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.
Over the past few weeks, women athletes have been in the news. And it’s a great thing. I entered high school a year after the Title IX educational amendment became law. The education system was still trying to figure out how to implement the new mandate. So I did not benefit from Title IX in the same way that I did with civil rights. I’m thrilled that the next generation of women athletes have been able to take advantage of the law.
Cross one off the bucket list: Attended ticker tape parade for a sports team, USA Women’s soccer. Wonderful to see all of the families, young girls and young boys who play soccer or are soccer fans. The last ticker tape parade I attended in person was for Nelson Mandela. I watched some of the Yankees ticker tape parade from an office building near City Hall. But this was the first time that I was on the ground to cheer on a sports team. USA Women’s Soccer was the first women’s team to be given a ticker tape parade, and the first non-local team.
I had hoped to attend a ticker tape parade for the New York Rangers this season, but alas, it was not to be.
More Girl Power: One of the performers at the ceremony after the ticker tape parade was an all-women samba band, Batala NYC. I saw them perform at One Penn Plaza as part of their weekly concert series. I’m happy they were given the honor of performing for the US Women’s soccer team.
There is also another conversation going around about Title IX in general, and the women’s soccer team in particular. That is: how do we get to the next level, which is parity with pay? The women’s team received a fraction of what the men received for playing in the World Cup. The same disparities also exist between the NBA and the WNBA.
10 year old Jaden Newman wants to become the first woman in the NBA. I’m rooting for her. And an all-women crew won the eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
There’s been a lot of buzz about New York Liberty alum Becky Hammon, who’s now a full-time assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. They won the summer league under her leadership. She may very well become for the first female to become the head coach of an NBA team.
Serena Williams just completed the Serena slam with her win at Wimbledon, now setting her sights on a calendar grand slam if she wins the U.S.Open championship. Too bad it was colored by the flap about the N.Y. Times article about women tennis players and body image.
One for the Idiot Box: You would like to think that if JPP could buy a truckload of fireworks for the 4th, then he could hire a fireworks company to provide his own private show. But he ends up having a serious accident where he had to amputate his finger. Just sayin’.
Well, it took about two weeks, but I think I finally recovered from the Rangers’ 7th game loss for the Eastern Conference Title. I watched a bit of the Stanley Cup finals as a time filler after the Belmont Stakes, but otherwise I still can’t bring myself to watch. The series between the Blackhawks and the Lightning is tied at one game apiece.
While I haven’t had the heart to watch the Stanley Cup finals, I caught both the men’s and women’s finals of the French Open. Both games were thrillers. Serena picked up her 20th Grand Slam title. And—surprise!! Novak Djokovic was upset by Stan Wawrinka. What a heartbreak. But Wawrinka was in the zone.
President for Life? Thought for sure that Sepp Blather would be carried out of his position. What a shock when he announced that he will resign as President of FIFA. If that’s what you wanna call it. Because he didn’t call off the election where he was re-elected to his position. Now FIFA has to hold a special election to vote for his replacement. So I guess there’s still time to carry him out.
But the Champions League final took place, with Barcelona winning over Juventus. And the Women’s World Cup is well underway.
We got our own problems, thank you very much: The WNBA board is still reviewing Isiah Thomas’ application for part ownership of the New York Liberty. Meanwhile, there were protesters at the home opener. And the Women’s Sports Foundation has an online petition to deny him ownership of the team. The league is also dealing with some of their top players sitting out the season. Guess this means that the WNBA has finally arrived.
Set up my wireless print server during the running of the Belmont Stakes. It took me longer to get that done than it did for American Pharoah to make history when he took the Triple Crown. What a thrill to watch that live. Worth skipping the show at Central Park.
Some people attend barbeques on Memorial Day weekend. Some folks hit the beach. Others take in a movie. And then there’s the rest of us who watch sports all weekend.
This morning I woke up, and tuned into the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. I won’t give away the results just yet, but let’s just say that anything can happen with Formula One.
EPL Championship Sunday is spread out over the networks of NBC. Ten games. I’m watching the game between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton. My older son got me to rooting for Hotspur. He told me that they reminded him of the New York Mets. That was all I needed.
After EPL is the 99th edition of the Indianapolis 500.
Then later on tonight is Game 5 of the Eastern Conference series between my New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series is tied at 2-2. The Rangers will try to get a leg up tonight.
As for the NBA series, well, it’s hard for me to get into it this year. I got no dog in the hunt. But here’s someone who does. Maybe I’ll root for the Warriors now just to make sure this lady gets her wish!
And I have to watch the Memorial Day Concert on PBS. I hope that all of you here in the U.S. take just a moment this weekend to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
While we’re on the topic of sports and the military, take a look at a post on NPR’s “Only a Game” website: Teams Honoring The Military: Feel Good Moment…For Sale? The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill to reject so-called “paid-for patriotism” where the military pays professional sports teams to honor its hometown military heroes. This came on heels of a report by Senator John McCain which noted that the National Guard paid $49 million in sports sponsorships.
CNN’s Don Riddell, in a post on Veteran’s Day 2013, had some astute observations and questions about the relationship between professional sports and the military here in the U.S.. As a Brit whose country has lived through the horrific fighting and destruction of two World Wars, I can understand his ambivalence. As a Navy mom whose son is the fourth generation in my family to wear the uniform, I also have mixed feelings about this. We don’t do enough for those who fight in our name. Many have rightfully argued that the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on advertising would be better spent on services for the military. In a perfect world, the professional sports organizations would voluntarily honor their local servicemembers and support military service organizations on their own. But the sports leagues are not just about what’s right. They’re also about the bottom line. And in a perfect world, there would be no need to have a military either, but we’re long past that.
