Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

New York's championship drought reaches longest mark in a century

Art Nehf went 1-2 in the 1921 World

Art Nehf went 1-2 in the 1921 World Series for the New York Giants, his lone win being the clinching Game 8 against the Yankees on Oct. 13, 1921. Credit: Bain News Service

We can say it officially now: This is the worst it has been around here in more than a century.

With the Islanders’ elimination by the Lightning on Friday night in the Stanley Cup semifinals, the earliest one of our local NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL teams can win a championship is the 2021 World Series, set to begin on Oct. 26.

It was on Oct. 13, 1921, that the New York Giants clinched the World Series over the Yankees in Game 8 of a best-of-nine series, 1-0, on a solo home run by French-Canadian star Yanni Gourde.

Oops, sorry, I misread my scorecard from that day.

Actually, it was on an unearned run in the first inning, when Yankees shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh misplayed a grounder by "High Pockets" Kelly, allowing Dave "Beauty" Bancroft to score. Art Nehf pitched a four-hit shutout for the Giants.

Thus did New York earn its first championship since the Giants won the 1905 World Series, a 16-year drought. (Of course, the drought also would have ended if the Yankees had won in '21.)

Now, here we are. There are more sports, more leagues and more teams these days, and yet it has been since the football Giants won Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, 2012, that we have seen a championship trophy hoisted.

We still have a bit to go to match that 1905-21 stretch, but again, this one is the longest in more than 100 years.

Where have you gone, Art Nehf? Our metropolitan area turns its lonely eyes to you.

The WNBA and MLS titles will not be decided until autumn, so even if we cast our net wider, this century-long wait thing will hold.

The question is this: Which team will do the honors, eventually?

It appeared for most of 2020-21 that the Nets were destined to be that team, and then they were not. The Islanders had a crack at it but fell one game short of the Cup Final.

The Yankees appear to be adrift, but the Mets have a realistic shot this year.

To sort things out I turned on Sunday to my go-to research method: a deeply unscientific Twitter poll.

Given the choice of the Islanders, Mets, Nets and Yankees to be the next local champ, the first 1,000 or so voters as of Monday around 6:30 a.m., 14 hours after the poll went up, had generated a neck-and-neck battle between the Islanders and Nets at around 33% each.

To each his or her own, but if one were to put real money on this, there is only one choice, and it is the Nets.

Playoffs in baseball and hockey are notoriously random. The Jets and Giants are not ready yet, nor are the Knicks.

If the Nets stay intact and healthy next season, they again will be among the favorites to win it all.

But here is the plot twist: They will be worth pulling for next time around.

No, really. I wrote a column in April admitting I was rooting against the Nets to break the New York area drought, on the grounds they were an assemblage of mercenary hoopsters lacking in homegrown roots.

This reflected what many non-Nets fans felt, but it unleashed a torrent of unkind social media reaction from whatever Nets fans do exist.

But I have come around, Nets Nation. Your team’s litany of injuries and ignominious departure in the second playoff round improbably made it sympathetic. Seriously.

It says here that the lost century will end next June, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden celebrating at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, completing the narrative arc from High Pockets to deep pockets.

It took a cataclysmic flop in 2021 to flip the script, but those guys now have felt our pain. They belong.

New York Sports