Find out why the city the never sleeps is also home to the best sports culture in the world.
When you look at future college football odds for different
college sports teams, why is it so rare to see a New York based college as one
of the betting favorites?
St.John's Red Storm
This is a good college to start with. St. John's was a
powerhouse in NCAA basketball in the early 1980's in the days of Chris Mullin.
The Redmen (their name at the time) were always a top contender to win the
national championship as they took on foes like Georgetown with Patrick Ewing.
Nowadays, St.John's is a decent basketball school but if you
go to a game inside Madison Square Garden, unless it's against a top contender,
there are plenty of seats available.
A lot of this stems from the past because unlike most
colleges like Kentucky or UCLA, St John's didn't have a dormitory for students
to live in. Unless the athlete was a local product, the options were limited.
How could a kid from California play at St.John's when there were no dorms to
The Big Apple focusing on professional sports
If you look at most places in the United States, you'll find
maybe one or two professional teams in that city. Some cities have no
professional teams. New York has 6 professional teams not including Buffalo
which is located in upstate New York. Between the Yankees, Mets, Nets, Knicks,
Rangers, and Devils, the metropolitan area is totally focused on professional
In areas such as South Carolina, New Mexico, and Indiana,
these are places where there's one professional sports team or less and these
areas focus more on colleges and education. When there's more opportunity in
states like Kentucky, the athlete will gravitate to it and the college will
eventually acquire so much talent that it will be a very desirable place to be
an athlete and get an education at.
Attractive campuses and gymnasiums
It's kind of sad to be so vain but appearances do matter.
What college kid wouldn't rather play at Michigan in front of 100,000 people?
There are some very good places of learning in the Metropolitan area. Take Yale
University for instance. The level of learning doesn't get much higher than
Yale but have you seen the Yale Bowl lately? It needs to be updated and the
gymnasium leaves a lot to be desired.
Economics play a role in New York colleges such as Wagner
and Iona. The college is only able to give out a certain amount of scholarships
and most families can't afford to pay for a college education. The athlete is
usually forced to look outside New York for a scholarship in an economically
sound college like Penn State which gets donations and is supported by alumni
and boosters (legally).
These are some primary examples and reasons why colleges in
New York and New Jersey aren't at the top of the list for the student athlete.
The Brooklyn Nets. It
sounds like a made up team on some basketball video game that couldn't use the
real NBA franchise names because they never paid for the licensing fees. But make no mistake, the Nets are now officially
from Brooklyn and New Yorkers will now have a choice of which team to
support. It seems to me, die-hard Knick
fans will poo poo the Nets as carpetbaggers and look with disdain to the
Brooklynites searching for a team to call their own.
But here in Boston we can't help but chuckle amongst
ourselves as we consider the impending scenario of Nets fans and Knicks fans
trading insults and grabbing their crotches while repeatedly asking, "Are
you talkin' to me?" Oh my, we love
when New Yorkers turn on each other because we need a break from the battle
every now and again.
The Nets needed a new identity and a change of venue. When the Nets would play the Knicks at home
in New Jersey it often felt like an away game for the home team as Knicks fans
often outnumbered Nets fans. Nets CEO
Brett Yormark promises that fans in Brooklyn won't allow their neighbors to
take over their house and make more noise than the home crowd. Yormark views this new venue as a solid
foundation where old Nets fans are welcome but new Nets fans will be the ones
putting their Brooklyn stamp on an NBA franchise that has often languished as
an orphan child.
