COVID CENTRAL, NYC – As we continue to navigate this hazy, blurred maze of The Covid Zone, our staff has taken turns on the
DL IL in unprecedented fashion… and not because of the Coronavirus. Buddy Diaz rightfully needed a spot starter when he lost a friend. Our resident tough guy, Cheesy Bruin, missed a start with his ongoing rivalry with cancer (Yanks v Bosox has nothing on that). Yours truly thought until this morning that the #Covid19 had flattened his curve, only to find out after a missed called and 30-minute hold that it was some other flu. But also today our rock, our Lou Gehrig meets Cal Ripken meets Gordie Howe meets Jaromir Jagr meets Tom Brady meets Vin Scully… has to skip a turn. And it’s not because of his annual two weeks vacation. Nor is it his monthly walkout threat or weekly protest against Management. Instead, it’s because Angry Ward is a good brother. He returned last night from his 50+ day sentence in Covid Purgatory (aka Florida with his in-laws) to find cnc63, his super fan big bro and occasional [shoddy] MTM cameraman not up to snuff. Hopefully this is just another instance of a thick-as-a-mule mick thinking certain health-related alarm bells sounding will go quiet if they’re ignored. Perhaps cnc63 figured the hospitals have their hands full with the pandemic and shouldn’t be bothered with other stuff; a noble – if not flawed mindset – but representative of what many are mistakenly thinking. Likely/hopefully he just needs to be dragged to a doctor for a quick remedy. That’s where Ward comes in… BUT WHAT ABOUT THE COLUMN?! Well, our star is out and we play on. And thus our title: Sports Mash Unit: Teams That Won Without Injured Stars.
We’ll keep it to three, as your time staring at invisible #covid-19 particles is precious.
NEW YORK KNICKS
The obvious choice would be the Willis Reed Knickerbockers. But hey, we don’t do the obvious here and expanding the “Teams That Won” definition to include the unexpectedly successful, has this nut-cake lauding the 1998-99 squad. A trip back in time to The Covid Zone finds an underachieving team and about-to-be-fired Jeff Van Gundy desperate to make the playoffs. They squeak in and become the first #8 seed to make it all the way to the finals vs the Spurs. They do so after losing Patrick Ewing against the Pacers on Larry Johnson’s heroics. But Grandmama hurt his knee and was a shell of himself. Even so, they were a Sprewell choke (Peter John Carlesimo likes that one) from going back to San Antonio for a game six. That’s pretty f’n good. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, they haven’t been back to the Finals since.
LOS ANGLES DODGERS
Kirk Harold Gibson and David Brian Cone are forever etched in this writer’s memory. How/why? They teamed up to keep the rightful heirs to a 2nd World Series Trophy in 3 years – the NY Mets – from what destiny said was theirs. Gibson, who stole the 1988 League MVP Honors from Darryl Strawberry, was stellar when it counted vs the Metsies in the ’88 NLCS, making improbable plays in the outfield and pounding soul-crushing homers in big moments. What’s was Cone’s contribution? Dopey Dave, a 20-3 stud in the Mets stellar rotation, was writing a column in The Daily News and labeled heroes and goats of each game. The Dodgers used that as locker-room bulletin board fodder as incentive. Google Mickey Hatcher calling it “bush.” But the steroid-riddled Oakland A’s were next up and Gibson was injured, as any fan with a pulse knows now. Yet L.A. won, propelled by Gibson’s dramatic pinch-hit homer and the always-hustling and unsung Hatcher. Despite hating the Dodgers, I’m glad they beat Oakland.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Scott Norwood and the Buffalo Bills are infamous only because of two people; Duane Charles “Bill” Parcells and William Jeffrey Hostetler. Sure, you could throw OJ Anderson’s name in there and any of vaunted defensive stars and the gallery will golf-clap your choices. But Parcells was at his coaching best in devising a game plan that A) His backup QB could succeed with and B) Keep the Bills’ Run-N-Gun offense off the field. Nitwit sports fans and coaches – I’m looking at you, Ray Handley – sometimes downplay Phil Simms. I ain’t one of them. The guy was a great quarterback and a better leader. He could handle Parcells, NYC and Lawrence Taylor and commanded the huddle. That’s no knock on Hoss, who was pretty danged good for the Jints, but Phil was the man. Winning without him was exceptional.
And there you have it. Feel free to add on with teams/reasons and come back tomorrow for the aforementioned Buddy Diaz. And keep cnc63 in your thoughts and get to the doctor if you need to!