Earlier today, on Twitter, I offered Cliff Lee all the money I have on me ($7.65) if he would hurry up and decide something already, so that I could write about him today. I have not yet heard back from his agent, however, so I went ahead and bought lunch and the offer is no longer on the table.
In the absence of any baseball news more significant than Brian Bruney signing with the White Sox, and some media-on-media violence from the usually mild-mannered Buster Olney and Joe Posnanski, I am thus forced to turn my attention to basketball. Which, in recent years in New York City, has been almost unspeakably bleak. But after years of excruciating play, and then years of being unable to bring myself to care how excruciating their play was, I am casting a hopeful but wary eye on the Knicks.
Going by his own statement, Isiah Thomas, who has by now made it clear that he is clinically delusional, targeted Lebron James for the 2010 season from the very first unfortunate moment that he was hired to run the Knicks. (He even tries to make that his explanation for the Eddy Curry deal, but like all other explanations for the Eddy Curry deal, it makes no sense whatsoever). As you may have noticed, however, Lebron did not come to New York City this season, and I’m just as glad, because people hate New York sports teams enough as it is, and because the whole “Decision” thing was so insufferable. But I did not think, at first, that Amar’e Stoudemire would be any kind of suitable consolation prize.
Stoudemire is no LeBron, but he’s also a lot better than I gave him credit for prior to this season, and he’s a fairly interesting, likeable guy to boot. This is the first year since the millenium, more or less, that the Knicks have been any fun to watch, and that’s not all Stoudemire, but he’s played a big role. I did not expect that I would gain much pleasure from watching point guard Raymond Felton, either, but I was wrong – and really after the agony of the Stephon Marbury years, it’s just lovely to have a PG who isn’t noticeably mentally unstable, miserable, and constantly jeered by his hometown crowd. Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields: I expected nothing and, for once, the Knicks have overdelivered… so far. They do not seem to hate each other, their fans, or their coach… yet.
The season is still young and, when it comes to the Knicks (or any team owned by James Dolan), I will not count my dysfunctional chickens. No imaginable severity of collapse could surprise me any more. But the Knickerbockers are working on their best record since the Clinton years, and finally, best of all, the Garden is no longer hostile and angry and hurt. I don’t need the Knicks to be great right now, I just need them to be better. Mediocrity is a soothing relief.
Needless to say, it’s been many many years since that was true of the Yankees. Which is why they are willing to go a walloping seven years on a 32-year-old pitcher, and why that pitcher can take his sweet Arkansas time in making up his mind. Hurry up, Lee, or I’m going to have to write about the god damn Jets, and nobody wants that.