Tracking the Historical Success of New York Sports Teams

There seem to be many stereotypes that exist in New York sports.  For example, the Yankees always seem to be better than the Mets.  Plus, aren’t the Jets always the Giants little brother?  Well, I have decided to see which New York sports teams were more successful each year in all of the “Big Four” leagues, dating back to 1980.  This will include the Devils and Nets, as they are part of the New York Metro area.  For the NFL, the year will be when the season started.  For the NHL and NBA, it will be the year the season ended.  The team with the better record is nearly always the team that I choose on the graph.  The one exception is if the team with the worse regular season record does better in the playoffs.  Without further ado, let’s look at the historical success of New York sports teams.

The Big Graph
Year NFL Team MLB Team NHL Team NBA Team
2017 Jets Yankees Rangers Knicks
2016 Giants Mets Rangers Knicks
2015 Jets Mets Rangers Nets
2014 Giants Yankees Rangers Nets
2013 Jets Yankees Rangers Knicks
2012 Giants Yankees Devils Knicks
2011 Giants Yankees Rangers Knicks
2010 Jets Yankees Devils Knicks
2009 Jets Yankees Devils Nets
2008 Giants -Tie- Rangers Nets
2007 Giants Yankees Devils Nets
2006 Jets Mets Devils Nets
2005 Giants Yankees -Lockout- Nets
2004 Jets Yankees Devils Nets
2003 Jets Yankees Devils Nets
2002 Jets Yankees Islanders Nets
2001 Jets Yankees Devils Knicks
2000 Giants Yankees Devils Knicks
1999 Jets Yankees Devils Knicks
1998 Jets Yankees Devils Knicks
1997 Giants Yankees Rangers Knicks
1996 Giants Yankees Rangers Knicks
1995 Giants Yankees Devils Knicks
1994 Giants Yankees Rangers Knicks
1993 Giants Yankees Islanders Knicks
1992 Giants Mets Rangers Knicks
1991 Jets Mets Rangers Knicks
1990 Giants Mets Rangers Knicks
1989 Giants Mets Rangers Knicks
1988 Giants Mets Devils Knicks
1987 -Tie- Mets Islanders -Tie-
1986 Giants Mets Rangers Nets
1985 Giants Mets* Islanders Nets
1984 Giants Mets Islanders Knicks
1983 Jets Yankees Islanders Knicks
1982 Jets Yankees Islanders Nets
1981 Giants Yankees Islanders Knicks
1980 -Tie- Yankees Islanders Knicks
Totals Giants: 21

Jets: 15

Ties: 2

Yankees: 25

Mets: 12

Ties: 1

Rangers: 15

Devils: 13

Islanders: 9

Knicks: 24

Nets: 13

Ties: 1

Longest Streaks Giants: 6

Jets: 4

Yankees: 13

Mets: 9

Islanders: 6

Rangers: 5

Devils: 4

Knicks: 14

Nets: 8

*The Mets finished 98-64 that year, and the Yankees finished 97-64 because they played one less game.  So it’s kind of a tie, kind of not a tie.

Giants vs. Jets

So the Giants had a better season than the Jets 21 times, vs. the Jets 15 times.  That should serve as no surprise.  However, since the 2000 season, it’s been the Jets 10 times vs. the Giants 8 times.  I’m sure no one thought the Jets would be better than the Giants last season, but here we are.  Additionally, from 1998 to 2004 the Jets had the better team all but one time.  The Giants 4 Super Bowl trophies in this time and their total dominance in the mid 80s through mid 90s tells you which team is more historically successful, however.

Mets vs. Yankees

From 1993 to 2014, the Mets were better than the Yankees… once.  During that time, the Yankees won 5 World Series championships.  The Mets made one World Series in that timespan and lost to, you guessed it, the Yankees.  As a Mets fan, that pretty much says it all about the Yankees historic ownership of the Big Apple.  However, the Mets did have a “glory age” from 1984 to 1992, where they were better than the Yankees in all of those seasons, and even won a World Series trophy in 1986.  The exciting young pitching core of the Mets made them better in ’15 and ’16, but the Yankees regained New York supremacy in 2017 after Aaron Judge’s insane rookie season.  The Mets laundry list of injuries didn’t help either.  Overall, this graph shows something we all knew, the Yankees are historically the far superior New York baseball team.

Image result for mets yankeesThe Subway Series should be interesting in 2018, with the Yankees and Mets both in title contention (that is, if the Mets can stay healthy).

Rangers vs. Devils vs. Islanders

The Islanders dynasty of the early 80s is the reason they have any real traction on this list at all.  From 1980-87, the Islanders were the best team 7 out of 8 times.  From 1988 to 2017, they were the best team 2 out of 30 times.  Considering there is only 2 other teams the Isles have to compete with for “Best team in New York”, that is truly historical ineptitude over the last 3 decades.  The Rangers have enjoyed a nice stretch recently, and were also the dominant New York team in the early 90s (where they won a Stanley Cup in 1994).  However, their recent decision to “blow it up” at the NHL trade deadline could mean the Devils retaking the role of the best hockey team in NY/NJ.  New Jersey dominated in the late 90s to early 00s, where they would win 3 Stanley Cups.

Knicks vs. Nets

Over these last 38 years, neither New York basketball team has won an NBA Championship.  They both have gone on dominant stretches over the other team, however.  From 2002-09, the Nets were superior, as that streak comprised the majority of the Jason Kidd era.  From 1988-2001, however, it was the Knicks that were superior.  That can be attributed to Patrick Ewing, and the fact that the Nets are a historically inept franchise.  Basketball in New York these days is particularly a joke, as the Knicks and Nets combined have less wins than the powerhouse Warriors so far this season.  In 2010, 2016, and 2017 the Knicks were better than the Nets despite losing 50+ games.

Final Notes

The Jets, Mets, and Islanders being the best team all in the same year hasn’t happened once in this entire 38-year span.  The Giants and Yankees being the better team in the same year has occurred 12 times.  For the Jets and Mets, that has happened 3 times.  From 1995-2012, the Devils were the best team 12 times.  For every other season, they were the best team once (though it looks like they’ll be the best team this season).


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