The Lost Decade of New York Sports

Replace “Being Irish” with “Being a New York sports fan,” and there you have it for him, her, them and us.

But WHY, the New York fan wails.

It’s not for lack of spending. By most measures, New York sports franchises are often near or at the front of the pack in team payrolls. Which reminds us to give a shout-out to Bobby Bonilla, the long-retired outfielder who played for the Mets last century, yet every July through 2035 will receive a check from the Mets for $1.19 million. Honor is due.

The sustained sports failure of this superlative-obsessed metropolis is due to a toxic combination of better opponents, questionable coaching and front-office mismanagement. Add in a few owners who earned their vaunted positions in life through the hard work of having been born, and whose behavior sometimes distracts from their teams’ often frustrating performances.

There is, for example, Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer of the Mets and a son of Fred, a real estate developer and the team’s majority owner. A few years ago Jeff was accused of repeatedly humiliating a senior vice president in the Mets organization for the audacity of becoming pregnant while not married; she was later fired.

Though the matter was settled out of court, the former employee still threw some sassy shade in her lawsuit, claiming that she had done well in her job despite “extraordinary challenges,” including the organization’s repeated public-relations blunders and failure to “field a winning team in six years.”

But Wilpon is no match for James Dolan, the son of the founder of Cablevision who, as chairman of Madison Square Garden, has been responsible for the Knicks, the Rangers and, until January, the Liberty — therefore owning a disproportionate share of New York’s sports-related misery. He also fronts a band that has opened for various A-list acts, including the Eagles, at places like the Garden. (Some have suggested that his appearances at these coveted venues are directly connected to his day job as a billionaire with enormous sway in the entertainment business. People can be so cruel.)