Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday's Starting Five

1. Win and You're In. Dolphins, Chargers, Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens and Vikings. Forgetting the various in-season melodramas and the pre-season predictions, these clubs have all that you could ever ask for. They play one game to enter the postseason tournament. If they win then they are in. It's simple. They control their own fate. At least, they do in an NFL-playoffs sense. I wouldn't begin to postulate the ultimate fates of these men. Although I get the impression that Sunday afternoon will represent the confluence of the NFL-related fate and the ultimate FATE of Chad Pennington, who brings a 10-5 Dolphins squad into his old haunt in NJ to face the woebegone Jets just months after they wanted him gone to make room for Brett Favre.

2. Rajon Rondo. If a team starts five ballplayers and THE BIG THREE board a train heading south out of North Station in Boston then how do the other two starters reach TD Banknorth Garden? Do they take the Green Line in from Newton? And, do they necessarily need to be called "the little two" in order to maintain equilibrium? Rondo seems unconcerned with the implications of his teammates' nicknames as they pertain to his stature as he took over the Knicks @ Celtics tilt in the few moments that it got close Sunday afternoon (the Knicks did manage to pull within seven points before being brushed aside with just slightly more effort than the Pats discarded the Cardinals at Foxboro). He scored 18 of his team-high 26 points in the third quarter. 12 of those 18 came consecutively and all but two of those points were scored right at the rim. This win raised the Celtics record to 17-0 when Rondo scores 17 points or more. Of course, this team has won all but two if its games so I don't know how far down the rabbit hole it's worth going with stats like that.

3. The Same Old Jets. Just in time for Christmas, they're baaack.

4. Yo La Tengo. Last night the indie rock legends from the Garden State (whose name translates to "I got it!" and was inspired by the New York Metropolitans) began their near-annual eight-night Hanukkah stand at Maxwell's. Go to Craigslist and find yourself some tickets. Each night features a surprise opening act (past performers include Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Electric Boogie and the singer from the New York Dolls), a comedian (Todd Barry, David Cross and others have filled this slot) and Yo La Tengo themselves. And, all of this happens in front of about 200 people and no performer makes a dime (all the money goes to a different charity each night).

5. Derrick Ward. Any Giants fan will tell you that the difference maker versus the Panthers was really Brandon Jacobs. And, anyone who makes their hay analyzing football would likely agree. But between us sports fans, that Ward had one heck of a ballgame last night against the Panthers as the Giants and Panthers played out round one of what could be a two-tiered tango for the NFC's berth in the Super Bowl. Drafted by the Jets out of Fresno State in 2004, the fourth-year player (signed by the Giants off the Jets practice squad in 2004) piled up a Jacobian 215 rushing yards on just 15 carries against the Panthers before a national television audience on Sunday Night Football. The weather was bitter cold at Giants Stadium but the crowd was anything but as the normally grouchy septuagenarian season-ticket holders had mostly sold their seats to their rowdy and enthusiastic grandkids, nieces and nephews. In fact, the only one yelling at "sit down" may have been Ward as he blew by opposing defenders. He averaged over 14 yards per carry and keyed the drives that set up the tying drive in the fourth quarter and the winning drive in overtime.