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The Knicks recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first championship, which got me to thinking – and yes, this is what I think about while cracking open my ninth beer of the night: New York-area teams have a seven-decade championship streak on the line this year. For the last seven decades (and eight out of nine) a New York team has played in a championship game when the year ends in a zero. Sometimes they lost, sometimes they won, but they reached the final game or series. Coincidence? Yeah, but so what? Let’s look back anyway.

The year 2000 was a bonanza. The Yankees and Mets squared off in the World Series, the Devils won the Stanley Cup and the Giants made it to the Super Bowl but lost to Baltimore (the game was played in 2001 but it was the 2000 season). In 1990, the Giants beat Buffalo in the Super Bowl (wide right!). The Islanders won the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups in 1980. The Knicks, of course, won their first championship in 1970. The Yankees lost a heartbreaker to Bill Mazeroski and the Pirates in 1960. 1950 saw the Yanks defeat the Whiz Kid Phillies for their second of five Series wins in a row, and the Rangers were defeated by Detroit in the Stanley Cup. 1940? The Rangers won, of course, beating Toronto for their third Stanley Cup victory. The streak’s broken link is 1930. Native New Yorkers the Marx Brothers released Animal Crackers that year – does that count? The Brooklyn Dodgers (or Robins, as they were sometimes known as back then, when they temporarily changed their name in honor of their manager, Wilbert Robinson) lost to Cleveland in 1920. I don’t know what happened in 1910. None of the three local baseball teams reached the World Series, and the football, basketball and hockey teams didn’t exist yet. Maybe Theodore Roosevelt won a bear wrestling championship or Christy Mathewson was victorious in a design-the-most-creative-straw-hat-and-win-a-Victrola contest.

So who will keep the streak alive this year? I think we can count out the Nets, Knicks and Islanders, and the Rangers would be a real, real long shot (ok, a real, real, real long shot). The Yankees, of course, have to be the favorite. David Wright thinks the Mets can make it to the World Series. The Devils always have a shot (but maybe Martin Brodeur is too depressed after being benched in the Olympics). And the Jets and Giants may get there if things break right for them. But it’s almost a guarantee that one of our teams will make it, right? Well, after you drink nine beers, it will seem like a lock.

Here are the top stories in the world of New York sports this past week:

Close But No Cigar: The Friday snow storm and shovel-fest worked out so I could watch the U.S.-Finland game instead of going to work (after getting a foot and a half of snow, it was sunny out at my house on Friday afternoon – go figure), and the US of A gave those Finnish bastards a 6-1 stomping (they’re not really bastards but I don’t know enough about Finland to come up with a more fitting derogatory term). Canada won a thriller against Slovakia, setting up the gold medal game. I never thought I would root for Zach Parise, but when he scored that goal with 24 seconds left, there I was rooting for a Devil. It was shades of his father, Islander J.P. Parise, scoring the overtime goal that beat the Rangers in the first round of the 1975 playoffs. Why did Sidney Crosby of all people have to be the one to score the winning goal? Right after he put the puck in the net, he took a dive for old time’s sake and complained to the ref before celebrating with his teammates. It was fun while it lasted. And I guess it was all worth it just to listen to the sagacious ramblings of the always-insane William Shatner later that night. But why couldn’t he have sung “Rocket Man”? Now that would have been the perfect ending to the Winter Olympics.

Good News/Bad News: The good news: The Knicks destroyed Detroit on Wednesday, with four players scoring over 20 points (that hasn’t happened since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles – no wait, that was four 20-game winners on the same team; four 20-point scorers on the same team probably happened last week some time); the bad news: They were humiliated and embarrassed by Cleveland in the previous game. The good news: The Knicks beat Washington in overtime on Friday; the bad news: They followed that up with a loss to Memphis. The bad news: Tracy McGrady’s knees have been bothering him all week; the good news: The Knicks traded for his expiring contract, not his knees (and now he’s the point guard du jour). The good news: The Knicks won two out of four games this week; the bad news: Those are the only two games they’ve won in their last 12. The bad news: Eddy Curry is coming back; the good news: He can stand in the lane and distract the other team by having them stop and say, “Hey, I though you retired about 15 years ago.” The good news: Both Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh manned up and took the blame for the Knicks defenseless, pathetic play of late; the bad news: The Knicks stink.

