Sammywestside’s Favorite NY Athletes of All-Time

Let me start off by saying it’s going to be very difficult for me to explain why I like each person, but its mostly because I like them as an individual (their personality) as well as the way they play, but that is not always the case as you will see.

Honorable Mention:  

15. Hendrik Lundquivst

14. David Lee

13. Eli Manning

12. Paul O’Neill

11. Mark Meissier

10. Allan Houston- Allan had one of the sweetest strokes in the NBA and was so easy to like as a Knick. He had so many moments where he would shine, but none more so then he floater to beat the Heat in Miami. Today Houston is the assistant GM of the Knicks and is rumored to be next in line as the GM. He is a guy who loved New York so much that he’s sticking around to help make the Knicks great again.

9. Marcus Hatten- Marcus was a big part of my St. John’s memories and was instrumental in helping St. John’s to an NIT championship and upset of Duke in 2003. While he only played two seasons with the Red Storm, Hatten was a “do-it-all” guy that made you wonder why he went to Community College in Tallahassee before joining the Red Storm. He averaged over 20 points per game in each season, and had 5 assists and boards per game. He was an excellent defender as well and had a ton of steals. Hatten was also a likeable guy- with a smile on his face and the grit to carry a team on his back for two seasons.

 8. Robinson Cano- Whenever the Yankees acquire a new player, or someone comes up from the minors there is always a moment when I decide if I really like them. Robbie immediately became a favorite of mine and I wanted him to succeed from the first day he started at 2B. For some reason some people think he doesn’t try sometimes, or has a pompous attitude or something, well it’s just absurd. He is always out there trying his hardest and plays the game having fun and looking smooth at everything he does. Robbie was obviously talented from the day he joined the team and has become an excellent ballplayer since.

7. Patrick Ewing- As much as any other team, the Knicks gave me some of the most amazing sports moments of my childhood. At the center of it all was Patrick Ewing. He was a Knick from the time he was drafted till the time he retired. Patrick was a true center, and a dying trade in today’s guard dominated NBA. I’ll always feel bad for him not getting a championship in two tries, but the sweatiest human being on the planet was a great teammate and made everyone around him better.

6. Tino Martinez- Talk about nice guys, this is one of the best. Tino was a true player of the game that always played it right. He had a beautiful swing and the sweetest glove at first base. It’s hard for me to explain why I loved Tino, but he simply was my kind of guy. He was very humble and had a flare for the dramatic. When he arrived in New York people hated him because he had to replace Don Mattingly, but he quickly won over their hearts. Tino even kept the memories churning when he hit a home run during Old Timers Day this past month. My favorite Tino moment was when he came back to Yankee Stadium for the first time with the Cardinals. He got one of the best cheers of all-time at Yankee Stadium. Plus, when he hit a home run later in the game, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Oh and some guy named Roger Clemens won his 300th game that night.

5. Bernie Williams- Bernie and Tino are grouped together really and it’s hard to choose one guy I liked more. I picked Bernie because he was my first favorite athlete. As a young kid watching the Yankees, I grew to love Bernie quickly and he’s always been a favorite of mine since. Bernie has had so many amazing moments, but the true love for him shined when he returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time in years after his retirement on the night of the last game. The ovation he received speaks wonders for how much he was loved.

4. Joe Torre- A technicality for this list, Torre fits in an odd way. He’s a native to New York of course, played in New York before my lifetime, and of course managed the Yankees throughout most of my life (that I can remember). Joe was the best. He had a knack for managing that was very unusual for baseball. He was uncontroversial and had a clubhouse that was relaxed, focused and most of all full of winners. Torre has yet to get his due as one of the greatest managers of all time, and I’m dying to see the number 6 out in Monument Park.

3. Derek Jeter- I might get grief for putting Jeter here because its so stereotypical, and the odd thing is I’ve never answered the question who is your favorite Yankee with Derek’s name. One reason is to avoid being the same as everyone else who loves him, but when I truly think about it there is only one guy that fits more perfectly into what I love in a ballplayer. Jeter conducts himself in a way that is truly amazing for a celebrity or athlete of his stature. Not only does he never say anything wrong, but he is humble and a genuinely nice person. I’ve met tons of people who have met him and they all say they are amazed at how nice he is, even in situations where he would want to be left alone. Derek is how every athlete should conduct themselves, and yeah he’s a pretty good player too.

2. Michael Strahan- If there is one guy that defines my lifetime as a Giant fan, it’s Michael. If there is one guy I cared about more when the Giants pulled off their upset of the Patriots, it was Michael. Strahan was the face of the Giants for over a decade and so fittingly finished his career with its brightest moment. I love to watch defensive linemen who dominate, and Strahan taught me to love that. He was a machine and a beast of the field. Plus his electric personality made listening to him so enjoyable. He is a loud guy, but never says mean things. He’s a joker and caring teammate. Best of all today, he shows his Giants pride on National TV every Sunday on FOX.

1. Mariano Rivera- When I came up with this list I wasn’t entirely sure of who would end up on top, but this makes so much sense. There is no one person I’ve appreciated watching more than Mariano Rivera. He is truly an amazing ballplayer who has dominated throughout much of my life. The fact that he’s thrown one pitch his entire career is mindboggling. No one else has ever done that, let alone dominated while doing so. Then you must realize how good he truly is – Mariano is the best closer of all time and he’s the best reliever of all time. In a day in age where many young closers come and go, he has remained steadfast closing out games as good as everyone else even well into his 40’s now. The best part about Mariano is the way he’s always conducted himself as a ballplayer. He is one of the most genuinely nice people to ever play the game, and he’s always trying to help his fellow teammates in anyway. Mariano’s career is defined by being not only so good, but so unhittable when it matters. His 0.76 career ERA in the playoffs is amazing. His only blemish came in the 2001 World Series, but it wasn’t his pitching that lost the game, but in fact his fielding (which everyone knows is so good). Mariano has been said to be one of the best athletes in baseball for years, with great speed and agility for a pitcher. The majority of hits that he gives up are so cheap, bloops or dribblers on broken bats that somehow find a way to fall in. He rarely looks like he loses his pinpoint control and never remembers the game before. In fact above it all, I think there is an argument he is the greatest pitcher ever to play the game.

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