EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – I remember the narrative early last Fall. There was so much promise, so much excitement headed this way. Rumors of Justin Bieber’s deportation to Canada were rampant… Bill DeBlasio was still a private citizen… there was talk of Phoebe Cates doing a Fast Times Part 2… The Super Bowl was coming to New York and the Giants were one of the favorites to get there! This would be the showcase event in the Greatest City in the World and all kinds of complementary events were being scheduled around the Big Game. What a time it was to be middle-aged and curmudgeonly! Alas… It’s amazing how quickly things can come undone in a couple of months.
One of the big attractions about Super Bowl week(s)/weekend here in New York would be the star-studded NBA match-up at the World’s Most Famous Arena (only The Garden calls it that, by the way) between the World Champion Miami Heat and last year’s Atlantic Division Champion New York Knicks, coming off a 54-win season. What a match-up! And with all of the big shots in town for Supe 48, this promised to be a pretty damn good appetizer to Eli vs Peyton, the brothers whom would surely battle each other for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It didn’t stop there. Trying to take advantage of the deep-pocketed visitors in town, the NHL scheduled not one but TWO outdoor hockey games, with the Islanders and Devils taking turns against the Rangers, who’d be defending their home turf (literally) at Yankee Stadium! Wow, what a treat! These games would be hot tickets and would sell out in minutes!
A few things went awry on the way to this being a New York love-fest, replete with special NY events and exciting attractions. The Giants started the NFL season 0-6 and by week 3, we knew there was no way in hell that the G-Men would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. If Wellington Mara were alive today to have witnessed that stunning 0-6 start, he’d be spinning in his grave.
Then the Knicks happened, and like a pesky skin condition, they don’t go away-they just get worse and worse. After sleepwalking through yesterday’s MLK day matinée, the Knickerbockers are now firmly on pace for a cool 30-win season. And no draft pick either. Now in the midst of this miserable Fall and Winter local sports schedule, the Hockey teams around here have probably done the best at keeping up their ends and offering some optimism. Even the Islanders have been very good over the last dozen games. But, let’s not forget we’re talking about hockey. A curiosity really in these parts. I know how passionate the die-hards are and I can appreciate that. But the fact remains that the NHL is really a distant 5th in the pecking order around here when it comes to fan passion. Scheduling 2 outdoor games was just pure excess and greed on the part of the NHL and the Super Bowl committees. Predictably, sales of tickets to these games has been modest at best and slow at worst, particularly for the Isles-Blueshirts game.
But there is good news. We’re almost there. Almost. With just one more of those professional football games left to be played, we’re almost there. On February 3rd, We can at last turn the page on an ugly local Football season around here. Pull the plug on the wretched brand of pro basketball in New York. Continue ignoring the 3 local hockey teams that I’ve heard play around here. The long New York nightmare is about to come to a close. Pitchers and Catchers report to Tampa and Port St. Lucie on February 19th and with those Ps and Cs, come all of the optimism and good feelings that only arrive with the coming of a new baseball season. I hope our locals turn things around, I really do. But it seems unlikely. Let’s just be done with it all and fast forward to Opening Day! When even the Mets are undefeated.
Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, an early Phoebe Cates stalker.