2015 was a Strange Year for New York Sports

 

 

 

Another sports year has passed, marking the fourth consecutive year that none of New York’s major professional sports team has won a championship. It’d be funny if NY’s futility weren’t so embarrassing.

Only one franchise—the Mets for Pete’s sake—made it all the way to the finals in its respective sport, and the Rangers, which boasted the top record in the NHL, fizzled in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, killing any hopes of consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearances.

As for the Mets’ American League counterpart, the Yankees, well, the bombers depleted their already-anemic arsenal by the time October came around, stinking up the Bronx in a do-or-die playoff game against the up-and-coming Houston Astros.

NY’s hardwood franchises did not even put up a fight, with the Knicks amassing only 17 wins in an 82-game season, a historic low even by Jimmy “Guitar” Dolan’s standards. The Nets managed to slide into the playoffs but were ousted in the first round, making us all yearn for the days of Dr. J’s rocket-like pursuits to the basket inside Nassau Coliseum during the Nets’ glorious ABA days. On the ice, the Islanders couldn’t quite give NY hockey fans a dream playoff matchup against the Rangers, but what a magical season it was! The Isles had The Old Barn rocking again, reminding everyone why old, decaying arenas like the Coliseum hold a soft place in our hearts forever.

By the time September rolled around, Giants fans had high hopes that Eli Manning’s arm would be enough to win the lousy NFC east. A handful of last-minute losses coupled with an injury-ravaged defense had us in a Big Blue daze that we have yet to wake up from. Leave it to Gang Green to prove anything is possible by embarrassing the reviled Patriots in overtime last Sunday, setting up a must-win game against that blowhard Rex Ryan and his Buffalo Bills with a spot in the playoffs on the line.

Despite a mostly joyless sports season, Long Island boasted some highlights—none bigger than American Pharaoh’s dramatic Triple Crown-clinching win at the Belmont Stakes in June and a successful title-defending campaign for the North American Soccer League’s Cosmos, who have now won two titles in as many years. The Cosmos also engaged in a bit of soccer diplomacy, becoming the first professional sports team in the United States to play in Cuba since Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles in 1999.

Things weren’t all bad. The Mets—wait, was it a dream?—played their first MLB Championship since 2000’s Subway Series but were done in by the pesky Kansas City Royals.

Instead of wasting time on the losers that still get to call NY home despite their travails, we decided to honor the team from Queens. The Press enlisted our resident Mets fanboy, senior editor Spencer Rumsey, to genuflect over those lovable, maddening Metropolitans.

Here it is:

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]inally, the “wait until next year” mantra was over and nobody could deny it. That’s right, New York. The Mets, of all teams, actually made it to the World Series in 2015. What a crazy season it was: full of agita, tears and miracles. From being no-hit by a no-name pitcher in July to sweeping the Cubs and winning the National League Pennant in October. Who can believe it?

But, to quote the baseball bard, Tug McGraw:

Ya gotta believe!

The bearded Daniel Murphy, our unpredictable second baseman, went on an amazing post-season streak: homering for six consecutive games and setting a major league record. One of his greatest contributions came when he stole third base against the Dodgers’ distracted ace, Zack Greinke, in game 5 of the NLCS. We’re gonna miss you, big guy, but can you do us a favor when you’re playing second base at Citi Field for the Nats next season and do that thing you used to do with your glove that would drive us fans to distraction? Just asking.

As for our fearsome young flame-throwers on the mound, not only did our pitchers live up to the hype, they set the bar even higher! The lanky long-haired Jacob deGrom was brilliant. “Thor” Syndergaard unleashed his mighty hammer. Long Island’s lefthander Steven Matz had his dream come true when the Ward Melville High School grad got to make his MLB debut with the Mets on June 28. He struck out six, went 3-for-3 (including a double), and got four R.B.I.’s that day, too. An achievement that made his grandfather a fan for the ages when SNY cut to the family’s jubilation in the stands.

This year, back from Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey raised the stakes—and exceeded his pitch count when it mattered most to the team’s chances. The Dark Knight may have had his darkest night in the ninth inning of game 5 in the World Series—with the Mets holding a slender 2-0 lead over the Royals and desperately needing a win to send everybody back to Kansas City—when he bluntly told our silver-haired manager Terry Collins there was “no way” he was coming out so our closer Jeurys Familia could come in from the bullpen and get the save. It was probably the only move Collins made that didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.

Ah well, it’s only a game, but we’ll take it, and be grateful for the good times. For this happy recap, let us recall how great was it to have Bartolo Colon in a Mets uniform! Never a dull moment watching this 42-year-old athlete at work—especially whenever he came up to the plate to hit.

When the final scorekeeper in the sky comes to tally up the 2015 season, the chance to see our heroic captain, third-baseman David Wright, overcome his painfully debilitating spinal stenosis, which almost ended his season in April, and wind up playing fateful baseball in October is something truly special that Mets fans can treasure for a long time. What a year to remember!

 

 

Some final thoughts…

2015 may very well be remembered for what happened off the field. The Giants’ Jason Pierre Paul blew up his hands during a July 4th fireworks accident, forcing him to sit out the majority of the season.  The injury, which was very much avoidable, may spell the end of his career as a Giant since he’s a free agent next year. Knicks coach Derek Fisher reportedly got into a physical altercation with a former teammate whose ex Fisher is apparently dating. Perhaps the most embarrassing moment of the year came in Week 15 of the NFL season when Giants superstar receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., was penalized three times for physical altercations against agitating Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. It was a shame Giants coach Tom Coughlin did not pull Beckham from the game. Beckham’s stupidity cost him, as the NFL suspended the dynamic pass-catcher for last week’s game against the Vikings. Not that it mattered, the Giants were eliminated from the playoffs one day earlier when Washington claimed the NFC east with a win over Philadelphia. And to cap off the year, Knicks benchplayer Derrick Williams was robbed of more than a half-million dollars in jewelry, and fellow benchwarmer, Cleananthony Early, was shot in the leg and robbed by masked gunmen who surrounded an Uber car he’d hailed after leaving a Queens strip club. As for the Knicks, at least, they have something to look forward to with the arrival of Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-foot-3 20-year-old is averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds per game in his rookie season, and appears to be the real deal. Keep it up, KP. New York is desperate for a winner who could go all the way.

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