2003-12-05 / Sports

Inside Pitch

By Bryan Hoch
Inside Pitch By Bryan Hoch


New York Knicks Antonio McDyess misses one of his fiv e shots against Mehmet Okur of the Detroit Pistons in his first game back. (AP Photo/Ed Betz).New York Knicks Antonio McDyess misses one of his fiv e shots against Mehmet Okur of the Detroit Pistons in his first game back. (AP Photo/Ed Betz).

For all those who wish to push the agenda that there’s no equality in the baseball world, the possibility of the Yankees’ acquisition of Kevin Brown for punching bag Jeff Weaver had to be a swift jab to the gut.

Brown, who posted 14 wins and a 2.39 ERA last season for a Dodgers team that simply did not score any runs, is well regarded as one of the nastiest righthanders in the Na­tional League. Weaver is a starting pitcher who’s essentially not al­low­ed to pitch in the postseason.

So how in the name of Walter O’Malley can the Dodgers even be entertaining this kind of deal? As with all things in life, it boils down to money: Los Angeles desperately needs to slash payroll to add of­fense to their lineup, and Brown makes a ton of coin – $30 million through 2005.

But here’s the catch – Weaver’s making about half as much as Brown over the next two years, and which pitcher would you rather have on the hill in a big-game situation? Scratch that: make it any game situation.

For a Yankees rotation that’s losing Roger Clemens and possibly David Wells to retirement, scoring Brown would be a major pick-up. There’s even a little milestone thrown into the deal: theoretically, Brown’s third victory in pinstripes would be the 200th of his career. Hey, it’s not Clemens’ big day, but people almost seemed to get excited over Wells’ 200th win this past season.

As most 200-game winners would be, Brown is rather advanced in age for a power pitcher, turning 39 in March, but today’s sports world has proven that all bets are off when it comes to predicting a pitcher’s downfall.

Would the Yankees part with sweet-swinging Nick Johnson to grease the wheels on a Brown deal? That’s quite possible. The Dodgers couldn’t find an everyday first baseman last season and Johnson is stifled by the looming shadow of Jason Giambi, cemented in town to an untouchable contract for five more years.

The Yankees need to grab an elite starting pitcher at some point this offseason to offset the Red Sox’s acquisition of Curt Schilling, which has many buying the tag line that the balance of power has shifted in the AL East. We’d do this one.

• If the Jets win their next five games to force a dramatic showdown against the Miami Dolphins for a playoff spot – even if they lose that last game and fall short – can you consider this a successful season?

It all boils down to this: if Herman Edwards’ squad can keep the fans on the edges of their seats through the entire schedule, and continue to suspend that glimmer of hope off in the distance, then this will continue to be a winner of a season for Gang Green.

It’s an uphill battle, make no mistake about it – a six-game win streak would be the longest of Edwards’ Jets tenure by two games. But it’s not as though the Jets haven’t been charging against the wind for weeks now, desperately clawing toward some form of respectability from holes that read 0-4 and 2-6.

Monday night’s 24-17 win over the Tennessee Titans was anti-climactic at best, but it was an im­portant victory none­the less: with every victory chipping into place, the Jets have a chance to stage one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, a fight that could be recalled in 50 years with the lusty reverence of the gridiron’s all-time greats.

That’s a long way off now, but who would have thought we’d be saying that in December? This Jets team is a potential playoff contender as long as they keep the fantasy alive.

• The Knicks finally have Antonio McDyess in uniform and active on the floor. But don’t get any crazy ideas about McDyess putting the team on his shoulders and carrying them – in all probability, it will be the other way around for some time.

McDyess says he personally gives his physical conditioning an ‘A’ grade, but no human can simply step into the world of NBA action after missing more than 20 months. As the Knicks progress on a five-game road trip this week, it will be interesting to see how coach Don Chaney eases McDyess into the offensive plan, and furthermore how the Knicks tip-toe the line between hard competition and helping the 6’9" forward shake off his sizable portion of rust.

His first game action on Monday didn’t hold much promise: McDyess went 0-for-5 from the field in 13 minutes against the Pistons, netting his only two points from the foul line while committing two turnovers. With time, of course, McDyess’ performance should take on some – if not all – of its old glitter. That’s a good thing, because the sub-.500 Knicks need all the help they can get.

BULLET Boomer Esiason notes that former Giants great Lawrence Taylor must have written his new autobiography, which details such points of his NFL career as rampant sleep-depriving drug use and dispatching prostitutes to opponents the night before games, because Taylor "needs the money." L.T. probably does need an extra paycheck here and there, but that doesn’t make Taylor different than any of us. Unless Esiason is providing his television football analysis for CBS pro bono, he’s backed himself into quite the hypocritical corner.

Email: bryanhoch@yahoo.com.


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