Stamford, CT – Happy Christmas and Holidays to all! I like to set aside a little time in my holiday scheduled to take in the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Gets me every time. I wanna be like George Bailey, a man everyone wants to help, no questions asked. Hell, George even worried about whether Clarence had a place to sleep when he still thought the Angel was a crazy person. Sadly, we seem to be moving in the other direction. Moving toward a world where a hate filled, fat cat con man, with a wake of ripped off students, unpaid contractors, bankruptcies, and unpaid taxes, can somehow convince the masses he’s a man of the people. The words “President Tru…” (I can’t even type it) still put a yule log and egg nog in my pajama bottoms. Where’s our George Bailey to save us from Trumpville? In honor of the great man and movie, I’m gonna try to take the glass-half-full view and write something positive. It’s the end of the year, so let’s do a list. Normally I would never do a hackey list, but management insisted. So, a list of something positive to look forward to then. How about The Top 5 NY Stars Under 25? Aside from the getting older part, I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on the careers of these guys in the years ahead.
5. Noah Syndergaard – Management insisted that I include a Met, so I’ll go with the only one I like, now that El Bartolo is gone. Syndergaard earned a spot in our hearts when he threw one up by the head of Alcides Escobar in the 2014 World Series. The man they call Thor was the last man standing in the Mets rotation this season and held them together long after many of us gave up on them. Noah upped his win total to 14 behind a sporadic offense. We look forward to seeing what he can do.
4. Landon Collins – man, talk about a second year leap. The Giants traded up to the first pick of the second round in 2015 to get the top rated strong safety in the draft. It looked like a questionable move as Landon was one of the lowest ranked safeties in his rookie year. But Collins has exploded on the scene in 2016 with big hits, sacks, and interceptions, including one stunning touchdown return. Big things are in store for this guy.
3. Gary Sanchez – for years we’ve been hearing about the Yankee depth at Catcher in their farm system. But they traded a few backstops away and then went out and signed Brian McCann. They finally gave Sanchez a chance in 2016 after jettisoning A-Rod, and he burst into the majors with 20 dongs in 200 odd ABs. This was too small of a sample size to give him the Rookie of the Year I suppose, so they gave it to a Tiger pitcher who had an pretty good year appearing in only 16% of his team’s games. Makes sense. It’ll be interesting to see if the Yanks try to move him to another position to extend his career, but he’s looked good behind the plate as well. Anyway, expectations are high, just don’t call him The Sanchize.
2. Kristaps Porzingis – there were supposedly 3 sure things in the 2015 draft and the Knicks had the 4th pick. Well, Phil struck gold with Kristaps, who is one step closer to taking the baton from Carmelo as the Knicks marquee player. Porzingis has added about 6 points per game in his sophomore season, and looks headed toward superstardom. The only thing missing is a decent nickname as attempts at Porzingod, Godzingis, and others haven’t really stuck. I’m partial to his old nickname Zinger – “Zinger for three…yes…” Let’s get behind this people. I’m looking forward to The Zinger causing matchup nightmares for years to come.
1. Odell Beckham Jr. – remember when all those shenanigans with the kicking net, the taunting penalties, and other behaviors were a big deal? Giants’ fans sure stopped giving a slant about that when he started breaking long, game changing touchdowns. Does anything in sports get you on your feet faster than ODB catching a slant in stride? This guy has smashed records in his first 3 NFL seasons and I’m thrilled to see what he can accomplish.
That’s it for me, who’d I miss? Thanks for reading this year, it’s been a pleasure. I wish you all the best in 2017 and beyond. Come back tomorrow for the Angry (and occasionally clever) Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit8 & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.