Do You Believe in Miracles?! No, I’m not talking about Olympic hockey, but the Nets beating the Celtics in Boston on Saturday. That’s pretty much as miraculous as it gets. Kevin Garnett wasn’t feeling so good about the loss: “I got nothing to say. I feel disgusted.” But the Nets still couldn’t manage to come up with their first winning streak of the year, when they blew a lead to Washington on Sunday. But they’ve won games two weeks in a row, now. That’s a miracle for them. In their last game of the week, they were blown out by Cleveland. So the Cavs beat the two local teams by a combined 50 points.

Dr. HGH: It’s probably much ado about nothing (though we shouldn’t believe anything players say these days, should we?), but the FBI recently questioned Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran and want to speak to Alex Rodriguez. They all have tenuous ties to Dr. Tony Galea, who is under investigation for conspiring to smuggle HGH into the U.S. from Canada. Reyes used the doctor’s shaken-not-stirred blood-spinning procedure last year, when he was trying to put his hamstring back together. At least Beltran answered all their questions without pulling a Sammy Sosa – “No inglés, señor.” No word on A-Rod’s link to the good doctor, but he’s already a steroid cheat as it is, so the damage is already done for him. Every day a new name comes out. Who’s next? Horace Clarke? Bill Sudakis? On the field, Reyes took the first pitch he saw this spring in game action and hammered it down the line for a two-run triple. And Jon Niese threw two innings without falling down while writhing in pain, so that’s some good news for the Mets so far this spring. Of course, the Mets were just playing against themselves. But the next day, they beat a real live actual team (the Braves), for their first win of the grapefruit league season, with talk-of-the-camp Ike Davis belting two doubles. Yesterday he smashed a grand slam in the Mets’ win over the Cards, and the team picked up reliever Kiki Calero to help with the bullpen depth. As for the Yankees, Joe Girardi took his players on an arcade outing to do some team bonding, loosen the guys up and take a break from those grueling three-hour days spent lounging around in perfectly ideal sunny weather. Two months of negotiations preceded the trip, as the Players’ Union haggled with the Yankees over who would supply the quarters. A.J. Burnett won the Indy Car racing competition, Andrew Brackman was the Skee-Ball champion and Royce Ring won the Pop-A-Shot event. Andy Pettitte and A-Rod were barred from taking part in the games because they failed a drug test. The Yankees won their first spring training game, too, but they win every game, don’t they? And oh yeah, Nick Johnson‘s already injured.

They’re Back: Well, most of the Rangers are. Marian Gaborik came down with a lower body injury that somehow involved back bacon in Vancouver and is out indefinitely. I kind of enjoyed the break. How many times can you write that the Rangers don’t have a lot of talent, can’t score, don’t consistently play hard and their GM stinks? But they did come storming out of the gate with a 4-1 win over Ottawa, which was their third victory in a row. But on Friday, they lost to Pittsburgh in overtime despite Henrik Lundqvist‘s heroic performance. Though he let in five goals, he made 50 saves (50!) and was the best player on the ice. The Islanders put poor Rick DiPietro back on the all-too-familiar injured reserve list, soundly beat Chicago, 5-3, and then got hammered last night by Atlanta, 6-3. And the Devils also won their first game back, beating San Jose, 4-3, but Brodeur let in three quick goals as fast as you can say the words “Roberto Luongo.”

Trade Deadline: The Rangers picked up peripatetic backup goalie Alex Auld off waivers last week, and the local teams only made minor trades leading up to the deadline: The Islanders sent Greg Moore to Columbus for Dylan Reese, and Andy Sutton was shipped off to Ottawa for a second-round draft pick; the Devils picked up Martin Skoula from Toronto for a fifth-round pick; and the Rangers traded minor leaguer Jordan Owens to Detroit for Kris Newbury and sent Miika Wiikman (and a 2011 seventh-round pick) to Phoenix for Anders Eriksson. The big deals were made a few weeks ago – for Ilya Kovalchuk and Olli Jokinen. The Blueshirts probably should have been sellers, but at least they didn’t do anything stupid.

What Have You Done For Us Lately (A Lot, Actually): The Jets are all set to release Thomas Jones today. He rushed for a career-high 1,402 yards and scored a personal best 14 touchdowns last season. The team is taking a gamble by dispatching the veteran leader. He may have been injured at the end of the season, but so were Shonn Greene and Leon Washington (his future is up in the air, too). “It’s not you, it’s us,” stated the Jets to Jones. But now they may be having second thoughts, as they’re contemplating releasing and then re-signing the popular running back. Lito Sheppard is gone, though. “It’s you, not us,” they told him. And in late-breaking news, the Jets traded a 2011 draft pick for Antonio Cromartie.

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