Big Blue blues: Once-proud Giants bottom out

Oct 6, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A fan of the New York Giants reacts during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2017 season, the New York Football Giants were being touted as the team to beat in the NFC East. Some of the experts went a step further, writing Big Blue a ticket to the Super Bowl. Yet last than halfway through the year, it’s all come tumbling down.

Forget about contending for a title. These Giants are an embarrassment, bottoming out with new lows in team history. Both head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese will take a fall in all likelihood. Players are already turning mutinous. A once-proud franchise has bottomed out.

The last time the Giants lost their first four home games and started a season 1-7 was 1980. That year the Giants finished 4-12, but help was on the way in the person of linebacker Lawrence Taylor, the second overall pick in the draft.

This Giants team, a two-point underdog to the winless 49ers on Sunday, is threatening to finish with the worst overall record in team history. In 1966, the Giants were 1-12-1 under coach Allie Sherman, a mere three years after losing the NFL championship game to the Bears.

Other bad finishes included 2-12 in 1974, 2-11-1 in 1973, 2-10-2 in 1964, 2-8-2 in 1947, and 3-11 in 1976, the team’s first year in Giants Stadium. The Giants were 3-12-1 in coach Bill Parcells’ first year (1983) and 4-12 in coach Jim Fassel’s final year (2003).

Victimized at home

Wait, it gets worse. Last week’s 51-17 loss to the Rams marked the most points the Giants surrendered in a home game since 1964.

On a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon nearly 53 years ago, the Cleveland Browns destroyed the Giants 52-20 at Yankee Stadium. Quarterback Frank Ryan tossed five touchdown passes for the Browns that day. Cleveland went on to win its last NFL championship a couple of weeks later, blanking the Baltimore Colts 27-0.

Back-up quarterback Gary Woods, replacing Y.A. Tittle, threw a pair of TDs to tight end Aaron Thomas for Big Blue in the fourth quarter to make the final score more respectable.

I remember listening to the game on radio that day while helping my father make lasagna. The NFL blacked out home games in 1964, which was probably a good thing – at least we didn’t have to watch.

The Giants record for most points given up in a home game took place in 1948 in a 63-35 loss to the Chicago Cardinals at the Polo Grounds. The Giants also lost 56-7 to the Bears in 1943, and 52-27 to the Rams in 1948, both at home.

Big Blue Bummers: 20 worst losses in Giants history


Top 10 doubleheader shutouts in MLB history

Earlier this week, the Yankees shut out the Chicago Cubs, 3-0 and 2-0, the first doubleheader shutout in major league baseball in more than 25 years. The double shutout is a true rarity in baseball.

Here, in chronological order, are the top 10 doubleheader shutouts in MLB history.

1. Sept. 4, 1902 — The Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Beaneaters scored the fewest combined runs in a doubleheader — one. Boston won the first game 1-0; the nightcap ended in a 0-0 tie.

2. Sept. 26, 2008 — In all of baseball history, only one pitcher has thrown shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader. Chicago Cubs pitcher Ed Reulbach, right, blanked the Brooklyn Dodgers twice in the same day, 5-0 and 3-0. Reulbach went on to win 24 games that year, and helped the Cubs win their last World Series. He was the last living member of the championship Cubs, and died in 1961.

3. July 2, 1933 — Pitching all 18 innings, New York’s Carl Hubbell, below left, outlasted St. Louis, 1-0, in the first game of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds. King Carl struck out 12 without walking a batter. The Giants also won the nightcap 1-0, Roy Parmelee topping Dizzy Dean. Parmelee fanned 13 batters and walked none.

4. June 28, 1936 — Nearly three years later the tables were turned on Hubbell, who suffered the loss in the first game of a 3-0, 6-0 Cubs sweep. Larry French won the opener for Chicago and Bill Lee took the nightcap. Hubbell, aka The Meal Ticket, was National League MVP in both 1933 and 1936 and was later inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

5. June 27, 1962 — The Cardinals blanked the Cubs twice in the same day as Larry Jackson and Ray Sadecki pitched complete games for St. Louis at Wrigley Field. The scores were 4-0 and 8-0.

6. Sept. 12, 1969 — With the Mets mounting a drive towards their first playoff appearance, Jerry Koosman pitched a three-hit shutout in the opener and Don Cardwell hurled eight innings of four-hit ball in the nightcap. The Mets beat the host Pirates in both games by the score of 1-0, and Koosman and Cardwell singled in the only runs. The New York Times later referred to it as the Mets best doubleheader of 1969.

7. July 27, 1975 — Boston came to New York and blanked the Yankees twice at Shea Stadium, 1-0 and 6-0. Bill Lee outdueled Catfish Hunter in the first game, and Roger Moret was the victor in the second game, in which Ron Guidry made his major league debut.

