If you haven’t seen it in person, I am sure you’ve seen it on TV—the scene on Fifth Avenue around 53rd Street where, amid Cartier and Bloomingdales, with the soldiers standing around wearing helmets and visors and machine guns protecting Trump Tower and President-elect Donald Trump, high up in the penthouse, from potential harm. Day by day, a parade of old, conservative, white Christian men determinedly stride in and go up the elevator to find their niche in Donald Trump’s burgeoning Make America Great Again effort.
I’d like to think that all this might have been different if Mr. Trump, two years ago, had been persuaded to exert his efforts not on Making America Great again, but making New York Great Again.
I am talking sports here. Way back when, the sports teams in New York City were seriously to be reckoned with. We had Joe Namath of the New York Jets. We had Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees. We had Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Willie Mays of the New York Giants.
The country trembled when New York City’s teams came to town. We won literally dozens of championships.
Just look at how far we have fallen. In football, the New York Jets, with journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick stuttering along, are in last place in the American Conference, with Fitzpatrick at the bottom of the quarterback rankings. In the National Conference, the New York Giants are having an okay season so far, with aging quarterback Eli Manning still holding the reins, but they haven’t even made the playoffs since 2011.
Basketball is a disaster. The New York Knicks are a joke. The Brooklyn Nets are even worse. In hockey, the New York Islanders lose game after game. There are eight teams in their NHL conference. They bring up the rear.
And don’t even go near baseball. The Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in the American and National Leagues was just announced, and no New Yorker won. The best Yankees pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka, of whom so much was expected, didn’t make the top seven. And the Mets’ best pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, came in eighth in the other league. Neither the Yankees or the Mets have won a World Series in years, and this year the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs and the Mets only barely did, coming in hanging on by their fingernails only to be swept away in a single game after the regular season was over.
George Steinbrenner, for all of his problems, at least got the team World Series wins during his time. Before that there were Casey Stengel and Branch Rickey. The Mets are currently owned by the Wilpons, shopping center kings who got scammed out of their money by Bernie Madoff and have barely scraped up enough dough to finance the Mets for years. They hire players, great talents, who start out with high hopes but then all get injured quickly. What is going on with this? It goes on year after year with the Mets, and no other team. Is this a fix?
A Russian now owns the Brooklyn Nets. The head of a cable TV company owns the Knicks. Unable to compete with the teams not from New York, both the Mets and the Nets are now trying stunts. This past month, football player Tim Tebow ventured into baseball and was signed by the Mets and is currently batting .197 in a minor league. Jeremy Lin, a sensation eight years ago playing basketball with the Knicks, was sent off after just one year and, after stints with four other teams is back, but in Brooklyn with a knee problem and not as much flair.
New York City, now so humbled, doesn’t deserve this. And if we could only have gotten Donald Trump focused on this sorry situation with the sports teams in this city two years ago, New York would be great again and we’d probably not have men with machine guns standing out front of Trump Tower, waiting for a Muslim or a Hispanic to act up.
We just missed the boat.