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Big Apple turns sour

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: Sports


Oh, how the tables have turned faster than a New York minute. In the truly love-hate (mostly hate) relationship that could describe the sporting franchises that represent the great American cities of New York and Boston, sometimes it can truly seem like one side has it all. As Boston has reached impossible-to-fathom success as of late, New York's fortunes have been inverted. As of late, a worm has taken a bite out of the Big Apple.

Of course, this is an idea that is new to so many young sports fans. For as long as some of us have followed sports, New York was the evil empire. The Yankees just had that kind of magic, and it propelled them to one World Series after another. They had another franchise icon that fans respect but love to hate, Derek Jeter. They had Joe Torre, a class act who brought his wisdom to a struggling franchise following the unremarkable Mattingly years (1982-1995 to be exact). The Yankees had the big names, and the unsung heroes who came up big in the post-season.

But flash forward to 2007. With yet again the highest payroll in the game, New York was expected to bring a ring home. After a mediocre start, it seemed like 2007 could be another storybook season for the franchise, and an MVP award for the tabloid- friendly Alex Rodriguez to boot. But again, the Yanks lost to a team that seemed to want it more, the resurgent Cleveland Indians. And to make matters worse, it was because of a biblical plague! The midges of Game 2 in Cleveland will certainly haunt Yankees fans for years. And again, A-Rod struggled for most of the series in what could have been his last postseason with the team.

Throughout all of this, it seemed as if Joe Torre's departure was inevitable, and his graceful rejection of an offer that he called an “insult,” which included a pay cut with performance based salaries tacked on and would only keep him in pinstripes for another season, only added to the Yankees wounds in 2007. Perhaps the scariest part for many in the whole Torre ordeal was the idea that the offer could have been done to save face in the Yankees' public relation's department. The Boss, George Steinbrenner, threatened Torre with his job if the Yankees lost and then asked him to come back. While ESPN's “The Bronx is Burning” chronicled Steinbrenner's willingness to do as he pleased as owner of the team just thirty years ago, the move to re-sign Torre seemed uncharacteristic of this Steinbrenner of yesterday. To many Yankees fans, it has been taken as an unofficial sign that “King George”'s power and energy is not what it used to be, as his less intrusive sons are now largely running things. And to cap it all off for the depressed New York fans, the former mayor and Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani has publicly stated that he is rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series!

The Yankees loss might not have even been the most gut-wrenching defeat of the season in the Big Apple. One need merely look to Flushing, Queens, where the Mets managed to pull off one of the most historic collapses in sports history, as they blew a seven game lead with 17 games to play. In another PR move to help manage the damage, the Mets even sent out a letter of apology to their fateful fans. The team lost in almost every way imaginable, almost contrary to the way the Rockies managed to win in every way imaginable to reach the playoffs.

Yet that is not the end of the pain that New York has experienced as of late. The Knicks are supposed to be in the cellar, and Coach Isiah Thomas just lost a harrassment suit that will cost him and Madison Square Garden $11.6 million dollars. The Nets are also predicted to be rather mediocre this season, and have had their share of troubles in the playoffs recently. The two could conceivably battle one another for last place in the Atlantic Division. It also doesn't help that the Jets are a terrible 1-6, with their only victory coming at home against hapless Miami, who are winless.

Of course, New York fans might emphasize that the Rangers have loaded up on superstars, and the Giants are performing relatively well with a 5-2 start. However, the Rangers are 2-5-1 and have scored the fewest goals in the NHL. And in the end, does anyone really think that the Giants, or any NFC team for that matter, have a chance in the Super Bowl against a stacked New England team or the defending champs, the Indianapolis Colts?

It could be a very cold winter indeed for the metropolis. Perhaps the city that never sleeps has turned into the city that never wins.