Good luck, prosperity and all the best to you as we ring out the old and bring in a new year. And it is no different in the world of fun and games that this columnist refers to as sports. This past year of controversy, triumphs, and defeats were a part of the New York sports landscape and it was memorable.
Before jumping ahead the sports story of the year here is the Chicago Cubs ending a long World Series drought and memories of a comeback deficit over the Cleveland Indians.
New York had those memorable moments also. And in no particular order, and pardon if a few are missed, 2016 had to be one of failure and triumph.
New York Baseball: The Mets saw their late season run to the postseason come to a conclusion with a one-game elimination in the NL wildcard to the Giants. Perhaps a healthy pitching rotation would have been a factor as the Nationals ran away with the NL east division title.
David Wright had a season cut short with spinal fusion surgery in June, Jeurys Familia set a franchise record in saves and ends the year awaiting a suspension for violating the Major League Baseball domestic violence policy. Jose Reyes had a pleasant return to Citi Field and Jenrry Mejia was out and the first player handed a lifetime suspension for failing three PED tests.
And the early offseason move by GM Sandy Alderson, winning the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes again, brings anticipation for 2017 with pitches and catchers ready to report to Port St. Lucie in 43 days.
Cespedes will finish his career as a New York Met and everyone is content if he stays away from the golf course that stirred some “Optic” controversy, the words of Alderson.
Tim Tebow? Denials but a New York Met who will be on the spring training roster and possibly with the same agent, a reason Cespedes is once again a NY Met. A merchandise seller who had no impact in the Arizona Fall League with a transition from the gridiron to the diamond.
Oh, Mike Piazza was enshrined in Cooperstown as a New York Met and a speech that had the red apple rising at Citi Field with pride in Flushing.
Dwight “Doc” Gooden was in denial. Drug addiction caused friction with Darryl Strawberry and the once and close teammates and friends, two icons with the Mets and Yankees, went back and forth with where their friendship stood. But we know that there is friction and division in the ranks.
The Yankees also made a late season run, but too late. And it would not have happened if the young phenom, Gary Sanchez was still starting down in Triple-A, and then called up in August he quickly took the spotlight and Brian McCann was traded to Houston.
GM Brian Cashman began the process of making the Yankees younger and more athletic. Sanchez hit 11 home runs in 15 games, finished with 20 and just missed AL Rookie of the Year honors. Alex Rodriguez retired and more salary soon will be taken off the Yankees books with Carlos Beltran and his contract now in Houston.
A-Rod has gone on to work with the youngsters that Cashman acquired in trades that also saw Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman become bullpen heroes for the Indians and Cubs.
Chapman? A Yankee again and Cashman in the end got back the closer he never wanted to trade away. In the process it cost the Yankees nothing to get younger with some of the top prospects now in their minor league system that leads them to a promising future.
New York Football: The Giants re-signed kicker Josh Brown amid a domestic violence arrest and they return to the postseason with defense and not offense. Ben McAdoo stepped in, a successful freshman head coach, and Tom Coughlin as they say “Stepped down” or was the longtime coach asked to leave?
And, Odell Beckham Jr. is the Giants offense. He brought controversy to the field but ignites the crowd and quickly became the rising superstar on the field with New York fans.
“Revis Island” continued to decline as did the Jets. Darrelle said in October, “My body is breaking down,” and that showed in a late fourth quarter nationally Sunday night game against the Patriots at Met Life Stadium.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had his contract dispute and for Jets fans the issue here is again the quarterback situation. Obvious. Fitzpatrick is not the answer nor is Bryce Petty. Todd Bowles at times looks perplexed and has to answer the questions, more so how much time is left for him as the coach that was supposed to get this team over the hump?
On The Ice: The Islanders with new ownership talking a good move, back to Long Island or a new arena in Queens near Citi Field as the team can opt out of the disaster in Brooklyn at Barclays Center next January. The highlight was the Islanders winning a playoff series for the first time since 1993 and credit goes to Captain John Tavares.
The Rangers are finishing 2016 with goals of continuing the good start and a deep run to the Stanley Cup.
On The Court: A revamping of the Knicks again. Phil Jackson brought in former MVP Derrick Rose who has not made much of an impact and criminal charges got him off to a slow start with minimal training camp prep, and it is too early to judge new coach Jeff Hornacek. But the Knicks are competitive and you can’t ask for more than that but where will they be in April?
The Nets? Not worth a highlight because there are none. Sooner or later all the buzz of new ownership will become a reality because the ringing in the new year will be the same as ringing out the old year.
Soccer: Goals, Goals, Goals. The Red Bulls scored many and NYCFC had a tough road to find the net. In the end, a hopeful final meeting between the two MLS teams did not occur, Both were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals but there is hope in 2017 as soccer is starting to create a buzz with the mainstream sports in New York.
Boxing and MMA: New York was shut out of boxing in August with a ludicrous million dollar insurance issue for fighters. Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center will stage a big card on January 14th as there was a resolution. Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton had an epic featherweight championship fight at Barclays on July 3oth which was almost called the fight of the year.
And the MMA made an impact. Like it or not, Madison Square Garden had a record gross for the first MMA event staged in New York back in November. A live gate of $17.7 million for UFC 205 was the biggest in the sport’s history and more dates will follow.
The controversy? MMA presence on the New York stage has quickly knocked boxing off the map and the insurance issue was never an issue with a UFC invasion at the Garden.
College Hoops: Stony brook made it’s first NCAA Tournament appearance and was no contest for Kentucky in the first round. Fordham University made some noise in the Atlantic-10 Conference and hosted a postseason game for the first time since 1992 up at Rose Hill with new coach Jeff Neubauer in the Collegeinsiders.com tournament.
Add another successful US Tennis Open and the local PGA tours and it was that type of good and bad year for New york sports. Not for NY Sports Day ,as we are proud to be known as the web site that made noise in 2016 and will continue to be stronger in 2017 with the additions of Ray Negron and Doc Gooden as columnists and the best in Wally Matthews.
Happy New Year and may your favorite team and athlete do it all in 2017.