8. April 19, 1987 — Kansas City was the victim in the Yankees’ last double shutout. Charles Hudson and Pat Clements did the honors in a 5-0, 1-0 sweep at Yankee Stadium.

9. June 26, 1988 — Charlie Lea and Frank Viola were the winners as the Twins topped the A’s twice, 11-0 and 5-0, in Oakland.

10. April 16, 2014 — It took nearly 26 years for the next double shutout. Masahiro Tanaka, right, and Michael Pineda stopped the Cubs at Yankee Stadium. Counting the 1932 and 1938 World Series, the Cubs have never won a game at Yankee Stadium


10 things you must know about Giants-49ers

Giants Leonard Marshall levels 49ers Joe Montana in New York’s epic 15-13 upset in 1990 NFC Championship game that dashed San Francisco’s hopes for a Super Bowl three-peat.

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers is one of the all-time great NFL rivalries, starting with their first-ever meeting in 1952 at the Polo Grounds.

That day Charlie Conerly threw a touchdown pass and Ray Poole’s three field goals made the difference in a 23-14 Giants win. Y.A. Tittle, who would later take the Giants to three straight NFL Championship games, pitched two touchdowns for the Niners.

Here’s 10 things you need to know about Giants-49ers:

1. Even Steven: The two teams have split 28 regular season games. In those games, the 49ers outscored the Giants by just seven points, 560 to 553.

2. Playoffs…playoffs: Same in the playoffs. San Francisco holds a 4-3 edge in playoff matchups, scoring 161 points to the Giants 156.

3. Familiar foes: No two NFL teams have met in the playoffs more often than these two, with Sunday’s title game at Candlestick Park marking their league record-tying eighth postseason showdown. Only the Bears-Giants and Cowboys-Rams have as many playoff matchups.

4. 10-Year Super run: The two teams met five times in the playoffs between 1981 and 1990. In four of those five games, the winner went on to win the Super Bowl.

5. Hey Joe: Joseph Clifford Montana Jr. led the Niners to divisional round wins over the Giants in 1981 and 1984, and San Francisco went on to win its first two Super Bowls.

6. Home cooking: The Giants won their first-ever playoff game in Giants Stadium in 1985, beating the 49ers 17-3 on touchdown passes by Phil Simms to tight ends Mark Bavaro and Don Hasselback. Hasselbeck went on to father NFL quarterbacks Tim and Matt.

7. 49 vs. 49ers: In 1986, Simms threw four touchdown passes and Lawrence Taylor took an errant Montana pass to the house as the Giants romped 49-3 en route to their first Super Bowl.

8. Bahr for three: The two teams met in the NFC Championship game for the only previous time in 1990. Matt Bahr, right, kicked five field goals, the last in the final seconds, to send the Giants to more Super Bowl glory with a 15-13 victory. Bahr’s field goal was set up by a costly fumble by Roger Craig.

9. Running Watters: Ricky Watters set a playoff record with five touchdowns (all rushing) and 30 points in 1993 when the 49ers beat the Giants 44-3, the last game for both Simms and Taylor.

10. Huge comeback: In their last playoff meeting in 2002, the 49ers overcame a 24-point deficit to win 39-38 the second greatest comeback in NFL playoff history. 19-year veteran Trey Jenkin, playing in his only game for the Giants, botched a snap as they Giants attempted a potential game-winning field goal in the waning seconds.


Duke’s Passing Recalls Day at Polo Grounds

Willie, Mickey and the Duke.

With the passing of Duke Snider, now only Willie Mays survives from the great triumvirate that patrolled center field in New York in the 1950s. And the Boys of Summer are down a man.

In his New York Times obituary, Edwin Donald Snider’s career was summed up this way: “Playing for 18 seasons, he had 407 home runs, 2,116 hits, batted at least .300 seven times, had a lifetime batting average of .295 and was generally among the league leaders in runs batted in and runs scored.” And he was renowned for his superb defensive play as well.

The Duke will always be known as a Dodger – he spent a combined 16 years in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. But Snider was purchased by the Mets for $40.000 in 1963, played one season in New York, and finished his career with the San Francisco Giants in 1964.

Through the information found on sources like baseball reference and retrosheet, the  SportsLifer (in 1963 a SportsKid) was able to determine that he saw Snider play once, on a sticky, hot summer afternoon in New York.

The Duke was a Met then, batting cleanup and playing right field, when the Metropolitans hosted the St. Louis Cardinals at the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan.

Hickman’s Natural Cycle

That was the same game where Jim Hickman hit for the only natural cycle in Mets  history, powering them to a 7-3 victory. Snider had a big day that afternoon as well, with three singles and a pair of RBIs in four at-bats.

