To the dismay of New York sports fans, no New York pro team has hoisted a championship trophy and been feted with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in over a decade. Who will be next?
Yankee super star Aaron Judge is going to be getting the keys to the city of New York from Mayor Eric Adams at a City Hall ceremony in the near future. That’s nice after his AL record 62 HRs last year helped power him to the Most Valuable Player award. But where are the rest of his teammates?
But for the past decade our sports team have been more tease than triumphant. Back in 2009, the entire Yankees team got their own keys for their World Series victory.
But lately? Sure, the Mets overachieved in 2015 and made it to the World Series–before losing in five games. The Rangers flirt with the Stanley Cup on a couple of occasions. The Nets talked a good game and loaded up on superstars before injuries, internal bickering and vaccine mandates derailed them last year.
Looking at Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, the city hasn’t feted a league champion since the Giants won the Super Bowl in February 2012. The WNBA’s Liberty has also disappointed its fan base .
That’s a pretty long drought for the city that never sleeps.
So, which local franchise will reward us next with a championship and a parade in the Canyon of Heroes? The Yankees? The Met? The Liberty? The Rangers? The Net? The Jets (just kidding – I threw in the woeful Jets to make sure you were still paying attention). The Jets, we should remember, attained the franchise’s lone Super Bowl victory way back on January 12, 1969.
So, which team stands the best chance of winning it all?
I’m picking The Mets: Sure, they lost out on Carlos Correa who went back to the Twins after Los Mets did not like something about his repaired ankle. But Steve Cohen’s team that won 101 game in 2022 before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs has gotten stronger team this year in the eyes of many–including me–even without landing Correa. In baseball, pitching means almost everything, and it is hard to bet against the combination of Justin Verlander, coming off his American League Cy Young season in Houston, and Max Scherzer, who is the best big-game pitcher of his time. Jake deGrom, who? They also added Japanese super star pitcher Kodai Senga. And then Edwin Diaz, the lockdown closer, is poised to get the last out. The team is loaded.
The Nets: The Nets had a recent 12 game winning streak snapped but with Kevin Durant out for at least two weeks with another knee injury, it’s hard to see them duplicating that in the short term. Can Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons keep their mojo going until Durant returns? It is difficult to overcome the loss of arguably the best player in the league, but if Durant is healthy for a playoff run, who knows?
The Rangers: The Broadway Blues came close last season – and you could say it is a better team this year. Problem is, the Boston Bruins have been astonishing. If Adam Fox, a local star from Jericho, NY, can put his stamp on the team the way Brian Leetch used to do, the Rangers could give Boston a tough series. If the Rangers get hot at the right time, I wouldn’t bet against them.
The Yankees: The Yankees have a lot to prove this season. The team succeeded in re-signing its Mr. Everything, Aaron Judge (and Anthony Rizzo – remember Mr. Everything Else?). They’ve improved their sketchy pitching staff. And with the departure of Cy Yong-winning Justin Verlander from Houston, the American League could be more wide open than it has been in years. Trouble for the Yankees is that Verlander wound up in beautiful Flushing by the Bay – so, conceivably, the Yankees will again have to contend with Verlander in post-season; only this time, it would be in the World Series. If the Yankees get as far as the World Series – for the first time since the franchise won it all, back in 2009 – the Bronx faithful will rejoice. But if the Yankees then proceed to lose, to the hated Mets in a Subway Series, the emotion that Yankees fans will feel all winter will be despair.
The Giants: I think the Giants are not that far away. The team has the essentials: a quality general manager, a head coach and a quarterback. Once they install some talented wide receivers for quarterback Daniel Jones, the Giants could be scary. This season, Jones dramatically cut down on his interceptions and fumbles. The team added solid pass rushers and the offensive line somehow got it together. Add to that mix a healthy Saquon Barkley at running back and you have the makings of a team that knows how to win in the clutch. The players will gain valuable post-season experience, a lead-in for next year’s campaign. Don’t sleep on the G-Men during the 2023 season.
The great thing about being a sports fan is that you know anything can happen. A team can come out of nowhere and compete for a championship. Remember the 1969 Miracle Mets? Or the Super Bowl-winning Jets from the 1968 season?
Miracles can happen. To paraphrase former Mets reliever Tug McGraw, you just gotta believe.