Nobody who lives remembers having lived a stretch longer than this without the New York area contesting a major professional sports championship.
It’s not been that long since 1905-21 – and there is no end in sight to a drought that has lasted since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI on February 5, 2012.
But even in better times, the metropolitan area has managed to produce some memorably horrific teams.
On the occasion of the first combined 0:10 start of the Jets and Giants, here’s a list of the worst seasons in franchise history for the eight Newsday covers of the eight NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams that are regularly covered will.
(Yes, we know freedom went between 2 and 20 in 2020. Too early.)
Manager: Casey stalk
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The argument: Choosing an expansion team seems mean, but not choosing that team would mean ignoring one of the sport’s longest-running jokes.
These guys even have a Jimmy Breslin book called “Can’t Nobody Play This Game Here?” Inspired.
The answer: no. National League fans looked forward to having a New York team again and watched the Mets start 9-0. They came later on 12-19 and then lost 17 in a row. They finished 40-120, 60½ games behind the Giants.
Their .240 team batting average was 10th and last in the NL. So was their 5:04 team ERA.
Roger Craig led the workforce with 10 wins – and 24 losses. The first baseman “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry made a career in which he made fun of various weaknesses.
The 120 losses are still the largest among the majors since the turn of the 20th century.
The consequences: Though never that bad again, the Mets finished ninth or tenth in each of their first seven seasons, losing more than 100 games in five of them.
But as the ’60s developed they put together a talented young team made up of Tom Seaver and the rest of the pitching staff, and in 1969 it got downright amazing.
Manager: Clark Griffith, Kid Elberfeld
The argument: All due respect to the 1966 and 1990 Yankees, but difficult to go deeper than the 1908 team called both Highlanders and Yankees.
This was an era when the Highlanders played at Hilltop Park in Manhattan (where they drew 305,000 for the season) while the Giants were in an epic pennant race with the Cubs and drew 910,000 at the Polo Grounds.
You were not met by Cy Young on June 30th. Walter Johnson ruled them out three times – in four days !! – Beginning of September.
Clark Griffith left the team during the season and Kid Elberfeld took over. He later urged first baseman Hal Chase to leave the team angrily because he was passed over as an interim manager.
Jack Chesbro finished 14-20 despite a 2.93 ERA, a bit of a comedown from his 41-12 season in 1904. The team finished 51-103, 17 games behind the penultimate Senators.
The consequences: After improving to 88 victories in 1910, that decade was largely mediocre.
In 1920, Babe Ruth came to a deal with Boston. The Yankees won 22 pennants in 1921 and 22, then moved to Yankee Stadium in 1923 and won everything.
Trainer: Allie Sherman
The argument: The Giants have averaged four wins over the past three seasons and won none in the first five attempts in 2020, but nothing that has happened in franchise history can match the profound futility of the 1966 team.
Some of the numbers are staggering for a franchise that played six NFL championship games in eight years from 1956 to 1963.
They opened with a 34:34 draw against the Steelers and went from there 1:12, starting with a 52-7 loss to the Cowboys.
In a stretch of five games they allowed 55, 27, 72, 49 and 47 points and finished with 501 points in 14 games. Their 72-41 loss to Washington in late November remains the highest-scoring game in NFL history.
The offensive wasn’t as bad as the defense, but still: Quarterbacks Gary Wood and Earl Morrall made 13 TD passes and 25 interceptions. Leading rusher Chuck Mercein reached a total of 327 yards that season.
The consequences: It couldn’t get worse, but often they weren’t much better for the next 17 years – including nine seasons with five or fewer wins.
It wasn’t until 1984, Bill Parcells’ second year as coach, that the Giants re-established themselves as consistent winners.
CoacH:: Rich cotitol
The argument: Check back in early January as the 2020 Jets seem ready to make that distinction, but the 96 team remains the flop by which everyone else must be judged for now.
The season was upbeat as free agent quarterback Neil O’Donnell, who was with the Steelers in the Super Bowl, succeeded Boomer Esiason.
The Jets have also signed Sachem High alum Jumbo Elliott to aid in offensive tackles and recruited recipient Keyshawn Johnson No. 1 overall from Southern California.
O’Donnell started 6-0, injured his shoulder and was replaced by Esiason’s old college team-mate Frank Reich, who left 6-1. Glenn Foley then went 0-3.
Adrian Murrell led the offensive with a career high of 1,249 rushing yards.
Rich Kotite was fired after 1-15 and replaced by Bill Parcells.
The consequences: Parcells cleaned up Kotite’s chaos, bringing the Jets to 9-7 in 1997 and 12-4 in 1998, a season that ended in a 23-10 loss to Denver in the AFC Championship Game after the Jets took a 10-0 lead third quarter.
