Sunday, January 4, 2015

How Can New York Sports Fans Remain Optimistic? (2015 Edition)

Last year, coming off an abysmal sports year in 2013, I outlined 14 reasons for New York fans to remain optimistic in '14. Some of my points ("Hockey in Yankee Stadium", "The Watchable Rangers") actually did help to brighten up another bleak year. However, others ("Earl Joseph 'J.R.' Smith", "Michael Pineda's Return") fell flat on their pine-tar-smeared faces.

Since the Rangers' Stanley Cup final run over the summer, New York sports fans have had precious little to cheer about, as many writers have pointed out. As we headed into 2015, I decided I would write a pessimistic blogpost this year. I set out to average the winning percentages of all the major sports teams to see if 2014-15 had a chance to become the Worst Year in New York Sports History.

I even put together an Excel sheet to figure this out. No, really, look:

However, it turns out that the New York Post already did something very similar. The Post concluded: "You'd have to go back a half-century to find a season that would unquestionably make you queasier than the one we're in: 1965." And since I don't have interns to do my bitch-work for me, I aborted my project so as not to sound repetitive.*

*Also, so that I wouldn't have to spend another hour on Excel.

Since we've already established that 2014 was at least in the conversation of our most depressing sports years, let's try to find a few things to get excited about for 2015. Because as New Yorkers -- not, say, Clevelanders -- we know that sports isn't supposed to be totally miserable.

Here are 15 reasons to get excited about the 2015 year in sports. Sorry there are a few repeats from last year.

15. 52-35
No Boston sports team came away with a title in 2014, meaning New York still holds a 52-35 edge in that category. Boston will always suck.

14. New Hall of Famers
This is a bit of a reach since Cooperstown is so far north of the city. But the induction of some great players -- including the Big Unit and Pedro Martinez -- should make a trip upstate worth it this summer.

13. The U.S. Open
Who knows? This could be the last chance to catch legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams in Flushing.

12. Er, Playoff Basketball?
As you can see, the beginning of this "optimistic" list isn't the most exciting. Still, the middling Nets are currently in line for a rematch of last year's exciting Raptors playoff series.

11. High Draft Picks
I've written about unsatisfying moral victories before, and this definitely qualifies for the Giants, Jets, and Knicks. The Jets are bound to screw up their pick, but the G-Men tend to draft pretty well. Meanwhile, the Knicks should hold their first high lottery pick in eons.

10. The Garden
Late winter and early spring are always electric at MSG. I'm seeing Louis CK there on Wednesday, and the Garden will also feature some great college hoops in the next couple months. The Rangers should be treating us to some fun playoff hockey. (More on that in a bit.)

9. Masahiro Tanaka's Return
Sure, Tanaka is far from a sure thing to return to his pre-injury form. But if he can recapture just 80% of his ace performance, there should be plenty of offensive Post covers on the horizon.

8. The Johnnies
The St. John's hoops squad would have ranked higher on this list if it hadn't dropped its first two Big East games. Still, the Red Storm remain in the Top 25, and D'Angelo Harrison is one of the best players in the NCAA.

7. Rooting Against the Patriots
I can't wait to call my buddy Pearl when New England gets eliminated from the playoffs. And if the Pats win the Super Bowl, New York will still lead 52-36.

6. Other Playoff Football
No Jets or Giants. However, tons of New York bars still feature illegal sports betting, right?

5. Horse Racing
Even if the Mets and Yanks both disappoint, the Belmont Stakes and Saratoga rarely do.

4. Young Starters on the "Freakin' Mets"
My dad always calls them the "Freakin' Mets" (not to be confused with the "Freakin' Jets") because of their penchant for screwing up seemingly promising situations. But the Mets' projected rotation -- hopefully including a return by the Great Matt Harvey -- features six potentially strong starters.

3. Super Sophomore Seasons
Even as it became clear in November that the Giants had slim-to-no playoff hopes, Odell Beckham, Jr., made it worthwhile to tune in every week. Meanwhile, for the Yankees, Dellin Betances had a near-historic rookie season. Let's hope the Big Apple can claim both of those guys -- along with Harvey -- as its own for the decade to come.

Bettances! (via
2. 45 Days until Pitchers and Catchers Report
Springtime is just around the corner, right? The site Spring Training Countdown has a great quote from the legendary Rogers Hornsby: "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

1. Postseason Hockey, Baby! 
The Rangers and Islanders could both be playoff-bound, with the Isles sporting an especially bright future. Playoff beards should abound in a few months. Save room for me on the Blueshirts Bandwagon!

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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