Renaissance in New York Sports?

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The overachieving Boston Celtics participated in the NBA Finals on Thursday night. They are three wins away from winning championship No. 18 in franchise history after a 120-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night at Chase Center.

Each of the four major Boston sports teams qualified for their league’s championship game in the past four years. The Boston Red Sox last made the World Series in 2018, and they won it by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5. The New England Patriots last made the Super Bowl in 2019, and they defeated the Los Angels Rams in that game. The Boston Bruins made the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, but choked a 3-2 series lead to end up losing to the St. Louis Blues in 7.

Overall, that’s 19 title games for Boston sports since 2000. Amazingly enough, it took four years for a Boston sports team to be back in a championship round.

In Boston, they call it a Friday. It’s expected their sports teams will play in the championship round and even be in the winner’s circle. All New Yorkers can do is be envious since 2002. At this point, they own us when it comes to sports. It’s not even a debate.

It’s been nothing but misery in New York sports since the Giants last won the Super Bowl in 2012. But fear not. Hope may be on the way for a title-starved city.

The Rangers are seven wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. After the Yankees swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Thursday at Yankee Stadium, they have the best record in baseball at 36-15. The Mets have written a good story so far by going 35-18. Yeah, they got your hope right here.

I looked at the Rangers as nothing more than a cute story this season. It’s hard to call them cute anymore when they rallied from deficits to win Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. They are no feel-good story anymore after they blitzed the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning by scoring six goals in their 6-2 Game 1 victory of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. To call them a cute story or a feel-good story would be an insult to what they accomplished.

The Rangers have the goods to be a Stanley Cup championship team. They have a great coach pushing all the right buttons in Gerard Gallant. Their young players such as Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere play like veterans. Igor Shesterkin shows Henrik Lundqvist how it’s done to steal games and dominate a game in the playoffs. He showed he can win a big game on his own as he showed in both Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. He could give them a chance to win the Stanley Cup. And don’t overlook the fact the Rangers are good defensively in their own right.

This is no soft hockey team anymore. They not only push back, but they can give it to the opponents. After being pushed around, James Dolan decided to change management by firing John Davidson and Jeff Gorton and hiring Chris Drury to oversee the hockey operation, and it worked out well. Drury knows what it takes to win playoff games as a player, and he has been one of the clutch players to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He knew the type of players he needed to get them to win playoff games such as Ryan Reaves.

Right now, it’s hard to bet against them. They are on a magic carpet ride. When a team comes out and scores six goals against the best goaltender in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, you got something.

The Yankees are playing like the best team in baseball. It’s hard to argue with the results at 36-15. They are pitching and hitting the ball well. They are not only relying on home runs, but they are relying on line drives to drive in runs. They are fielding well. They are playing like a well-oiled machine.

Now keep in mind they always do great in the regular season. This seems different, though. They have a swagger, which they haven’t had since 2009 when they won it all. They play like a team that has something to prove every game. Everyone on the roster is producing with the exception of Joey Gallo, who is the team’s automatic out with his swing-and-a-miss routine at the plate.

Their starters are giving them a chance to win every game, especially Nestor Cortes, who is pitching like he should be the starter in the All-Star Game. It seems like Gerrit Cole has overcome his struggles without the sticky stuff. The relievers have been superb. For those who wonder about Aroldis Chapman, fear not because the Yankees got a closer who can replace him in Clay Holmes, who is playing the role of Mariano Rivera as in hitters not having a chance against him.

Yes, they can win it all. If they don’t win the World Series, maybe it’s never meant to be with this core.

The Mets have a look of a playoff team. All they do is win and play well every game. They have been entertaining to boot, too. They keep rolling despite losing Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Tylor Megill, Sean Reid-Foley and James McCann to injuries. They have taken the cue of Buck Showalter of not wallowing in self-pity with injuries and executing the simple stuff of hitting the ball, seeing the ball and fielding the ball.

They are so good that it took June 2 for them to be shut out for the first time this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers shut the Mets out on a 2-0 victory Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Who knows if the Mets will be in the World Series? They have to deal with the Dodgers and always pesky Atlanta Braves. The Yankees only have to deal with the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays, and those two teams are beatable, so their chances to go to the World Series are much higher than the Mets. Still, the Mets have a shot if Scherzer and deGrom can come back healthy and productive.

The Giants and Jets stunk in recent seasons, but they should improve this season. They can only go up. The Giants can win the weak NFC East if new head coach Brian Daboll can unleash Daniel Jones’ potential at quarterback. The Jets should improve with better talent and Zach Wilson’s improvement.

Here’s the best thing about both local NFL teams: Both should be interesting to watch. That’s an improvement in itself after watching bad football teams that end their season in the second week of the season because they were just so bad.

The Nets underachieved, but no one can sleep on a team that boasts Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Look for Durant to be motivated to play after getting swept and watching the Warriors play in the Finals without him. Irving playing a full season can only help. Eventually, things have to go right for this much-maligned duo.

The Knicks should be in a position to get Donovan Mitchell or Karl Anthony-Towns and they have the money to get Jalen Brunson. They can go to the NBA Finals next season if they can have a good offseason.

Yes, New York may be out of the abyss altogether. It started with Saint Peter’s going on a fantastic run by going to the Elite Eight before bowing down to North Carolina. Hofstra, LIU and Columbia continue our good run by being in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Rangers, Yankees and Mets are in a position to win championships.

It’s been 10 years since we celebrated a title. It’s about time we got something to be proud of.

Maybe we can supplant the great run Boston sports had forever it seems if the Rangers win a championship.

This doesn’t have to be a dream anymore. It could be a reality.

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