We are a parched city. This year will mark No. 10 since the Giants won a Super Bowl, and you can’t really call a title-free decade a drought. Still, we do have a sports Sahara feel to us.
This week, with so many New York teams on the upswing, a popular question I’ve fielded is this: Who’s next? Who will be the next New York team of the Big Nine to make it to the finish line? I’m going to list the teams from longest drought to shortest (as of Sunday), and the number I give is where they fall on the spectrum — 1 for most-likely to win next, 9 for least.
Feedback, as always, isn’t just welcome it is mandatory.
Drought: 53 years
Title likelihood: 7
The Jets have a new coach, a new franchise quarterback, a new direction. Jets fans — for the time being anyway — no longer bear the beleaguered look of the folks behind the desk at the DMV who’ve waited too long to take a lunch break. But they have so far to go: from dregs to respectable to competitive to contender to champion. That’s a lot of steps. They can get there. But it’s going to take a while.
Drought: 45 years
Title likelihood: 2
You expected them to be 1, right? Well, look: If everyone stays healthy, they really should be good enough to run the table to the NBA title. But that’s the issue, right? The Nets haven’t shown any skill for staying healthy — and the playoffs are a two-month grind in which every game is necessary, and rife with possibilities for strains, sprains and other adventures. Do you think they’ll escape that gauntlet unscathed? Really?
Drought: 48 years
Title likelihood: 5
It is hard to determine just how close the Knicks are because they are at least one huge impact player (and maybe two) away from being in a title conversation. Still, the positive vibes from this season are impossible to ignore. They are definitely trending as well as any of our teams. We just need to see what the rest of the team is going to look like.
Drought: 38 years
Title likelihood: 4
There have been times this year (mostly on nights when they’ve played the Rangers) when it’s seemed the Islanders could take those last two steps from last summer and seize a Cup for the first time since 1983. But they have also lately gotten beaten a lot by the Sabres and Devils. Which team shows up for the playoffs? That is an awfully good question.
Drought: 35 years
Title likelihood: 3
Sure, a lot of things have to go right. But that’s the way the baseball crapshoot is. The National League looks far more wide open than anyone could have believed, and the Mets, when full, still do have the kind of pitching staff that can give any opponent the short-series blues. If they could only still be standing in October, they could stand for quite a while.
Drought: 27 years
Title likelihood: 8
This week’s shenanigans notwithstanding, the Rangers’ rebuild hasn’t exactly laid them at the door of elite status just yet. And who knows what Chris Drury is capable of. Hard to believe we are already halfway back to 54 years, isn’t it?
Drought: 18 years
Title likelihood: 9
The Devils aren’t quite the Jets when it comes to starting-over territory, but the disparity between them and the other two teams in town is big enough, and it’s not like either the Rangers or Islanders are anyone’s version of an immediate contender.
Drought: 12 years
Title likelihood: 1
Wring your hands all you want about the slow start. We’ve already seen how brutal much of the AL is. There is still way too much in The Bronx to believe they won’t be playing in October. And they are still at or near the top of the AL. And who knows? Maybe the Dodgers really will have an off year. Would you bet against the Yankees if so?
Drought: 9 years
Title likelihood: 6
Half the battle in the NFL — as the Giants themselves have proven more than anyone else — is just getting in the playoffs. And the NFC East is surely winnable. And once you are in … well, we know. We’ve seen it. It may not be likely. But it is certainly possible.
Personally, I think Springsteen’s tale about the Magic Rat and the Barefoot Girl is still the gold standard for rodent tales around here, with apologies to the Citi Field racoon and possum.
Yes, the Knicks have been alternately taken to school and to the woodshed by the Nuggets and the Suns the past few nights but, show of hands: Who was willing to sign up for 2-2 after four games of this road swing this time last week?
It was so good to see one of New York’s true originals, Ed Kranepool, represent the Mets at the minor league opener in Syracuse this week. Friday marked the two-year anniversary since his life-saving kidney transplant at Stony Brook University Hospital. “I have my life back,” No. 7 reports, and for that we can all be grateful.
I thought Jonathan Villar pulled off one of the more heads-up plays I’ve seen a New York baseball player execute last Sunday in Philly, dashing home when Rhys Hoskins dallied with the ball. Then four days later Gleyber Torres upped the ante with that wonderful mad dash home from second on an infield hit. Baseball fun really isn’t limited to home runs.
Whack Back at Vac
Derryn Avery: While reading the article you wrote about Derrick Rose, one name kept going through my mind: Ruben Sierra. He was disliked during his first stint with the Yankees but was a fan favorite the second time around.
Vac: Sierra is 100 percent the closet thing we ever had to Derrick Rose II before Rose returned from Detroit. That is a great call.
Robert Papp: I wonder if Isiah Thomas was consulted on the Chris Drury promotion?
Vac: I half-expected Isiah to rip off his Chris Drury facemask right in the middle of the introductory press conference and laugh, “Gotcha!” Didn’t you?
@amf9933: Baseball in 2021. Mets win with a fake runner at second base in the 10th inning; a minor league lifer gets the game-winner on a swinging bunt and gets his shirt ripped off. And all we can talk about is how big rats are in the Mets dugout. Classic. Should be a movie.
@MikeVacc: You’re suggesting we’re all already NOT trapped in that movie?
Salvatore Pasquale: I am 100 percent certain now that the Rangers will not win another Stanley Cup in my lifetime, and I am still a young man. James Dolan should do what is best for the Rangers now and fire himself and make everyone in the sports world happy.
Vac: And you thought only Knicks fans could get this angry!