I remember the conversation well. This was as confetti was raining down on old Giants Stadium, a few minutes after Giants 41, Vikings 0, a score that meant the Giants would be playing in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. I was on the phone with an old editor of mine and he sounded, quite literally, spent.
“One of these years,” he said that day in 2001, “I’d like a nice, quiet year, you know?”
The Yankees’ dynasty was still alive (and didn’t expire until 10 months later, stubbornly, in Phoenix). There had been a Subway Series for the first time in 44 years a few months before. The Devils had won the Stanley Cup seven months earlier (and went to another Finals a few months later). The Jets had just exited the Bill Parcells Era. The Nets were a year away from their own spasm of prosperity.
So. Much. Winning.
And, well … as the man once said, be careful what you wish for. The hope for a quiet year became the reality of a quiet decade. The last few years, as we’ve seen Boston become a sports hub, as we’ve seen Tampa-St. Pete (!!!!) become another, we have mostly watched with serious amounts of envy.
“One of these years,” you might say, “I’d like a busy, noisy year, you know?”
Well … maybe this is jinxing it. But …
But look at what happened this week: on Thursday the Knicks scored 140 points in beating the Kings. The Islanders scored seven goals in beating the Bruins. Across one river, the Devils knocked off the Sabres in overtime and across another the Nets took the Magic to the woodshed. And then Friday the Rangers joined the fun, tag-teaming the Bruins …
(And, lest we forget, the Giants are on a one-game winning streak! And the Jets haven’t lost a game in eight weeks!)
And, well … maybe it’s the warmer weather that helped melt the snow a little this week, and maybe it’s the fact that we’re getting batches of baseball dispatches now from Florida every day (which always helps shorten the winter a little) and maybe it’s the hope that the various vaccinations will finally bring the damned virus to its knees but … I must tell you, I am detecting a rather unusual aroma around here …
… one that smells like …
… can it be …
Is that allowed? Can it be?
It is. And it can. Look, the Islanders tried to get us used to this last summer, when they made a splendid trek to the conference finals. The Nets have tried to get us ready for this since the New Year, now that they’ve become an addictive basketball watch, scoring points in buckets and just slaughtering teams.
The Yankees might’ve left a hollow feeling by the way their season ended in October, but it’s fair to remember they did win a playoff series and were one game away from making it to another American League Championship Series. It wasn’t exactly a lost year for them.
Hey, it’s a start. And here’s a dirty little secret for you: We hear the theory (especially here at The Post) that we love having losing teams, love the negative, that all we want to do is sell newspapers and collect clicks. Well, that’s half right: We do like to sell papers. We so like a lot of web traffic.
But you know what sells the most papers? Good teams to read about. You know what attracts more eyeballs to our web site? Good teams. When the Mets are in the World Series or the Rangers are in the Cup finals, good luck finding a paper at a newsstand. Good teams are good for business.
Even if, the last few years, it’s been hard to remember what they look like.
Is this the start of a new golden era around New York? A series of false starts and stops? Will we soon be wishing for a nice quiet year around here for a change?
Don’t know the answer to the first two questions. Am 100 percent certain about the third:
Hell, no. Never.
I got a little nostalgic seeing 2,000 or so fans inside Madison Square Garden this week. When I first started going to Knicks games in the early ’80s, that exactly what it looked like there most of the time.
One of the wonderful conundrums of spring training, from Twitter: “Francisco Lindor just crushed a massive home run off Taijuan Walker to dead center.” Do you feel better for Lindor or worse for Walker? Same deal with the DJ LeMahieu/Corey Kluber live BP showdown on the other side of the state this week.
There really ought to be a special Court of Appeals you can turn to when you see the following headline: “ ‘Better Call Saul’ Final Season Likely Delayed Until 2022.”
How much do you suppose the Bruins are enjoying their stay in New York so far?
Whack Back at Vac
Marty Pinchin: Yes, I am a lifelong Knicks fan, but I have to admit I will take the Knicks roster over the Nets’ crew any day.
Vac: Sure, we can argue about whether this is silly or not, but isn’t that the great part: the possibility of genuine quarrelling between Knicks and Nets fans for the very first time.
Gary Prager: Fordham, Iona and Manhattan going round and round would be a lot of fun, wouldn’t it?
Vac: That’s the thing about Fordham leaving the MAAC 31 years ago: It not only helped murder Fordham’s basketball standing, it deprived a lot of us area hoops fans of some absolutely spectacular local league-driven rivalries.
@BobEhalt: Have fond memories of that ’71 Fordham team. The Marquette game was one of the best college games I’ve seen, campus was electric. At a rally before ND game they serenaded Charlie Yelverton to the tune of “Jesus Christ, Superstar”: “Charlie Y/Superstar/You’re gonna score more than Austin Carr …”
@MikeVacc: For the record: Carr won that battle, 29-28, but the Rams won the one that mattered most, beating the Fighting Irish 94-88.
John Cobert: Beginning with the formation of the American League in 1901, baseball’s so-called “modern” era divides neatly into two 60-year periods separated by Bill Mazeroski’s home run. In which period did the game itself evolve more? Pre-Maz (1901-60) or Post-Maz (1961-2020)? Would the 1961 player be more at home in 1901 or in 2020?
Vac: I’m not sure Wee Willie Keeler would recognize the game now. I do think he’d have found a place in the ’50s.