I went into the 2020 Giants season wanting things to be different. Deep down, I didn’t actually think they would be, but I just really wanted a football season. Not a season that’s over when there are still leaves on the trees in the Northeast, and not a season that ends before the Major League Baseball postseason begins. I wanted what I have had twice in the last nine years, and that’s a football season that carries into December. I wanted something I have had once in the last nine years: a Giants postseason game.
The Giants kicked off their 2020 season as I was entering my 16th consecutive hour sitting in a hospital chair waiting for my wife to give birth. Just as the game and the season were starting, it was time for the baby to come out.
Five or six hours later, I’m not sure exactly what time it was, other than that it was the early hours of Tuesday, Sept. 15, I was sitting in the dark eating saltine and graham crackers and chugging water out of Dixie cups like I was Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway returning home, not having seen food in a very long time. The hospital cafeteria was closed and my only options were to either wait a few more hours for breakfast before crushing the hospital’s surprisingly exceptional French toast or to try to make a meal out of the airplane-like snacks the nurse was able to gather for me.
I wasn’t tired, and with the blinds drawn in the room, without a clock I would have had no way of knowing what time of day, or even what day it was, as if I had been in trapped in a casino. The last nearly 24 hours were a blur. I had been up for nearly all of them. It was now early Tuesday morning, and I had essentially been up since Sunday morning.
On Sunday afternoon, during the Week 1 “Witching Hour” of the 1 p.m. games and right as the 4 p.m. slate was about to begin, we were instructed to go the hospital as it appeared as though my wife was in labor. We raced to the hospital, I dropped my wife off at the entrance and then while flying around the parking lot looking for an empty space, of which there was one, I tried to force my car into a into a very tight window, like an inexcusable Daniel Jones throw, and hit the car to my right. The car ended up belonging to my wife’s delivery nurse who couldn’t have been nicer about the incident, and a few weeks later, it was resolved for only $250, which I likely would have lost anyway on the 4 p.m. games if I hadn’t been in transit to the hospital as they were being played.
My wife wasn’t going to be admitted until they ran some tests, and because she had yet to be admitted, under COVID precautions, I couldn’t enter the hospital until she was admitted. The woman in the hospital lobby told me I could wait outside. So I did that, pacing the sidewalk for 30 minutes before going to the car. I ended up spending the next four-and-a-half hours in the car (good thing I didn’t “wait just outside the door” like the hospital front desk woman suggested), before it was determined my wife was in very early labor, but wasn’t far enough along to admit her.
We got back home at 9 p.m. and by midnight the contractions started to pick up. I spent the next three hours meticulously timing them as if I were the one holding the stopwatch at the NFL Combine, and around 3 a.m., it was back to the hospital. By 4 a.m., we were in the delivery room. They had my wife doing squats on a exercise ball, while I sat in the corner trying not to suffer the same type of back injury Aaron Hicks would have if he had had to sit in that same chair for as long as I did.
Fast forward nearly 24 hours and there I was sitting in the dark in a slightly upgraded hospital chair. Despite being in the previous chair which made a Metro North seat seem like the recliners Joey and Chandler had in their apartment for upwards of 16 hours, I had avoided the type of back injury Hicks had suffered from a 27-minute spring training coach bus ride that kept him out for nearly three months of the 2019 Yankees season. I tried to quietly chew and crunch on my packets of crackers while my wife slept in an enormous and luxurious-looking hospital bed (which I would find my way into for a few quicks naps over the next two days), and next to her, our newborn son was out cold, swaddled tightly with a winter hat on, somehow full off less than a shot of Similac. I curled up in my folding chair bed to watch Giants-Steelers, which I had recorded.
The Giants lost. They could have won, and should have won, but they didn’t, in what has become the never-ending theme with the franchise for just about an entire decade. They couldn’t punch it in on first-and-goal from the 3 after a Steelers’ muffed punt in the first quarter, then with a seven-point lead and a chance to make it a two-score game, Jones threw an interception, and later in the game, while trailing, with a chance to take the lead back, Jones threw another essentially game-ending interception. It was the type of loss that led ownership to inexplicably move on from Tom Coughlin, got Ben McAdoo fired midseason and ran Pat Shurmur out of town after two atrocious seasons. On their fourth head coach in six seasons, the Joe Judge era was starting the same way the previous three had their eras end. A head coach I finally liked or wanted to like was overseeing yet another 0-1 start to the season, while Jones, who I was against the Giants drafting and have remained against, ruined yet another game.
Six days later, the Giants lost in Chicago by four points and lost their best player for the season. 0-2. A week after that they were blown out by the defending NFC champions by 27 points. 0-3. A week after only managing to score nine points at home against the 49ers, the Giants scored nine points for the second straight week in a loss in Los Angeles to the Rams.
The Giants were 0-4 and I couldn’t have cared less about them. I desperately wanted things to be different under Judge and I wanted things to be different knowing for the foreseeable future my family’s life would indefinitely be spent at home with only occasional and necessary trips out of the house. Once the Yankees season would end (and it ended early again), I knew the 2020-2021 NHL season might not start on the planned Jan. 1 date and might never start at all. I was relying on the Giants to provide a sports world escape and the only source of entertainment that didn’t require wiping spit-up or newborn poop, and instead, they were the laughingstock of the NFL, having become the worst team in the league over the last four seasons. I decided, like in recent seasons, I would watch the games with no actual emotional or monetary investment in them. My only reason for watching them had become wanting everyone to progress other than the quarterback to progress, so that maybe by spring 2021 they would have another general manager and another quarterback.
At 1-7, the Giants put together a four-game winning streak to “save” the season, highlighted by a road win in Seattle with Colt McCoy as the Giants’ starting quarterback. The winning streak and upset of the Seahawks reeled Giants fans back into believing they could win the NFC East. Some team had to win this embarrassing NFC East, why couldn’t it be the Giants?
After that four-game winning streak, I wrote:
I’m fully prepared to have my dream of Giants postseason football crushed. That’s what the Giants do. And if they are to go 1-3 or 0-4 between now and Week 17, it won’t surprise me. I won’t be upset with them. That’s who they are. I’ll be upset with myself for caring about them again this season when I should have known better.
I did know better. I wrote exactly what would happen, and despite predicting how the Giants’ season would finish, I still let them suck me back in only to crush me. After the four-game winning streak, the Giants lost three straight before winning what ended up being a meaningless win in Week 17 over the Cowboys only to have the Eagles throw their Week 17 game against Washington. Unlike many, I wasn’t upset with the Eagles for purposely losing a winnable game. The Giants had lost 10 regular-season games, blowing leads in many of them. Win one of those 10 games and they wouldn’t have had to rely on their rival to win a game for them.
So the 2020 season ended wasn’t different. It ended the way every season but one in the last nine years has ended: postseason-less.
This season needs to be different. It has to be different. If it’s not, it will mean the end of Jones as a Giant, the sixth overall pick in 2019 was wasted and these last three years were nothing other than a waste. It will be back to the beginning of yet another “rebuild” and it will undoubtedly happen with a new general manager. It won’t necessarily mean the end for Judge as he’s not tied to Gettleman or Jones, but it certainly won’t be good for his future with the team if the team is essentially no better results-wise than where they were when McAdoo and Shurmur were fired.
This Giants season needs to be different even if expectations are that it won’t be.
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