Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: A year in review

‘Twas the night before New Years, and here’s a look back
At Roger Clemons’ steroids and Travis Henry’s crack
The Redeem Team got the Gold, Michael Phelps got the bling
And even Kevin Garnet, well he finally got a ring

The Yankees were low, Isiah Thomas got high
Sabathia says hello, but Marbury bids goodbye
And Plax can beat safeties, just not glock revolvers
The Giants beat the Patriots, with Tyree’s catch over the shoulder

Stuck in the Garden, the Knicks still can’t win
Hungering for Lebron like starving kids in Beijing,
From Favre’s interceptions to D’antoni’s interjection
Just ask the Steibrenner’s, this is no recession

So here’s to 2008, and although it might be gone
We remember Antonio pierce getting off, and our governor getting it on
So I bid you one last wish, before 2009 begins
Happy new year to all, and a party like Jaba Chamberlain’s (but seriously, don’t drink and drive)

2008, we hardly knew ye'. I've never been one for goodbyes, but I'll give this one a shot--from the stock market's plummet and Governor Spitzer's rise (get your mind in the gutter), to bombings in Georgia and a new quarterback in Atlanta. It's safe to say that 2008 saw it's fare share of news. So here's a look back at the top five most memorable New York sports moments in 2008-- as I see them anyway.

5) Broadway Brett Jets into New York
Screw the starving kids, what about those poor Jets? Perennially the "little brother" of the National Football League, we watch them struggle mightily, rise majestically to the brink of success, and eventually crash and burn like the helpless child that they represent. It's been that way for longer than most Jet fans care to remember.
But wait... what? Brett Favre's renouncing his retirement? And Green Bay has removed the welcome mat? And he might land in the New York green and white? Hold up...
After a stint in Green Bay that lasted upwards of 15 years. the gunslinger finally decided to hang up the cleats in 2008 following an unforgettable season marred by a 23-20 loss to the New York Giants (eventual Super Bowl Champions) in the NFC Championship game. But apparently, Favre wasn't ready to move to Boca and dip into his retirement funds (Brett was first in line to buy a Washington Wizards Michael Jordan jersey in 2001-- not to mention Jay-Z's Kingdom Come in 2006).
When in July, it became clear that Favre was not part of Green Bay's future plans, the former Packer wrote a letter to the organization asking for his unconditional release-- thus began a media circus more controversial than a Mel Gibson rendition of Schindler's List. Much to the delight of Jet fans everywhere, however, the Hall of Fame quarterback eventually landed in "Jets Stadium" following an August 7 trade that cost the Jets a conditional fourth round pick in the 2009 draft (and indirectly, Chad Pennington, the 2008 comeback player of the year).
Unfortunately for the Jets, however, Favre's stint in New York was as disappointing as a virgin's prom night-- and just as short. After a promising 8-3 start that left many New Yorkers calling for a "Subway Super Bowl," thus began a downward slide that resulted in a disappointing 9-7 season, another playoff absence and an immediate release of the once-heralded Head Coach Eric Mangini. Doesn't this seem like an annual charade? Maybe the Jets and Mets are victim to the same sick disease-- an inability to close out seasons. Regardless of the outcome, Farve's journey to New York was indeed a memorable one.

4) Rangers Burn Devils
Just two years after suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Devils in the 2006 playoffs, the New York Rangers trekked into the second round of the 2008 playoffs. Following a five-game victory over New Jersey, becoming the first team in history to win three road games against the Devils in a playoff series, the Rangers found redemption.
After a long hiatus from post-season glory, the Rangers finally restored splendor to the Garden. This after a roster overhaul that included the induction of two of the most talented centers on the market, former Devil Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, prior to the start of the season.
New York took the first two games at the Rock (Prudential Center) and then returned to New York to split the next two, giving the Rangers a commanding 3-1 lead. The Rangers won the fifth and final game back in New Jersey. The Rangers were one of the only two major professional New York sports teams to make the playoffs in 2008 (with the New York Giants).

3) A New York Spending Spree

What's a recession to a Steinbrenner? Lavish hotels and caviar? Try CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. No need to warm up by the stove or unplug the clocks at night-- just ask uncle George. He's dropped more green in one summer than most lumberjacks do in a lifetime.
Never had a team held such a stronghold over the league's biggest free agents, but if money talks, the Steinbrenners can't shut up. Just ask Sabathia ($161 million over 7 years), Teixeira ($180 million over 8 years), or A.J. Burnett ($82.5 million over 5 years)-- talk about a supermarket sweep,
After the Bombers' string of 13 consecutive playoff appearances came to an end last autumn, the Steinbrenners did some serious soul searching. And just what did they find? More money than many countries gross annually? Who is Bernard Madoff?
The Yankees' most recent off-season was characterized by the richest spending spree in the history of professional sports. This was a memorable off-season for the Bronx Bombers.

