Raging Against the Machine: My take on ESPN's claim

Friday, September 18, 2009

Earlier this week, ESPN started a debate about whether Boston in the 2000's or Los Angeles in the 1980's had a better sports decade. While I know why ESPN picked these two cities (they are the locations of their two main studios), I am here to make the case for New York in the 1990's.

I am going to follow the same format as David Schoenfield did in his article.

Winning is everything:
I decided to include the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils into this data. Before anyone jumps down my throat, hear this: East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the Devils and Nets played at the time(the Devils have since moved) is 7 miles from Midtown Manhattan. Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the NE Patriots play, is 22 miles away. And if you want to be a stickler about the name, the New York Giants and New York Jets both play in New Jersey, and the Patriots aren't called the Boston Patriots, they are the New England Patriots.




Winning Percentage



New York Knicks





New York Yankees





New York Giants





New Jersey Devils





New York Mets





New York Rangers





New Jersey Nets





New York Jets





New York Islanders









1- Yankees were 1st place in the AL East at the end of the strike-shortened 1994 season
2- Teams were 3rd best in league in a seaon before Wild Card (4 of Red Sox 5 playoff appearances were Wild Card births)

New York finished with more championships (7 to 6) , and Boston finished with a much better winning percentage (.588 to .480). If you take the best team from each sport for New York, as Boston only has four teams, the championships become tied (6 to 6) and New York closes the gap dramatically in winning percentage (now .588 to .549)

For percentage of playoff seasons, New York comes in at 40% as a whole and 55% with the 4 best teams. .500 or better season break down as 50% for the whole and 75% for the best teams.

Signature Moment

In New York sports, there is never a shortage of signature moments. From the Giants winning the Super Bowl in the biggest sporting event since the start of the Gulf War, to Chad Curtis catching the final out of the 99 World Series and everything in between. There are just so many to choose from. You have Dwight Gooden, who overcame drug and alcohol problems to pitch a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. Then there's the image of Wade Boggs riding the police horse around Yankee Stadium after the 1996 World Series. It's probably got to be the breaking of the only Curse New York has ever had, when the Rangers won the Stanly Cup in 1994 after failing to win one since 1940.

Hall of Fame Careers
These are just the ones we could come up with, and we don't have a research department.

Wayne Gretzky
Mark Messier
Brian Leetch

Derek Jeter
Mariano Rivera
Mike Piazza
Rickey Henderson
Jorge Posada (borderline, probably not, but borderline)
John Franco (borderline, he won't make it until Lee Smith makes it.)

Michael Strahan
Curtis Martin
Vinny Testeverde (borderline, but he's the 6th on the All-time passing yards list behind Farve, Marino, Elway, Moon, and Tarkenton)
Lawrence Taylor

Patrick Ewing
Alan Houston (he seems borderline, but the NBA isn't really our thing, so we're undecided)
Mark Jackson (first time on ballot will be next year)

Greatest Individual Achievement
There are two different types of individual achievements: the ones that can happen on any given day, and the ones that take a career to achieve. In the 90's, New York had both.

The Holy Grail of pitching in baseball is the perfect game. Every pitcher dreams of one day throwing one. While the Mets have not had one since their inception (not even a no-hitter for that matter), the Yankees had 2 in the 90's. In 1998 David Wells blanked the Minnesota Twins and a year later David Cone threw his against the Montreal Expos.

"The Great One", Wayne Gretzky ended his career with the New York Rangers. In his final season, Gretzky set the goal scoring record by passing Gorie Howe. This man was such a great player, they altered the words of the national anthems for him at his final game.

Coaching Titan
There are two men that defined how to coach in their sport in the 90's. The first was Bill Parcells, first with the Giants, then with the Jets. Parcells's "coaching tree" would fill numerous head coaching vacancies around the league. One member of that tree is the hooded, classless, Bill Bellicheat from NE and the current Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

Then there was Joe Torre. Torre could somehow have George Steinbrennar as his boss, manage the biggest team in professional sports in the largest media market in the world and still maintain an emotionless expression at all times. He overcame the "Clueless Joe" headline, to take the Yankees to 3 World Series before the end of the decade, including the 125-win season in 1998, which is the best baseball team to ever step on the diamond.

Memorable Brawl
This one will go to New York, without even an argument. The brawl between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks is one of the most memorable of all time. The picture of Jeff Van Gundy clinging to Alonzo Mourning's legs will live on long after he will.

Dramatic Playoff Comeback
The 1996 Yankees were just supposed to be happy to be there. They were playing the Atlanta Braves, with the big three of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. After getting embarrassed in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks went on to lose the second game at home as well. Down 2-0 and heading to Atlanta, "Joe Cool," as Torre was called, supposedly said to Steinbrennar, "We'll win three in Atlanta and come back home and clinch it in 6." Steinbrennar didn't believe him, but that's what they did. The entire series turned on Jim Leyritz's shocking 3-run home run off of Mark Wohlers. Some could say the dynasty was born on that swing. Even Joe Buck raised his voice a little for the home run call.

So that's the New York side of the debate. I feel it's a pretty good argument. What about you guys? Leave a comment, send an email (MichaelKaysSuccessors@yahoo.com) , tweet at us, write on our Facebook page, whatever, just let us know. We want to hear from you.

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