Something to look forward to: We haven’t gotten the summer weather yet, and the summer concert season is just underway. But already, I’m looking forward to the fall. World Rugby Tournament begins September 17.
But before that is the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 6. I may end up passing up a great concert at Central Park SummerStage to see if American Pharaoh will make history. Or, maybe I’ll cut out early on the show. Roy Hargrove and Meshell Ndegeocello on the same bill is just too good to pass up.
Something not to look forward to: Isiah Thomas was named as president of the New York Liberty. How bad is this? Well, no one has anything good to say about it, whether you look at the national sports commentators, or the local ones. It’s a matter of what degree of bad this decision will be for the Liberty. As I said to my brother who tried to console me, This will not be okay. While there is no debate about Thomas’ ability as a player, his record in the front office is abysmal. He’s left destruction in his wake. And that destruction doesn’t even include the sexual harassment charge. But we all know why he’s the president of the Liberty; because he’s Dolan’s boy. And the owner of Madison Square Garden has left us Liberty fans with the unenviable choice: Do we go to the games to support the ladies while we hold our noses? Or, do we skip the games in protest and risk having the team eventually being taken from us. But it also points to the real problem with MSG: Until we get rid of frat boy Dolan, there’ll be no joy in Mudville for any of the teams at MSG.
And finally: For those of you who were disappointed by the so-called “Fight of the Century” between Pacquiao and Mayweather, there was a fight last week in Montville Township, New Jersey that provided a whole lot more excitement.
Because It’s The CUP…I don’t have a lot of rap for folks these days. My Rangers are gunning for the Eastern Conference Finals. The Rangers just made it a one-goal game, with less than eight minutes left in the second period; score now is 3-4, Montreal. The Habs are fighting for their lives. The Rangers are one win away from the Eastern Conference championship, and punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals!
One of my co-workers has a long standing tradition. He and his dad attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the World Cup. Even a stint in the Navy didn’t stop him from holding this tradition. I just hope that they have a stadium to go to in Brazil to attend the ceremonies. To say that they’re going to the last minute on this is an understatement. And protesters are still in the streets, angry over the vast amounts of money being spent on the Cup, while suffering from the lack of basic services and infrastructure.
If there’s one rule that needs to be instituted in baseball–or rather eliminated–it’s the intentional walk. So far as I’m concerned, it serves no useful purpose. The pitching team just needs to give it their best shot, and take whatever comes.
I missed watching California Chrome win the second leg of Triple Crown. I watched him win the Kentucky Derby, and plan to watch him go for glory at Belmont. Usually I watch all three legs of the Triple Crown. But on the Saturday of the Preakness, I had gone to visit my older sister in the hospital. It was a big sports Saturday; not only the Preakness, but the Rangers started their series with the Canadiens, and the Mets and the Liberty suited up as well. My sports app was constantly ringing during my visit. My sis and the rest of family just smiled and said, “There she goes again with her sports.” Sadly, it was one of the last visits I would have my sister before she passed away on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26. I love you, sis; Rest in Peace.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE GIANTS?! They’ve started the season at 0-5, worst start since 1987. Any hope that they have of getting into the playoffs, they can kiss goodbye. The only thing they can play for now is pride. They can’t end the season as bottom feeders. C’mon, Big Blue, get it together!! We’ll see what happens tonight…as I write this, the score is 13-7 in favor of the Bears, 14:32 left in the half.
So happy to see the send-off that Mariano Rivera got from around the league. Especially heartened to see the reception from the Red Sox nation. And if you haven’t seen it, go check his last game in Yankee pinstripes. It’ll leave you misty-eyed. Best closer in all of baseball; he’s punched his ticket into the Hall. Good luck, Mo, as you open a new chapter. From a die-hard Mets fan.
From the looks of things, it will take more than one season for Bill Lambier to turn around the fortunes of the New York Liberty. While this season was better than the last, they still ended up with a losing record and barely missed getting into the playoffs. And it was still painful to watch.
One bright spot the Liberty’s season was the send off for Katie Smith, who retires as the highest-scoring American female basketball player. Fellow Olympic champion Tina Thompson of the Seattle Storm also retired. Thompson was the No. 1 draft pick in the WNBA inaugural draft, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. Good luck and best wishes to both!
Between the Mets, Liberty, and the Giants, I’m looking forward to the start of the NBA. Last year, the Knicks showed that they were the real deal; looking forward to more of the same this season.
The Rangers are still looking to get their sea legs. So far, they’re 1-2 on the season. The Islanders are 2-0. Who’da thunk?! The world has turned upside-down!
You know you got it bad when the people in a soccer-crazy country like Brazil have taken to the streets to protest the exorbitant amount of money being spent to host the 2014 World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, while there’s no money for basic needs like education, and improving the country’s infrastructure. Certainly made FIFA stand up and take notice.
Like FIFA doesn’t have enough problems. Brazil is notoriously behind schedule in getting the structures completed for the Cup. And there are charges of human rights abuses against the migrant workers in Qatar, the nation that’s hosting the 2022 World Cup. Workers are dying in the heat, their passports are held illegally by their employers, and they live in horrid conditions. And questions about whether the game should be held in Qatar in the summer, with the desert heat. FIFA has its hands full.
In my DVR queue: Frontline’s “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” If it’s anything like their piece about head injuries at the high school level, I expect a very sobering report.
Speaking of football and serious injuries, Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers football player who suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury in a 2010 football game against Army, had his No. 52 retired at the school. He is the first player in the 144 years of history at the college to have his number officially retired. Check the video here: http://youtu.be/oalezg24RN8. He is an inspiration to all. Follow him on Twitter: @EricLeGrand52.