If merchandise sales are any indication of the popularity of
this new look Nets team then there is room for optimism as the Nets are
outselling the Knicks at the Manhattan based NBA store based on retail and
online sales in May. This comes off the
heels of a Knick playoff appearance, however brief, and the non-stop locomotion
that was Lin-Sanity. All in all, this is
a rivalry that could catch fire if the Nets put a competitive team on the
will now boast two professional franchises in the four major sports. Brooklyn New York will now get to talk about
something other than the Dodgers who packed up and moved to the West Coast in
1957. But now Brooklyn-ites become the
new destination for a Nets franchise that has struggled for an identity since
they joined the NBA in 1976. They
actually won two conference titles during the '01-'02 and '02-'03 seasons but
bowed in the finals to the Lakers and Spurs respectively. In the minds of Nets fans, those were the
Jersey can focus their attention exclusively on Pauly D and Snooki because the
Nets are waving goodbye. But who could
have possibly lured a Jersey franchise to the hardscrabble neighborhood of
Brooklyn? Why a Russian of course! That's right billionaire Mikhail
Prokhorov, who reminds me of Vladimir Putin without the sunny disposition , is
the man with the plan. He even had the
good sense to commission minority owner and world renowned rapper Jay-Z to design the logo which will appear on
the uniforms and of course anything and everything they can peddle to the
public. From the early reviews, Jay-Z
won't be appearing on Project Runway any time soon.
New York Knicks
really think Lin-Sanity would propel the Knicks deep into the postseason? Were the Knicks ever a viable contender or
more than just a speed bump on the road to the NBA title? And will this get worse before it gets
better? They have very little to spend
on free agents in the offseason with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson
Chandler and Toney Douglas gobbling up north of fifty million. Add to that they will be without a 1st
round pick this year barring a trade and their second round spot is deep in the
How about a
coach…any coach? Interim coach Mike
Woodson is targeted to get the gig next season but legendary coach Phil Jackson
is rumored to be willing to cast aside his golf game for another crack at
patrolling the sidelines. Have the
Knicks made a call to see if he might be willing to talk? Of course not. What would they do with a guy who has six
championship rings? New Yorkers will
New York Yankees and Mets
York teams have identical records (20-15) as of this writing and both are
within shouting distance of first place in their respective divisions. The Yankees bats are doing damage but the
pitching continues to be a concern. The
Mets are also hitting but their ability to limit opposing batters is even more
have the horses to contend right up until October and if they can get quality
innings from their staff, they may be the beast of the east this season. The Mets on the other hand will have it rough
in their division as Washington has been the surprise team of the National
League and when you factor in Atlanta, Philadelphia and even Miami, the Mets
may pull the short straw once again.
If you haven’t had the chance to read my buddy Swingin’ Johnson’s Article Beantown Breakdown: Boston Sports Report you are missing out on some great writing and insight, but I would be amiss if I did not correct a few oversights and omissions—notice how I didn’t use the word “errors” as—given the article was aimed at Boston fans—I realize that any word with more than two “R’s” is impossible for them to pronounce.
That said, I must point out that while Swingin’ states “Boston is becoming Title Town”, it is the city of New York and our reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants that have polished off the Pats in their past two Super Bowl meetings like the Red Sox club house does a bucket of chicken.
I have fun with Swingin, but in all honesty Boston is a great sports town who will certainly have a say in the upcoming NHL and NBA postseasons and, with new manager Bobby Valentine, will give us plenty of headlines in the upcoming MLB season, but it is NYC that puts the bias in East Coast Bias. So let’s talk out my beloved little Big Apple and the host of teams that have the city abuzz with the post season starting for the Knicks and Rangers and the hopes of another November at Yankee Stadium.
The New York Knicks
The Knickerboxers of New York, who beat the Celtics of Boston 118-110 at Madison Square Garden in their last meeting, have been one of the most talked about NBA teams all season. From the belly aching of Carmello Anthony in January, the birth of Lin-sanity in February, to the stepping down of Coach D’Antoni in mid-March, this is a team that has been in the headlines as much as it has been on the playoff bubble all season.
Well that bubble has burst for the better, as in the past month the Sixers have free fallen from the first in the Atlantic Division to the 8th and final playoff spot and while the Knicks only lead Philadelphia by one game for the 7th slot in the Atlantic, Philly’s focus has shifted to survival and holding off the Bucks for the 8th slot.
