Always the bridesmaid…2015 was a strange year for New York sports. The Rangers didn’t make it out of the Eastern Conference finals, despite having the best record in the league and home ice advantage for the playoffs. The Liberty was able to force a deciding game for the Eastern Conference, but ran out of real estate and fell to the Mystics. The Red Bulls lost in the conference final. While the Mets became NLCS champs, they fell short in the World Series. They were one of the brighter moments for New York fans; but you don’t get a ticker tape parade for winning the conference. I’d hoped to cheer on one of my teams at a ticker tape parade.
Crossed one off the bucket list…I got the chance to cheer on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team as they marched down the Canyon of Heroes (and Heroines!). No complaints about that, but New York teams, you guys need to step up.
What were you thinking? Still haven’t figured out why Jason Pierre Paul thought it was cool to pop his own fireworks on the 4th of July. While I’m happy that he’s back, his results have been…mixed. As I said before, if you can afford to buy a truck load of fireworks, then you can afford to leave it to the pros and hire someone to pop ’em for you.
Scandal, and more scandal…Between the mess that is FIFA, and the IAAF dealing with both a corruption and a doping scandal, you don’t have to watch the ABC drama to get your fair share.
Yes, it can be done…American Pharaoh ended a 37-year drought when he won the Triple Crown. What a thrill to witness history this year.
Best feel-good story…If you need inspiration, please read about Michelle Payne, the first female to win the Melbourne Cup.
So long…NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon completed retired in 2015. Kobe Bryant announced that 2015 will be his last season in the NBA.
And farewell…Baseball great Yogi Berra passed away, and was posthumously rewarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And the most moving moment this year for me was the haka performed at the memorial for Jonah Lomu.
A look forward at the year to come…
Are you ready? This year will be the Summer Olympic games in Rio. Whether Brazil will be ready is anyone’s guess. I said that Greece wouldn’t be ready for the Athens games in 2004, and somehow they managed to pull a rabbit out the hat. Maybe it will be the same for Rio, despite the construction being behind schedule and ongoing issues with the venue the water sports. Like Brazil doesn’t have enough problems. Today, I read an article about the surge in a virus that causes the head of infants to be severely malformed, and the inadequate government response. The IOC has faith that somehow, the Brazilian organizers will get it together. We’ll see.
Ones to watch…If you thought that Gabby Douglas was baaddd, just wait ’til you see Simone Biles.
Didn’t take long…Today we got news that Tom Coughlin resigned as coach of the New York Giants.
Sooo…Super Bowl XLIX is now set. The Seattle Seahawks are going to the big dance for the second year in a row, and they’ll be up against the New England Patriots. Just like last year, I’ve got no dog in the hunt. More than anything, I’m looking forward to watching the Super Bowl at home with both of my boys, since my Navy son is home on leave. Both times when the Giants won the Super Bowl, we were all in different parts of the world.
And it seems like the media can’t get past the scandal of Deflate Gate, where someone on the Patriots deflated the game balls. Why is anyone surprised by this? It’s the Pats we’re talking about here. Not the first time they’ve been caught cheating—and probably won’t be the last.
The Islanders are definitely the real deal this season, at the top of the Metropolitan division of the NHL. Rangers are currently in fourth place, and couldn’t get past their Long Island rivals for the third time this season. There was some question about whether the game would take place this past Tuesday, after the blizzard that hammered eastern Long Island, but spared the City. The roads and public transit were reopened earlier in the day, and the game went on as scheduled.
Knicks are still playing doo-doo ball. Their play is so ugly that a group of fans have taken to putting bags over their heads. They’re a team that only a mother could love. Ironically, the team is worth $2.5 billion, second only to the Lakers. And viewership is best in the league, with 600,000 viewers per game. Go figure.
What’s old is new again…Steve Spagnuolo has returned to the Giants as their Defensive Coordinator. Maybe now we’ll have some hope for Big Blue. Their defense last season was abysmal. Welcome back, Spags!
MSG, still the place where magic happens…Duke University’s Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski, gets his 1000th win against the Red Storm of St. John’s.
Farewell Tour 2…Race car driver Jeff Gordon will retire from NASCAR at the end of this year’s season. If you haven’t seen his Pepsi commercial where he takes an unsuspecting car dealer for a joyride (and a skeptical reporter who can’t believe it’s true), check it on YouTube. It’s a real hoot.
