Umpire Carl Paganelli handles one of the game balls in the 2014 AFC Championship GameGetty Images

We may not be very good, but at least our balls are fully inflated.

There is no denying that 2014 wasn't a very good year for sports in the tristate area. The Knicks are simply horrid and are borderline unwatchable. The Giants and Jets missed out on the playoffs again and there was no postseason baseball for the Yankees or the Mets. The Nets are a mess on and off the court and outside of the success found on the ice by the Rangers and the Islanders, area sports fans are being frozen out from cheering for the early part of this year.

Yet as the losses continue to mount, at least our teams lose with dignity. That's a far cry from the cheating in the North.

What the recent Deflategate shows is that the road to success is often tainted with a dubious shortcut or two. Whether the Patriots willfully engaged in the deflating of their gameday balls in order to gain a competitive advantage is one thing, but it is the latest black-eye for an organization that has been as close to dominant this century as any in the four major sports leagues. Now, perhaps, we begin to see how and why those great Pats teams got that way.


But to build a dynasty this way, on the foundation of Spygate and Deflategate – well, we'd much rather lose like the Knicks than win like the Patriots.

With three Super Bowl wins since 2001, the Patriots seemed to be that team built the right way. They drafted well, the story of late-round pick Tom Brady evidence of their scouting department's acumen. The roster was augmented with savvy free agents and win after win rolled in under the watchful, hoodied eye of their curmudgeon of a head coach. This team was built for sustainable success and this year, they seemed ready for a run at their first Vince Lombardi Trophy since 2004.

Then the wheels came off the lead car in their championship parade. The air let out of their tires. How ironic. It's easy to see how they got here and how they wanted to continue down 'Patriots Way.'

Winning can be all consuming, the type of emotion that draws together not just 53 players in a locker room but an entire city. A trip up to any part of New England reveals just how much that entire area loves their Patriots. That love, that God-like adulation can be addictive. It can lead to illegal filming of the other team or quietly deflating gameday balls for an advantage. And there might be other similar revelations to come over the next weeks and months.

All in the name of another win. All to grab another trophy, even if it is tarnished.

What the Patriots have done since 2001 is win a lot of game. They have six conference championships and 12 playoff appearances in that stretch. That's more success than any New York area team over the past decade. But they've apparently cheated to get there.

The Knicks, that recent three-game win streak from last week notwithstanding, are the Washington Generals of the NBA this year. They have a hard enough time getting the ball up the court let alone competing in most games. The coaching isn't very good and the players are worse than the coaching. There still isn't any type of cohesive plan coming from on high, not even with Phil Jackson overseeing things. This team can't seem to get out of their own way, a comedy of errors with one of the higher payrolls in the league.This team is a mess, there's no way to sugarcoat it.

But, they haven't cheated to get their handful of wins (if they have they're really bad at basketball and cheating). They've gone out there and in their own inept way have left it all on the court. The same can be said for the other messes of last year in New York sports as the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets and everyone else may have stunk, but they played the game the right way.

That makes them all easier to cheer for this time of year than the Patriots. Even if our teams don't give us much to actually cheer about.