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Big Apple Heroes: New York's Most Loved Athletes

Travis Rand@@TMoney108Correspondent IApril 18, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 17:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees hits a home run in the eighth inning of their game to give them a 6-5 lead over the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Recently, Mike Kent put together a nice article on what he believed to be the top 10 fan-favorites in the state of New York.

I was lucky enough to spend the first three years of my life in New York and, while I cannot remember many athletes (or remember anything in general), I thought I should give this list a shot of my own.

I hope you enjoy the following, and don't forget to check out Mike's either for a second opinion!

10. Leon Washington, Running Back for the New York Jets

Sometimes called the Sparkplug of the Jets, Leon Washington is one of the few players in the NFL who is an invaluable asset to his team but somehow unknown in other parts of the country.

Washington gives the Jets an added running threat and also is one of the best return men in the game today. Hopefully Leon can see more touches this year, which should please fans of the J-E-T-S, considering he is even more liked than starting NY back, Thomas Jones.

9. Henrik Lundgvist, Goaltender for the New York Rangers

One of the best young goalies in the NHL today, Henrik has been nothing short of great. He has accomplished many things in his short career thus far, including the All-Rookie team, an All-Star game, and he is also the first goalie in NHL history to win 30 or more games in his first four seasons.

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After signing a recent six year contract making him the highest paid goalie in the NHL, I know all New York hockey fans are looking forward to his time in front of the net.

8. Johan Santana, Starting Pitcher for the New York Mets

Arguably the best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball, and quite possibly the best the NL has to offer, Johan has been a tremendous asset to the Mets. Santana quickly learned last season that he would have to go deep into games due to the lack of bullpen help, something he did many times.

During the playoff hunt towards the end of the season, Santana even elected to pitch on only three days rest, something very uncommon for such an ace. Santana looks to use the revamped pen and high powered offense to lead the Mets to the playoffs, and hopefully the World Series.

7. Mariano Rivera, Closer for the New York Yankees

Mariano has held the hearts of all New Yorkers since his early days. As he nears the end of his long and storied career, many Yankee fans have their favorite Sandman memory.

Being the last member of the MLB wearing the number 42, the number will disappear from baseball forever very shortly, and Yankee fans treasure the moment every time Mo touches the mound. 

6. Eli Manning, Quarterback for the New York Giants

Having the quarterbacking position in New York poses two "giant" problems. The first being the stadium. It has oft been reported that there can often be winds going in two different directions depending on where you are seated, making it an obvious problems for all quarterbacks alike.

The second problem? Us. The media. Anyone who decides that the young Manning isn't good enough. Eli made a strong case for himself however in 2007, taking down the mighty (and undefeated Patriots) in Super Bowl XLII.

5. Jorge Posada, Catcher for the New York Yankees

Somewhat of a dark horse on the list, Posada has poured his heart and soul into the Yankees organization for 15 years. Many things about Posada fly under the radar however, things like being the Valedictorian of his college class, being one of only two Yankees catchers (Yogi Berra) to hit 30 home runs in a Yankees uniform.

Posada carries numbers that could get him into the Hall of Fame. He has caught one perfect game, won four World Series rings, five all-star selections, and also brought home four Silver Slugger awards. The shining spot on his life however may be the Jorge Posada Foundation, which gives money to families whose children have craniosynostosis.

4. Nate Robinson, Point Guard for the New York Knicks

Being 5'9'' poses some problems in life. You probably won't be on the floor for too many concerts, and you don't want cabinets in the kitchen that are too high. Jumping over guys that are 6' 11''? No not really a problem there.

Robinson recently won his second ever Slam Dunk competition and has averaged over 18 points per game this past season, and that was even coming off the bench! He has been a favorite of new head coach Mike D'Antoni and his run n' gun offense. Hopefully KryptoNATE will be around for years to come.

3. Jose Reyes, Shortstop for the New York Mets

Jose Reyes is not only one of the most beloved New York Mets players in recent history, he may be one of the most loved in all of baseball. Reyes won fans over early with his lightning speed, and revered dedication to the game.

Reyes has already led the NL in triples and steals three times, and been selected to two all-star games. Jose is known for doing everything in quite a thrilling fashion. After collecting the all-time lead for Mets stolen bases, he proceeded to steal third on the following pitch, and then scored the go-ahead run on a base hit by this man...

2. David Wright, Third Basemen for the New York Mets

With all the things that Wright has done for the Mets, including 120+ home runs by the time he was 26 years old, and also sniping over 90 bases, none could be better than his catch against the San Diego Padres on August 9th, 2005.

At PETCO park, Brian Giles hit a bloop single over Wright's head. Looking up and running towards left field, David kept his eye on the ball the whole way down, snatching it before crashing to the turf...barehanded.

1. Derek Jeter, Shortstop for the New York Yankees

Even a Yankees fan like myself is quite aware that Jeter's wonder years are behind him, but he still holds the key to New York City. Jeter is the epitome of what it means to be a New York Yankee. An attractive guy, tremendous player, and always a classy guy.

Jeter has done it all on the field as well. He will soon eclipse 3,000 hits, has already batted in 1,000 runs, and has wracked up a career average of .316. Jeter was taken out in the ninth inning of the final game at Yankee Stadium and given a standing ovation and curtain call that lasted around five minutes.

Returning to the mound with his teammates surrounding him, Derek gave a farewell speech, something he later said he spent 'little to no time preparing". Derek Jeter will always be a Yankee, and will one day become a pinstripe legend...

Who am I kidding? He already is one.

Honorable Mentions

Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants
Andy Petitte, SP, New York Yankees
Scott Gomez, C, New York Rangers

Your thoughts?

It doesn't take a genius to know that almost no New York fan will have the exact same list, and I hope you leave a comment with who you think should've made the list that didn't.

Also, be sure to check out the article that inspired this one, done by a fantastic Bleacher Reporter, Mike Kent.

Mike Kent's: Top 10 New York Fan Favorites


Written by and Created by Travis Rand, NYG Community Leader

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