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New York is not the city of sports champions
And radio takes a major hit
Good morning, all. I hope your week is off to a terrific start.
It pains me to write this, having grown up a fan of metropolitan New York City sports teams. (I have to be specific here, because two of the New York-labeled teams play in New Jersey.) And this piece is not meant as a diss toward the Big Apple, after all, I still get chills when I hear Sinatra sing “New York, New York.” But the fact is New York is no longer the city of sports champions and has not been for many years.
What got me thinking about this was this past Sunday’s sporting events. A not-so-good New England Patriots football team once again made a punching bag out of the New York Jets, beating them for the 15th straight time. The Jets have not defeated the Pats since 2015. The New York Yankees were also officially eliminated from post season play, after losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This was supposed to be the year New York was going to turn things around. The Yankees and Mets might meet in a Subway Series, they were predicted to be that good. Both clubs will miss the post season.
Football was going to rule the autumn and winter in the big city. The networks even jumped on that prospect, scheduling numerous Giants and Jets games for primetime. Through three games their seasons have been a disappointment. The Giants are off to a slow start (1-2) and the Jets - sans Aaron Rodgers due to injury - are 1-2 and spinning out of control. With the NBA and NHL seasons about to begin, there does not appear to be much hope for the New York-area teams in those sports either.
It never used to be that way, of course. New York baseball clubs - especially the Yankees - used to appear in the World Series often. The football Giants of the 1950s and early 60s, and later the Jets of the late 60s an 70s, were always in the playoff conversation, if not winning titles, and the basketball and hockey clubs also contended.
Granted, the path of making it to the championship round of all the sports has changed drastically, with numerous playoff roadblocks lining the route to a trophy. And to be fair, New York teams have also had some success winning divisional crowns, especially the Yankees. However, we are constantly reminded by the New York media, fans will only settle for a title. Nothing else, including a pennant or conference title, would suffice. It was winner-take-all or bust, if you were a New York team.
Well, let’s examine the winner-take-all results of the New York-area clubs. The Yankees, the city’s most consistent championship winner, have not won the World Series since 2009. The Mets last World Series title was 1986. The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2012 (2011 season) and the Jets in 1969 (1968 season). The Knicks have not won an NBA title since 1973, the Nets have never won an NBA title, the Rangers last won the Stanley Cup in 1994, the Islanders in 1983 and the Devils in 2003.
“New York, New York” is all we hear and how rabid a sports area it is, but in reality, New York fans have been let down, while other areas of the country have been more consistent at producing championship teams in all sports. We are reminded that these streaks go in cycles, but New York’s championship drought seems to be never-ending and a look at all the clubs seems to indicate there are no titles on the near horizon.
In the early 1960s, in the midst of their dynasty, the New York Yankees use to sell a flannel pennant with the words “Home of Champions” inscribed on it. I know because I had one. They would advertise the radio stations which carried their games as being on the “Home of Champions radio network.” Those days are long gone. Today, these clubs don’t even advance to the playoffs under a diluted system.
New York may still be a great city and the center of many activities, but it’s been a long time since their sports teams were “king of the hill” and it may be a long time before they return to the “top of the heap.”
Radio takes a hit
Speaking of New York City, radio took another hit last week, when ESPN announced it is pulling the plug on its FM signal. The Bristol, CT-based network had leased a signal on the FM dial to go along with its AM signal. The lease expires on the FM station next August and ESPN said it was no longer going to pay $12 million per year to lease the signal. The all-sports network instead talked about how New York-area fans can easily follow their programs, including the popular Michael Kay afternoon drive time show, via streaming or tuning to the 1050 AM signal.
For years ESPN radio has battled all-sports WFAN, which still has AM/FM signals, and usually wins the ratings war with ESPN. Without mentioning WFAN’s parent owner by name, the at times-acerbic Kay was quick to mention how the owner of a certain, rival station could be in bankruptcy by next August.
The death of radio has been proclaimed ever since television joined the mainstream in the late 1940s, but one has to be concerned with this latest turn of events. With streaming, podcasts and the like, it is safe to proclaim radio and for that matter, OTA and cable television, are at a tipping point. How will this all turn out? Stay tuned
That is going to do it for this week’s newsletter. As always, thank you for subscribing and have a terrific week.