Magic is in the air for the New York Knicks, Oakland A's and Vegas Golden Knights
By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
Few things in American sports get the emotions bubbling quite like a sustained winning streak.
Whenever one happens — and especially when it continues thanks to some unforeseen confluence of events — we lose our collective minds a little, wondering whether magic is in the air or if something is written in the stars, daring to dream about how long it can persist.
Yet not all winning streaks are created equal, as evidenced by three significant ones that carried into this weekend.
The New York Knicks have won nine straight in the NBA, the Oakland Athletics have struck upon a 12-game run in Major League Baseball, and the Vegas Golden Knights are holders of eight consecutive NHL triumphs.
It is always dangerous to write about winning streaks, given that they must eventually come to an end, and when they do, the author risks being blamed for enacting the curse that curtailed things. Oh, well.
"It’s like the Bay Area wind," outfielder Ramon Laureano told reporters. "It just smells like you’re going to win."
If you think that’s a bit melodramatic, you didn’t see the closing moments of Wednesday’s 13-12 nail-biter, in which a 10th inning rally that featured two Twins errors on potential game-clinching plays was capped off when Luis Arraez threw away Laureano’s grounder.
The reaction to the Oakland fun has been twofold, spawning both bewilderment and nostalgia. The surprise factor is because just a couple of weeks ago, the only thing the A’s looked primed to do consistently was lose.
After being outplayed in the first six games of the season, Oakland was predicted to finish at the bottom of the AL West — until a wild turnaround that has brought the throwback part into play, conjuring memories of moneyball and the charmed 20 wins in a row from the 2002 campaign.
No team that started a season 0-6 had ever embarked upon an 11-game winning stretch, yet somehow, the A’s accomplished that before the end of the opening month.
"At first, I was just hoping we’d get a win," Scott Hatteberg, home run hero of the "Moneyball" movie and now A’s special assistant to baseball operations, told The Athletic. "Now, all of a sudden, we can’t lose."
Wins congregated together are, truthfully, far more interesting when they are unexpected and maybe most interesting of all when they’re being reenacted by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Knicks fans haven’t experienced sustained victory for a long, long time, gritting their teeth through years as one of the worst teams in the league. Movie material? One day, perhaps, and if so, you know Spike Lee is directing.
Yet here the Knicks are, surging behind the excellence of Julius Randle, who is getting better and better before our eyes and leading this charge. What a charge it is: into the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, closing in on a playoff position for the first time since 2013, complete with a level of defensive spark that could work well in the postseason.
The Knicks' surge is about more than numbers. It has brought some joy back to the franchise and opens the prospect of a thrilling time in Big Apple hoops, with the Brooklyn Nets — despite all their injuries — favorites to win the title. The Knicks, even with their current form, are +15000 to win it all, according to FOX Bet.
"It is hard to imagine a time when we needed this more, frankly, this flabbergasting, dumbfounding, out-of-the-[orange-and]-blue surprise of a Knicks season," New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro wrote.
"Let’s remember what these last few years have been like around here, an endless morass of underachievement and underperformance, summer to winter, fall to spring, one sporting calamity after another, an endless loop of failure, of frustration, of futility."
Then there are winning streaks that are a bit more of a slow burn. Eight wins were enough to light up New York, but in Vegas that's only enough for a growing rumble. The Golden Knights have won consistently since their foundation season in 2017-18, which saw them reach the Stanley Cup Final.
The Golden Knights have big aspirations this season – they are +650 with FOX Bet to win it all – and currently, the ongoing scrap with the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the West Division takes precedence over Saturday’s chance to set a franchise consecutive win record.
"I like how we’re playing recently," Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said. "We haven’t played Colorado, though. That puts a different type of pressure on you. But this is a hard league to win in, regardless of who you are playing."
The opportunity to play the Avalanche comes Wednesday, and it is safe to say that if the streak continues to the point that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ all-time mark of 17 wins comes into view, there might be a more frenzied reaction.
Because winning doesn’t get boring. No matter how much a team or a player has already won, no matter how expected the latest success was, no matter how established the dominance has become, it's not boring. Not for those involved in securing victory. Not ever.
It is special. At times, it can be exhilarating. It allows the fans to dream.
It also can’t last forever, no matter how much they wish it cold. But right now, especially in Oakland and New York, that doesn’t matter.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.