And so long…As a self-respecting Rangers fan, I thought I could never a fan of the New Jersey Devils. That is, until Martin Brodeur joined the team. He’s punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame, and he’s one of the best goalies to ever play the game. This week, he announced his retirement from the game. He played briefly with the St. Louis Blues after his 21 years with the Devils, and will now be a senior advisor with the Blues. Good luck, Marty!
Listened to an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with sportscaster Al Michaels where he talked about his new memoir, shared some great memories, and about broadcasting his ninth Super Bowl. I especially appreciated his advice for aspiring sportscasters, which did my heart proud as a member of Phi Beta Kappa: “…I tell kids who want to get into the business, you have to…take journalism courses…And take a bunch of English courses too. Learn how to speak the language and to use the language and to use it appropriately. Get a good liberal arts education. And to me…that would be the formula for getting into this business these days.” They played the moment when he called the end of the Gold Medal hockey game between the USA and Russia back in 1980, the “Miracle on Ice.” Still gave me chills, and tears to my eyes.
December 29, 2014, marked one year since the ski accident that left F1 race car driver Michael Schumaker with serious head injuries. Love and prayers to him and his family.
President for Life: I’m sure that FIFA president Sepp Blatter is glad for all of the media attention given to Deflate Gate. Soccer great Luis Figo is the latest candidate to put his hat in the ring in an attempt to unseat the man who has been president of soccer’s governing body since 1998. I wish him luck but I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell. If the latest scandals weren’t enough to take Blatter down, well, this current crop of candidates will be chump change. Gotta tell ya, if he could win based on looks, he’d get my vote!
Finally, there’s a hashtag trending on Twitter, #RuinAWeddingin5Words – and here’s the best one I’ve seen out of the bunch:
The top ten sports moments that caught my eye, for better or for worse, in 2014. In no particular order.
Okay, I lied. The top sports moment of 2014 had to be the New York Rangers becoming the Eastern Conference Champs. Sure they didn’t win the Stanley Cup. The L.A. Kings pretty much mopped the floor with them. But the same time last year, NOBODY thought they would be contenders. And none of sports pundits mentioned the Rangers as one of the teams to make the finals. Now, the rest of the list is in no particular order…
The death of cricketer Philip Hughes. As a parent, I can’t imagine the heartache of his mother and father to see their beloved son taken from them, so suddenly and so soon. The look on his father’s face as he carried the casket out of the church said it all. And the outpouring of support from around the world, especially with the #PutOutYourBats tribute, was overwhelming.
Derek Jeter’s farewell tour. I grew up in Queens as a Mets fan. To this day, I can’t understand how my brother could jump ship and become a Yankees fan. But I admit to being Derek Jeter fan. He was a class act, and couldn’t craft a better storybook end to his career.
The World Cup. I thought for sure that Brazil wouldn’t be ready. And this was reinforced by all the protests from citizens who demanded basic services, instead of money being poured into sports stadiums. Somehow, the country managed to get it together, and we had a great event, especially for the United States team. While no one expected them to win, they got farther than anyone anticipated, and ignited a real interest in soccer (or football, as it’s called in the rest of the world).
Sochi Olympics. The irony is that Vladimir Putin threw billions of dollars into the event, more spent here than all other Olympic events combined. But the news was rife with stories of substandard accommodations, and the displacement of residents. And then there was the controversy with the anti-gay propaganda laws. That didn’t stop the athletes from giving us a spectacular Winter Games.
Lewis Hamilton wins F1 championship. What a crazy season for F1, but a great win for Lewis Hamilton.
Triple Crown, 2014. It almost happened. Almost.
Simone Biles. This gymnast will be the one to beat for the upcoming Summer Olympics. Had the opportunity to watch her performance on television at the World Gymnastics Championships back in October. Slate.com has a great article about her.
THE CATCH! Odell Beckham’s grab of the football in the end zone will certainly go down as one of the best catches of all time. But it will probably go down as one of the only high points in an otherwise disastrous season for my New York Giants.
Mo’ne Davis. This young lady was packing heat at the Little League World Series. She made the cover of Sports Illlustrated, was named a sportsperson of the year. She deserves all the accolades she received, and more. She’s a poised, level-headed young lady who I’m sure will succeed in whatever she endeavors to do.