2) New York Nicks Isiah Thomas

Remember when the Knicks were good? I know, I wasn't alive when the 10 Commandments were published either. For us Knick fans, glory at the Garden seems an ancient memory, a blur that may have occurred some time between Optimus Prime's glorious conception and President Clinton's administration of copulation. But if you can, sift through the puddles of beer (most often caused by Knick losses) clogging your brain and think back to the days when Lord Ewing and King Oakley patrolled the paint; when John Starks kissed the Garden floor and Pat Riley had an endless canvas of flowing mahogany hair. Luckily for the 90s' Knicks, Isiah Thomas was still in the league (as a player), for part of the decade anyway. Unfortunately for the Knicks, however, Patrick Ewing's exile caused an eventual desperation-driven roster (and culture) overhaul. From the induction of Glen Rice to the draft of Frederic Weis, to the injury-plagued Allan Houston and the eventual hiring of Isiah Thomas as Knicks General Manager. Oh, what a millennium it's been for the Blue and Orange.
For argument's sake, let's call Thomas the proverbial "straw that broke Paris Hilton's bed" (or was that Nick Carter, Jason Shaw, Stavros Niarchos, Benji Madden, Rick Salomon, ...well, you get the picture).. When the Knicks hired Thomas on December 22, 2003, they welcomed with him a history of blunders that included the destruction of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). Why was Isiah the right choice for the knicks? ??? ???????... Still waiting...
The new general manager wasted no time in shaking things up, bringing in troubled point guard Stephon Marbury to right the ship just two weeks later. Ooops.
By the end of the 2005-06 season, the Knicks had the highest payroll in the league and the second worst record. Apparently what Thomas didn't realize was that, just because something looks good on paper, doesn't mean that it's going to pan out.
With Isiah at the helm, the Knicks went through more transformations than Andy Dick (just minus the success-- I know). Why was Isiah the right candidate for replacing Larry Brown in June of 2006? ??? ????... Still waiting.
Despite predicting a future championship, Thomas never once led the team to the playoffs as coach and in 2008, one night after New York tied a franchise-record with 59 losses, he was relieved of his duties (too bad he already crapped the bed).
Apparently there is someone listening to prayers. For the Knicks, that man's been new Head Coach Mike D'antoni. Although they are still not a winning team (Rome wasn't build in a day, and Thomas' Knicks couldn't be destroyed in one either-- although Donnie Walsh, the knew GM, is doing his best), the Knicks are at least watchable again.

1) 1 Giant Loss

1)18-1! 18-1! 18-1! 18 wins and 1 GIANT loss!
Where were you when JFK was assassinated? What about when the Giants won Super Bowl XLII (My apologies for the gross comparison)?
Perhaps the most memorable victory in New York sports history (at least since my conception), the Big Blue stormed Scottsdale, Arizona for what was arguably the most improbable win of all time.
On Feb, 3, 2008, the heavily discounted Giants took on the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Up against what many considered to be the best team in the history of the NFL and more obstacles than a pair of multi-sexual Siamese twins in a JC Penny dressing room, few gave the Big Blue a chance. The Giants fed off of the doubt.
Most said that the Giants weren't even supposed to be there. But impenetrable defense by a stalwart line kept Tom Brady and his chins at bay, setting up what was an unforgettable 17-14 Giant victory.
New York fed off of the Dec. 29 three-point season-finale loss that came at the hands of New England. Never had their been such a productive loss, and the Giants steamrolled into the playoffs.
Then there was the Super Bowl.
After both teams combined for ten points in the first three quarters, New England leading 7-3 heading into the final period, NY took the lead following a go-ahead David Tyree touchdown with 11 minutes remaining. New England responded with a touchdown of their own, taking a 14-10 lead with less than three minutes to go.
That's when it happened-- the drive heard 'round the world (not Helen Keller's joy ride to the super market). Catalyzed by a fourth-and-short conversion, a poised Eli Manning and the grace of football's divine spirits, the Giants moved down field toward Super Bowl immortality.
Then it happened-- the most insane play of all time. On third-and-five, from their own 44-yard line with 1:15 to play, Manning escaped a plethora of New England linemen to find Tyree who made a leaping one-handed/one-helmet catch on the Patriot-24-yard line. Four plays later, giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown in the corner of the end zone. What else can I really say? I can't imagine the berth of my first child being any better.

Happy New Year to all and to all a memorable 2009. To all of those not on this list, don't feel slighted because there's always next year (sorry Plax. I was never one for guns). Only time will tell what 2009 has in store, but I'm feelin' lucky. What do ya' say NYC?

1 comment:

Jon Corzine said...

Thanks for the kind comments.
I usually find myself on THIS blog
when I am "getting it on."
Keep up your fine work in 2009, and I will try an do likewise.

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