I don’t consider myself an emotional man. I didn’t cry at my grandma’s funeral, my cousin’s wedding, or at the birth of any of my family members, but I shed a tear of nostalgia when Jeter played his last game. I can’t get through “One Shining Moment” without crying, and I almost got into a fistfight with a fat, middle-aged New England woman on a cruise ship after the Giants beat the Patriots in 2007. I don’t care about much, but I live and die for sports: specifically, when my team is doing better than someone else’s.
If I believed in Santa Claus, and, really, I wish I did, because while we members of the Hebrew persuasion have all the bravado in the world when it comes to the unofficial tradition of Chinese food and movies, we all secretly wish that on Christmas Day, we could sit around a tree, open presents, and eat some kind of ham. But if I did believe in Santa, the only thing I really would ask for this Christmas would be for one of the sports teams I follow to not completely and utterly fucking suck.
If you’ve ever come out of a drunken stupor to see half of your remote control sticking out of a smoldering hole in your TV after your team fucking blew it in the fourth quarter, this is for you.
It’s been a bad season so far for New York sports fans. Coming off a year where Alex Rodriguez turned his steroid suspension into a circus, Eli Manning threw more completions to his defensive opponents than his teammates, the Rangers blew it in the Stanley Cup finals, and newly-minted Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd got into a fight with the Russian bajillionaires who owned the team and departed for Milwaukee, leaving behind a bloated, immobile team with no draft picks and an average player age of about 75, we wanted something better. What we got wasn’t pretty.
The only good thing to happen to the Yankees this year was that everything they shamelessly branded with Derek Jeter’s name, face or likeness (#RE2PECT) flew off the shelves and put an astronomical number of butts in seats for a team so bad. The Rangers are hovering somewhere around .500. Carmelo Anthony became probably the only player in NBA history to stay with his team in free agency and be completely reviled and ridiculed for it.
And, not two weeks ago, I saw my two favorite teams, back-to-back, which normally would make me happier than a pig in shit. Instead, the Nets lost to their former coach Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee Bucks in TRIPLE OVERTIME and my beloved Syracuse Orangemen basketball team got absolutely wrecked by the California Golden Bears. It was so bad that at the end of the game, I took a thrown beer to the back, which was intended to hit my cousin who was sitting near me, as he cheered so loudly and obnoxiously for his beloved Bears. Even when they were up by 20.
Then, of course, there’s the annual shitshow that is the New York Jets’ season, but I’m not a Jets fan by any stretch of the imagination. My best friend from high school tried to trick me into being one with him, but I learned better. Actually, do the Jets still have any fans?
If you think I’m just being whiny, here are actual numbers to back up the claim that this is one of the worst years in New York sports history. This chart, from The Brooklyn Game’s Devin Kharpertian, logs the winning percentages of the two main New York sports teams in each of the four major sports since 1965: The Mets, the Yankees, the Giants, the Jets, the Rangers, the Devils (since they came to Jersey in 1982), the Knicks, and the Nets (since they joined the NBA in 1976).
See that dip on the right? That’s right now. A .381 winning percentage. New York hasn’t seen numbers like that since the 1960s. So, in the modern era of sports–let’s say the late ’70s to early ’80s, we have never sucked so bad. Never ever.
Note that this chart doesn’t include the Islanders, who are actually doing well. But their record, 17-7, first in the NHL’s eastern conference, would give New York teams a pretty significant bump to .417. Kharpertian said that it would be “unwise” to give so much weight to New York’s least popular sport. I agree with his assessment. Also, fuck the Islanders.
It could really be worse. It’s not like this is ’57, when the Dodgers left New York. Or the NHL lockout year. Or the Nets going 0-18 and finishing 12-70 in 2009-2010. Or the Knicks missing the playoffs for a decade. Or the ’07 Mets’ collapse, where they had a seven-game division lead, lost 12 of their next 17, and missed the playoffs. Or when the Yankees lost the World Series a month after Sept. 11. I could go on.
Is there hope? Sure. The Yankees never stay bad for too long. Like I said earlier, we all remember how the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series, something I will never, ever forgive them for. Or the 2008 season when they closed down old Yankee Stadium without making the playoffs, which was the first time since ’93 that they didn’t make the postseason. But they came back and won it all in 2009. They’ll get back on their feet by buying the game once again, don’t you worry.
The Rangers are picking up steam, they’ll be fine. Syracuse almost beat a ranked Michigan team on the road, but fell short due to some sloppy freshman plays. Give ’em a year. The Nets just won their first back-to-back against the Knicks (4-15) and the defending champion Spurs? Maybe they can build some momentum and squeak into the playoffs. Unlike the Nets, the Knicks actually have their own draft pick this year, and at the rate they’re playing, they could pick up someone solid. The Jets will probably have a new coach in a couple months, and the Giants will probably get their shit together. The Mets play baseball, too.
So, as I tell myself every time I turn off the TV and wipe a tear from my cheek, it’ll get better. It has to get better, doesn’t it?