I know the year 2023 is over. And if you are like me, where did the year go? Regardless, the days and years are rapidly moving and sports continues or as I refer to it as the world of fun and games. Seems like yesterday here at NY Sportsday thatI provided a perspective of 2022. And then 2023 came and went.
And another year without a New York championship. I said that last year also. Though I have focused more on issues and write about boxing, baseball, MLS soccer and local college teams as time goes on, it’s all about the world of fun and games. I will attempt to highlight some thoughts and of course pardon me if I bypass a few, I did say, time is flying.
Yankees and Mets: A disaster, said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Buck Showalter the manager, Billy Eppler the GM out the door and the Mets hired David Stearns as their first head of baseball operations. The Mets and Yankees, with some of the top payrolls in baseball, failed to deliver again thus proving spending does not guarantee a championship.
What went wrong for both teams will be talked about for a long time. What direction they will continue in the offseason is undetermined. But New York baseball was a failure and both fan bases continue to show their frustration. Recall, I was one of the skeptics about the Mets contracts granted to pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. I also wrote that Showalter deserved another year.
And also recall, I wrote about Cashman and advocated for his dismissal. Regardless there is a thing called loyalty and achievement, so Cashman has the support of owner Hal Steinbrenner. The Mets hired Carlos Mendoza, another rookie manager, have yet to sign Pete Alonso to a long term contract and closer Edwin Diaz continued to recover from a bizarre knee injury celebration after the World Baseball Classic championship.
The Yankees traded for a big time name to boost their lineup and Juan Soto would not commit to wearing pinstripes in his walk year. The Yankees presence of left handed balance in their lineup has improved as Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo had career worst seasons. Though rookie Anthony Volpe got the call and showed his potential as did prospect Jasson Dominguez. Gleyber Torres was the consistent hitter, Aaron Judge battled a toe injury and finished with 37 home runs in 106 games. Gerrit Cole an all-star and first AL Cy Young Award, the rest of their pitching staff was nothing to brag about.
So much more to recap about the disaster of two baseball teams in New York but not enough space here to chronicle a 2023 season that went wrong from the beginning. And both teams closed the year without obtaining Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the highly touted 25-year old right-hander from Japan.
Giants and Jets: I am not on the beat and an observer, of course because we all love the world of fun and games. Another disaster of two teams I don’t refer to as New York, they play on a gridiron across the Hudson River and Met Life was frequently referred to as the worst turf in the NFL according to opposing teams.
So the Jets acquire Aaron Rodgers and are viewed to be Super Bowl bound, something I always questioned. Four plays into his first start, on that turf he tears an ACL. Rodgers had a remarkable recovery period, contemplating a return, as the Jets failed to reach the postseason for the 13th straight year. Zach Wilson joins the continued club of Jets quarterback failures. GM Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh get support from owner Woody Johnson.
And those Giants with another quarterback issue. Daniel Jones injury and done for the season, though who really missed his inconsistency out of the pocket? And a guy named Tommy Devito was a feel good story at the position. Hey, I love chicken cutlets and done Italian style. Nevertheless, the Giants had no signs of repeating a playoff run as they did the year before.
Knicks and Nets: Improvement for the Knicks and promise at Madison Square Garden, but still a long way to go. The hierarchy is patient with the growing pains and Julius Randle. With their three big long gone (Irving, Durant, Harden) Barclays Center in Brooklyn is starving for a winner, though, I must admit watching Mikal Bridges in New York brings that Phoenix Suns fan in me to the forefront. Oh, where have you been Ben Simmons?
Rangers and Islanders: Another beat I am not tuned into, though, again I do monitor an NHL beat that has been a part of this long career. So I trust my longtime colleague and NY Sportsday columnist Howie Karpin, who by the way had another book published this year.
Off to a good start as we close the year 2023. Rangers have struggled a bit with their inconsistency. Showed some hope as they closed shop in their Stanley Cup playoff run. Hey, is it me or does the NHL have the shortest offseason among all the league sports?
And the Islanders, try and get me to the UBS Arena in Elmont to find ample parking. Serious, though, we still wait for the Islanders to resemble those Stanley Cup winning teams of decades past.
Boxing: Yes they still throw punches and the sport is viable with the streaming networks, but we said goodbye to Showtime boxing after a 36-year run. ESPN with Top Rank again provided free boxing on the network and championship fights. Basically, though, New York was quiet as promoters have discovered revenue is easier to make over in Saudi Arabia and Las Vegas. Madison Square Garden with another Top Rank card and Tom Loeffler with K2 Promotions debuted at the Hulu Theatre with Irish sensation Callum Walsh, the 22 year old (9-0) exposed and almost fell to defeat as Bronx native Ismael Villarreal gave him an unexpected challenge.
Boxing delivered major mega fights with Canelo Alvarez showing some signs of decline and rebounding. In April the highly touted Ryan Garcia lost a mega fight and pay-per-view bonanza to Gervonta Davis, Terence Crawford became the face unifying the welterweight titles for the first time in the four- belt era with dominance over Errol Spence Jr. Of course, the division is no longer unified as Crawford vacated some of it. And Devin Haney vacated his unified lightweight titles moving up in weight. Then again, that’s boxing as we await heavyweight unification in 2024 with Tyson Fury and Oleksandor Usyk.
And Other Highlights of Interest: Another US Tennis Open championship in Flushing and contested before capacity crowds. No Triple Crown winner in June and the Belmont Stakes will move to Saratoga in 2024 as Belmont Park undergoes renovations.
NYCFC failed to make the playoffs and the roster comes and goes. Only two years ago they won the MLS Cup and have the claim of being the only NY championship title holder since the 2009 Yankees, correct me if I am wrong. And those Fordham Rams with rookie head coach Keith Urgo up at Rose Hill gave us a thrill reaching the A-10 Conference men’s basketball semifinals in March. Rick Pitino jumped ship and headed to St. John’s to continue his Hall of Fame career.
And the continued mergers with money that dominated sports again in 2023, the WWE merger with UFC and Endeavor which makes them a power in combat sports. Oh, I became the voice of Dangerzone and MAK Promotions an accomplishment at this juncture.
Thank you for reading in 2023 and all of your loyalty. I do notice. And to all a healthy and happy 2024 with hopes New York sports has a better year ahead. Hey, we deserve a winner.
Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter (@Ring786) Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso