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.
But in case you hadn’t heard, tickets for the boxing match of the decade (maybe the century?) between Pacquiao and Mayweather didn’t go on sale late last week. The parties finally signed the contract after some disagreements with the allocation of ticket sales. Once the signing took place, the tickets were snapped up in less than 60 seconds.
Oh, and if you’re interested in other parts of the world…
Some odds ‘n’ ends before we head into March Madness…
Rest in Peace: Sad about the passing of Anthony Mason on February 28. A hometown boy from Queens, he epitomized the tough, gritty, defensive style of the 1990s New York Knicks. A private funeral was held on Friday, March 6, but his family is thinking about holding a public memorial to give his fans a chance to say goodbye.
Also of note was the passing of Minnie Minoso, the first black Latino major league baseball player.
It’s official: Usain Bolt will retire in 2017. At least that’s what he says. Don’t mean to be disparaging, but we’ve lived through the “retirements” of Michael Jordan and now Michael Phelps. I know what it’s like to be at a job working hard for a long time. I’ve already warned my colleagues to get the information from me now while I’m here. Because once I retire, I’m going to do a memory wipe and move on to do the things I don’t have time to do because I’m a working gal. So, Dear Usain Bolt: I love you, you’re a great athlete, but once you retire—STAY RETIRED. Move on to another chapter in your life. There’s so much that you can offer the world.
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.
The New York Football Giants are now 0-6, their worst start since 1976. Arrgghhhh! Let’s see if they can redeem themselves tomorrow night against the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
Maybe the only thing that upsets me more as a football fan was watching PBS’s Frontlineprogram on the NFL and concussions. The program revealed the lengths that the NFL went to deny that there is a serious problem with players and head injuries. I still love the game, but it’s tempered by the knowledge of the major damage inflicted not only on professional players, but on young people who play the game from the elementary school level all the way up to college.
Also keeping an eye on the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, EA Sports, and the Collegiate Licensing Company. More players have been added to the suit, which involves the use of their image in video games and videos, without their permission and without compensation. While folks may argue about whether college athletes should receive some type of compensation, it can’t be denied that college sports, especially the men’s football and basketball programs, are billion-dollar enterprises, and everyone but the students are making money. It’s hard to make the argument that the price of the scholarship should be the only compensation that these students deserve, especially when many of them come from families that are struggling economically, and attending college is a sacrifice and a hardship.
One person on top of the world these days in Rafael Nadal, who’s currently ranked as the No. 1 male tennis player, a tremendous feat after recovering from injury.
Serena Williams keeps rolling on like there’s no tomorrow. Very happy for her as well.
And congrats to Scotsman Andy Murray, who received his OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to tennis. He won gold at the London Olympics, then a month later became the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years. Well done!
As I write this, I’m watching the ISU Grand Prix: Skate America championships. A good look at the figure skaters who may represent the United States at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. We’re 109 days away from the game, and of course, it wouldn’t be the Olympics without some controversy. This time, it’s over the passage of the anti-gay propaganda laws in Russia, which bans the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. There’s been calls for a boycott of the Sochi games; but most athletes who have spoken on the issue would rather attend the Games as a show of solidarity to the Russian LGBT community. While Russia has made assurances to the IOC that gay athletes who participate in the games will be welcomed and treated fairly, those assurances are ambiguous at best, and does nothing to address the discrimination and persecution against the LGBT community in Russia. Stay tuned…
CNN International’s web page has some great articles about the controversy. When you go to the website, change the setting in top left corner from the U.S. Edition to International Edition. And while you’re on the site, check out the page for my favorite sports show, World Sport (http://edition.cnn.com/SPORT/). Probably the best sports show that you’ve never heard of…a roundup of sports from around the world. The show airs several times a day. Check your cable or satellite provider to see if you have access to the CNN International channel, and check out the show. You won’t regret it.
Last night, the Boston Red Sox won the AL Championship, and punched their ticket to the World Series. They’ll go up against the NL Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals. I feel bad for Robin, the husband of my good friend Annette, who’s from Michigan and a Tigers fan. The Red Sox snuffed out the Tigers to win the ALCS. But I’m happy for Tara, a colleague at my office, who’s a die-hard Cardinals fan. I got no dog in the hunt, since my Mets were long taken out of the running. If I do root for any team, it’ll be for the Cards, since they’re the NL champs, and we New Yorkers universally hate any team coming out of Boston.
This reminds me of an e-mail that I got from my younger son, who’s currently serving in the Navy. At the time, he was deployed on the USS San Jacinto, and he e-mailed to ask: “My friend wants to know why Mets and Yankees fans hate each other.” Here was my answer:
It all goes back to the days when AL and NL meant something. AL=American League, NL=National League. They were rival leagues, not one big happy like they are now under MLB. No self-respecting baseball fan would root for the rival league.In NYC, Yankees are AL; Brooklyn Dodgers were NL. Then the Dodgers moved to L.A., so NL fans were left without a team until The Mets were established in mid-60s. So Mets fans were former Dodger fans, or their kids. I’d speculate that some interboro rivalry between Bronx and Brooklyn is also a part of it. Also explains why Guiliani rooted for the Bosox a few years ago when they beat the Yanks & went on to win the World Series, even though New Yorkers hate Boston teams more than they hate each other. He’s a diehard Yankees fan, so there’s no way that he’ll ever root for an NL team.
My son grew up with me and his dad as the Mets fans, and his favorite uncle, my youngest brother Azam, as a Yankees fan. So he had firsthand knowledge of this rivalry. I’m still trying to figure out where we went wrong, because my family grew up in Queens and went to Mets games. And if that weren’t enough, Azam is a Jets fan and I’m a Giants fan. He now lives in Tacoma, Washington, so whenever we get on the phone and talk sports, people on both sides of the coast will clear the room!
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.