We have nine local teams to root for, to follow and live and die with. Some rooting interests are handed down from one generation to the next, some are acquired geographically and others are obtained because one may bear a striking resemblance to Hensley Meulens, therefore leading to a lifetime of cheering for the Bronx Bombers. But which New York/New Jersey team is the perfect franchise to root for? Now, it just may be easy to say the New York Yankees are the answer to that query, since they've won the most championships, and contend year after year. But we need to look into every nook and cranny and under every rock to arrive at an answer, and with the elaborate point system that has been set up by our lab-coat-wearing scientists who have constructed a point-system method of reaching a final conclusion, there are many other attributes that have to be taken into account besides winning. There are eight categories, with 10 points awarded being the best and one point the worst. The team that collects the most points wins, and is declared the perfect (or close to perfect as we can get around here) New York-area team to root for. Here we go.
Underdog Status: Well, the Yankees clearly get a measly one point for this. The New York Mets were the ultimate lovable underdog, with their 1969 and 1973 teams, but they get docked a couple of points since the major leagues have entered their haves/have-nots phase of financial competitiveness. The New York Knicks and New York Rangers join the Yankees as overdogs. The New Jersey Nets and New York Islanders? Yes and yes. The New York Jets join the Mets with underdog history, as their 1969 Super Bowl win gives them mucho cred, but Rex Ryan knocks a few points off their scale. The New Jersey Devils are not very underdoggy. And the New York Giants wouldn't seem to score high on this barometer, but they are consistently tabbed to finish behind the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, and they have the 2007 season with the second greatest upset win in Super Bowl history going for them.
(Points: Yankees: 1; Mets: 6; Giants: 6; Jets: 7; Knicks: 2; Nets: 8; Rangers: 3; Islanders: 7; Devils 4)
Payroll: Who wants to root for a giant, mega-rich behemoth? A payroll that is sometimes four times as big as an opponent may not be fair, but it remains within all the ground rules of its sport. But it's certainly not fun. Spending a comical $200 million on payroll each year? The Yankees better win. It's good that they have money to spend, but they often spend it unwisely, as do the Mets, of course, not to mention the Knicks (hello, Isiah Thomas). On the other hand, if a team can't afford to put a quality team on the field/in the arena, then that franchise loses points also. The NFL's salary cap gives the Giants and Jets advantage over the other sports, saving themselves from themselves.
(Points: Yankees: 5; Mets: 4; Giants: 8; Jets: 8; Knicks: 3; Nets: 6; Rangers: 5; Islanders: 6; Devils 5)
History: Ok, here's where the Yankees make hay. Twenty-seven World Series victories, Hall of Famers galore and Babe Ruth? That makes them tops in this category. All of the longer-tenured teams have an advantage just for being around longer. The Giants score highly here, and the Rangers do as well, while the Knicks aren't too shabby in the history department. The Mets and Jets have a colorful if checkered five decades under their belts. The Islanders get extra credit for having a dynasty and winning four consecutive Stanley Cups. The Devils long sustained run of excellence does them proud (if we don't count the fact that the Yankees began in Baltimore against them then maybe we should overlook the Devils coming from Kansas City and Colorado as well). And then there are the Nets. Dr. J, Jason Kidd and two ABA Championships. Well, that's something.
(Points: Yankees: 10; Mets: 6; Giants: 8; Jets: 6; Knicks: 7; Nets: 3; Rangers: 8; Islanders: 5; Devils 5)
Ownership/Front-Office Competence: James Dolan owns your team? Sorry Knicks and Rangers, that's a big strike against you. Isiah Thomas once ran your team and filled it with guys like Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry? Strike two. One overpaid, underperforming free agent after another such as the likes of Wade Redden? Well, Glen Sather and the Rangers that's strike two for you, too. In cahoots with Bernie Madoff? Hired Steve Phillips? M. Donald Grant on board? Ok, Mets, no soup for you. Mike Milbury once ran your team? Enough said, Islanders. Had to sell your soul (ok, Dr. J) just to exist? Well, something's wrong then. George Steinbrenner presents a complicated conundrum, though. Yankee fans hated him. Yankee fans loved him. He was suspended from baseball twice along with being a convicted felon. His teams won seven championships. He was a bully who treated people poorly. He was a philanthropist. He'll have both points added and subtracted just for being George Steinbrenner. The Giants are the big winners here. Their ownership is nothing but class, and they consistently field a contender.
(Points: Yankees: 6; Mets: 3; Giants: 8; Jets: 5; Knicks: 5; Nets: 4; Rangers: 5; Islanders: 3; Devils 7)
Embarrassing Moments: The Mets are the kings here. From M. Donald Grant embarrassing Cleon Jones after the Florida van incident to Tony Bernazard to just about any Omar Minaya press conference to Fred Wilpon's latest foot-in-mouth escapade earlier this year, they have outdone all the other local teams. Knicks + Isiah Thomas = embarrassing. Rex Ryan's little foot fetish along with all his cringe-worthy predictions have lowered the point score for the Jets. Big Stein, Howard Spira, the Billy Martin firings and hirings, wife swapping, among other scandals haven't kept the Bombers from sabotaging themselves. We said it in the preceding paragraph, but will say it here, too: Mike Milbury once ran your team? Enough said, Islanders. The other teams have fared better. Sure, the Giants have had the odd Plaxico Burress shooting incident here and a coked-up Lawrence Taylor there, but their rosters have mainly been filled with class citizens and coaches. Has Tom Coughlin brought any embarrassment to the franchise? Who wouldn't want him as your next-door neighbor? He may glare at you if your lawn is a half inch too high, but he's rock solid in every other way.
(Points: Yankees: 4; Mets: 2; Giants: 8; Jets: 5; Knicks: 5; Nets: 5; Rangers: 7; Islanders: 5; Devils 7)
Heartbreak-O-Meter: This is not to be confused with constant losing (the Nets seem to come to mind here). And though it may seem like we're rewarding teams for coming up short or giving their fans a heart attack, these shortcomings do build a diehard fan base and lifelong loyalties, which weed out the fair-weather fan, and also make for a more colorful existence. The Jets have actually acquired a nickname based on this concept -- Same Old Jets -- not to mention games (the Mud Bowl) and plays (the Fake Spike) that have bore a hole in the memories of its rooters. The Mets stand next to the Jets in the heartbreak department, what with collapses, the 2006 NLCS and a Luis Castillo dropped pop-up. The early 1970s Rangers broke hearts year after year, with Jean Ratelle's broken ankle in 1972, finally knocking the Bruins out of the playoffs only to be upset by the Blackhawks the following year and running into a brick wall named Bernie Parent in '74 being examples.
(Points: Yankees: 1; Mets: 8; Giants: 5; Jets: 8; Knicks: 5; Nets: 3; Rangers: 6; Islanders: 3; Devils 3)
Likability: A team's fans should actually like the franchise they root for, shouldn't they? That seems obvious, but ask Knick fans if they like the 2007-'08 Knicks, and the answer is most likely a resounding ‘no.' How popular have the Mets been the last few years with Met fans? Don't like ownership, management or the players of your favorite team? Well, that counts against a franchise for these purposes. Of course, likability fluctuates over the decades. Who was more lovable than the Mets from 1962 to 1973? The Knicks have been loved, and they've been hated. The 1996 Yankees were not only liked by their own fan base but by many around the world of baseball as well. It's probably the last time that will ever happen. Ever. Indifference is even worse, though. To be hated is to be cared about. But it's better to be loved than loathed, of course.
(Points: Yankees: 6; Mets: 5; Giants: 7; Jets: 6; Knicks: 6; Nets: 4; Rangers: 6; Islanders: 4; Devils 6)
Winning: We, of course, have to include winning, since that's pretty much the point of playing the games, so we'll just add up the championships. But a couple of twists will be thrown in: Are they all from one era? That counts slightly against a team (sorry, Islanders). And conversely, did it take 85 years to win only four titles (sorry, Rangers). Do they consistently compete though not necessarily win championships? Number of titles: Yankees: 27; Giants: six; Rangers: four; Islanders: four; Devils: three; Knicks: two; Mets: two; Nets: two (ABA); Jets: one.
(Points: Yankees: 10; Mets: 4; Giants: 7; Jets: 3; Knicks: 5; Nets: 2; Rangers: 5; Islanders: 4; Devils 6)
Before we add up the scores, a few things surfaced in our technicians' analysis. Franchises lost many points if James Dolan, Isiah Thomas or Mike Milbury had a hand in running things. The Yankees' relative ease in winning, the way they've done it (spend, spend, spend), along with the lack of color or heartbreak handicapped them. The old saying, "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel" can probably be updated to "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Big Oil," after all. And the football salary cap gave a big boost to the two local football teams. But without further ado, here is the winner: The New York Giants, who captured 57 out of a possible 80 points. The runner-up was the Jets (48 points), followed by the Rangers (45), Yankees (43), Devils (43), Knicks and Mets (38), Islanders (37) and Nets (35).
Of course, the above point system is outrageously subjective, so now it's your turn. Vote for who you think is the perfect team to root for, not necessarily just your favorite.