Chuck 'n' Duck

"I'm a very optimistic person. When you're optimistic, the good opportunities, good fortune, good everything will come with it." - Jae Seo Chuck 'n' Duck: the New York Mets from an Eternal Optimist's P.O.V.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Stars of New York

I really do have every intention to post on a more consistent basis, it's just that absolutely nothing is going on with the Mets -- unless you count Doug Mientkiewicz being grumpy as a something.

When Mets news starts picking up, I'm sure I'll have something to say on it.

Until then... how about that Eli Manning? I know that the sports papers are littered with praise for the guy, but as a Giants fan, I feel the need to just continue to heap it on.

New York Giants football has a history of churning out star players: you can't go far into a conversation about the Big Blue teams of the past without hearing about Roosevelt Brown and Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and Lawrence Taylor. The problem with that is, it is history. Since LT, while there've been some great, good and solid players the Giants haven't developed any Hall of Fame talent (though Strahan does seem to be making a good case). Touting Roosevelt Brown or Sam Huff as reasons why the Giants are great is like when Yankees fans say they're the best because they won twenty-six championships -- sure, the team was good in the past, but it doesn't really have any impact on the here and now.

Now, I'm twenty one. Which means I was born at just the right time to not remember anything about the Mets winning the World Series or the Giants winning the Super Bowl in 1986 (what a year that would've been), and barely recall anything about Super Bowl XXV. But what that also means is I wasn't around when Doc Gooden was Doc Gooden or when Lawrence Taylor was LT. Saddest thing of all, by the time I started following baseball, Darryl Strawberry was a Los Angeles Dodger. I didn't even know the guy was a Met until 1995. True story.

My entire sports history has been cluttered with teams that develop solid players and big misses. I have never been a fan of a team that's developed a true superstar. I've been able to follow Mike Piazza for years, but he was never my own -- I always knew there was a person just like me in Los Angeles grinning because his team developed this guy, regardless of where he was putting up his numbers. Meanwhile the Mets were developing Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher, Jay Payton and Alex Escobar, and heaven forbid we forget about Geoff Goetz.

The Giants had far more luck: the aforementioned Strahan, Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey, Luke Petitgout, Ron Day... okay, they weren't all winners. But still, like I said, no Hall of Famers in the bunch -- thus far, at least. That is, until Eli Manning.

Along with David Wright, I am now in the strangest position I've ever been in: watching my NFL and MLB teams develop two players that seem to have HOF written all over them. Two terrific talents, two good guys, and two players that their respective teams huddle around. Manning is my football version of Wright, right down to the slight Southern drawl.

Watching Eli rally the team around him at the end of Sunday's game was like watching David Wright hit a two RBI double to put the Mets up by one -- something I saw numerous times last season. While the Mets season is over for now, and David Wright's development is finished for the winter, I get to watch the same thing happen all over again during this football season. The maturation, the improvement, the education of these two players, playing their first full-seasons at the same point in their careers. Returning confidence and winning ways to two teams in desperate need of both.

If you haven't yet this season, sit down and watch the Giants play next week. Watch Eli play, but give him the whole game. Just like Wright's twenty-four errors in the field last year, Manning will make his mistakes throughout the course of the game. But watch closely. Watch how the stadium rallies around the guy. How the team rallies around the guy. Watch how absolutely calm and collected the guy is when the pressure is on.

And stick around to the end of the game, too. You wouldn't want to miss anything.