2008 Watch: Why the New York Giants Will Not Win the Championship

February 3, 2008

Predicting the outcome of sporting events is hard work. Nonetheless, your ever humble Saladeers have managed to be correct exactly fifty percent of the time, predicting that the Chicago Bears would lose last year’s superbowl and the Colorado Rockies would lose the World Series. Of course, these predictions have to be balanced with our predictions that the Indianapolis Colts would lose and the Boston Red Sox would also lose. Sure one could argue that Yesterday’s Salad has the moral convictions of one Mitt Romney, changing positions whenever its advantageous. But such an argument would neglect the fact that America is ready for CHANGE and only a Washington outsider like Yesterday’s Salad can deliver! Besides, prognosis depends upon gnosis, and YS, after the supreme disappointment of Matrix Revolutions, decided to renounce gnosticism once and for all.

So in the name of normative religion, let us now praise famous men and the fathers that begat us, and give voice to the reasons that New York will not stand to fight another day.

1. Nation, Narration, Landedness: Where do the New York Giants come from? What are the origins of this strange identity? This past week, the New York Times printed two articles (shades of the sushi scare) about the Giantss actual home, East Rutherford New Jersey. One focused on the differance of East Rutherford, on the way its status as Giants hometown is elided by the media. As the article put it, “Any TV watcher knows that when the Giants play, the networks usually sprinkle in shots of the Manhattan skyline and Times Square, not the low-slung shops on Paterson and Park Avenues, which is where Noel Figueroa, a hair stylist, can be found.” But this article is relatively friendly compared to the Times’ other piece on the political implications of the Giants’ situation. The article begins with the regional politics (the New Jersey governor claim the team for his state/Ed Koch refusing to recognize the “foreign” players) before situating the conflict in its geo-political context. Not only does the article detail the way the first Gulf War impacted the team (with the outbreak of Operation Desert Storm no celebration was held for the Giant’s Superbowl victory), it likens the situation to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis: “So, yeah, this New York Giants business gripes some people on the West Bank (of the Hudson).” It would seem there are some parallels; the giants lay claim to another “New York” from the periphery. At best it can be said that the New York Giants form a kind of imagined community, and it remains to be seen whether or not a stateless team can defeat a stated one.

2. Mobility: Prior investigation has revealed that the city with the superior transit system is more likely to win than the city that largely relies on internal combustion engines. While conventional wisdom would posit that the NYC Subway is vastly superior to the MBTA, it is clear that more inquiry is required. For argument’s sake, let’s try reading against the grain. The claim that the New York City subway system is superior is largely based on reactionary pastism, the fact that the current system is the largest in the world (as based on track mileage). But what if we direct our view towards the future? What we see is not so pretty: the excellent transit blog Second Ave Sagas has recently documented countless problems with the MTA’s largest capital projects. The MTA has had to scale back their ambitions, decapitating the Fulton City Transit Hub, and removing a track from the Second Ave. Subway. Echoes of past second ave failures abound, and this correspondent can’t help but worry that the line will never be built. Meanwhile, politicians continue to bicker over congestion pricing while Bostonians are finally reaping the benefits of the big dig, and political pressure may force the Patrick administration to actually bring the T to medford and East Somerville. If we reverse Benjamin’s Angel of History and direct its focus towards the future, the blows we call progress are surely more damaging on the New York side. [Ed. Note: YS does not actually believe that the MBTA is superior to the MTA, in any regard except theme song.] More damningly, if we change our mode of transport to air travel, we see that New York is responsible for 75%(!) of the Nation’s air travel delays. Advantage Boston.

3. The Tom Brady Factor: While Eli Manning continues to suffer from the Anxiety of Peyton Manning’s influence, Brady has almost violated the immutable law of genre. Brady has transcended the definition of Football Star and become a media star like no other athlete. Not only has he become a staple of Celebrity gossip, he has changed the nature of that gossip: TMZ now reports on possible injuries to Tom Brady rather than his dalliances. It is hard to imagine how this unprecedented situation can manifest in anything other than a Pats victory.

4. Societal Trends: Football is not immune from larger narratological trends, and at least two are here pertinent. One, Clinton-Obama, Two, Hollywood Crime Stories. The first presents a narrative of an establishment New York type being challenged by the political outsider from Illinois. Recently, the narrative has been complicated by the entry of MASSACHUSETTS senator Edward Kennedy’s endorsement of Mr. Obama. Today’s battle will become a metonymy for the campaign as a whole, with Clinton facing off against an Obama surrogate. As the current media narrative for the campaign is Obama rising, it seems quite likely that the media will continue to play up this narrative with the Superbowl. As regards film, New York used to be the city of contemporary crime narratives. Unfortunately, after the successes of the Guiliani and Bloomberg administrations, the streets have been cleaned up and all New York can muster is the low-scale Before the Devil Knows Your Dead while Boston boasts the Best Picture winning Departed. Gentrification and low-crime may be good for your city’s morale, but not its dominance in narrative.

5. The Patriots Cheat. Cf. Arlen Spector fighting the good fight, demanding to get to the bottom of the League’s destruction of evidence. As Mr. Spector said, “It’s the same old story. What you did is never as important as the cover-up. This sequence raises more concerns and doubts.” Here here. Sadly his inquiry will be too late to help the “New York” Football Giants.

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