The Duke spent just one season with the Mets, but collected both both his 400th homer and 2,000th hit in a Met uniform.

Clearly near the end, he hit just .243 in 1965 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs. Several other players — some famous, some not so famous — appeared in that Mets-Cards game on August 7, 1963.

Stan Musial, playing in his final season, pinch hit for Dal Maxvill in the eighth inning and grounded to first base.

Ernie Broglio started the game and was the losing pitcher for the Cardinals. The following June, he was traded to the Cubs for Lou Brock.

Broglio Traded for Brock

That trade would propel the Cards to a World Series victory over the Yankees in 1964.  Bill White, Ken Boyer and Tim McCarver, mainstays on that 1964 club, all played in the Polo Grounds that day.

Broglio was relieved by Lew Burdette, who beat the Yankees three times to lead the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series win against the Yankees in 1957.

For the Mets, Tracey Stallard pitched a complete game and got the win. That’s right, the same Tracy Stallard who surrendered Roger Maris’ 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season.

The Mets lineup featured several originals — including catcher Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman and Frank Thomas — along with rookie second baseman Ron Hunt. Hunt was once hit by 50 pitches in a single season and led the National League in HBPs for seven straight seasons.

You never know what you’re going to see when you go to the ballpark, right kid. The 9,977 fans who showed up at the Polo Grounds on 8/7/63 saw a lot.


10 Things That Make Me an Old Guy

The Polo Grounds:  Been there, done that.

1. I went to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds

2. I saw Ted Williams, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle homer…in the same game

3. I saw an NBA doubleheader…at the old Madison Square Garden

4. I remember when New York Football Giants games — even championship games – were blacked out at home

5. I saw Lew Alcindor play…in high school

6. I watched the Giants play at Yankee Stadium….and the Yale Bowl too

7. I saw the Rangers face off against the  Bruins at the old Garden in the days of the Original Six

8. My Dad saw Babe Ruth play

9. I remember goalies without masks and canvas Cons.

10. I saw Honus Wagner play shortstop. NOT. I may be old….but not that old. Wanted to see if you were paying attention lol


Where They Play: Giants Homes

IMG_0059View from the Fox suite: Giants celebrate win over Carolina in first game at new stadium in the Meadowlands, a field they share with the Jets.

Back in high school, senior year, I was caught by our English teacher, doodling on a notepad. When Mr. Naversen pinched me, I was forced to show him and my classmates my artwork — drawings of each of the fields where our football team played. My masterpiece was headlined “Where They Play.”

Last week, while enjoying the luxury of the Fox suite at the first game in the new stadium in New Jersey yet to be named — watching the Giants rally to beat Carolina 31-18 — my thoughts drifted back to those teenage days. What would a Giants “Where They Play” look like?

So I hit the history books to find out.

Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Giants have called six stadiums home — the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium and the new stadium in the Meadowlands.

The team was formed in 1925 and shared the Polo Grounds, left, with the New York baseball Giants from that season until they moved across the Harlem River to the larger Yankee Stadium for the start of the 1956 season.

The Giants finished 8-4 in that inaugural 1925 season in the NFL, but lost their home opener to the Frankford Yellow Jackets 14-0. Some 30 years later, in their final game at the Polo Grounds in November of 1955, the Giants rallied to tie the Cleveland Browns 35-35 on a late touchdown pass from Charlie Conerly to Frank Gifford.

Moving to Yankee Stadium
Following three straight road games, the Giants christened their new Yankee Stadium home in 1956 with a 38-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants went on to win their third NFL championship that year when they whipped the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.

In 1973, the Giants announced plans to move to a new stadium in New Jersey for the 1976 season. At the same time, the city of New York began a two-year renovation of  Yankee Stadium, below, after the 1973 baseball season. The Giants were allowed to play their first two games of the 1973 season at Yankee Stadium before moving to a new location.

The Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in their final game at Yankee Stadium that fall, before moving into the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn., for the rest of the 1973 season and the full 1974 campaign. The Giants won just one game in the Yale Bowl in two years, finishing 2-11-1 in 1973 and 2-12 the following year.

In 1975 the Giants called Shea Stadium home along with the Jets, Mets and Yankees, marking the only time in history that two baseball and two football teams shared the same stadium. The Giants won two games at home en route to a 5-9 record, including a 28-14 victory against Archie Manning and the Saints in their final game at Shea in December.

After starting the 1976 season with four straight road losses, the Giants opened the new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, with a 24-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants called the Meadowlands home for 34 seasons and won three Super Bowls in that span. The Carolina Panthers beat the Giants 41-9 in the final game at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009.


If Old Ballparks Could Talk….

