being benched this season for his young, almost clone-like successor after only 2 games, or falling victim to horrible management (poor roster construction/bad teams), it’s
been tough to watch. And even in this most recent game, where he was reinserted as the starter on Monday night in Philadelphia against the Eagles, we saw signs of how good Eli once was, and maybe even still is… only to watch the game slip away in the second half.
I personally hope he finishes out the season as the starter so fans have a chance to head back to Met Life stadium, and cheer on their hero as he likely makes his last few starts for a team he experienced so much glory leading. The Book of Eli has been a ‘best seller,’ in my opinion, and if this is indeed the final chapter, I’ll be curious to see how it ends. But will the rest of this season actually be the final chapter of his great career? Or is there an alternative ending for another organization? Stay tuned…
The One Handed Jam That Was No “Slam Dunk”

The One Handed Jam That Was No “Slam Dunk”

On Tuesday night (December 4th, 2019), a strange thing occurred in an NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. At the AT&T center in downtown San Antonio, after being down 22 points in the third quarter, the Spurs clawed their way back to ultimately win the game 135-133 in double overtime. But the impressive comeback victory didn’t come free of controversy.
With approximately 7:50 left in the fourth quarter, Rockets guard James Harden, who would go on to score 50 points in the contest, was involved in a strange controversial play. He stole a pass by Spurs forward DeMarre Carroll, ran to the hoop and dunked the ball so hard that the ball went through the net—which should have counted as two points—and then popped back out of the net. Shortly after, the referees mistakenly waived off the basket. Without question, the ball took a bizarre path and looked a little funny in real time. Harden immediately realized this and tried to retrieve the ball after he had dunked it.
In comes the controversy. After a quick replay, you could see the ball passing through the net, making it a good basket. A head coach is entitled to request an instant review of the call within 30 seconds of the call. Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni can be seen attempting to challenge the call, or the interpretation of the call as given by the referee. After the game, crew chief James Capers admitted that the dunk should have in fact counted. Capers also claimed that coach D’Antoni did not request an instant review of the call within the allotted 30 seconds. Capers implied that D’Antoni used those 30 seconds to protest the call and to try to get clarification on what transpired, but did not ask for a review.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, D’Antoni had a different recollection of how this scenario unfolded. D’Antoni claimed he did challenge the call within the context in which the referees had explained it. “I heard that they said the ball hit James and went back through,” D’Antoni said after the game. “So it was a goaltend on James. I challenged that, and I didn’t get a response.” Apparently, he was told he couldn’t initiate a challenge.
D’Antoni has a legitimate gripe here, and this debacle should result in one of two outcomes. Either – the Rockets should flat out be awarded the win (less likely), or – the final 7:50 of the game should be replayed (more likely). Though a rare occurrence, there is precedent for re-do’s in the NBA (2008 Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat, and 1982 San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers). It’ll be interesting to see how NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handles this situation, but it’s a “slam dunk” that somethingwill be done to resolve this issue.
Long Live The King!

Long Live The King!

Long live the king! – King (LeBron) James, that is. On the verge of celebrating his 35thbirthday, some people were starting to wonder if father time was starting to catch up with Bron. After all, last season he missed the playoffs in the first time in what seemed to be ages. He battled with injury, and when he came back, seemed disinterested, not showing any effort on defense. Maybe the wear and tear of going to 8 straight NBA Finals had finally taken its toll, so some people suggested he was washed up. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the first to arrive at that party.

As a matter of fact, LeKing of LaLakers is back – with a vengeance. Through the first 17 games of the season (yes, I realize that there are still 65 regular season games to go, plus playoffs), he is averaging 25.6 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game and 11 assists per game. Not bad for the old man; not to mention he has recommitted himself to defense, as the Lakers are the second best ranked defensive team in the NBA (again, through the first 17 games).

Nobody can deny the greatness of LeBron. He’s accomplished so much – championships for multiple teams, MVP awards, appearing in 8 straight NBA Finals, recording a triple-double against every NBA team, soon to be teaming up with Bugs Bunny – what else does he need to accomplish? Well, winning a championship for a 3rdfranchise, especially the Los Angeles Lakers… that might be something to strive for. He certainly looks poised to at least be in the mix, as he’s surrounded by arguably the best player he’s ever played with (is Anthony Davis right now better than Dwayne Wade or Kyrie Irving? Certainly debatable…), has a good coach, and a quality supporting cast with the likes of (the aforementioned) Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Javale McGee and Dwight Howard, just to name a few.

But LeKing and AD aren’t the only dynamic duo in the NBA. We have the Klaw and PG13, The Beard and Russell Westbrook, Luka and KP, Simmons and Embiid, and others who might emerge as the season progresses. And let’s not forget about the Greek Freak, the defending champs, or the Celtics either.

The King certainly has his work cut out for him, no question. First and foremost, he and AD must display the most important ability of all – availability. For the sake of NBA fans everywhere, we wish this were a video game and we could just turn injuries off. There are so many stars in the league – young and older – we just hope they all can be healthy once the playoffs arrive. But one thing’s for sure – the league is better off when its once-in-a-generation talent feels like he still has something to prove – and so far, he’s proving it. Let’s hope he keeps the Magic going (see what I did there..?).

Long live the King!

There’s No Spying In Baseball!

There’s no spying in baseball! – at least there shouldn’t be – not to this extent. The Houston Astros are in the midst of what could prove to be one of the biggest cheating scandals in all professional sports. Sure, we’ve all heard the phrase, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin,” but these accusations take that philosophy to a-whole-nother level.

Sign stealing, or pitch tipping, have always been part of baseball. Coaches and players will do just about anything to gain an edge over their competition. Sometimes a pitcher will have a ‘tell,’ and unconsciously reveal what pitch they’re about to throw. Or, if a batter reaches second base, they obviously have a view of what sign the catcher is putting down, so in an effort to prevent the base runner from relaying signs to the batter, the catcher will give a series of signs that only the pitcher and catcher understand. That’s gamesmanship. But using an intricate system of surveillance, where players used a video feed that was piped into a monitor near the dugout to decode signs and relay them to batters using loud banging sounds during games – that’s crossing the line. Now you’re ruining the integrity of the game. People’s livelihoods are being affected, young pitchers get sent down, jobs of opposing coaches were lost as a result of this scandal.

Well, there will most certainly be more jobs being lost – especially in the Houston Astros Front Office. Who knows, maybe this scandal goes deeper than we know now, maybe other teams are guilty of similar cheating schemes. But now, the eyes of the sports world are fixated on how Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is going to punish the guilty parties. All we can hope for is that the punishment is severe enough that teams will think twice about trying something like this again down the road.

As for what the right punishment should be? Well, obviously we can expect heavy fines and suspensions. I’ve heard people bring up things like taking away their 2017 championship, or no longer recognizing Jose Altuve as the 2017 AL MVP. Fans of teams the Astros faced on their way to winning the 2017 World Series are obviously upset – and have every right to be – but don’t expect any of your teams (Yankees, Dodgers) to be put in the Astros stead as champions. Besides, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks character from A League of Their Own) said it best – “There’s no crying in baseball!” Let’s hope there’s no more spying in basbaseball either.