Welcome to the New Year, New York! Who are we booing this year?
As we begin the new calendar year, our teams are all in different states of competitiveness.
The Giants and Jets… aren’t competitive. The Nets and Knicks could be championship contenders. The Mets went all-in before the lockout; the Yankees haven’t spent yet. And the NHL is such a mess we don’t know what to make of our three teams’ chances.
But what we do know is there are some individuals in this city that have a bullseye on them from the fans and media alike. This is a prove it town, and there are some guys who need to prove it to us.
So who needs a redemption? Who needs to step up? And who needs to show us something new in ’22?
Francisco Lindor — Mets
Mr. Smile came to New York in a blockbuster trade and then signed the richest contract ever for an infielder. Then, he embarked on the most underwhelming season of his major league career. And the Mets even traded for one of his best friends to help!
With the new additions to the Mets’ roster, a new general manager and Buck Showalter installed as the new manager, the Mets are in go-for-broke mode in 2022. It’s time for Lindor to show he’s worth $341 million.
Brian Cashman — Yankees
The last time the Yankees were in the World Series was 2009. Since then, the Red Sox have appeared in two Series and the Tampa Bay Rays have represented the American League in one.
With the Mets spending money like drunk sailors and the rest of the AL East getting better around them, the Yankees are in a tough spot. They have a lot of money committed to their core. And the Yankees don’t play for a wild card appearance. Every year is World Series or bust in the Bronx.
Cashman had a bad offseason 12 months ago. And he hasn’t done a thing to improve his club yet (lockout pending). Our eyes will be on Cashman when baseball returns.
Kaapo Kakko — Rangers
Kakko, who turns 21 on Feb. 13, is in the final year of his entry-level contract. He’ll be a restricted free agent when this season comes to an end. After being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, hopes were sky high for Kakko.
While he hasn’t had a “regular” season in his NHL career because of the pandemic, we need to see more from a player we hoped would become a dominant power forward if he’s going to get a top-tier contract from the Rangers (who don’t have cap space to play with because of other deals).
Barry Trotz — Islanders
First, let’s be clear: Trotz is a Hall of Fame head coach. His track record speaks for itself.
However, this season has been a disaster for the Islanders, who came in with legit Stanley Cup hopes. There have been a lot of factors that have played into their pathetic start to the season — injuries, COVID, starting the season with the longest road trip in franchise history, etc — but there comes a time when something has to give. We believe in Trotz, but we need to see more from his roster if they want to even sniff the playoffs.
John Mara — Giants
Are we okay with the Giants picking in the top 10 again? Are we comfortable with the front office and coaching mix of this team? What is our confidence that Daniel Jones is the franchise’s quarterback moving forward?
The time has come for John Mara, the president of the Giants, to make some tough decisions. Our eyes are going to be squarely on the top level of the organization to give us confidence there is something to be excited about in the future for the G-Men.
Kyrie Irving — Nets
Maybe no player in the NBA has more pressure on him to perform at a high level in the new year than Irving, who stayed home to make a point for the first two months of the season.
There’s no question the Eastern Conference got better. The Bulls, Heat, Knicks and Bucks are all hanging around and have, at times, looked like world beaters. The Nets have their hands full to get out of the East this season, and need Kyrie to be… Kyrie.
He’s coming back in a way — no home games — and at a time when there will be eyes on him from every perspective and political angle. If he struggles, the boos are going to be especially loud. If he dominates, the cheers will be just as loud.