The passing of Ralph Kiner, the New York Mets announcer and baseball Hall-of-Famer. I grew up listening to him call the Mets games, and looked forward to his Kiner’s Corner. Gary Thorne has a wonderful tribute to his colleague in the NY Daily News.
New Zealand All Blacks play the USA Men’s Eagles team. Yea, the American Rugby team was no competition for the All Blacks. But it was thrilling to see them fill up Soldier’s Field in Chicago, to watch the game live on TV, and see the All Blacks perform their haka on U.S. soil.
And that’s the snip! A Happy and Healthy New Year to all! Here’s to another great year in sports for 2015!
I just returned from vacation in Hawaii, where I stayed at the home of my younger sister and brother-in-law. It was my first trip to Hawaii, and I had a blast. What I noticed is that the football games are broadcast live, and with the time difference between New York and Hawaii, the games start early in the morning. That means you can still get your football on, and have the rest of the day left to do other things. Well, on Sunday, October 26, the mainland will get a taste of how things are done in Hawaii when the Lions-Falcons game is broadcast live from London. The game airs around 9am Eastern Time. The question was raised on CNN’s World Sport if viewers in the U.S. can get used to watching the NFL with their breakfast. Maybe it’ll go down better in a gorgeous place like Hawaii. Aw, shoot—that means the game will be on at 3am if it’s aired live in Hawaii…
Just about the only thing good that I could say right now about football. They still have to dig themselves out of the hole they created with their handling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson situations. And the Giants ain’t showing up for work these days.
NBC recently did an investigative report reports about the artificial turf used on soccer fields. It’s suspected of cause cancer in players that use the field, particularly those who play positions like goalkeeper in soccer where they Kansas spend a lot of time on the ground. The rubber pellets used as a base cushion are made from ground up rubber tires, which contain four different carcinogens. Let’s hope they get to the bottom of this quickly.
Happy to see Mo’ne Davis, the sensational young lady from the Little League World Series, throw out the first pitch for Game 4 of the MLB World Series game. As a long-suffering Mets fan, I can relate to the excitement of the KC faithful as their team tries to win a championship.
Today’s Snip is dedicated to the memory of my aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Eugene Reilly. My dear Aunt Dot was laid to rest yesterday, almost two years after the passing of Uncle Gino. He was my first sports bud; we would watch the Knick games, and root them on to their one and only NBA championship. The last time I saw him at hospital, we watched a college game together, and kicked about the local teams. Sports is one way to bring families together, and Aunt Dot and Uncle Gino was big on bringing, and keeping, the family together. Now they’re joined together in Heaven.
So today’s the big game! Broncos vs. Seahawks! Frankly, I’ve got no dogs in this year’s Super Bowl fight, but if I have to choose, I’ll veer on the side of experience and go with Peyton and the Broncos. Though I can’t help but secretly hope that the quarterback on the Seahawks, and the Sherman the cornerback whose comments caused such a vitriolic reaction on the Internet, get the chance to stick it to their critics. Whichever side you’re on, it’s going to be a great matchup.
And right after the visitors here in town for the game have left, it’s time for the Winter Olympics in Sochi! I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last month watching Olympic qualifiers; now let the Games begin!
And, speaking of qualifiers, the Jamaican bobsled team, famous from the movie Cool Runnings, punched their ticket to Sochi, the first time since 2002. Initially, they had trouble raising the money to get to the games, but have since raised the money, will head over to Sochi.
Right now I’m watching the Red Bull Signature Series, the Frozen Rush. Off-road trucks with spiked tires racing through the snow. Wow.
Hope that some of you got the chance to watch the rebroadcast of Frontline about head injuries in the NFL.
And speaking of the league, did you know that the NFL is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization? As is the NHL. Go figure!
One of my favorite Giants of all time, Michael Strahan, was nominated to the NFL Hall of Fame, class of 2014. Congrats!!
On a more serious note, the race driver Michael Schumaker is being slowly taken out of his drug-induced coma. Continue to pray for his recovery from his horrific ski accident.
And before you go, take my poll and let me know which team you’re rooting for tonight! Enjoy the game!
Just when I get my hopes up, the Giants go and lose a crucial game, and to the Dallas Cowboys, no less. Haven’t had the chance to talk with my sports buddy at work to get his latest take on things. But he’s a Jets fan, so he’s hurting a lot more that I am these days. At least my team has some Super Bowl rings in their recent past. Can’t say the same for those Jets. I was in elementary school when Joe Namath was the quarterback who took the Jets all the way to the Super Bowl in ’68. At least I got something to remember them by…my sports buddy wasn’t even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye.
