Somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere fans are laughing, and somewhere children shout. But there is no joy in New York for all their teams — once again — have struck out.
Those words so famously reserved for Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat” and his Mudville Nine couldn’t be more true for the Big Apple in recent years. The Canyon of Heroes have been barren, the trophy cases have cobwebs, and the city continues to wait for its next championship.
What makes the New York City area such a unique sports town is its glutton of professional, “Big 4” sports teams, with eight in the immediate vicinity: Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Islanders, Knicks, and Nets.
Because it has double the amount of teams that even the other largest markets possess, more often than not, this city is celebrating a championship.
Since 1900, New York teams have won 54 championships, by far the most of any North American Big 4 sports town:
- Yankees- 27
- NY Giants (NFL)- 8
- NY Giants (MLB, moved to San Francisco in 1957)- 5
- Islanders- 4
- Rangers- 4
- Mets- 2
- Knicks- 2
- Brooklyn Dodgers (moved to Los Angeles in 1957)- 1
- Jets- 1
But the well has run dry in recent years. The last time a New York-area team won it all was the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 with no immediate end in sight.
Just a month after the Islanders were bounced out of the Eastern Conference Final by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Yankees — considered by many to be World Series favorites — were eliminated in the ALDS by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The last hope for the city is the Giants and Jets — who are more of an embarrassment than a contender as the two squads have combined to start the 2020 season 0-10. That’s the first time that’s ever happened.
The reality is that it will be eight full seasons in which no New York team has won a title — a short amount of time for small-market or struggling fan bases — but an eternity for the Big Apple.
This is the second-longest championship drought the city has ever experienced dating back to 1900. New York went from 1906-1920 without a championship, and that dry spell was bookended by World Series titles by the baseball Giants in 1905 and 1921.
It began a three-year streak in which the Giants faced the Yankees in the World Series with the Bronx Bombers nabbing their first title in 1923.
The city wouldn’t experience a championship drought lasting more than six years after that — until now.
There have been some close calls along the way — but more dysfunction than anything over the last eight years.
The Rangers dropped the 2014 Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. A year later, the Mets lost the 2015 World Series to the Kansas City Royals in as many games. Those are the only times a New York club made it to its respective championship stage.
When will this drought end?
One would like to believe that it would come sooner rather than later, especially considering that things are looking up for a majority of the city’s teams heading into 2021.
So we decided to rank the eight major sports teams in the Big Apple based on the likelihood of them winning a championship first. It’s important to note that the first five teams on this list are practically a toss-up — which offers hope for a victory parade around these parts in the near future:
- Yankees- Even after an early postseason exit, the Yankees are going to enter the 2021 season as one of the World Series favorites. They need a bonafide No. 2 arm and a resolution at the catcher position this offseason. Even so, there’s no reason why this team can’t win 100-plus games next year and make a deep run into the playoffs
- Islanders- One of the more unlikely deep playoff runs in recent New York memory, the Islanders have quickly developed from hapless organization to Stanley Cup contender. It derives from the staunch defensive system instituted by Barry Trotz, but the Islanders need a legitimate first-line winger to really get over the top.
- Nets- A healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will make the Nets one of the top teams in the East. An ability to retain Spencer Dinwiddie would give Brooklyn a fearsome trio to build on in a conference that remains wide-open.
- Mets- The arrival of Steve Cohen offers a promising future for the Mets, but a pivotal offseason requires a sizable checklist to be completed before World Series contention is a legitimate goal. The Amazin’s need at least one more starter, a total revamp of their bullpen, a starting catcher, and a natural center fielder.
- Rangers- So much for an extended rebuild. Just two years after that famous letter from the front office, the Rangers are coming off a playoff appearance with a team that has only added more talent. Artemi Panarin is one of the best players in the league, Mika Zibanejad is a 40-goal scorer, they drafted the next big star in No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere, and they have their goalie of the future in Igor Shesterkin. If they can piece together a competent defense, watch out.
- Giants- This is the largest gap between potential contenders in New York as the Giants are trudging through another difficult season. While they are 0-5, they play hard under head coach Joe Judge. But his hands will forever be tied as long as Dave Gettleman remains the general manager.
- Knicks- New leadership is in place with Leon Rose as president and Tom Thibodeau as head coach. The hope is they’ll provide direction for a franchise that has had none of it under the James Dolan regime, but there is no clarity — for now — on how this team will get better as the NBA offseason begins.
- Jets- If you haven’t watched the Jets play, consider yourself lucky. Their head coach is in way over his head, the general manager is working with nothing, and the owner is just another joke. Embarrassing is too kind of a description for this team.