After a decade of disappointment in New York professional sports, there’s only one option for the fans going into the new year: shake it off.
NYC’s eight teams can propel out of their collective funk as of immediately to perhaps clear the cobwebs and parade down the Canyon of Heroes this year — re-invigorating a victorious longevity back into the hearts of city dwellers and sports fans alike in the process.
While some squads are better positioned than others to begin hanging banners, there’s no reason that the start of the decade cannot bring significant improvement to NYC sports culture.
What does each team need to become a championship contender?
The Bronx will be buzzing all year and that’s guaranteed. Along with signing new ace Gerrit Cole to a huge contract, the Yankees head into 2020 with tons of firepower on the mound and in the lineup. The maturity and patience of Aaron Judge that’s come since his 2017 introduction has been exciting for fans to watch in years past, and with the lineup full of young starpower, there’s no reason to think the Bronx Bombers can’t make the playoffs and make a serious run at their 28th World Championship in 2020.
The Mets are also in serious shape to make a title run in 2020. Acquiring Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to the starting rotation, along with Dellin Betances to the bullpen, gives the Mets one of the deepest pitching staffs in all of baseball. There are questions indeed for the Amazins: Does rookie manager Carlos Beltran have what it takes to lead them to the playoffs? Will Pete Alonso build off his outstanding rookie season? Can the roster stay healthy all year long? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes,’ there will be serious talk of potentially another “Subway Series” exactly 20 years after the last one.
For the Giants to rekindle their glory, they’ll need to start with a brand new head coach to replace Pat Shurmur. However, another quick coaching change might just create a frustrating cycle that nobody in East Rutherford would want to see. General Manager Dave Gettleman should start probing the league for a viable replacement that would essentially be a Tom Coughlin 2.0 for upcoming seasons. After all, the cup flipping Daniel Jones is Eli Manning’s doppelganger.
Maybe the second half of the 2019 campaign is a sign of things to come for the Jets. After starting 1-7, they wound up going 6-2 the rest of the way. It was enough to likely save head coach Adam Gase’s job, and there’s enough young talent on the team to inspire some hope for a playoff run in 2020. Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, Robby Anderson and so much more offensive talent should be put to the test next year. If they can replicate their second-half success over a full season next fall, the Jets stand a solid chance of a playoff run, and perhaps even unseating the big, bad Patriots as division champs.
The Islanders tactic towards success is a simple one — listen to Barry Trotz. Under his command, the Islanders began outscoring in shootouts that they would have normally lost in, won competitive overtime games that the Isles would have likely faltered in, and won games late in regulation that would have went to overtime, etc. The Islanders goals for the remainder of this and next season comes down to two words: Stanley Cup. The talent and the coaching is there to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize this spring.
The Blueshirts are currently at a bit of a crossroads. The clock is ticking on longtime and beloved Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist as well as his contract. Emotions aside, is it logical to return King Henry? And for how long? Keep in mind that goalie Igor Shesterkin is tearing it up in Hartford waiting for his chance to play between the pipes in MSG and based on his career so far, he won’t disappoint. Other contracting issues with Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome may also have the two forwards playing elsewhere soon as well. So, the NYR front office has some shopping to do in 2020 to resculpt one of the more successful team’s of this decade in the city.
We could go on about how the Knicks need a new president, a new general manager, a new head coach and some new players in the lineup to have any hope beyond the current season — but why? Under James Dolan’s ownership, the Knicks have lost and rebuilt repeatedly over 20 years, and the end result is New York — the largest television market in America — having the worst team in the entire NBA. As long as Knicks ticket holders and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver are fine with this, the losing and rebuilding at the Garden will continue.