Today is September 5th, 2012. It marks the opening of the 2012 NFL regular season, Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, the end of Andy Roddick’s tennis career and the first time the Baltimore Orioles have been at least tied for first at the top of the American League East standings since 1997.
I say all of these things because today, more so than any other day before it, there seems to be some significant stress in the air surrounding almost all of the New York City-area sports teams.
Seriously, let’s think about this, one team at a time.
Starting with the team this site is dedicated to following, the New York Knicks. Simply put, this time frame is the calm before the storm kicks back up. There are so many other sports distractions taking the spotlight off the Knicks after a very hectic summer. Even with the impressive performance by Carmelo Anthony at the 2012 London Olympics, including an Olympic-record 37-point performance, this team still feels like multiple tomato juice baths away from coming close to washing off the Jeremy Lin stench left by his free agent exodus.
The amount of questions this team has to answer heading into the season are alarming. Concerns of this team wanting to improve the locker room morale by adding well-established veterans well past their primes aren’t going to vanish overnight. While there are those who think Jeremy Lin won’t live up to the massive expectations he now has in Houston, I think there are fewer that truly believe he’ll be any worse than the combination of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. Not to mention, we still have to see if J.R. Smith can step up and be a good fit at the two-guard, if Carmelo Anthony can build off the Olympics, if Tyson Chandler can be the anchor for another season, if Amar’e Stoudemire has anything at all left in the tank. The questions go on and on and on. And they’re concerning.
Then we turn to the
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets. True Knicks fans aren’t at all concerned about them jumping the river and finding a comfortable spot in the city. However, their addition to the new market has to at least concern a few along the edges of the organization. Everybody loves the new and the exciting, and at least for one season, that’s going to be the Nets. By them simply existing in New York and not New Jersey adds an extra level of stress to the traditional area fan’s life, because now they’ll have to deal with Mike Francesca or Stephen A. Smith or someone else clamoring for fans to jump from one wagon to another.
Turn your attention for a second to baseball. Usually, this is a tale of the haves (Yankees) and the have-nots (Mets). However, in 2012, this is a story of the failing (Yankees, again) and the failed (Mets, shocker). The Yankees are currently deep in the heart of a late-season collapse that absolutely nobody that follows baseball closely could have predicted as recently as the All-Star break. Once upon a time, the Yankees had a 10-game lead in the East and seemed to be cruising to the best record in the American League. Slowly, the Yankees started to drop games left and right, while the Baltimore Orioles (yes, those Balitmore Orioles) and the Tampa Bay Rays, who almost predictably start their playoff runs in early August, charged to the top.
Now? Not only do the Yankees find themselves in a dead heat with the O’s, the Rays are only two back in the loss column, knocking on the door to the final Wild Card spot the Yankees currently hold. Even though most of the Yankee fans I know are still in the semi-denial “Oh, we’re just a little rusty, this is no big deal” phase of the fall, this has the potential to get really frightening and borderline embarrassing.
And then there are my beloved Mets. Outside of R.A. Dickey’s continued dominance (won #18 today, first pitcher in baseball to reach that peak) and his chance at a National League Cy Young, there aren’t many reasons for a non-die hard to be watching anymore. I mean, I’ll still watch with blind optimism. But, that’s what happens when you’re in love. You play tricks with your mind and convince yourself one thing is something completely different from what it really is. Maybe next year…
Flip the switch to the NFL, which as we stated is about to kick-off (pun intended) tonight in New York. The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants will start things off against their NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Now, to my deep sports knowledge, I believe this is the least talked about defending Super Bowl champion within the last decade. There is seemingly no pressure what so ever on this team entering this season, partly because this team overachieved last year and partly because there are much bigger story lines throughout the NFL (Peyton Manning’s return, anything Saints related, the ridiculous number of rookies starting at quarterback).
Actually, as far as the mindset of New York sports fans go, Giants fans have to feel the best out of any other fan base. I mean, what do they have to lose? They’ve enjoyed two Lombardi trophies in the last five years. Literally anything else is just a bonus right now. They’re all just strutting around the city with that smug look on their face like they just won the lottery…again. I hate it. But, I digress.
Speaking of bigger story linse in the NFL, there’s the mess that also plays in MetLife Stadium. Want to know why nobody talked about the Giants this off-season? Its because the Jets made all the headlines, none of them seemingly for the right reasons. There’s the fact that people talk more about the Jets new back-up quarterback, Tim Tebow, than their returning two-time AFC Championship Game starter, Mark Sanchez. Or the fact that the first team offense literally didn’t score one touchdown in the preseason. Or the growing tension between the Jets media-happy head coach and media-shy general manager. Or the fact that the Jets might just not be that good this year. Either way, Gang Green is one giant mess. The only good news for Jets fans is that more often than not, Jets fans are also Mets fans. Which means they’ve already been disappointed once this season. Which means they’re better prepared for this upcoming disappointment.
Oh, and we haven’t even talked about arguably the best team that currently calls New York City home. No, not the Islanders. Its the New York Rangers, who are flying high off their huge off-season trade that landed them Rick Nash to partner up with Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist.
Only problem is, this team may never see the ice of Madison Square Garden this year. The NHL is flirting with yet another lockout that could eliminate the 2012-13 season. Meaning, the best team in all of New York may not even play a competitive game this year.
Wow. How did such a huge sports-hungry city like New York get to this point? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is this mostly just an over-exaggeration of a bunch of small problems manifesting into one giant headache? Could everything turn around for the positive in the span of one week?
Reality is, none of us will know until it happens. But, the swagger New York once had not even two months ago seems to be fading away faster than someone can say “quarterback controversy”.