Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Did We Pick the 2015 Championship Belt Winner?

Most years, it's been pretty easy to determine the winner of the New York Athlete Championship Belt. Sure, there might be a bit of grey area between two candidates at some point, but by year's end, the champ has usually made himself* obvious.

*There's never been a female Belt winner. If Carli Lloyd hailed from New York instead of New Jersey, she would've had a legitimate shot at this year's title.

Just as most league MVP races end anticlimactically -- like last year's "duel" between Stephen Curry and James Harden that ended with Curry earning four times as many first-place votes -- the Championship Belt competition frequently ends in a landslide. Looking back at the winners from the last two decades, only Darrelle Revis in 2011 looks a little surprising. (Then again, maybe I'm just not surprised because I picked each winner.) In the guidelines I originally set up for choosing the Belt winner, I wrote, "The most important New York athlete is usually easy to spot."

But not this year. Sure, a bunch of great athletes made their marks, but each was flawed in his own way. At the beginning of December, the field had "narrowed" to a still-healthy pool of four worthy candidates -- Daniel Murphy, Henrik Lundqvist, Kristaps Porzingis, and Odell Beckham.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

How Improbable Is Dorial Green-Beckham's Name?

Let's talk for a few moments about Titans rookie receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham sports a hyphenated name that contains the surnames of two of the best five receivers in the NFL. His name is made up of the names of the guys who dominate the league at his own position. Think about that.

This situation is akin to the Miami Marlins having an obscure young pitcher named Jimmy Arrieta-Kershaw, or the Sacramento Kings featuring a backup point guard named Jamal Paul-Curry. It'd be like an up-and-coming comedienne named Katie Fey-Poehler or a hot young rapper called Dante West-Lamar.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Much Will We Miss Vic Plaza?

In memory of Terence McConnell, a beloved brother and uncle who passed away earlier this week.

My uncle Terence used the pen name Vic Plaza to write delightfully outlandish letters to the editors of New York City newspapers. The pseudonym was derived from his own uncle, Vic, and a Brooklyn mall, King's Plaza.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How Strong Is Each New York Athlete's Case?

As I wrote earlier in the week, I've opened a poll for fans to vote on the New York Athlete Championship Belt winner for 2015. Which individual player mattered most in the city the past year? Who had the most significant campaign, both on and off the field?

Before I publish the winner at the end of December -- as decided by the electoral college that consists of myself -- I thought I'd run through the 10 candidates and lay out the case for and against each one. Please vote if you haven't already done so.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How Will We Award the New York Athlete Championship Belt?

Last year, I retroactively handed out the New York Athlete Championship Belt for every year since 1921. Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of that series.

Since there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut, runaway winner for 2015, I figured I'd put it up to a vote before I wrote about my selection. The 10 nominees are Henrik Lundqvist, John Tavares, Kristaps Porzingis, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Odell Beckham, Alex Rodriguez, and Dellin Betances.

You can vote on the right side of the page. Sorry to Sasha Vujacic and Stephen Drew, who both just missed the cut for my nominations.