May 5 passed without ceremony a few months back, passed without pause, and that was probably for the best. The Yankees beat the Indians that day, and the Mets lost to the Rockies that night. The Devils, the only one of five New York area winter teams to make the playoffs this year, were already two weeks into their offseason.
It was a busy sports day elsewhere: Justify won the first leg of his Triple Crown, at the Derby. LeBron James hit that ridiculous buzzer-beating bank shot to help the Cavaliers beat the Raptors in Toronto. Championship-caliber moments break out everywhere in sports, sometimes when you least expect them. Here? Not so much.
Here, it was the 2,281st day since New York City had last celebrated a championship, and that officially made it the longest sporting drought in a century, surpassing the six-plus years that passed between the Yankees eking past the Giants in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series and Joe Namath jabbing his right index finger at the world at the end of Super Bowl III.
Seventy-six more days have passed since, as we sit on Day 2,356. And, at the very least, another 100 days will pass until Oct. 27, which is the earliest date that the World Series can be clinched.
We are parched.
We are starving.
And, yes: the Yankees certainly have an excellent chance to be the team to finally drag our sporting city out of the desert, and they’ve certainly done their share through the years to make certain that New York’s wait between championships has never been the equal of, say, Cleveland’s from 1964-2016, or Buffalo’s from 1965 till now.
So it’s the Yankees.
Derek Jeter rides with the World Series champion Yankees up the Canyon of Heroes in 2009.Anthony J. Causi
And it had better be the Yankees, if not this year then soon.
Because as a little straw poll we did here at The Post the past few days reveals, if the Yankees don’t end that drought this October, or next October, or sometime early in the 2020s … well, this could go on for a while.
This wasn’t a scientific survey; the fact is, scientists and professional pollsters might get the bends if they studied our data-gathering methods. This was just a group of 20 or so folks with working sets of eyes and an innate love of sports and a functional knowledge of our teams — who’s on them, who’s not, and, as important, what the impediments are, from within and without, toward the Canyon of Heroes.
Honestly? You could poll 20 of your friends, 20 of your coworkers, 20 of the folks playing Trivia Night at your neighborhood saloon, and it’s unlikely your results are going to differ much from ours, especially if you do it like we did, taking seven categories and trying, as much as lay people can do these things, to find a sliver of optimism, a slice of hope.
And there is both sliver and slice: the Yankees are both. The Yankees are close. We knew that anyway, of course, seen them across the first half of this baseball season, watched them win two out of every three games they played. In our survey, out of a possible total score of 70 (ranking the seven categories from 1 to 10) they polled a 63.4. You’ll take your chances with that. That’s very good news.
The bad news?
Well … just about everyone else.
Coach Tom Coughlin with then-President Obama to celebrate the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
Put it this way: the next-likely team to win a championship is a team that, in its most recent season, went 3-13, fired the coach, fired the GM, and is coming off a quarterback mutiny. It is also the team that is responsible for the city’s championship skid not lasting an additional 823 days.
And the Giants do have a vast amount of championship pedigree around here, historically, trailing only the Yankees, so as long as you aren’t expecting a title this year, it makes sense. They did, after all, announce themselves as a “now” team by retaining Eli Manning, drafting Saquon Barkley and refusing the label of “rebuilding.” Good thing. Their total of 42.4 may make them the second-most likely New York champion, but given the city’s alternatives it makes them more like the world’s tallest midgets than genuine Giants.
Who has a right to be optimistic? On the whole, hockey fans. On our rosters and in our midst are one reigning MVP (Taylor Hall of the Devils), one future Hall of Fame player (the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist) and one present Hall of Fame executive (Lou Lamoriello of the Islanders). The three teams also play in a league that, unlike the others, doesn’t have a core of elites that feel unassailable; an expansion team made the Cup finals, after all, so it’s impossible to think that anything is really … well, impossible.
That’s not the case for the other teams. The Jets, after all, perennially have to face the realities of sharing a division with the Patriots, and this year the Giants have the world champions in their own division. That doesn’t exactly build a fervor or a fever about making a deep run.
Maybe newly drafted rookie Kevin Knox can one day help the Knicks end their decades-long run of non-title seasons.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
Whatever optimism Knicks fans and Nets fans can build for themselves — and there are some famished patrons who must be regularly hosed down just when uttering the words “Kevin Knox” — must be tempered by the reality that, for the foreseeable future, those two are battling for fourth place in the Atlantic, well in back of Boston, Philly and Toronto. And that doesn’t even take the Warriors into account.
The Yankees, of course, have no such concern because they are a clear member of the sport’s elite alongside the Red Sox, Astros and Dodgers. As for the poor Mets: alas, the re-emergence of the Yankees as the YANKEES is just one of about 30 reasons they did so poorly in this survey (a shaky manager and a deplorable front-office setup don’t help much, either), but the truth is there has been an active parlor game amongst the city’s three most bedraggled fan bases that goes something like this:
Q: Which of the Mets, Jets and Knicks is closer to winning a championship?
It is more than a little interesting that the Knicks and Jets wound up tied in our little poll, at 31.4, which is one way of answering the question: many, many years away.
And it is probably reflective of a bad year at the office that only the Nets inspire less hope than the present state of the Mets, who fancied themselves contenders at season’s start, yet enter the second half tied for last place with the Marlins, who aren’t trying to win.
Will the Yankees end this drought at 2,456 (hell, we’ll even take a win in Game 7, which will make it 2,460)? Will the Giants in, say, Super Bowl LIV (which would be 2,919)? Can we at least ponder St. John’s cutting the nets down at the Big East finals next March 16 (that would be 2,596, though it would probably have to come with an asterisk)?
Let’s hope so.
Otherwise we’ll have to reach back to some prehistoric sporting times, before 1920, before Babe Ruth, before the Yankees became the Yankees, when New York waited from 1905 until 1921 for Muggsy McGraw’s baseball Giants to make Gotham proud again. That was 5,843 days. (There was also no NFL, no NBA and no NHL then to take up the baseball burden.)
But hey, why sweat that?
We’re not even halfway there yet.