The Jets’ Todd Bowles became the dean of New York-area head coaches and managers this week when the Rangers fired Alain Vigneault after five seasons.
Bowles has been around long enough that the Knicks’ Jeff Hornacek has come and gone since Bowles’ took over.
That is strange enough, given that since being hired in January of 2015 Bowles is tied with me, you, Mr. Magoo and Ben McAdoo in career playoff victories.
At least McAdoo, the Giants’ coach from 2016 to the 12th week of 2017, made it to a playoff game. Which brings us to a matter that is even stranger than the recent volatility in the area’s coaching ranks:
For a four-day period between Vigneault’s departure last Sunday and the Devils’ first playoff game for John Hynes on Thursday, not one of the current area baseball, football, basketball or hockey head coaches or managers had so much as led a team into a playoff game.
You could look it up, as Casey Stengel might have said when, even as he managed bad Mets teams in the 1960s, he could claim a wee bit of postseason success in pinstripes the previous decade.
Not Bowles nor the Giants’ Pat Shurmur nor the Yankees’ Aaron Boone nor the Mets’ Mickey Callaway nor Hornacek nor the Nets’ Kenny Atkinson nor the Islanders’ Doug Weight, who still is awaiting official confirmation that he will be back in 2018-19.
Some had chances elsewhere, some are new, but all are playoff newbies in their current roles, or were, in Horancek’s case.
(Yes, I am aware that Jesse Marsch of the Red Bulls and Patrick Vieira of NYCFC have playoff coaching credentials and that MLS has a strong following and that soccer is growing by the decade. No offense intended.)
As far as I can tell, the last time New York has had any such moment was in 1961, when there were only five teams in play, not nine, during a period in which there was no National League baseball team in New York.
As of that September, the Yankees’ Ralph Houk (before the Yankees clinched the pennant), Giants’ Allie Sherman, Titans’ Sammy Baugh, Knicks’ Eddie Donovan and Rangers’ Doug Harvey never had led a team into a playoff game.
But what really matters here is what all of the above signifies in the bigger picture, and that is a historically lousy stretch of local sports performance.
May 4 will mark 2,281 days since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, making this the longest drought between major pro sports titles around here — and you can include Major League Soccer and the WNBA in this, too — since 1905-21, when the New York baseball Giants won their first and second World Series.
This will surpass a stretch from the Yankees’ victory in the 1962 World Series to the Jets’ in Super Bowl III. Even Philadelphia has produced more winners lately than we have! Blech.
But there is a silver lining for New York-area fans: Sometimes novices turn out just fine.
Houk won the 1961 World Series in his first year as a manager. Sherman led the Giants to the NFL Championship Game, in which they lost to the Packers on New Year’s Eve in 1961.
Harvey, a player/coach, led the Rangers to their only playoff appearance in an eight-year stretch in 1961-1962.
Eventually, one of these guys has to bring us a title, even if they are new at this, right?
Boone was supposed to be that guy, but maybe it will be Callaway, 10-1 through Wednesday night and a strong contender for NL Manager of the Year seven percent of the way into the season.
If not, there always is football season. Bowles has all the experience around here, after all.
CHANGING OF THE GUARDS
New York-area coaching moves in the past 368 days:
April 12 ISLANDERS hire coach Doug Weight
Oct. 1 METS manager Terry Collins resigns
Oct. 23 METS hire manager Mickey Calloway
Oct. 26 YANKEES fire manager Joe Girardi
Dec. 1 YANKEES hire manager Aaron Boone
Dec. 4 GIANTS fire coach Ben McAdoo
Jan. 22 GIANTS hire coach Pat Shurmer
April 7 RANGERS fire coach Alain Vigneault
April 12 KNICKS fire coach Jeff Hornacek