Regional Sports

Is there hope on horizon for NY sports?

Major League Baseball owners approving Steve Cohen as the Mets owner gave New York sports fans something to celebrate for the first time since the New York Islanders lost Game 6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in September.

Cohen offers a troubled franchise with a new lease on life. He started his reign on Friday by firing the Mets’ front office of Jeff Wilpon, Brodie Van Wagenen, Omar Minaya, Allard Baird, Jared Banner, and Adam Guttridge. This came hours after he announced on Twitter that his $2.45 billion purchase of the Mets was completed. Then, he answered questions with fans on Twitter. He finished it off by doing a Zoom conference call with the New York media on Tuesday in a get-to-know-you session for the fans.

New York sports fans could use more good news like this. Outside of the Islanders, the New York sports landscape stinks all across the board.

The Yankees failed to win a championship for the 11th straight year, and the Mets completed a brief 2020 season with a 26-34 campaign that made it easy for Cohen to fire the entire front office.

Our NFL teams are no better. The Jets likely are on their way to an 0-16 season since they have no talent on their roster, and the Giants may have won their last game of the season since they are not favored to beat any more teams on their schedule.

The Devils bombed this season, which resulted in them firing their head coach John Hynes and general manager Ray Shero. They hired Tom Fitzgerald as general manager and Lindy Ruff as head coach to get this once-proud franchise in the right direction. The Rangers failed to make the playoffs, but they won the No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as a consolation prize for missing out on the playoffs during the bubble out in Toronto.

The Knicks stunk once again, and they once again changed the general manager and head coach hoping to turn their fortunes again. This time, it’s Leon Rose (general manager and president of basketball operations), William Wesley, and Tom Thibodeau (head coach) that has the unfortunate task of changing fortunes. The Nets made the playoffs because someone had to fill out the final two playoff spots of the Eastern Conference. It wasn’t because they were anything special. I mean they fired Kenny Atkinson as their head coach in the middle of the season since they were losing and he couldn’t get through to Kyrie Irving.

The New York Liberty completed Walt Hopkins’ miserable first season with a 2-20 record, which featured Asia Durr not playing this season and likely WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu playing only three games in her rookie season after she injured her ankle that had her out for the season.

At least, we got NYCFC and New York Red Bulls. Both MLS soccer teams qualified for the playoffs. But then again, it seems like every MLS soccer team makes the playoffs.

COVID-19 denied us of seeing Myles Powell leading Seton Hall in the NCAA Tournament and Rutgers making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991. St. John’s is rebuilding as usual.

Rutgers football stunk since Greg Schiano left, and he is back now to get that sorry program back on track in the Big Ten.

Will things get better? We keep asking that same question for 10 years. Sooner or later, the tide has to change, right?

The Islanders look to be in prime shape to win a Stanley Cup championship. They still have a few years in them to get it done. They are on the right track after making it to the Eastern Conference semifinals last year and being a Brock Nelson breakaway shot from playing Game 7 against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Nets should make a quantum leap with a healthy Kevin Durant. Will they be good enough to beat the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, or Milwaukee Bucks? Can Kyrie Irving be healthy and productive?

I like to think Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence can improve the Jets if the Jets win the No. 1 overall pick. But there are two questions to that: 1) WIll Lawrence even leave school if the Jets get the No. 1 overall pick? 2) Even if the Jets get Lawrence, no one knows if Jets owner Woody Johnson and Jets management can put him in a position to succeed after seeing Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold flop.

The Mets feature some pieces to build around in Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Pete Alonso, and they will spend to get top players in the market, but it may take a while until they become a National League contender.

Rutgers basketball is on the right track to make the NCAA Tournament and go on long runs in March.

The Mets, Nets, and Islanders boast owners that have a clue about how to run a sports franchise well, so there’s hope.

Will it result in championships? That’s a great question.

But at least fans will take hope compared to the last eight wretched seasons. After all, beggars can’t be choosers.

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  1. Another excellent article from Leslie. I agree with most of his comments. I’m more optimistic on the Liberty. A little less on the Red Bull’s. Radio Royalty!

  2. Thanks for responding and reading, Chad.

    The Liberty has hope because of Sabrina. With that said, they need to build around her or else they won’t be nothing more than an entertaining show at best. Like the Jets, I wonder if the Liberty can get it done in building around her. One thing going for the Liberty is they are not owned by that a-hole James Dolan anymore, so maybe there’s hope.

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