It’s happened before in times of crisis, you know.
It isn’t unprecedented.
In 1943, as war raged around the globe, more than a few professional sports teams were hanging on by a thread. Two of those teams were the representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s Eagles and Pittsburgh’s Steelers. In order to survive, a plan was hatched: merge them.
And thus were the Steagles born.
It only lasted one year, but it was a grand experiment. The Steagles won their first two home games, at Philly’s Shibe Park (including a 28-14 win over the Giants). They won and tied their next two home games, at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. They lost the season finale, back in Philly against the Packers, which cost them a playoff berth.
“These guys were used to hating each other,” future Giants coach Allie Sherman, a backup quarterback on the team, told me once. “And yet we all had the time of our lives for 10 games.”
The Eagles had never before had a winning record on their own. The Steelers had but one. The Steagles wouldn’t be necessary by the time the ’44 season rolled around, as the nation’s economic picture began to brighten. It stands as a cool one-year experiment.
Now, we aren’t in that kind of crisis in New York. And look, even if we wanted to do something audacious like combine all of our sports teams into a single entity, that wouldn’t ever even make it out of brain of whoever hatched this insane scheme (Guilty!).
Still, we are title-less in what will soon be 11 years and counting in the four major professional sports. That sort of feels like an ongoing crisis. And just think: Would any baseball fan anywhere in New York have been unhappy with the following lineup across the 2022 season — notably in October?
1B: Anthony Rizzo
2B: Jeff McNeil
SS: Francisco Lindor
3B: Matt Carpenter
LF: Brandon Nimmo
CF: Aaron Judge
RF: Starling Marte
C: Jose Trevino
DH: Pete Alonso
SP: Jacob deGrom
SP: Gerrit Cole
SP: Max Scherzer
SP: Nestor Cortes
CL: Edwin Diaz
The Metkees aren’t half bad, are they? What about a football mash-up — let’s call ’em the Jints — where we simply take the Giants’ offense and add the Jets’ wide receivers, and a defensive matchup that would be a star-studded array of both sides — Dexter Lawrence, the Williams brothers, Leonard Williams, Xavier McKinney, Sauce Gardner and the rest?
How about this for an imposing starting lineup for the Knicknets?
PG: Jalen Brunson
SG: Royce O’Neale
C: Mitchell Robinson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Julius Randle
With a whole lot of firepower — Kyrie Irving, RJ Barrett, Seth Curry, Yuta Watanabe — off the bench?
Of course, the most intriguing is if we could toss all of the Rangers, Devils and Islanders into a pile — since all three of them are having seasons ranging from good to very good to epic so far — and maybe come up with a top-six that looks something like this:
C: Mat Barzal
W: Jesper Bratt
W: Artemi Panarin
D: Adam Fox
D: Dougie Hamilton
G: Let’s give 27 games apiece to Igor Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin and Vitek Vanecek.
The biggest challenge would be figuring out what to call these guys. The Devislders? The Randevisles? The Islrangils? Maybe we could get really bold and brassy and just call them the Stanelycups.
Sure, this is a part fever dream, part hallucinogenic fit. But it beats watching one season after another end with a parade down someone else’s downtown, doesn’t it?
The Devils haven’t only been a remarkable story on the ice, but they helped inspire one of the all-time crowd cheers when “Sorry, Lindy!” went cascading through Prudential Center not long ago.
One of the things about binge-watching a show still on the air — and I blitzed through four years of “Yellowstone” and 10 episodes of “1883” this summer — is that when you’re caught up, the wait between episodes feels like a month, not a week.
Well, a loud segment of Jets fans have been pining for Mike White for well over a year now. It’ll be interesting to see how they feel by 4 o’clock or so.
St. John’s-Syracuse was an eyesore of a basketball game the other night at Barclays, but man, it was fun seeing those two teams on the floor at the same time again.
Whack Back at Vac
Richard Kelly: Seems like everyone is glossing over the two dumb moves that will likely cost the Giants the playoffs: Xavier McKinney takes a trip to Cabo and falls off an ATV, and Brian Daboll has his best cornerback, Adoree’ Jackson, return punts. I hope I’m wrong about this.
Vac: If we’re looking at someone else play in the first weekend of the playoffs again this year, those two moves will pound like a relentless toothache.
Vito Pesce: I just don’t see the attraction with Jacob DeGrom for crazy money. The guy is lucky if he gives you 20 starts a year, plus at 34 it’s going to get worse.
Vac: I think the Mets are willing to spend a lot to retain him. I don’t believe they will empty the vault if that’s what it’s going to take.
@knishboy: If, in year four as a Knicks starter, RJ Barrett isn’t a good shooter from 3, or at layups, or from the standard eye test … then why does he keep shooting almost 20 times per game?
@MikeVacc: Donovan Mitchell is shooting 50.1 percent this year, 42.5 percent from 3. That seems especially relevant.
Jack Wasserman: What was Robert Saleh thinking when he left a shell-shocked Zach Wilson in the game after the middle of the third quarter? He was visibly terrified throughout. The loss was on the coach, and only secondarily on the hapless offensive and special team coaching.
Vac: I’m not sure any quarterback would’ve thrived with the game plan Mike LaFleur cooked up. He has to be much better this week.