It is not a stretch to state the Knicks will be playing in May for the simple fact that since Mike Woodson has taken the helm, Carmello has been as happy as a kid in a candy store, as evident by his triple-double against the Celtics and the fact he has thrown down 77 points in their past two games. And while many, including myself, had thought he was unhappy with a Jeremy Lin-centered offense, it really has been with Amare out of the lineup that Mello has shined.
Melo has increased his FG’s by 10%, that is not a misprint. Since Amare and Lin went down on March 24th against Detroit, Melo is not only hitting 49% of his shots inside the arc (up from 39.5%), but he has improved his three point accuracy by almost the same amount to 37.3% (up from 28.9%).
Sure these numbers are nice and Carmello isn’t the only Knick of note, as Iman Shumpert has been playing well at guard all season and Tyson Chandler has been doing a respectable job underneath.
Here’s the bad news for New York; yes, the Knicks have been in the headlines all season, but this is only the second time it has been for their great play. The first was their 7-game winning streak that crested on the wave of Linsanity, and now once again with the return of Carmello’s dominance that has seen them win 67% of their games with him leading the cast. But that’s the problem with this team, they don’t share well and seem to play best when only one man is carrying the load and whenever another star returns, the team sees a hiccup. Look no further than the return of Stoudamire and Melo that brought a crashing halt to Linsanity with a 6-game losing streak.
So while many Knicks fans may think it is good news that Stoudamire will be healthy for the postseason, it’s actually great news for the Heat, who it seems inevitable will be the first round opponent for New York. I can only imagine this will lead to a less confident Melo than we are seeing now as he questions many of the shots he takes now without thinking. The only way to overcome this is with great leadership, which New York has lacked all season on or off the court.
My heart will be with the Knicks in May, but I have trouble seeing them doing anything more than one and done come post season especially if they face the Heat who they have yet to beat all season in three tries.
The New York Rangers
While many thought New York would be an improved team this season after signing prized free agent Brad Richards to a hefty 9-year, 60 million dollar deal over the summer; few people, myself included, saw the Blueshirts winning the Eastern Conference over Swingin’s defending Stanley Cup Champs, the Boston Bruins.
Richards made the Rangers brass look good leading the team with 41 assists and was second on the team with 66 points. Still, it has always been the Rangers ability to shut down the opposing teams that has helped them get here, as they ranked third in team defense with just 2.22 goals allowed per contest.
Still, if you follow hockey or mine and Swinign’s weekly show What are the Odds hosted by the able Peter Loshak, you know that while it takes tremendous amount of talent and durability to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. You can’t do anything without a great goalie in the post season (see the politically incorrect Tim Thomas last year).
That where NYC’s favorite Swede, Henrik Lundqvist, comes in. (Incidentally, Puma Swede is our second favorite, but unlike Henrik she gets paid to let men into her crease)
After three fruitless nominations in his first seven seasons, "King Henrik" is coming off a 2011-12 that could land him his first Vezina Trophy, especially after posting his post personal bests in wins (39), goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.930) as well as recording eight shutouts. Sure, he has struggled in April with a 15-20 record and a 2.60 GAA in the postseason, but there is something to be said for experience and this is a more mature goalie New York is fielding this post season, as was seen in his clutch Game 3 play in the 1-0 win in Ottawa, where he stopped more wicked shots from Senators that one sees in a health care debate and gave New York a 2-1 lead in the series as well as returning the momentum and the home ice advantage to New York.
Assuming he continues to play at this level coupled with some great young stars on defense in Dan Girardi (and his plus-13 rating) and Ryan McDonagh (who had a breakout season in his sophomore season with seven goals, 25 assists and a team-best plus-25 rating) and the offensive firepower of Michael Del Zotto (10 goals, 31 assist, plus-20) and the depth offered by players like Marc Staal, Anton Stralman, and Tim Erixon and the Rangers not only look to make a run, but I fully expect John Tortorella’s boys to be hoisting up Lord Stanley’s cup next month.
