Why the New York Giants Are the Big Apple's Top Team
Make no mistake about it. It's happening.
Drowned out in a bleary hue of bright lights and yellow cabs is the turning of the tide in New York sports.
Admittedly, it's baseball season, and the Yankees are firmly entrenched in another pennant race. And although five months removed from their Super Bowl victory, the New York Giants are still the town's most enticing team.
For decades, the Big Apple has been the Yanks' territory. Lassoed in from the get-go by the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the Bronx Bombers have had a perpetual stranglehold on New York, burrowing into the city's culture and becoming almost synonymous with Times Square and the Statue of Liberty.
The most winningest franchise in all of professional sports, the Yankees have never had any real competition in New York. The steely Mets of the late 80s, the electrifying Rangers and Knicks of the mid 90s, and even "Broadway Joe" Namath and the Jets have enjoyed time in the local limelight.
Regardless, "the city that never sleeps" always seems to be painted in pinstripes before showing any secondary allegiance.
As the 2012 NFL season rolls around the corner, the Big Apple sports scene stands to be shaken up.
Big Blue emerges as the city's top team by embodying everything New York: a strange melange of prestige, charm and gall. The Giants' high-flying offense and vibrant media personalities make them a hot ticket.
True, the Yankees' star-studded line-up is just as much of a draw, but in today's media milieu, a reserved Curtis Granderson and an aging Derek Jeter give way to a salsa-dancing Victor Cruz and a loud-mouthed Osi Umenyiora.
The vitriol splayed across the Dolan-era Knicks and the Rex Ryan-era Jets knocks them out of the running, while the Rangers and Islanders are mired in a sport that lacks household appeal.
Frame of reference and perspective are lost practices in the world of sports. Today, fans are all about the immediate present and the empowerment of the incumbency.
Record books and history don't quite fit in a 140-character era.
What matters to many sports fans, ultimately, is the "now." The Giants have won two Super Bowls in four years, while the Yankees' last two rings came in '09 and 2000. The Jets, Mets, Islanders and Rangers, meanwhile, have yet to claim a championship in the 21st century.
Moreover, it's not just the rings that count, but how they were won.
In trans-sport arguments, comparing the means of victory is impossible, but there's no denying an ostensible chasm between the cultures of the Giants and the Yankees.
The Giants' improbable playoff runs and underdog upsets are easier sells than the Yankees' colossal payrolls and matter-of-fact way of winning.
It's natural to back the sheepish Eli Manning as he hoists the Lombardi Trophy. But with the Bombers, there's a sort of "expectedness" that hawks the team. The Yanks are "expected"--fairly or not--to bring home a World Series every year.
Subsequently, fans are left disappointed, or at best, with a sense of tepid satisfaction.
Manning's sideline pass to receiver Mario Manningham and wideout David Tyree's "helmet catch" are ensconced in the crevices of New York sports history. Both plays are infinitely more memorable and celebrated than any play from the Yankees' recent World Series wins.
Perhaps the most definitive case for the Giants as the talk of the town is a simple reminder of what sport they play. Professional football is an unparalleled entertainment outlet, and the waning popularity of baseball puts the Yankees on fewer front pages and in fewer water cooler conversations.
Like baseball, hockey and basketball are not nearly as viewed or closely followed as the NFL. The G-Men benefit immensely from playing in the nation's top league.
The Bottom Line
As the Giants gear up for another season on the gridiron, they continue to claw at the Yankees' legacy in New York. Maybe it's a product of a new era; maybe it's a product of more wins and ticker-tape parades.
Regardless of what it is, the Giants hold the keys to the city. With Manning under center, Tom Coughlin on the sidelines and the NFL thriving, they might have them for a while.
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