It was more than a baseball season that perished late Friday night when Gio Urshela’s line drive was snuffed inside the glove of Tampa Bay third baseman Joey Wendle. No, this time it felt like a little more than that.
We have trod these grounds before, but it bears repeating: We are in the worst championship drought in New York City since before we started winning them. That was 1923. The Yankees won it that year. Four years later, in a glorious 1927, the Yankees, Giants and Rangers all won championships.
And ever since, though we’ve had our dryspells and our periods of prosperity, as our teams have grown from five to nine, we’ve always managed to sneak out a title every couple of years. At the start of baseball season, we thought the Yankees might be our ticket. They weren’t our ticket.
That means that as of midnight Sunday, the tragic number is 3,171.
That’s the number of days since Giants 21, Patriots 17, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. It isn’t just the longest drought in New York’s history, it is by far the longest drought in New York sports history. Consider:
The Yankees beat the Giants, 1-0, in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series (and were fortunate to do that, too: Willie McCovey ended that series much as Urshela did Friday, with a rocket line drive that Bobby Richardson happened to snare out of the air). On that day, New York’s sporting lineup consisted of the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Titans, Knicks and Rangers. The Nets would come along five years later.
All of them would begin to flail.
And finally, on Jan. 12, 1969, the Jets stunned the Colts in Super Bowl III, 16-7. Thus ended a parched desert stretch in New York City that had lasted all of 2,280 days. That was the very worst of it for years. Close to 6 ½ years of nothing. Who could put up with that?
We have the Devils and the Islanders now in the mix. We have nine teams. It has now been almost nine full years. It has been those 3,171 days. And if that’s not bad enough, look at it this way:
The Yankees’ season ending on Friday guarantees that when dawn breaks on Jan. 27, 2021, that drought will still be in effect — even if the hand of God inspires the Jets and the Giants to rise up and start to win football games by some inexplicable miracle, there will be no champions crowned, once MLB and the NBA are done this month, until February.
And Jan. 27, 2021, will mark 3,280 days since a New York team won a championship.
In other words:
A thousand days longer than any New York sports drought has ever lasted before.
Which begs the question: Will another thousand days pass on top of that before this finally ends? The Yankees, of course, will always be the most likely candidate. The Mets were the last most likely one, having at least made a World Series five years ago. Can they do it under new ownership?
Football is a lost cause. The Knicks are even sicklier. The Nets? They should be in the mix. Can they be the ones who do it, which will mean surviving an Eastern Conference gauntlet that will be imposing, to say the least. Can the Islanders replicate the magic-carpet ride of August and September?
The baseball season died Friday night. The tragic number lives on. And keeps growing. And growing. And …
Jim Dwyer was one of the very best who ever put pen to paper for a New York newspaper, his work a reminder that the very best columnists find a way into your heart, into your soul, and stay a while. Godspeed to him.
You will have a lot of time on your hands for the next few months as a New York sports fan. May I suggest Harvey Araton’s memoir as an excellent way to spend those idle hours. “Our Last Season: a Writer, a Fan, a Friendship” is first-rate in every way, whether you are a fan of basketball or simply lives well led.
I am a few years late to this party. But I simply can’t recommend more enthusiastically “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” on Netflix now, about the adventures of the mid-1970s Portland Mavericks — an independent team founded and run by Bing Russell, well known as Deputy Clem Foster on “Bonanza,” better known as Kurt Russell’s father (and ex-Met Matt Franco’s grandfather).
There are few things more enjoyable than watching Jimmy Butler play basketball right now.
Whack Back At Vac
Jerry Vogel: Gibby, The Franchise and the Chairman of the Board come walking out of the cornfield with Terrance Mann. Who you got starting the series? R.I.P.
Vac: I start Whitey Ford in Game 2, flanked by Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. That lets me bring Seaver back on full rest for Game 7 (as it should’ve been in ’73!).
John Cobert: Lightning? Rays? Buccaneers? Will it become known as Title Bay?
Vac: Better than Tommy Bay, which was in the running before Thursday.
@JerzDevi2000: The Yankees are now 1 for their past 20 since the dynasty ended in the Subway Series. Their fans deserve better.
@MikeVacc: Someone really should trademark that as a new motto that can fall under the umbrella of all nine teams (except, for now, the Islanders): “NEW YORK: WE DESERVE BETTER”
Roland Chapdelaine: I could listen to Jim Kaat and Buck Showalter talk baseball all. Day. Long. Then I could come back tomorrow and do it all over again. But A-Roid? The less said, the better. By him, I mean.
Vac: Kitty & Buck ought to take a baseball show on the road. Or at least to radio.