I remember as a boy watching the original Looney Tunes on television. And one of my favorite lines from a Bugs Bunny episode entitled “The Grey-Hounded Hare” was, “Now I’ve seen everything.” Apparently the late, great Mel Blanc, who was the voice behind all of those classic characters, wasn’t a sports fan. At least not a New York City sports fan. Because, had he been one, he never would have uttered that fateful phrase. Especially had he experienced the last year in Big Apple sports.
To say it’s been a little kooky is an understatement to say the least. From the Mets losing practically their entire young, potentially dominant starting pitching staff to injury. Only to have the grizzled, rotund 43-year old veteran Bartolo Colon take over the reins and win 14 games, placing them in a position to be the first wildcard in the National League to this date. Oh, and did I also mention they lost their entire starting infield for extended periods of time throughout the season. And specifically in the cases of second baseman Neil Walker and third baseman David Wright, who were lost for the rest of the year. Next in line is the Yankees, who traded away virtually every tradeable commodity on their team, committing to youth, and still contending for a wildcard playoff spot in September. Most have tried to forget the Brooklyn Nets imploding into oblivion. But many were thrilled by the Knicks’ first round pick Kristaps Porzingis, a native of Latvia who was booed mercilessly at the Barclay Center after they made him the fourth pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He went on to become a media darling after having a transcendent rookie season, second only to top pick Karl Anthony-Towns in effectiveness, and giving Knicks fans more hope for the future than they’ve had in years. And then there’s the Jets and Giants.
The Green and White had a 2015 season no one could have forseen after the debacle that was the Rex Ryan-John Idzik era by winning 10 games under the leadership of rookie coach Todd Bowles. Only to choke miserably in the last game of the regular season against the Rex Ryan-led Buffalo Bills, thereby blowing a chance to make the playoffs. They then proceeded to take on two of their incumbent free agents, starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, in sometimes contentious, drama-filled contract negotiations which were settled deep into the offseason. In the case of Fitzpatrick, his contract was signed the day before training camp began. And that only occurred because no one else wanted to pay him what he wanted in the end. The Giants began 2016 by promoting their offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo to head coach. In doing so, Big Blue kicked their two-time Super Bowl champion coach Tom Coughlin to the curb kicking and screaming. The end wasn’t a pretty sight. The Rangers and the Islanders, who are treated as an afterthought by the vast majority of New York fans anyway, made the playoffs only to be sent home early with their tails tucked securely between their legs.
All of this served to make the roller coaster that was New York sports a thrilling ride to say the least. And I didn’t even get to the suspensions, alleged domestic violence and gang rape, James Dolan, cancer scares, DUIs, broken jaws, and fingers getting blown off. That we’ll leave for another day. In the meantime, my headache pills and I will continue following the proceedings. In the words of wise man Daffy Duck, “Girls, hold on to your boyfriends.”