Friday, September 4, 2015

Marcus Hayes: Philly teams are putting a fork in New York

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Cliff Lee and Michael Vick have helped Philadelphia teams achieve big victories against New York rivals. (Daily News illustration)
Cliff Lee and Michael Vick have helped Philadelphia teams achieve big victories against New York rivals. (Daily News illustration)

SOMETHING IS in the air in Philadelphia.

Carried by a light wind, it makes its way south, down the turnpike. It is distinctly New York in aroma. Is it those honey-roasted nuts they sell out of street carts? Is it the hot dogs?

The swamplands of New Jersey?

Ah. Wait.

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  • It is the smell of New York misery.

    It is a rancid thing for Giants and Mets and Rangers fans, and only a little better for the Yankees faithful.

    For Philadelphians, it is ambrosia.

    Never has it smelled more delicious than this week.

    The Eagles' impossible resurrection from a 21-point grave Sunday capped a string of delightful dominance. It set call-in shows buzzing with stories about where people were when the comeback unfolded, as if there had been an assassination or a terrorist attack.

    Certainly, this is not tragic. But, for bully-boy New Yawkers, this pill is tough to swallow.

    It began with, of all teams, the Phillies, who tore out the Mets' souls in 2007. They won the National League East as the Mets completed the worst collapse in major league history.

    The Phillies went on to win three more division titles - crowns reserved for Omar Minaya's big-money Mets, it seemed, after they succeeded the Braves as East winners in 2006.

    Not so fast, Mr. Minaya.

    You, too, Mr. Cashman.

    The most aptly named executive in sports history, Brian Cashman threw typical Yankees cash at Cliff Lee, the premier free agent on the market this offseason.

    Lee last week turned away from that offer and signed instead with the Phillies for less, mainly because he wanted no parts of the New York scene.

    Smell that, Evil Empire.

    The best of the New York/Philly rivalries, really, is in the NHL.

    Last year, the Flyers used a shootout win to steal from the Rangers the last playoff spot. They parlayed that into a run to the Stanley Cup finals.

    In the spirit of the current moment, they clobbered the Rangers on Saturday, 4-1.

    This, the day before Michael Vick threw for one long TD, then used his legs to set up two more.

    Which, of course, framed the DeSean Jackson moment.

    Jackson dared the Giants to punt to him. They wanted to avoid him, but rookie Matt Dodge mishit the punt.

    Jackson cruised 65 yards for the winner as time expired . . . and sent a fresh burst of misery out to New Yorkers.

    Eagles coach Andy Reid won't crow about his recent run of winning against the Giants, but it remains that each of the six straight wins mattered. The two last season kept the Giants out of the playoffs, which is what this season's two could do, too. On Jan. 11, 2009, the Eagles ended the Giants' season in a divisional playoff game.

    Reid won't crow, but he and the rest of the Philadelphia pro coaches know how much beating New York means to the people of Philadelphia.

    "I think all of those coaches, the coaches in Philadelphia I've gotten to know, the majority of them in the professional ranks and some of the college guys, there's a lot of pride there," Reid said.

    The pride is seeping into the psyche of this generation of players.

    The Eagles on Sunday endured a rash of cheap shots after the whistle. The chief perpetrator, Giants center Chris Snee, jacked up three players at different times. His most egregious shot was a three-step run-and-push into the back of rookie end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.

    "You can see that, you can sense that with the players [Sunday] - both sides just wanted to get after each other. So I'm sure it's exciting," Reid said. "I know it's exciting for us. I know it's exciting for the fans."

    Several veterans said they had never seen Reid as excited as he was after Sunday's game.

    A bit of relief probably was mixed in with his excitement.

    After all, it wasn't as if his scheme worked. The Giants controlled the game until Vick kicked it into gear.

    Reid twice failed to throw challenge flags when he should have, and Eli Manning picked apart the defense for four touchdown passes.

    It was reminiscent of several of the other wins during the streak.

    Last year, the Eagles gave away a lead when the Giants scored two third-quarter touchdowns, but - who else? - DeSean Jackson hauled in a 60-yard touchdown catch. That loss, on Dec. 13, began the Giants' annual late-season swoon.

    To a man, they recognized the Eagles' recent dominance. The Birds had won game No. 5, 27-17, courtesy of a botched snap that turned into a 50-yard touchdown run and a Manning fumble - unmolested, trying to slide.

    And don't think the Giants aren't smarting from the six straight losses. Unprovoked, safety Deon Grant on Wednesday began a rant in which he acknowledged the streak and vowed it would end.

    It nearly did.

    But it didn't.

    So, for now, the Cradle of Liberty owns bragging rights over the Cradle of Commerce.

    It should be noted that this is a moment in time, not an epic run.

    The Giants have three Super Bowl wins, the Eagles none; the Mets have two World Series wins, the same as the Phillies, despite a much shorter franchise life; the Rangers, with four Stanley Cups, double the Flyers' total. The Sixers and the Knicks have two NBA titles apiece, and that is not likely to change soon.

    Comparative titles do little to dampen the mood in Philadelphia. And don't think New York hasn't noticed.

    Accomplished New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy wrote in Friday's editions about a trip he made to Philly on Thursday to ask residents whether they had any sympathy for New Yorkers and their sudden trials.

    It turns out he came 3 days too early.

    Contacted yesterday via e-mail by the Philadelphia Daily News, Bondy good-naturedly amended his conclusion:

    After this past weekend, (Flyers and Eagles) we surrender already. *

    Send e-mail to hayesm@phillynews.com.

    Daily News Sports Columnist
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