I’m back in southern Connecticut this week visiting my parents. If you grew up anywhere near where I did, that meant a LOT of New York sports radio on the AM waves.
My dad and I were in the car yesterday, and as soon as he turned on WFAN, it was an all-too-recognizable voice. Craig F***ing Carton. Yes, the same one who served 2 years in prison for a $5.6 million Ponzi scheme, convincing sports fans he had access to exclusive tickets at a low price (sounds like Fyre Festival, no?!). Well, he’s back and better than ever – out early from prison – and god bless Evan Roberts, who now serves as Carton’s co-host on their new self-titled talk show, “Carton & Roberts.”
Boomer Esiason (left) and Craig Carton (right). Yes, you are, Boomer. PIC: Primetimer.com
It’s easy to get trapped in the over-exaggeration of points, the sensationalism, and Craig answering the phone with the wonky “HELLLLLLOOOO!” phrase that Jerry Seinfeld made famous. But today, he caught my ear when he reminded us of the chilling fact that there has not been a championship in New York in TEN full years. For one of the most historic and successful sports cities in the entire world, that’s nothing short of a total disgrace.
Craig & Evan proceeded to debate which of the eight professional sports teams in New York have the greatest odds to break this drought. But you don’t need their thoughts, right?
Let’s take a stab at which of the eight New York teams are best poised to bring hardware back to the Concrete Jungle in the near future.
#8 – New York Jets Last title: 1969
Do we really need to explain this one??
The Jets are nothing short of a total dumpster fire. With virtually an entire coaching staff that wasn’t motivated enough to squeeze out more than 3 wins from their players, a disheveled and uncharismatic defensive contingent, and an offensive scheme with virtually no weapons, the 2020 Jets were one of the worst teams in the history of their franchise. While hiring 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their head coach seems like a step in the right direction, the Jets are a long way to go.
#7 – New York Giants Last title: 2011
It truly is hard to believe this team was the last to win a title in the Empire State (well, technically New Jersey, but alas). I’m sure I’ll be crucified by the Giants fanbase for this, but if it weren’t for the Jets, they’d be the worst team on this list. The New York Football Giants nearly won the NFC East this year despite a 6-10 record; if it weren’t for the Washington Football team, or the Eagles’ blatant efforts to throw the Week 17 game, the Giants would’ve hosted Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round. But, we’re kidding ourselves if we think the Giants don’t need any help. A new general manager is probably in the cards sooner than later, as David Gettleman’s reviews are very poor in East Rutherford. Jason Garrett will also likely be hitting the job market after a less-than-ideal first year as the offensive coordinator. The G-Men certainly have some promising pieces, but they also have a lot of work to do.
#6 – New York Knicks Last title: 1973
As is already growing commonplace with this list, the Knicks are a franchise that has certainly had its woes over the past few years. Between Phil Jackson’s “inside job” of trading away a generational asset in Kristaps Porzingis, constant mismanagement of the roster & rotations, and head coaches who quite frankly looked lost, many believed the only path to success would be for James Dolan to sell the team…after all, the Knicks haven’t had a winning season since their 2012-13 campaign. But the Knicks new front office hires – former CAA agents Leon Rose and William Wesley (“Worldwide Wes”) – have already showed us they’re here to reverse the fortunes now, not later. The Knicks, now led by championship coach Tom Thibodeau, have a solid group of promising young talent – Duke standout RJ Barrett has evolved, seven-footer Mitchell Robinson appears to be more comfortable with his game, and reigning AP College Basketball Player of the Year Obi Toppin is shaping up to be the steal of the 2020 NBA Draft. The Knicks have a lot to look forward to, but they need some time.
#5 – New York Rangers Last title: 1994
Despite suffering a disappointing bounce from the NHL playoffs last year at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, there’s quite a bit to be excited about for the Rangers in 2021. Although they traded 13-year Ranger veteran Marc Staal, lost Jesper Fast to free agency, and saw New York hockey great Hendrik Lundqvist depart for Washington (to retire a short few weeks later), the influx of young talent seems to be a more-than-adequate consolation prize. Alexis Lafreniere, the first-overall pick, has been called a “generational talent,” and should immediately contribute to the Rangers offensive effort. The Rangers will have to take some time to learn about what exactly they can do with this roster, but better times are ahead.
#4 – New York Mets Last title: 1986
If we had written this a few months ago, the Mets would probably be lower on this list; maybe as low as 6 or 7. But there’s a new swagger in Flushing: billionaire Steve Cohen purchased the team from the Wilpon family, and has since been ever-so-active on Twitter – both promising sign for the Metropolitans.
The Mets have been the stars of the show so far this offseason. They recently acquired superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and a solid top-of-the-rotation addition in Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians, added a reliable catcher in James McCann, and a late-inning reliever in Trevor May. The Mets still have some question marks that are holding them back from a higher ranking: how far can their rookie manager take them? When will Noah Syndergaard return, and will he be healthy enough to bolster the rotation? Who will step up in the outfield? We’ll have to see if the Mets can be legitimate contenders for the next few years, but the signs are promising.
#3 – New York Islanders Last title: 1983
While more hockey fans than none thought their appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals may have been a fluke last year, the New York Islanders have a legitimate case to repeat last year’s successes in 2021. The Isles have a solid core group of talent on their squad this year – captain Anders Lee doesn’t appear to have missed a beat, center Matt Barzal is back on a three-year deal, and goalie depth seems to be plentiful. We will certainly learn a lot about the Isles over the next few weeks, but if they’re anything close to what they are promised to be this year, they can make another run…if they can get past the reigning champs in the Tampa Bay Lightning.
#2 – New York Yankees Last title: 2009
How on earth has it been 11 years since a title was won in the Bronx?! If you ask Yankee fans, they’ve unapologetically been claiming that the past few years have all been “their year” (myself included). There’s simply too much talent on this squad to keep getting eliminated from the playoffs, especially without even reaching the World Series. The Bronx Bombers will look to lean on superstar ace Gerrit Cole to lead the way once again in the pitching department, while turning to a host of solid contributors in the lineup. The Yanks will look to actualize the full potential of their outfield this year too – Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge are simply too good to be denied some real success for much longer. Two names to watch this year: Corey Kluber and DJ LeMahieu. They’ll look to the former Cy Young award winner in Kluber to provide some much-needed rotation depth, and they’ll count on the reigning batting champion in LeMahieu to kick off the lineup with a bang.
The rotation seems to be the hit-or-miss situation here...
This is yet another dangerous Yankees team, as they’re pretty much the undisputed favorite to win the American League. We’ll see if everyone can stay healthy this year.
If not for the Nets existence, the Yankees would undisputedly take #1 on this list.
#1 – Brooklyn Nets Last title: Never (won ABA title in 1974)
There’s a lot going down on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush. In one of the most intriguing NBA storylines of the past few years, the Nets just acquired reigning scoring leader James Harden, which – regardless of how you feel about him – instantly qualifies Brooklyn as a championship contender, if not a favorite. Even with three of the best (and most paid) players in the NBA this year, the Nets are going to need all of Harden, Kevin Durant, and recent no-show Kyrie Irving – who was just fined $50,000 for skipping his last game because “he didn’t feel like it” – to play the best basketball of their careers. More importantly, checking the egos at the door may be paramount, especially after Harden's comments shortly before he was traded.
After the Harden blockbuster, the Nets are razor-thin outside their starting lineup, so it’ll be all on the new-and-improved Big Three to take Brooklyn to the promised land.