None of the New York sports teams are doing well these days. I’ve taken more interest in the qualifiers for Sochi 2014 than I have with the local sports scene. Watching a lot of figure skating, like Skate America and Skate Canada.
And speaking of the Winter Olympics, skier Lindsey Vonn hopes to return to the slopes in December after she re-injured her surgically repaired knee during a training run. She was on the way back after suffering a major injury last February. Well, if it’s anyone who can come back from a major injury, it’s Ms. Vonn. Hope to see her back to form in time for the Games.
Now I admit that I don’t know much of anything about cricket. I know it’s played with a ball and a bat, there’s runs, wickets, and a term called “not out,” which I have no idea what it means. It all sounds exciting, but I have no idea what’s going on. I know more about the Canadian sport of curling than I do cricket. (And yes, curling is on my must-watch list for the Winter Olympics!) I think I’ll make a resolution for 2014 to learn about cricket. Well, my ignorance of the game does not stop me from acknowledging the retirement of one of the greatest cricketers to ever pick up a bat—Sachin Tendulkar. He’s the only player to have scored 100 centuries in international cricket. And by all accounts, he is a humble man who played the game with grace and class.
And in World of WWE RAW, John Cena and Randy Orton look to have a match that unifies the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship.
And if you’re a regular viewer of WWE, then you’re familiar with in-studio host Scott Stanford. And WWE fans, I have to tell you, that hosting the WWE is Scott Stanford’s side job. Here in New York, we know him as one of local reporters. He was the sports anchor for WNBC4 New York, until he jumped at the opportunity to co-anchor the evening news on WPIX. He recently did a report on the alarming rise of head injuries among high school athletes (http://po.st/sd97uG). I have two nephews now who play football; after watching this report, I think we all have cause for concern.
And that’s the snip! Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all! Enjoy your family, friends, food—and the games!
Congrats to Darrell Wallace! On October 26, he became the first black driver to win a NASCAR in 50 years! Well done!! Check the article from theGrio.com: http://on.thegrio.com/1b4T3lc.
And while we’re on the topic of winners…Now I usually don’t say this for a team coming out of Boston, or for an American League baseball team. But I must extend my congrats to the Boston Red Sox. They gave their city something to look forward to in the wake of the Marathon bombings. As a lifelong New Yorker who lived through 9/11, I can relate.
The New York City Marathon was a joy to watch this past Sunday, and even more meaningful since it’s the first once since Sandy hit the region, and the first one after the Boston Marathon bombings. I love to watch the marathon for the stories, and for the races within the race, such as the Five Borough Race and the NYPD vs. FDNY. The only year that I didn’t watch the race was in 2007. On that day, the recruiter came by to pick up my younger son Magezi, who went off to Navy boot camp. By the time I remembered that it was Marathon Sunday, the TV coverage was almost done. Congrats to all the winners, and to all the runners.
My Giants won two games before they went into the by week. They’re now 2-6 on the season. Gary, my longtime sports bud at work, has faith that Big Blue will have enough in the tank to snag a wildcard spot. That’s how they got in the last time they won the Super Bowl. We’ll see.
The current issues surrounding the NCAA should not surprise anyone. Renowned historian and journalist Taylor Branch wrote an excellent Kindle single entitled The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005OR497E/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_jTtEsb1F276EW). The book should be required reading for anyone who’s a fan or a student of the game, or anyone who is concerned with what is happening to young college student athletes.
And the issue of head injuries in sports will not go away. I’m a fan of Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premier League, but they made headlines for what they did (or didn’t do) for player Hugo Lloris. He was left in the game after he was knocked unconscious from a knee kick to his head in their game against Everton (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/04/sport/football/football-lloris-rogers/index.html?hpt=ifo_t1). The team doctor is being criticized for his actions, and rightly so. Lloris should’ve been taken off the field and sent to the ER. Immediately. And not allowed to return until he was medically cleared. Case closed. I predict that, before it’s all said and done, traumatic sports injuries, all told, will rise to the level of being a major problem in the U.S., at great cost not only to the players, but to the family members left to care for them. The only thing that will top traumatic sports injuries in terms of impact will be the injuries suffered by our military. Sadly, both types of injuries are not being adequately addressed. Soccer better take a page from what’s going on today in the U.S.