For good or bad, sickness or in health, rich or poor (well, they're all rich), there are pairs of players that instantly come to mind when thinking of a few of the local franchises. Some are homegrown, some are imported and some are a mixture of the two. One duo has won a championship while the rest are still looking to get to the promised land.
David Wright and Jose Reyes have been joined at the hip since 2004. They'll be embarking on their eighth season together in two weeks, and you can't hear the words "New York Mets" without thinking of those homegrown cornerstones. Of course, you may think of many other things when hearing the word "Mets" but the names "Wright and Reyes" go together as easily as "Koufax and Drysdale" or "Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr." They've become the team's on-field identity. The Mets are now Wright's team while Reyes brings the energy. And like the Mets, their careers have been up and down. While the third baseman has been more consistent than his partner, as well as healthier, they've both had their troubles, whether it's been a power outage, too many strikeouts or less-than-clutch late-game performances for Wright or mental lapses, brain freezes, injuries and illnesses with Reyes. With the shortstop's contract up at the end of the season, this may be the swan song for the pair, but the only comparable homegrown duo in franchise history is the Tom Seaver/Jerry Koosman pairing, which lasted for nine-plus seasons. They won a World Series, though, of course, while it looks like Wright and Reyes may never reach that pinnacle together. But Wright and Reyes = New York Mets.
Over in the Bronx, the New York Yankees' two biggest names are Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Like Wright and Reyes, they've been intact since 2004. They didn't grow up with each other as much as they were thrown together, much like Brenna Huff and Dale Doback in Step Brothers (we might as well keep the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly thing going, as they're the dynamic duo of comedy). Jeter and Rodriguez haven't always cared for each other, with their relationship a rocky road from the beginning, with pettiness and jealousy between the two, but they are the epitome of the Yankees--with Jeter representing the collection of homegrown stars aspect of the Bombers and A-Rod the giant-contracted mercenaries part, with both mixed together in a blender, which has gotten them a World Series title in their time together. Jeter and A-Rod are larger than life, with mansion-building and popcorn-feedings making headline news. But the Yankees are larger than life themselves. Sure, there were the "Core Four" over the years, but Jeter and A-Rod have been the real dynamic stars of the franchise since they've been together.
The New York Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky that have become the heart and soul of the team. Their blue-collar, hard-working style of hard-hitting hockey has rubbed off on the rest of their teammates, and the team's identity is fully interwoven with Callahan and Dubinsky's exemplary play. While neither has the pure talent of a young guy like Steven Stamkos or even John Tavares, there's no denying that they're the cornerstones of the franchise. With the Blueshirts finally in building-from-the-ground-floor-up mode, the Callahan-Dubinsky pairing is what the New York Rangers are all about these days.have an under-the-radar, spotlight-shunning twosome in
The newest local duos have just been slapped together at the NBA trading deadline last month. As star-studded as Jeter and A-Rod, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony now have the weight of the Knicks and the whole city of New York on their shoulders. No matter which players end up as their supporting cast, the Knicks are their team from here on out. It's a slow process, but Stoudemire and Anthony will have to learn to not only coexist but to thrive in each other's company. Pick-and-rolls, give-and-go's, defensive switches--the two will have to know every move the other makes. Wright and Reyes or Jeter and A-Rod can stand side by side on the field and not say a word to each other for a whole season, let alone ignore each other in the locker room if they so choose, but basketball doesn't work like that. The New York Knicks are now Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. To a lesser extent (but lately more successful), the New Jersey Nets are cultivating a franchise-defining pair of their own with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. It remains to be seen if Williams will be around these parts long enough or if the team will come up with another big acquisition to go with the elite point guard. But for now, the Nets are Wiliams and Lopez. And that's not such a bad thing.
These players may not be the best players on their respective teams, nor are they all the longest tenured. But they are their teams' identities. They are the dynamic duos, the out-in-front pairs that represent each franchise.