Hartnett: Big lessons from the Big Apple
Brian Hartnett | Tuesday, August 26, 2014
While most incoming Notre Dame seniors lived the corporate life, researched in a laboratory or did some really cool service abroad, I spent my summer working for a television station perched on the top floors of New York City’s trendy Chelsea Market.
As an intern in the sports department of New York 1 News, I got to go behind-the-scenes in the nation’s largest professional sports city (by number of teams, at least), and my office frequently rotated between Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and MetLife Stadium.
In addition to witnessing firsthand the madness that goes on during television production and seeing athletes I’ve been watching for much of my life, I formed several insights about the current and future state of the Big Apple’s beloved teams.
With that being said, I present to you a slightly more grown-up version of “What I learned on my summer vacation.”
The Mets are going to be very good very soon: I get it. The Mets, long a laughingstock of Major League Baseball, have had five consecutive losing seasons and are likely on their way to a sixth.
With that being said, pitching is the name of the game in baseball today, and the Mets have lots of it. Most people know about Matt Harvey, the team’s ace who took baseball by storm last season before suffering an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Fewer know about Jacob deGrom, a Rookie of the Year candidate until his recent injury, or young arms Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler.
If that’s not enough, the team’s farm system was recently ranked fourth in the league and features even more pitching in the forms of the versatile Rafael Montero and the hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard.
Given the track record of the Mets’ front office, it’s too early to make any bold predictions. But if the team’s pitching staff develops as expected, even the Mets’ languishing offense won’t prevent it from being a National League contender in two or three years.
The Yankees have fallen out of the American League’s top tier: It’s tough for me to write this because the Yankees were the first sports team I followed.
But the current version of the Bronx Bombers bears little resemblance to the clutch and balanced teams I grew up watching in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The team’s pitching staff is surprisingly stout, given the injuries that have plagued its starters. But its offense is toothless, filled with aging stars well past their primes. After finishing in third place in the American League East last season, the Yankees still have an outside shot to take the league’s second wild card spot this year. But future success is not too likely unless the team opens up its large checkbook to buy some quality bats in the offseason.
The Jets and Knicks never fail to entertain: While I didn’t get to cover either of these teams, feedback on my station’s nightly call-in show suggested that fans of both teams are frustrated. And why wouldn’t they be?
The Jets are currently undergoing another quarterback circus, while the Knicks came off one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory.
Still, these fans need not fret too much. The Jets have an impressive young defense, led by a strong defensive line, while the Knicks made some major upgrades over the last few months, adding Jose Calderon at point guard and putting league legend Phil Jackson and his pupil, Derek Fisher, in charge of the show at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers remain the city’s best shot at a championship: On the ice, the Rangers made an inspired run to the Stanley Cup in June, falling to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. Although the team lost some key parts, including center Brad Richards, defenseman Anton Strålman and left wing Benoit Pouliot, it retained most of the scrappy core that led it past most of the Eastern Conference’s powerhouses this past spring. Plus, the Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist in goal. And in a city fit for a king, the so-called “King Henrik” might be the most important piece in ensuring that a Canyon of Heroes parade will once again be on New York City’s social calendar.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.