New York Mets
Yes the Wilpon’s still have a team here in New York but they will always continue to take a back seat to the Bronx Bombers—and for good reason. This team just doesn’t have what it takes to win in the majors: great pitching and strength up the middle. SS Jose Reyes is off in Little Havana this season and the last exciting thing the New York Mets saw at the second base position was in 2009 when Luis Castillo dropped A-Rod’s fly ball. This leaves Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy (in from left field last year) to play their first full seasons respectively at each position.
The staff, assuming the Johan Santana is back, faces a sharp drop-off after him. R.A, Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, John Niese, and up-and-comer Dillon Gee are all capable of a great outing here and there, but nothing that will get you to October, especially when you are competing on a regular basis with staffs in your division the likes of Philadelphia and now Washington.
The bats are not much different, and they have talent but no consistency. Sure David Wright is looking like the Wright of old, playing through a hand injury that has him day-to-day and still toting a .517 averag,e and Ike Davis who, after missing the latter part of last season with an injury, is back at first playing like a young Keith Hernandez.
Right Fielder Lucas Duda is coming off a two-homer game and has potential to be great, but aside from that there are far too many question marks like 34 year old journeyman Andres Torres in center and signal-caller Josh Thole behind the plate—who was fooled on the basepaths by a hidden ball play earlier this week. Isn’t the catcher supposed to be the smartest kid on the field?
And then there is Jason Bay who since his being acquired after his 2009 36 Hr, 119 RBI campaign in Boston has yet to reach half of either of those numbers in any season with New York. Fitting that he plays so close to Wall Street, another place where numbers have dropped steadily the past four years and many are still waiting for the bottom to drop out. All those towering homers over the monster in Boston are nothing but lofty fly balls that don’t even make the warning track in left.
Yes the Mets are 7-4, but baseball is a long journey and the question is "can the Mets do over the next 151 what they’ve done in their first 11"....doubtful. Especially when you consider the fact that they have little depth at each position. While they moved the fences in to help them win games at home, to win games in the post season they need to move the entire stadium… to 1986. I can’t see the Amazin’s finishing any higher than 4th in the N.L. East this season.
The New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have missed the playoffs once in the past eighteen seasonss, and there’s a reason for that; money and coaching. Look I’m not gonna lie to you, and fans in of Toronto and Baltimore will attest, it’s hard to keep up with the purse strings of The Big Apple and Beantown.
Still, in the end it takes great coaching to survive the 162 game schedule that is the majors. If you need proof look no further than across town at the Mets who have perennially had a huge payroll mismanaged to death by Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, or look back one year to the Fried Chicken / Keg Party that cost Boston the post season and Terry Francona his job.
How much have Yankee fans come to expect from their manager? The only year they missed the post season in that 18-year span cost Joe Torre his job. Torre promptly went to LA and took them to the post-season and Joe Girardi stepped in here and won a World Series. Yes, the Yankees have talent but they know how to use it and this season looks no different.
The infield is among the best in baseball anchored by Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano up the middle and Mark Texiera and A-rod at the corners. These guys can hit and field, and while Jeter may have lost a step, it is the leadership and spark that he brings that take you as far as the bat of any Albert Pujols.
The outfield features speedsters Billy Gardner and five-tooler Curtis Granderson as well as stalwart Nick Swisher. Toss in Andruw Jones and newly-acquired Raul Ibanez who’s bat still has some pop in them to field and DH and this team has depth.
The Staff has a few question marks after CC Sabathia in Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kurota, but when you have that much firepower and Mariano Rivera closing things out, it’s just hard to beat these guys day after day.
All in all, look for the Girardi’s squad to win this division with the Rays taking the Wildcard—but keep an eye on Toronto—as they will have a say in who places where.