With exception of the New York Rangers coming up short for the Stanley Cup and for the Derek Jeter season long retirement celebration, New York sports fans will have no issue with saying so long to 2014. But this is sports, the world of fun and games and the matter at hand is hoping for the more significant things in life to be better in the year ahead.
THE BRIEF AND DISMAL LOOK BACK:
ON THE GRIDIRON: There was a Super Bowl to start the year across the river in New Jersey, though New York became a major part of the festivities without of course the teams that represent New York and New Jersey. And then in September the Giants and Jets started their decline that led to a house cleaning for “Gang Green” as a general manager and coach were the victims of a 4-12 season.
Big Blue, beset with injuries to their offense were a disappointment at 6-10, their coach and general manager got another year to try and turn it around. If not, next year at this time the era for Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese come to an end. That one hand Odell Bekham Jr. catch for a touchdown will be replayed time-and-time again and was the catch of the year.
ON THE DIAMOND: The Yankees failed to reach the postseason for a second straight year, They struggled and the manager Joe Girardi, the GM Brian Cashman did what they could with an aging and revamped roster. Remarkable that they were in contention for the second wild card in the final weeks of September.
Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira were on the disabled list more than they were on the field, a part of the misery in the Bronx. The $450 million investments got minimal results. Masahiro Tanaka was a sensation until the elbow broke down, Jacoby Ellsbury was mediocre, Beltran was hindered by injury and bad breaks. There was no Mariano out of the pen. David Robertson stepped in his shoes and it worked for the most part, but he opted for a mega contract and became a lucrative and new closer for the White Sox.
But Cashman did not stay quiet and prepared for a possible departure of Robertson, You know the Yankees are never quiet, and there was still talk at the close of 2014 that the Yankees are not out of the Max Scherzer contract talks. CC Sabathia says he will be ready for the role as their ace though there is speculation about that role with age, a bad knee, and a lot of innings thrown over the years.
And then there was Jeter. That was a highlight of a New York sports year of failure. the climax a walk-off RBI winning single in the Bronx in Jeter’s last career game at Yankee Stadium. Those last two weeks of the season when Jeter spoke, and everyone listened to what he said were a highlight of the year.
“I did this for the fans,” he said. You hear that all the time, but for a final time the fans heard it from Derek Jeter the captain and Yankees icon.
Can’t forget Alex Rodriguez. His season long suspension, fight for innocence and legal issues with Major League Baseball and the Yankees. That is all in the past, well for the moment because the A-Rod circus returns in 2015 and most likely as the most lucrative ballplayer off the bench or designated hitter.
Across town the Mets made some strides. Though it was a sixth straight losing season, 2015 was on the agenda .With a pitching staff that is considered a top five in baseball, and baseball people tell you pitching is the game, the Mets have started the foundation to get over the hump.
But to do that, David Wright and Curtis Granderson need a bounce back year and the once again pulled in fences at Citi Field could provide a boost in home run production. Matt Harvey spent 2014 in the headlines and will go along with the plan when it comes to innings pitched. A healthy and effective Harvey along with 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom provide a solid 1-2 punch along with Zach Wheeler.
And there is Lucas Duda who became the better choice at first over Ike Davis, and 30 home runs off his bat…who would have thought as the Mets have a legitimate home run bat in their lineup. Now, if they can get a shortstop, which was a prevailing question ending 2014 and going into spring training.
ON THE ICE: The highlight of the year, the Rangers because they had a great run to the Stanley Cup and took the LA Kings to five games and a double overtime. And they finished off 2014 with nine wins in their last 10 as their consistency got better for another run to the cup. Henrik Lundqvist, in goal, rivaled Jeter in popularity and had 38 wins most in the NHL.
The Islanders in their final season at the Nassau Coliseum were the lone winning team in town, until the Rangers streak in December. They have not been consistent In December but have started to build a winning foundation as they get ready for their move to Brooklyn.
ON THE COURT: Nothing to highlight but coaching changes and personnel moves that have seen no difference. Phil Jackson came home to Madison Square Garden and took the money, with the word triangular meaning nothing when it comes to wins and seeing no change in the results. And Carmelo Anthony may have made a bad career decision taking the money and opt for more losing.
The Knicks are supposed to be a work in progress, in what way? 2014 ended with another loss and a 5-29 record under rookie coach Derek Fisher.
Over in Brooklyn Jason Kidd realized New York was not the place to be a rookie coach with the Nets, one year away from being an active player. And the debut of Jason Collins in Brooklyn, the first open gay player in the NBA will be remembered for his courage and how the fans in Brooklyn accepted him.
IN THE RING: New York was home for a part of the middleweight championship at Madison Square Garden in June. Miguel Cotto easily handled Sergio Martinez in 10 rounds of their 12-round fight and became the first world champion to win titles in foir weight divisions.
In July Gennady Golovkin, also at the Garden stopped Daniel Geale in the third round and for the 11th time defended his part of the middleweight title as “GGG” continues to be a rising and popular superstar in the sport because of his knockout ratio.
And Chris Algieri, the pride of Stonybrook University and Nassau County got a title shot and hit the mat six times in a lucrative pay day against eight-division king Manny Pacquiao in a fight that was an easy win for Pacquiao.
OTHER: The Cosmos continued to resurge the sport of soccer as an active team in New York and the Red Bulls. a crossover of NY and NJ, almost won the MSL championship…Penn State played in a bowl game for the first time in two years, an overtime thriller over Boston College in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
St John’s on the court closed the year as a top 20- college basketball team….And in Flushing at the National Tennis Center Marin Cilic won his maiden Grand Slam title and Serena Williams won her Open era sixth title.
An eventful 2014 sports year in New York comes to a close. What will transpire and be the highlight of 2015? Happy New Year and may your favorite team win in the New Year, well it has to be better than the past 12-months.