Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 at a glance.

As the year comes to an end I thought it wold be worth making a list of things that stood out to me in the past year. I came up with this list without the help of the internet to jog my memory, I simply just sat down and tried to think of the things I will remember, for better or worse.


The Giants win the World Series!
As someone who spent the ages of 6-10 living in the Bay Area going to Giants games, this was a great moment. The Giants pitching staff proved that pitching does indeed win championships. Players like Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria came up huge. The Giants are the anti-Red Sox/Yankees (yes they belong in the same breath after the Sox spending spree this offseason). The Giants are primed for another run in the playoffs next year, especially considering how weak the rest of the NL West is.

Brian Wilson: The Real World Kenny Powers?


The run that Butler made last March might only be outmatched by NC State in 1983. Gordon Haywood's shot almost put them over the top.

The Decision:
This hour of TV changed the face of the NBA. The NBA has a villain, and the Heat are settling into their role quite comfortably in the last few weeks: running off a long win streak and also making the Lakers look like an old tired team on Christmas. Frankly, this Heat team scares me. Once they find a point guard who can actually run a half court offense in the playoffs the Heat could be unbeatable.

Lakers Repeat:
Even though this was at the expense of a tired, injured, and worn-out Celtics team (no bitterness, I swear), it was a very impressive run. Trailing by 13 points in the second half of Game 7, the Lakers came back to destroy the Celtics and the city of Boston.

UCONN women's streak:
Awesome. Simply Awesome. The streak is at 90 and counting. The last time they lost George Bush was still president! I hope this team can make it to 100 and just make it an untouchable record.


Brett Favre:
This guy has ruled the airwaves for the past year, and my god is it nauseating. His teammates flew down to get him to play this season, he texted his "Hogan" to Jenn Sterger (you are are welcome again... heck its the holidays, it is better to give...) and he pretty much phoned in the season: throwing interceptions and generally sucking while throwing his coach under the bus.

The NFL's new stance on concussions is that they are bad. Good call... Defenders are getting fined for dangerous hits and QBs are throwing the ball to receivers across the middle and nearly getting them killed.

The next step for the NFL is to give health coverage for its players after they leave the league. One has to wonder how much of this effort to protect players is actually really an effort to protect the league. Personally, I think there is a big gap between what the NFL is doing regarding concussions and how serious concussions are. I hope the players are able to get some help in the CBA with regards to healthcare and lets hope an 18 game season never happens.

Mike Vick:
Redemption stories are the best aren't they!?? Mike Vick is back. It's a good thing that Tucker Carlson isn't the NFL Commissioner. The Eagles proved that they will not go too far in the playoffs after their lackluster performance against the Vikings. Just think how good Vick would be with a competent offensive line? It would be scary. The bright side to the Eagles chances of making the Super Bowl is that they can get there with a home game and a possible dome game against the Falcons. However a trip to Chicago could be in the cards too... I guess we will have to see...

The New York Jets:
This team is ridiculous. Between Rex Ryan's foot fetish, Hardknocks, Braylon Edwards, Mark Sanchez, and tripgate, the swagger has slowly been chipped away. I am frankly looking forward to the implosion that will no doubt happen in January.

Rex's inner monologue: "Feet, Feet, Feet, Football, Feet, hoagies..."

The New Orleans Saints brought a Super Bowl to New Orleans. I could write a lot about this, but I will let this commercial do the talking.


USA Soccer:
The World Cup this summer left a lot to be desired. The US team however delivered some of the best moments of the tournament. Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria was probably the highlight of the entire tournament, the game against Ghana was another great game.
While soccer is still a popular sport in the US, one is left to wonder if the nation will ever win a World Cup. Things were laid out for them very nicely this past summer and they blew it. Enjoy some videos from the Landon Donovan goal...

The Goal

The World Reacts

Tiger Woods returns:
This story straddled 2009 and 2010 (pun intended). Tiger's return to golf was somewhat disappointing, he did not win a tournament. He finished in the top 5 in the Masters and US Open, however he really was not in the hunt in either of those tournaments. Before that fateful night in November 2009 this season was supposed to be a huge one for Tiger. The Majors were being played at courses he had dominated at before. The US Open was at Pebble Beach, where Tiger had won the last two Opens, the same goes for St. Andrews. However, he never got his game on track until December, losing to Graeme McDowell in a playoff. It was the first time he had gone a calendar year without a win in his career.

Tiger now has a new coach and a new putter. Tiger turns 35 today (December 30). Many had said that golfers peak in their 30's. Tiger has nearly missed his 30's. Between injury and his personal life he has not had a full season of focused golf since 2007. Will Tiger's late 30's be better to him, I think they will.

2011 predictions:

1) Brett Favre will return to football next season.
I have no doubt about this. While he is old and broken down, Favre keeps proving to us that he wants to leave under his own rules. Right now he is leaving as a concussed sexter. His pride will not let that be the final act of his career. Let's look at the teams that would like a veteran quarterback that could potentially put them over the top (or at least help them improve):

Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner did it. It is warm, they play indoors and the NFC West is a joke. Favre could easily end up here.