Way back a hundred or so years ago, between 1909 and 1915, no less than 13 new, state-of the-art baseball fields were opened. These classic fields had one defining characteristic — they were fireproof. Built of brick, concrete and steel, unlike their wooden predecessors, these ball fields were made to last

And last they did — in fact 10 of them lasted 50 years or more. And two —  Fenway Park and Wrigley Field — stand to this day.

All 16 major league teams at the time called these parks home at one point or another.  Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis and the Polo Grounds in New York housed both National League and American League clubs at the same time.

If these ballparks could talk, they’d have some amazing stories to tell. And some strange and unusual tales as well. To wit:

Shibe Park, Philadelphia, 1909 — On Opening Day in the new Philly digs, A’s veteran catcher Michael “Doc” Powers, who was also a medical doctor, crashed into the wall behind the plate while trying to catch a foul pop. Powers suffers a severe intestinal injury and left the game in the seventh inning. Despite three operations, Powers passed away two weeks later.

Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis, 1909 — St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck pulled off his most famous stunt in 1951. After jumping out of a cake between games of a doubleheader, 3-foot, 7-inch midget Eddie Gaedel, shown left, wearing number 1/8, stepped up to the plate and walked on four pitches from Detroit’s Bob Cain. Gaedel was pinch-run for, and never appeared in another major league game.

Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, 1909 — Late in the 1920 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds staged the last tripleheader ever played in the majors. After dropping the first two games by scores of 13-4 and 7-3, the Pirates salvaged game three 6-0. But by then the Reds had already secured third-place money.

League Park, Cleveland, 1910 — The Indians, on the way to their first championship, routed the Brooklyn Dodgers 8-1 in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series.. But the game will be remembered for three World Series firsts by Indians players — Elmer Smith’s grand slam, pitcher Jim Bagby’s home run, and shortstop Bill Wambsganss unassisted triple play.

Comiskey Park, Chicago, 1910 — Bill Veeck’s son Mike was the mastermind of Disco Demolition Night in 1979 — a promotion that backfired. Fans were encouraged to bring disco records to be burned on the field between games of a doubleheader with the Tigers. Mayhem ensued, thousands of fans poured onto the field and refused to budge, and the umpires forfeited the second game to Detroit.

Griffith Stadium, Washington, 1911 — The new Senators ballpark, right, built in just a month following a fire that destroyed the wooden grandstands, featured some odd dimensions, such as 407 feet down the left-field line. But the strangest quirk was the indent in center, with a portion of the wall jutting inward to accommodate a tree and several houses whose owners were unwilling to sell.

Polo Grounds, New York, 1911 — In a park made famous by Bobby Thomson’s home run and Willie Mays’ catch, the strangest event at the Polo Grounds was the death of Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920 .Chapman was beaned by Yankees submariner Carl Mays and died the next day, the last death on a major league ballfield.

Crosley Field, Cincinnati, 1912 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt flipped a light switch at the White House and the Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 in the first night game in major league history in 1935. Crosley Field also was the first park to place distances on the outfield fences “so the spectators may readily ascertain far drives carry” according to the Sporting News.

Fenway Park, Boston, 1912 — The Red Sox abandoned Fenway Park, left, during the 1915 and 1916 World Series to play their home games at Braves Field. In 1929 they announced they were considering vacating Fenway. Between 1929 and 1932 the Sox played their Sunday games at Braves Field due to Fenway’s proximity to a church.

Tiger Stadium, Detroit, 1912 — Tiger Stadium opened on April 20, 1912, the same day as Fenway Park and less than a week after the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down in the North Atlantic. The new ballpark was known as Navin Field at the start, and was built on the same site where the Western League Tigers played in 1886.

Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1913 — In one of Brooklyn’s daffiest moments, the Dodgers wound up with three men on third base — Dazzy Vance, Chick Fewster and Babe Herman. Herman, who will long be remembered for doubling into a double play, was called out for passing a runner, and Fewster wandered off the bag and is tagged out. For years Brooklyn fans would respond “Which base?” when told the Dodgers had three men on base.

Wrigley Field, Chicago, 1914 — Surprisingly, the Cubs were not the first team to call  Wrigley Field home. The Chicago Whales played at the new Weeghman Park in 1914 and 1915 before the ill-fated Federal League disbanded. The Cubs moved in for the 1916 season, and the park was renamed Cubs Park; 10 years later it became Wrigley Field, right.

Braves Field, Boston, 1915 — Built on what was once a golf course, Braves Field was a long par 5 — 400 feet to left and 440 to center, with a gaping 500-foot chasm in right center. Needless to say, it was not exactly a homer haven. Only eight home runs were hit in the first year of the park, and none of them went over the fence.

There Used to Be A Ballpark