Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dropping the Ball, Dropping the Ball

Happy New Year to all.

Every year, in New York's Times Square, at one minute to midnight on New Year's Eve, a ball is dropped to signal the New Year.

Since the Mets are so good at dropping balls, which one will be chosen for the Times Square drop?

Here are the Top 10 Ball-Drops in Sports for 2008. By "ball-drop" I mean on-field blunders or management miscues.

10. Alex Rodriguez. Maybe it's time to get him a lifetime achievement award.

9. The University of Memphis basketball team. Remember what that preening schmo John Calipari was coaching at the University of Massachusetts? They beat Temple in a game, and Temple coach John Chaney was, shall we say, rather miffed. He busted into Cal's postgame press conference, and yelled at Cal, "I'll kill you! I'll kick your ass!"

Now, I don't advocate the former, although the latter would've been fun to see. But if, for whatever reason, the incredibly overrated Calipari were not coaching Memphis in the 2008 National Championship Game, would they have blown a big late lead against the University of Kansas? Maybe, because Kansas was a very good team that deserved to win. That's why I can't rank this one any higher than 9th.

Dishonorable mention to the University of Michigan football team, for the worst season in their history, but at least they beat Notre Dame, which gets another dishonorable mention.

8. The Chicago Bears. The National Hockey League Winter Classic, to be held tomorrow afternoon, between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings? No problem there. But at Wrigley Field? No, the shape of the field and the stadium is totally unsuited to hockey! It should have been at Soldier Field, whose shape is much better-suited.

The Bears objected, saying they were hoping to host a first-round Playoff game at Soldier Field. How'd that work out, Not-So-Monstrous-Ones-of-the-Midway?

7. The New Jersey Devils. I'm taking this one personally, and they have gotten better in the season that started in October. But, in April, they blew it in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You do not blow it in the first round of the Playoffs in your first season in a great new home arena, or even in a halfway decent one.

And to the damned Rangers? Don't you know the Rangers are supposed to suck? Gentlemen, we must do better in 2009.

6. The New York Jets. They dumped Chad Pennington as their quarterback in favor of Brett Favre. Result? Last game of the season, the Dolphins beat the Jets, at the Meadowlands, to win the AFC East and keep the J-E-T-S-Oy-yi-yi out of the Playoffs. And on his last play (ever?), Favre looks like not just an old player but a damn fool.

Frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if the Jets even have any reason to continue to exist.

5. The Dallas Cowboys. This season, they weren't just their usual bunch of preening schmoes, they were a bunch of whining crybabies. What a magnificent season-ender the Philadelphia Eagles put on the Cowbozos: 44-6! And Tony Romo's girlfriend Jessica "the Jinx" Simpson wasn't even in the house! But Terrell Owens and Adam "Dropman" Jones were.

Dishonorable mention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos, each of whom only had to win 1 of their last 3 games to make the Playoffs, and combined to go 0-6 in those games.

4. Kobe Bryant. He wanted the Los Angeles Lakers to be his team. He wanted to win an NBA Championship without Shaquille O'Neal. He got half of what he wanted.

The Shaq-Kobe question is settled for all time. Even if Kobe does someday win a title without Shaq... even if he manages to top Shaq by winning 2 without him... it won't be as "the best basketball player in the world," and it won't be with the Lakers as "Kobe's team." It'll have to be an incredibly balanced team, like the one that beat him in the 2008 Finals, the Boston Celtics.

You think Kevin Garnett cares that nobody thinks of the '08 Celtics as "K.G.'s team"? He didn't care who got the credit, he just wanted the title. And he got it.

Shaq, you spoke not only for yourself, but for everyone who's sick of Kobe's act, when you rapped, "Kobe! Tell me how my ass taste!"

3. The New England Patriots. No, not for the season of theirs that ended in December, the one that ended in February. Eighteen and one. Not Number 1.

There have been many chokes by Boston/New England sports teams, but this one is already getting overlooked, because the team benefiting from it, the New York Giants, is getting more out of it than the team that perpetrated it, the Cheatriots.

With Tom Bundchen (a.k.a. Brady) going down in the 1st quarter of the next game the Pats played that mattered, and then missing the Playoffs (even though they went 11-5 and the San Diego Chargers made it as AFC West Champs though they went 8-8), the punishment for their 3 Super Bowl cheats is... aw, hell, it ain't even close to being enough!

2. The New York Mets. They should open Citi Field on February 2, because the last 2 Septembers have been "Groundhog Day." They should get Bill Murray to throw out the first ball. Except he can't. Partly because he's a Chicago Cubs fan. And partly because, at the end of the film Groundhog Day, he got it right. The Mets never do. The Curse of Kevin Mitchell lives.

True, the Yankees were eliminated a week sooner, and were out of the race sooner. But that means that, unlike the Mets, they didn't put their fans through an extra month's worth of misery, not to mention almost an identical misery of the preceding season. And they were able to close out Yankee Stadium, if not with another World Championship, then at least with a win and without embarrassing themselves.

The Mets, as usual, were unable to die with dignity.

And the Number 1 Biggest Ball-Drop in Sports for Calendar Year 2008:

1. The Met Fans. The Flushing Heathen fell for it. Again. When will they ever learn?

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