In 1999 there were high hopes until quarterback Vinny Testaverde tore an Achilles tendon in the opener.
Trainer: Larry Brown
The argument: There is so much to choose from here including the 17 wins in 2014-15 and 2018-19. However, it is difficult to exaggerate the dysfunction that marked Larry Brown’s first and last Knicks team in 2005-06.
The 23-59 record was bad enough, especially given the bloated $ 124 million payroll and a controversial, costly deal that brought in Eddy Curry from Chicago.
The main event, however, was a seasonal, public feud between Brown and his biggest star, Stephon Marbury, who led the Knicks on points (16.3) and assists (6.4) per game.
(Jamal Crawford, Curry, Jalen Rose, Channing Frye, and Steve Francis also had an average double-digit score.)
Marbury rubbed themselves under Brown’s guidance and creatively looked for more “freedom”. The Brooklyn Mercury Point Guard won the power struggle, and Brown was eliminated after the season.
The consequences: There were many more defeats under Isiah Thomas and Mike D’Antoni over the next four seasons, and in early 2009 Marbury’s tumultuous tenure at Knicks ended.
Amar’e Stoudemire came in the summer of 2010 and then Carmelo Anthony this winter, resulting in three direct playoff appearances.
The last of them followed a regular season in 2012/13 with 54 wins. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since then.
Trainer: Kevin Loughery
The argument: The networks started 2009/10 with 0:18 and lost 70 games, which deserves a mention here. But that was in New Jersey, and on Newsday, relations are broken by horror closer to home.
Hence the 76-77 team that marked the only NBA season at the Nassau Coliseum by switching from ABA champions to NBA jerks and ending up 22-60 after Julius Erving was sold to the 76ers.
The networks had lost 13 and 12 games.
At least they had memorable nicknames, including their top three goalscorers: “Super John” Williamson (20.8 points per game), “Tiny” Archibald (20.5 points, 7.5 assists) and “Bubbles” Hawkins (19, 3 points).
That season an average of 6,935 people were at home, then summer fled to Jersey.
“Economic survival in Nassau County was not possible,” Robert Carlson, attorney for owner Roy Boe, told Newsday.
The consequences: The Nets played at the Rutgers Athletic Center, then the Brendan Byrne Arena (among others), and then the Prudential Center before moving to Brooklyn in 2012.
Immersed in mediocrity and irrelevance for most of the time in New Jersey, they won a playoff round in 1984 before Jason Kidd led teams that won conference titles in 2002 and 2003.
Trainer: Frank Boucher
The argument: Running a war season against a franchise is difficult because nothing about professional sports was normal in the years that World War II drew the nation’s attention and effort.
But if we perform poorly here, it’s impossible to be worse than the 43-44 Blueshirts, who finished with 17 points 6-39-5 – less than half of the 43 points penultimate in Boston.
They went 0-9-1 against first place Montreal. They were beaten by 310-162 points, including a 15-0 loss to Detroit on January 23, one of seven games in which the opponents scored double digits.
Ken McAuley’s goals against the average were 6.24.
Bryan Hextall led the team with 54 points, but the rookie-dominated roster was decimated by players who served in the war. This situation was made worse by General Manager Lester Patrick’s questionable human resources strategy.
It got so bad that coach Frank Boucher ended a six-year retirement as a player to appear in 15 games at the age of 42.
The Rangers started the season with a 0-14-1 stretch and ended it with a 0-17-4 stretch.
The consequences: The Rangers improved in each of the next four seasons and made the playoffs in 1947-48, but they wouldn’t set a win record until 1955-56.
Trainer: Phil Goyette, Earl Ingarfield
The argument: Yes, they were an expansion team. But 12-60-6 is 12-60-6, right?
The Islanders were outperformed from 347-170 with an over-performing squad, but there were already a glimmer of what was to come.
Billy Smith, Ed Westfall and Gerry Hart were valuable pickups in the expansion draft, and there was time for very young players like Bob Nystrom and Lorne Henning to grow through defeat.
Rookie Billy Harris led the team with 50 points. Gerry Dejardins and Smith share the goalkeeping duties.
Phil Goyette was sacked as coach during the season and replaced by Earl Ingarfield. As players, they had spent 16 seasons with the Rangers together. They each won six games as a coach.
A 0-12-3 stretch in late autumn summed up the season.
After it ended in a 4-4 draw against Extension Flames, Hart told Newsday: “Yeah, I’m glad it’s over.”
The consequences: Coach Al Arbor came in 1973-74 and the Islands nearly doubled their total score from 30 to 56. The year after, they shocked the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
In the four years that followed, they scored 100 points. The four years after that they won the Stanley Cup.
Neil Best first worked on Newsday in 1982, returned to Alaska in 1985 and has been here ever since. He specializes in high schools, college basketball, the NFL, and most recently sports media and business.