Monday dawned cold and gray, as it should have, neatly framing the mood: bleak.
New York-area fans had seen this coming, after nearly a decade without a major championship, then through the sports-less spring and finally facing the abyss at the end of the Yankees’ playoff road.
And here we are.
The Jets and Giants both are 0-5 for the first time in the six decades they have shared the New York pro football stage, and it appears it will be 2021 before any of our local basketball or hockey teams play again.
Before going further, it is important to note that even this situation beats the heck out of the dark days of spring, when New York faced a public health crisis that trumped sports concerns, and when there were no sports at all.
At least this autumn we can watch better football teams play, plus the World Series, the Masters and other assorted live stuff, for those who are not otherwise occupied with political news.
But this metropolitan-area sports awfulness just isn’t natural. Big Town is supposed to be above this sort of thing.
Facts are fact, though: When the ball drops in mostly empty Times Square on Dec. 31, the Islanders will reign as the most accomplished area team for 2020.
You might recall them advancing to the conference finals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
Speaking of Tampa . . .
At present, in addition to the Lightning holding the Cup, the Rays are in the ALCS after ousting the Yankees, and the Buccaneers are tied for first place in the NFC South, with six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady at quarterback.
Hey, the Jets have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, too! But Joe Flacco is 0-1 and presumably will be back on the bench when Sam Darnold is healthy.
About the Jets: For all the current struggles of our local franchises, it simply does not get worse than them.
The Knicks at least won 54 games and a playoff round in 2013. The Rangers and Mets had deep playoff runs in mid-decade. The Giants won 11 games and made a playoff cameo in 2016.
The Nets have two very famous players who might deign to play for them next season.
But the Jets have not made the playoffs in a decade, have not lost by fewer than nine points this season, have a big-name running back in Le’Veon Bell who is neither productive nor happy, a franchise quarterback in Darnold who has not yet proven to be one and a beleaguered coach in Adam Gase.
One could make a good argument that as of now they are the worst major pro team in North America for 2020, in terms of current haplessness crossed with terribleness over the recent past.
The NBA’s worst record belonged to Golden State, at 15-50. I am going to go out on a limb and guess Jets fans would trade places with Golden State fans’ recent experiences and short-term prospects for improvement.
The NHL? OK, the Red Wings present a strong case, having gone 17-49-5, by far the league’s worst mark in the shortened 2019-20 season.
But as with their NBA counterparts, let’s consider recent accomplishments as a tiebreaker. The Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups since Rich Kotite’s Jets went 1-15 in 1996 and have made the playoffs 32 times since the Jets won their only Super Bowl.
The Pirates finished 19-41, worst in MLB. At least they have been in the playoffs three times since the Jets last made it. And their stadium is much nicer than the Jets’.
This entire discussion deserves an asterisk, of course, because nothing about sports in 2020 is normal.
That includes getting blown out before 80,000 empty gray seats at MetLife Stadium, which just doesn’t feel the same as doing so with fans offering proper boos. So the Jets’ situation is bad, but it could be worse.
Sigh. Let’s end this sad discussion on a hopeful, happy note: It is only 81 days until 2021.