The numbers, of course, tell a different story: 13 games played, a .423 average, seven home runs, 21 RBIs. Murphy is having an MVP-worthy season against everyone; against the Mets he is a combination of Rogers Hornsby and Babe Ruth. And, of course, it ...
Letâ€™s call Daniel Murphyâ€™s season to date what it really is:
The greatest revenge tour New York ever has seen, from either side of the revenge viewpoint. Murphy has opted to take the high road in every way this year â€” refusing to acknowledge whatever anger/resentment/disappointment he may have had by not being invited back to Flushing and invoking Sandy Aldersonâ€™s name on the card he held at the All-Star Game, noting Aldersonâ€™s battle with cancer.
The numbers, of course, tell a different story: 13 games played, a .423 average, seven home runs, 21 RBIs. Murphy is having an MVP-worthy season against everyone; against the Mets he is a combination of Rogers Hornsby and Babe Ruth. And, of course, it gets a mind whirring: What are the other New York-flavored revenge stories vying for No. 2 on the all-time list?
Here are five candidates from me (with apologies to Rangers fans; the Eddie Giacomin Return Game, to me, belongs in an entirely different category, for unique revenge factor plus the unbridled outpouring of love). Donâ€™t be shy about letting me know about any that Iâ€™ve missed here.
1. Chad Pennington vs. Jets, 2008
Things didnâ€™t start out so hot for Pennington, cut loose by the starry-eyed Jets when they pursued Brett Favre, as his new Dolphins lost to the Jets at home in the season opener. But by Week 17, the Dolphins schooled the Jets, 24-17, as Pennington threw for two TDs, and clinched the AFC East â€” meaning Pennington is the only quarterback other than Tom Brady to win the division (he also did it with the â€™02 Jets) since 2001.
2. Lew Burdette vs. Yankees, 1957
Originally a Yankee (and Whitey Fordâ€™s minor league roommate) Burdette could never quite put everything together and ultimately was thrown into a deal with the Braves for Johnny Sain. In 1957, Burdette made the Yankees pay, winning three times in the World Series (including 5-0 in Game 7, his second shutout), giving the city of Milwaukee its first-ever pro sports title.
3. Sam Huff vs. Giants, 1966
There was a time when Sam Huff may have been New Yorkâ€™s most beloved athlete. But when he was traded from the Giants to the Redskins in 1964, he was heartbroken â€” and never forgave Giants coach Allie Sherman. On Nov. 27, with Washington up 69-41 and running the clock out, Huff implored coach Otto Graham to call timeout so the Skins could kick a pile-on field goal. They did. And that 72-41 loss may well be the nadir of Giants history.
4. Reggie Jackson vs. Yankees, 1982
George Steinbrenner later called letting Reggie go one of his worst mistakes as owner, but Jackson had been terrible in 1981 and did seem on the cliff of his career. Still, when Reggie returned to The Bronx on April 27, the fans cheered him, chanted derisively at the Boss, and when Reggie clobbered a homer off Ron Guidry in the seventh inning, the place went wild. â€œEvery dog,â€ Reggie chuckled afterward, â€œhas his day.â€
5. Latrell Sprewell vs. Knicks, 2003
Four years earlier Sprewell reached folk-hero status leading the Knicks to the Finals, but the subsequent falling out was ugly. When he returned to the Garden two days before Christmas, he was ready. He scored 31 points, and when he was done, he made a point of seeking out James Dolan and screamed: â€œBleep you, you bleeper! Bleep you! Bleep you, you bleeping bleeper!â€
6. Tom Seaver vs. Mets, 1977
In truth, this was hollow revenge because when Seaver returned to Shea Stadium on Aug. 21 with the Reds, the Mets were at the start of a seven-year plunge to the bottom of the sport. Still, Seaver was given multiple standing ovations, he struck out 11 and went the distance for a 5-1 win.
7. Johnny Sample vs. Colts, 1969
One for the good guys: Sample had started his career in Baltimore, and returned an interception for a touchdown in the â€™59 title game against the Giants. In his final game, Super Bowl III, Sample tortured his old team with a pick and, for good measure, tapped the ball against the helmet of Baltimore receiver Willie Richardson and asked, â€œIs this what youâ€™re looking for?â€
8. Darryl Strawberry vs. Mets, 1991
Strawberry had long drawn comparisons to Reggie Jackson anyway, so it made perfect sense that when he returned with the Dodgers for his first game at Shea on May 7, 1991, he would smoke a two-run home run off Frank Viola, much to the delight of 47,744 fans.
9. Moose Skowron vs. Yankees, 1963
One of the most popular Yankees of the â€™50s and â€™60s, Skowron had been exiled to L.A. for Stan Williams and had a difficult year in his only season with the Dodgers, hitting .203. But in Game 2 of the World Series, he hit a home run off Al Downing, guiding the Dodgers to a Series sweep.
10. Clyde Frazier vs. Knicks, 1977
About two weeks after the Knicks sent Frazier to Cleveland as compensation for signing Jim Cleamons, Clyde returned to the Garden, was saluted by a sellout crowd, and had 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists leading the Cavs to an overtime victory.
Whack Back at Vac
Michael Miller: No disrespect to Jimmy V, but Craig Sagerâ€™s speech at the ESPYs was the most inspirational Iâ€™ve ever heard. Incredible. Not a dry eye in the room.
Vac: If you havenâ€™t seen it yet, please do yourself a favor and look it up. It really was that amazing.
Marc Aronin: Hereâ€™s to Tim Duncan. A guy without a â€œbrandâ€ to promote, a guy without street cred or flash. A guy who cared about winning and leadership. A guy from the old school. Hereâ€™s to the old school!
Vac: Itâ€™s hard to remember a superstar who didnâ€™t have at least a sizeable group of haters lining up against him. But did anyone ever hate Tim Duncan? Ever?
@texansSBorBUST: Aggregate records for each league in interleague play ought to determine World Series home field. Makes IL play more important. The All-Star Game is an exhibition.
@MikeVacc: And the old way, just alternating home-field, is even dumber than the All-Star Game. This is the one I would vote for, if I had a vote.
John Coz: Regarding the Knicks: Iâ€™m buying in, too. I like how Phil Jackson has redeveloped this team to his vision with hungry players. Jeff Hornacek was a surprising pick that grows on me each week â€¦ a lot of hope. As Andy Dufresne once said: â€œHope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.â€
Vac: If we can liken the coming Knicks season toâ€œShawshank,â€ Iâ€™m on board with that.
The only problem with my new HBO obsession, â€œThe Night Of,â€ based on the pilot episode, is that I may need constant reminders to keep breathing. So far so good.
What do people hate more: the new â€œGhostbustersâ€ or the fact that the All-Star Game still â€œcountsâ€?
Watching David Ortiz, Iâ€™m more convinced than ever that it should be important to an athlete to go out on top. Youâ€™ll be retired a long time. If you want to squeeze every ounce out of a career, then squeeze, man, squeeze.
The more you see how easy it is for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth to look human on a golf course, the more amazing it is to remember how infrequently Tiger Woods looked that way back in the day.
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