San Francisco 49ers: See above regarding weather and NFC West.

Miami Dolphins: Chad Henne is on his last chance I think. The Dolphins are in a tough conference though. Maybe some time in Miami with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh would help Favre feel younger...

Dallas Cowboys: Hehe...

2) Tiger Woods will win 2 majors.
Looking at the sites for this year's Majors makes me think that this may be a good bet. The Masters has proven more difficult to win for Tiger (how come Augusta has never been called out for "Tigerproofing" their golf course. Is there no racism in that act? They never "Nicklausproofed" or "Palmerproofed" it...) Marion is the US Open site. A course with rich history, meaning Tiger will know the course through studying. This is the site of a few Bobby Jones triumphs. We will see a lot of old Bobby that week I guarentee.

The Bristish Open is at a course Tiger should have won at in 2003, but Ben Curtis came out of obscurity to win.

The PGA is in Atlanta Athletic Club, the hometown of Bobby Jones. (Bobby Jones started the Masters, clinched his Grandslam at Merion, and grew up in Atlanta playing Atlanta Athletic Club's East Lake course...).

This will happen me...

3) The Red Sox will win the World Series... And Big Papi will have a monster year.
Jinx? Possibly. This team is so good on paper, injuries could hurt them. Papi will be hitting 6th in the lineup, he will be up will men on-base constantly. I cannot wait to watch this team. And Red Sox fans are not allowed to hate the Yankees for spending money anymore, it is not allowed.

Well there you have it. The year in review and three things I think will happen in 2011. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Redemption Song

Flashback to December 2009.

Tiger Woods was the talk of the world, he had just crashed his car, unleashing the life of lies he was living since getting married.

Mike Vick was in jail, paying the penalty for abusing and killing dogs.

Now imagine you and I were chatting at a holiday party and I said, “I bet a year from now Tiger and Mike Vick will be on the cover of ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated respectively, and both covers will put them in a positive light.”

What would you have said to me? Would you have slapped me? Kicked me? Spread an evil rumor about me?

Clearly it would have been a ridiculous statement. However, here we are and Mike Vick is on the cover of SI and Tiger is on ESPN.

Vick's headline states, “What Michael Vick tells us about ourselves.” To be honest, I didn’t read the article, didn’t feel like it.

Tiger’s ESPN cover is about perfection in sports. The magazine picks the brain of some athletes about what perfection is, however Tiger was chosen for the cover. Ironic? I think so.

What do these covers tell us about our society? I think it tells us that if you do something really really well, we can forgive you. If you do something really really well that can earn people money and entertain them, then you are in great shape.

I wonder if as a society we want people to fail, because it makes us feel good to forgive. To err is human, to forgive divine. I guess that makes all of us divine.

What have Vick and Tiger done to really earn our forgiveness and adulation? I honestly can’t say. Vick has played well, earning him interviews and chances to show his new PR savvy.

Tiger has looked human, sometimes pathetically so, his awful speech in February and his atrocious play this summer completed his fall from grace.

The “redemption story” seems to be the buzz phrase surrounding Vick. He has redeemed himself and his image. Now the media has turned him into someone we can learn from? Oh right, I forgot I shouldn’t beat dogs to the point of death.

Tiger cheated on her...hundreds of joke..

I am lead to wonder what happens to someone in a different profession who treats women like Tiger did, or who treats dogs like Vick did? Do they get a redemption story? Do they get a second chance? Are athletes given more slack because we do not expect as much from them morally? I don’t think so, or we wouldn’t have such an outcry when they do make mistake.

As a teacher if I were to do what Vick did, I would be fired, and I would have to explain what happened to any possible future employer for the rest of my life. I would not have the opportunity to go on TV and show how I have changed, I would have to prove it in an interview.

As I look out into the sports landscape on December 5, 2010 I wonder who might be this year’s redemption story? Here are a few nominees:

LeBron James:

The guy sucks. He sucks in every possible way off a basketball court. He is a selfish teammate who has no one around him to make him shut his mouth or simply say the correct thing. He has the built-in excuse that his friends are his managers, so if he fires them he can become beloved by the country again (except Cleveland). Winning would also help. People hate when athletes make selfish choices, they love when those choices blow up in an athlete’s face. A 9-8 start is a good example.

Brett Favre:

My buddy Coyle and I reveled in Brett Favre’s pain after getting knocked out of the Sunday’s game against the Bills. It became even better when Tavaris Jackson tore it up afterward, leading the Vikings to a huge Bills win. Redemption for Favre could be a possibility, but I think people might actually be too sick of him…


After leaving the Suns and Cavs with a bad reputation, Shaq is crushing it in Boston right now. He is doing everything right. If you have not watched “The Association: Boston Celtics” yet, you should (the whole first episode is on Youtube). Shaq compares his younger days to being a CEO, the leader…. However he now thinks of himself as a member of the board, taking a back seat and letting others lead. If the Celts pull out a title win, he could be a redemption story.

I guess we will have to wait and see….